In the late 19th century, German medical practices were considered to be the best in the world. But by the start of World War II, German physicians were directly involved in the mass killings of the Holocaust. Theodore Reiff (Christopher Newport University) looks at the subversion of German doctors in the Nazi era. Also featured: The movie The Great Escape dramatizes the experience of American and European prisoners of war in Germany during World War II. But little known is that there were more than 400,000 German prisoners of war in 700 camps across America. Charles Ford (Norfolk State University) and Jeffrey Littlejohn (Sam Houston State University) look at the 4,000 German prisoners in Huntsville, Texas and efforts to “de-Nazify” them.
Later in the show: More than 20 years after Germans tore down the Berlin Wall, they are still negotiating how to deal with the stigmas of a formerly divided country. Jason James (University of Mary Washington) says there are still divisions within German culture—between the “good” former West Germans and the “bad” former East Germans—and both sides struggle with a problematic past that includes Nazi and Fascist associations that persist, even in a united country. Also featured: In the years leading up to World War I, Germany joined other world powers in colonizing parts of Africa. Christian Davis (James Madison University) says there’s a relationship between the racial subjugation that occurred in Germany’s African colonies and the rise of an anti-Semitic movement back home—a movement that would later form the ideological core of Nazism.