The German Foreign Office: Myth and Reality

Das Amt und die Vergangenheit. Deutsche Diplomaten im Dritten Reich und in der Bundesrepublik, by Eckart Conze, Norbert Frei, Peter Hayes, and Moshe Zimmermann. München: Karl Blessing Verlag, 2010, 880 pp.

Reviewed by
Christopher R. Browning

This article critically analyzes Das Amt und die Vergangenheit: Deutsche Diplomaten im Dritten Reich und in der Bundesrepublik – an independent commission’s report which investigated the role that German diplomats played in Hitler’s apparatus of the Final Solution. Das Amt effectively dismantles the myth, long propagated by the Foreign Office, that the Office was a center of anti-Nazi opposition, and was untainted by the crimes of the Third Reich. The report illustrates that the Foreign Office of the Nazi regime was not an apolitical bureaucracy, exercising resistance whenever possible. Acts of resistance were recounted to show that resistance was possible, but was the exception. This article both praises the historical implications of Das Amt’s premise while also critically commenting on the report’s shortcomings.