Final Verdict

The Holocaust on Trial in the 21st Century


By Tobias Buck

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The gripping narrative of one of the last Nazi criminal trials in Germany—that of Bruno Dey, a 93-year-old former concentration camp guard charged with accessory to the murder of more than 5,000 people—and a larger exploration of Germany's reckoning with the Holocaust, from silence to memory to today's rising tide of fascism and antisemitism.

Bruno Dey's trial surfaced at a pivotal moment for Germany and its thinking about the Nazi genocide. The Holocaust continues to occupy a crucial space in German public life, but country's near-universal commitment to Vergangenheitsbewältigung (dealing with the past through commemoration and atonement) has recently showed signs of fraying. This reflects in part the passage of time, and the fact that the last surviving witnesses—victims and perpetrators alike—are rapidly fading away.

But it’s also the result of profound changes in German politics and society. The far-right has made electoral gains and is openly challenging the country’s consensus around the Holocaust. At the same time, there is a small but vociferous group of intellectuals on the left who question Germany’s memory culture from a different angle, asking whether the Holocaust was indeed a singular crime. What does the Holocaust mean for the country’s new Muslim citizens from Syria and Afghanistan, many of whom arrived with their own traumas? 

Final Verdict investigates questions that touch not just on German history, politics, and memory culture, but also on the author’s own family history. Buck revisits the silence that surrounds his own family’s experiences—and culpability—during the Nazi period. In the face of rising anti-Semitism in Germany, the United States, and globally, Final Verdict examines whether remembrance can bear the weight of warning and witness to prevent future atrocities.  


On Sale
Apr 30, 2024
Page Count
336 pages
Hachette Books

Tobias Buck

About the Author

Tobias Buck is Managing Editor of the Financial Times. He was born in Jugenheim, Germany and graduated from Humboldt University in Berlin, where he read law. He was previously the FT’s Berlin Correspondent (putting him in the unusual position of being a foreign correspondent in the country in which he grew up). From 2012—17, he was the FT’s Madrid Correspondent, from where he covered Spain’s economic crisis and the political aftershocks, including the Catalan campaign for secession. His book about these tumultuous years After the Fall: Crisis, Recovery and the Making of a New Spain was published in the UK in 2019 by Weidenfeld and Nicolson. He is the recipient of a British Press Award, a Foreign Press Association Award, and a Harold Wincott Award. In 2015, Spain’s International Press Club named him foreign correspondent of the year. He lives in London with his partner Ana, a Spanish journalist, and their son.

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