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How do societies transitioning from oppressive to democratic rule hold accountable those citizens who contributed to maintaining injustice in the ancient regime by secretly denouncing fellow citizens? Is their public identification a way of fulfilling respect for those who suffered harm as a result of their collaboration? And is public identification respectful of denunciators themselves?
This book pursues these questions through a multidisciplinary investigation focusing on the denunciators for the East German secret police and the Ministry of State Security and the way in which they have been publicly unveiled in contemporary German society. The book evaluates the justifications that social actors offer to support or oppose public identifications; how targeted collaborators react to this social practice; and whether it achieves its intended purpose.
At every stage, the book asks whether the motivations and the consequences of public identifications honor or undermine the value of respect for people.