Maja Catic


By comparing the reconciliation between Germans and Jews in the aftermath of World War II and that between Serbs and Bosniaks in post-Dayton Bosnia, this article argues that reconciliation can be a ‘‘simpler’’ affair in some cases than in others. More specifically, reconciliation between victims and perpetrators is more easily facilitated when both parties do not have to live in the same state and imagine themselves as part of the same political community, as in the case of Germans and Jews. By arguing that the success of German–Jewish reconciliation lies, first and foremost, in the fact that victims and perpetrators did not have to live in the same state in the aftermath of genocide, this article challenges the dominant view that the success of German–Jewish reconciliation was due to the ‘‘three Rs’’ of retribution, restitution, and reconstruction. It also challenges the persistent tendency to invoke German–Jewish reconciliation as a model for reconciliation in other post-genocide societies, such as Bosnia. While reconciliation in the German– Jewish case amounted to the establishment of good bilateral relations between two sovereign nation-states, reconciliation in divided societies such as Bosnia is intertwined with, and inseparable from, the project of state and nation building and therefore much more difficult.