There is a hidden generational dynamic to the history of twentieth-century Germany.1 Wars created huge ruptures in the lives of millions of individuals in ways that were strikingly related to their ages at the time; and these ruptures had implications for the regimes that followed wars, such that the past was always in some sense present, influencing the future in ways going far beyond the obvious legacies in terms of material destruction and rebuilding, the reconfiguration of international relations and domestic politics, and diverse cultural representations. Wars had dramatic implications for and gave distinctive significance to the formation of social generations: they shaped the very character of those who survived, whether or not they explicitly recalled aspects of a violent past. Not only age, class, political outlook, role and experiences, but also the political balance and character of subsequent regimes in a changing international situation affected the aftermath of wars for distinct generations. To make comparisons and seek for generalisations is therefore a fraught but potentially highly illuminating undertaking.