From Moral Disaster to Moral Entitlement – The Impact of Success in Dealing with a Perpetrator Past on Perceived Ingroup Morality and Claims for Historical Closure
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Description: Germany’s past is marked not only by the atrocities of the Holocaust, but also by a history of collective attempts to come to terms with these crimes. The present paper focuses on the previously rarely explored consequences of perceived success in dealing with a perpetrator past for the moral ingroup-image and the demand for an end to the discussion of this chapter of history (i.e., demand for historical closure). In one correlational study (N = 982) and three experimental studies (N = 904), we found robust evidence for an association between perceived success in dealing with the Nazi past and perceived ingroup morality. Although the results on the assumed influence of success on claims for historical closure, mediated by morality, were only partly supportive and inconsistent, particularly when controlling for political orientation and collective narcissism, final single-paper meta-analyses revealed a significant association between morality and historical closure (K = 5), as well as a small effect of success (vs. failure) on historical closure (K = 4). Implications for understanding ethical self views in historical perpetrator groups and recurring debates about a Schlussstrich on the German Nazi past are discussed.