This article explores unexamined links between psychic and political theories of trauma to investigate the constitution of victims deserving and undeserving of reparation as they emerge in the context of the Holocaust, Hiroshima, and the Nuremberg and Tokyo War Tribunals. While genocide and nuclear catastrophe oriented the world imagination toward the specter of planetary annihilation, the “final solution” and the atomic bombings also cleave from one another in significant ways. In the space of postwar Europe, the history of the Holocaust is settled: Nazis were perpetrators and Jews were victims. In contrast, in the space of postwar Asia, there was and continues to be little historical consensus as to who were the victims and who were the perpetrators. As such, this article investigates how the uneven distribution of trauma across different geopolitical spaces and times carves out a privileged zone of exhausted and victimized humanity, with significant implications for addressing the injuries of violated human beings in Europe and elsewhere. Throughout, this article examines how psychoanalytic approaches to the history of the traumatized subject supplement the subject of Cold War history in search of an impossible historical consensus.

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