Dagmar Barnouw, 72, a professor and author whose provocative works about the aftermath of World War II took aim at what she called the sanctification of Holocaust survivors, the "politics of not-forgetting Nazi evil," and the idea of collective German guilt, died of a stroke May 14 at a San Diego hospital.

In a career that produced 12 books and 150 papers, Ms. Barnouw covered many topics, including the cultural politics of German author Thomas Mann and feminist and utopian science fiction.

But post-World War II Germany was a recurring theme for the scholar, who was born in Berlin. Her works - described by some critics as "brilliant and unsettling" and by others as "deeply flawed" - challenged long-held views of guilt and innocence, suffering and memory.

In her most recent book, War in the Empty Air: Victims, Perpetrators and Postwar Germans (2005), Ms. Barnouw examined Germans' failure to acknowledge and mourn for their war dead and for the devastation that German citizens suffered in Allied air raids.

Ms. Barnouw was a child when Allied bombing destroyed her family home in Dresden, Germany. Her father served in the German army during the war. Her mother, a research scientist, led the family out of Dresden to a village in Bavaria, where they were scorned as refugees. - Los Angeles Times