HI136 The History of Germany Lecture 19 Germany and Europe: The Debate on German Peculiarities
German Unification, 1862-1870 <ul><li>After 1815 Germany made up of 39 independent states. </li></ul><ul><li>Growing deman...
Imperial Germany, 1871-1918 <ul><li>Authoritarian government, but some degree of democracy & rule of law. </li></ul><ul><l...
The Weimar Republic, 1918-33 <ul><li>Faced significant problems of legitimacy from the beginning: defeat, revolution, Vers...
The Third Reich, 1933-45 <ul><li>Debate over continuities with what went before: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Nationalism, milita...
West Germany, 1949-90 <ul><li>Rooted in Western democratic, free market traditions. </li></ul><ul><li>Rapid economic recov...
East Germany, 1949-90 <ul><li>Roots in the Soviet occupation led to problems of legitimacy. </li></ul><ul><li>A single par...
 
 
Germany’s Special Path ( Sonderweg ) <ul><li>Term originated in the 19 th  century – Germany’s political, economic & milit...
Continuity in German History <ul><li>Related to the debate over  Sonderweg  is the issue of continuities in modern German ...
Geographical Argument <ul><li>Assertion that Germany’s historical development has been shaped by its geography. </li></ul>...
Historical Argument <ul><li>Germany’s fractured & fragmented history is the key to understanding its development in the 20...
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Geschiedenis the debate on german peculiarities

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Geschiedenis the debate on german peculiarities

  1. 1. HI136 The History of Germany Lecture 19 Germany and Europe: The Debate on German Peculiarities
  2. 2. German Unification, 1862-1870 <ul><li>After 1815 Germany made up of 39 independent states. </li></ul><ul><li>Growing demands for unification. </li></ul><ul><li>1848: failure of liberal ‘bourgeois’ revolution. </li></ul><ul><li>Economic & industrial development helped unification, eg. the Zollverein customs union. </li></ul><ul><li>1864-71: Wars of Unification, expelled Austria & united Germany under Prussian leadership. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Imperial Germany, 1871-1918 <ul><li>Authoritarian government, but some degree of democracy & rule of law. </li></ul><ul><li>Forces of reaction balanced by forces of change. </li></ul><ul><li>Saw rapid industrialisation which brought both increased prosperity & social dislocation. </li></ul><ul><li>Emergence of aggressive nationalism & fears of social unrest may have led to decision to go to war in 1914. </li></ul><ul><li>War led to economic hardship & military dictatorship. Defeat discredited the regime & led to collapse of the monarchy. </li></ul>
  4. 4. The Weimar Republic, 1918-33 <ul><li>Faced significant problems of legitimacy from the beginning: defeat, revolution, Versailles treaty, economic problems etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Characterised by economic upheaval & political extremism. </li></ul><ul><li>Attempts to balance German political traditions with West European democratic traditions. </li></ul><ul><li>But democracy endured for 15 years. </li></ul><ul><li>Achievements: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Guarantee of civil rights. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More equal society. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cultural flowering. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>World economic crisis initiated final crisis. </li></ul>
  5. 5. The Third Reich, 1933-45 <ul><li>Debate over continuities with what went before: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Nationalism, militarism, racism etc. present in Germany before 1933 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But the Nazis took them to extremes. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Economic revival in 1930s. </li></ul><ul><li>Attempts to reshape German society & bring it into line with Nazi ideology. </li></ul><ul><li>Police state not governed by the rule of law. </li></ul><ul><li>Germans also victims of Nazism. </li></ul><ul><li>War & genocide ultimately led to disaster for Germany. </li></ul>
  6. 6. West Germany, 1949-90 <ul><li>Rooted in Western democratic, free market traditions. </li></ul><ul><li>Rapid economic recovery in the 1950s helped produce a prosperous & stable society. </li></ul><ul><li>But reaction against this in the 1960s and 70s. </li></ul><ul><li>Nevertheless, the system itself not challenged. </li></ul><ul><li>By the 1980s West Germany was a stable democracy, firmly entrenched in Western Europe. </li></ul>
  7. 7. East Germany, 1949-90 <ul><li>Roots in the Soviet occupation led to problems of legitimacy. </li></ul><ul><li>A single party state ruled by the SED. </li></ul><ul><li>Party rule bolstered by the secret police (Stasi) & a paternalistic welfare state. </li></ul><ul><li>Planned economy had some successes (rapid industrialisation in the 1950s), but by the 1980s had become stagnant & riddled with corruption. </li></ul><ul><li>Despite problems much support from citizens until the late 1980s. </li></ul><ul><li>Changing international situation & reform in the Soviet Bloc paved the way for collapse in 1989. </li></ul>
  8. 10. Germany’s Special Path ( Sonderweg ) <ul><li>Term originated in the 19 th century – Germany’s political, economic & military success were down to unique values & institutions. Germany was pursuing a ‘middle way’ between Tsarist Autocracy & western democracy. </li></ul><ul><li>After 1945 the notion took on a more negative slant – Germany had taken a ‘wrong turning’ on the path to modernity which led to National Socialism. </li></ul><ul><li>1960s: Wehler – failed bourgeois revolution led to Germany developing a modern economy governed by pre-modern elites (monarchy, army, aristocracy). </li></ul><ul><li>1980s: Blackbourn & Eley – German middle class disempowered in political life but dominated culture & society. Sonderweg a flawed tool for looking at German history. </li></ul>
  9. 11. Continuity in German History <ul><li>Related to the debate over Sonderweg is the issue of continuities in modern German history. </li></ul><ul><li>1940s & 50s: West European & American historians saw the Third Reich as the result of flaws in the German character; while West German historians saw it as an aberration & the consequence of wider European trends. </li></ul><ul><li>1960s: Fischer controversy & new debate on Sonderweg led to ‘structuralist’ historians identifying & highlighting continuities between Imperial & Nazi Germany. </li></ul><ul><li>Undoubtedly there are similarities – no period of history is divorced from what precedes it – but this approach can be misleading. </li></ul><ul><li>Hindsight shouldn’t mislead us into assuming that the course of history was fixed. </li></ul>
  10. 12. Geographical Argument <ul><li>Assertion that Germany’s historical development has been shaped by its geography. </li></ul><ul><li>Germany’s position at the centre of Europe made it a meeting place for different cultures and ideas, </li></ul><ul><li>But it also made it vulnerable to attack. </li></ul><ul><li>This led to development of Prussian military monarchy & the adoption of an aggressive foreign policy on the grounds that attack was the best form of defence. </li></ul><ul><li>After both World Wars Germany was at the mercy of its enemies, and its position at the heart of Europe made it the focus of Cold War rivalries and tensions. </li></ul><ul><li>Martin Kitchen: geography had a psychological effect on the Germans – nationalism the result of a jealous hatred of the west & an arrogant disdain for the east. </li></ul>
  11. 13. Historical Argument <ul><li>Germany’s fractured & fragmented history is the key to understanding its development in the 20 th century. </li></ul><ul><li>Germany became a nation-state comparatively late, which led to the development of an unstable national consciousness & national inferiority complex. </li></ul><ul><li>History of particularism made it difficult to integrate different groups into German society after 1871, leading to the growth of an assertive nationalism (Wehler – ‘negative integration’). </li></ul><ul><li>Debates between champions of federalism & centralisation continued in the 20 th century – the Nazis tried to eliminate federal tradition & bring all of Germany under central control. </li></ul><ul><li>Revival of federalism after World War II seen as an important feature in ensuring stability & preventing a resurgence of nationalism. </li></ul>

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