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Introduction: Why Do We Need New Narratives for the History of the Federal Republic?

  • Frank Biess (a1) and Astrid M. Eckert (a2)


Observers of German current affairs and historians of contemporary Germany have long been cognizant of the shadow that the Nazi past and its crimes cast over postwar German history. Likewise, it has long been widely accepted as appropriate that the “old” Federal Republic would develop a political culture marked by reserve and modesty on the international stage and in its public representation—whatever seemed the opposite of the pomp, power, and ruthlessness of past German regimes. Whereas the prospect of unification in 1989-1990 still triggered concerns about the country's possible relapse into attitudes and behaviors worthy of a “fourth Reich,” two decades later, Germans were treated to the news that theirs was “the most positively viewed nation in the world.” A few years later still, German Chancellor Angela Merkel found herself widely hailed as the “leader of the free world,” a phrase soaked in Cold War connotations and hitherto reserved for the president of the United States. Merkel probably had little desire for such a click-bait label; it was the world around her that had changed on the coattails of the global ascendancy of right-wing populism and authoritarianism, resulting, for example, in the British vote to leave the European Union (“Brexit”), the presidency of Donald Trump, and the attempt of the Polish government to do away with the separation of powers. With the strong showing of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in the 2017 federal elections, this development had begun to affect domestic politics in Germany as well.

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1 Judt, Tony, Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945 (New York: Penguin, 2005), 639–40; Ash, Timothy Garton, “The Chequers Affair,” in History of the Present: Essays, Sketches, and Dispatches from Europe in the 1990s (New York: Random House, 1999), 50-56; “BBC Poll: Germany most popular country in the world,” May 23, 2013 ( See also “Cool Germany. Germany is becoming more open and diverse,” The Economist, April 14, 2018.

2 See, e.g., Karl Vick, “2015 Person of the Year. Angela Merkel. Chancellor of the Free World,” Time, Dec. 21, 2015.

3 Abromeit, John et al. , eds., Transformations of Populism in Europe and the Americas (London: Bloomsbury, 2016); Mudde, Cas, Populism: A Very Short Introduction (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017); Müller, Jan-Werner, What is Populism? (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016); Snyder, Timothy D., The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America (New York: Duggan Books, 2018).

4 Rothfels, Hans, “Zeitgeschichte als Aufgabe,” Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte 1, no. 1 (1953): 2.

5 Stone, Dan, Goodbye to All That? The Story of Europe since 1945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 294.

6 See, e.g., Roger Cohen, “Trump's Weimar America,” New York Times, Dec. 14, 2016.

7 Winkler, Heinrich August, Geschichte des Westens. Bd. 4: Die Zeit der Gegenwart (Munich: C. H. Beck, 2016), 610.

8 Winkler, Heinrich August, Zerbricht der Westen? Über die gegenwärtige Krise in Europa und Amerika (Munich: C. H. Beck, 2017), 11.

9 Influential markers of this emerging historiography before 1989 were Kleßmann, Christoph, Die doppelte Staatsgründung. Deutsche Geschichte 1945-1955 (Bonn: Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, 1986), as well as Bracher, Karl Dietrich, Eschenburg, Theodor, Fest, Joachim C., and Jäckl, Eberhard, eds., Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 1945-1982, vols. 1-5. (Stuttgart: DVA, 1983-1987). A sixth volume was added in 2000: Wirsching, Andreas, Abschied vom Provisorium, 1982-1990 (Stuttgart: DVA, 2000).

10 The very title of Henke, Klaus-Dietmar, ed., Wann bricht schon mal ein Staat zusammen! Die Debatte über die Stasi-Akten und die DDR-Geschichte auf dem 39. Historikertag 1992 (Munich: dtv, 1993) nicely captures the professional excitement about exploring the history of the GDR.

11 The research clusters were located at the University of Tübingen (1992-1996) and at the University of Freiburg (1997-2000). See Doering-Manteuffel, Anselm, Wie westlich sind die Deutschen? Amerikanisierung und Westernisierung im 20. Jahrhundert (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1999), 135; Herbert, Ulrich, ed., Wandlungsprozesse in Westdeutschland. Belastung, Integration, Liberalisierung 1945-1980 (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2002), 587.

12 Ther, Philipp, Europe since 1989: A History, trans. Hughes-Kreutzmüller, Charlotte (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2016); Großbölting, Thomas and Lorke, Christoph, eds., Deutschland seit 1990. Wege in die Vereinigungsgesellschaft (Stuttgart: Steiner, 2017). See also Bösch, Frank, “Divided and Connected: Perspectives on German History since the 1970s,” in A History Shared and Divided: East and West Germany since the 1970s, ed. Bösch, Frank, trans. Neuheiser, Jennifer Walcoff (New York: Berghahn, 2018), 7-8.

13 Nolte, Paul, “Die Bundesrepublik in der deutschen Geschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts,” Geschichte und Gesellschaft 28, no. 2 (2002): 175.

14 Metzler, Gabriele, “Zu neuen Ufern? Die Zeitgeschichtsschreibung zur Bundesrepublik im Jubiläumsjahr 2009,” Neue Politische Literatur 57 (2012): 233.

15 The lengthy essays include Ritter, Gerhard A., Über Deutschland. Die Bundesrepublik in der deutschen Geschichte (Munich: C. H. Beck, 1998); Doering-Manteuffel, Wie westlich sind die Deutschen; Schildt, Axel, Ankunft im Westen. Ein Essay zur Erfolgsgeschichte der Bundesrepublik (Frankfurt/Main: Fischer, 1999), 11, 20. The national histories include Winkler, Der lange Weg nach Westen; Wolfrum, Edgar, Die geglückte Demokratie. Geschichte der Bundesrepublik von ihren Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 2006); Görtemaker, Manfred, Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Von der Gründung bis zur Gegenwart (Frankfurt/Main: Fischer, 2004); Jarausch, Konrad H., After Hitler: Recivilizing Germans, 1945-1995, trans. Hunziker, Brandon (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006); Wehler, Hans-Ulrich, Deutsche Gesellschaftsgeschichte. Fünfter Band: Bundesrepublik und DDR 1949-1990 (Munich: C. H. Beck, 2008); Conze, Eckart, Die Suche nach Sicherheit. Eine Geschichte der Bundesrepublik von 1949 bis in die Gegenwart (Munich: Siedler, 2009); Herbert, Ulrich, Geschichte Deutschlands im 20. Jahrhundert (Munich: C. H. Beck, 2014).

16 See, e.g., Naumann, Klaus, “Die Historisierung der Bonner Republik,” Mittelweg 36 9, no. 3 (2000): 53-67; Schildt, Axel, “Überlegungen zur Historisierung der Bundesrepublik,” in Verletztes Gedächtnis. Erinnerungskultur und Zeitgeschichte im Konflikt, ed. Jarausch, Konrad H. and Sabrow, Martin (Frankfurt/Main: Campus, 2002), 253-72; idem, Fünf Möglichkeiten, die Geschichte der Bundesrepublik zu erzählen,” Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik 44, no. 10 (1999), 1234-44; Nolte, “Bundesrepublik”; Jarausch, Konrad H. and Sabrow, Martin, eds., Die historische Meistererzählung: Deutungslinien der deutschen Nationalgeschichte nach 1945 (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2002).

17 Wehler, Deutsche Gesellschaftsgeschichte, xv-xvi, 424-25. Just how incisive Wehler's provocation really was can be seen in Bahners, Patrick and Cammann, Alexander, eds., Bundesrepublik und DDR. Die Debatten um Hans-Ulrich Wehlers ‘Deutsche Gesellschaftsgeschichte’ (Munich: Beck'sche Reihe, 2009), 73-106.

18 Bösch, A History Shared and Divided; Gallus, Alexander, Schildt, Axel, and Siegfried, Detlef, eds., Deutsche Zeitgeschichte—transnational (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2015); Levsen, Sonja and Torp, Cornelius, eds., Wo liegt die Bundesrepublik? Vergleichende Perspektiven auf die westdeutsche Geschichte (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2016); Bajohr, Frank, Doering-Manteuffel, Anselm, Kemper, Claudia, and Siegfried, Detlef, eds., Mehr als eine Erzählung. Zeitgeschichtliche Perspektiven auf die Bundesrepublik (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2016).

19 Wolfrum, Die geglückte Demokratie, 13; also see Schildt, “Überlegungen,” 260-61.

20 Wolfrum, Die geglückte Demokratie, 18.

21 Görtemaker, Bundesrepublik, 13; Wehler, Deutsche Gesellschaftsgeschichte, 425, 427.

22 Herbert, Geschichte Deutschlands im 20. Jahrhundert, 16.

23 Moses, A. Dirk, German Intellectuals and the Nazi Past (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 57, 64-65.

24 Nolte, Paul, “Die Historiker der Bundesrepublik. Rückblick auf eine ‘lange Generation,’Merkur 53, no. 5 (1999): 426. On the concept of vanishing points, see Smith, Helmut Walser, “The Vanishing Point: An Essay on Perspective,” History & Memory 17, no. 1/2 (2005): 269-95; on the political fears of the “Forty-fivers” generation, see Moses, German Intellectuals.

25 Quotation in Nolte, Paul, Hans-Ulrich Wehler. Historiker und Zeitgenosse (Munich: C. H. Beck, 2015), 51; Stelzel, Philipp, History after Hitler: A Transatlantic Enterprise (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019), 91-105.

26 Moses, A. Dirk, “The ‘Weimar Syndrome’ in the Federal Republic of Germany. The Carl Schmitt Reception by the Forty-Fiver Generation of Intellectuals,” in Leben, Tod und Entscheidung. Studien zur Geistesgeschichte der Weimarer Republik, ed. Loos, Stephan (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 2003), 207.

27 Sonja Levsen and Cornelius Torp, “Die Bundesrepublik und der Vergleich,” in Levsen and Torp, Wo liegt die Bundesrepublik?, 14.

28 Schildt, “Überlegungen,” 260; this is repeated almost verbatim in Wolfrum, Die geglückte Demokratie, 13.

29 See White, Hayden, Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe (Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press, 1973), 8-9 (cited in Joachim Häberlen's contribution to this special issue).

30 Jarausch, After Hitler, vii.

31 As a benchmark volume in this respect, see Herbert, Wandlungsprozesse.

32 For the argument that the “anti-Western special path” ended in 1945, and the “post-national special path” of the Federal Republic in 1990, see Winkler, Der lange Weg nach Westen, 2:655.

33 Doering-Manteuffel, Wie westlich sind die Deutschen.

34 Wehler, Deutsche Gesellschaftsgeschichte, 422, 425.

35 Evans, Richard J., “Whatever became of the Sonderweg?,” in Rereading German History, 1800-1996: From Unification to Reunification (London: Routledge, 1997), 12-22; Levsen and Torp, “Die Bundesrepublik und der Vergleich,” 9, 16.

36 Bavaj, Riccardo and Steber, Martina, eds., Germany and “The West”: The History of a Modern Concept (New York: Berghahn, 2015), 4.

37 This is true despite early critiques; see, e.g., Mary Nolan, “Americanization or Westernization,” paper presented at the conference “The American Impact on Western Europe: Americanization and Westernization in Transatlantic Perspective,” German Historical Institute Washington, D.C., March 25-27, 1999 ( On the ways in which anti-liberalism was deeply rooted in European history, see Mazower, Mark, Dark Continent: Europe's Twentieth Century (New York: Vintage, 2000). At a minimum, histories of “Westernization” and “liberalization” would have to reflect on the ways in which Western liberalism served to justify colonialism. See, e.g., Pitts, Jennifer, A Turn to Empire: The Rise of Imperial Liberalism in Britain and France (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005). On the difficulty of separating the “West” from the “legacies of slavery and racism,” see Jarausch, Konrad H., “The Federal Republic at Sixty: Popular Myths, Actual Accomplishments, and Competing Interpretations,” German Politics and Society 28, no. 94 (2010): 22. Michel Foucault's lectures on the Federal Republic in the 1970s might be another starting point for criticism of Western liberalism. See Foucault, Michel, The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the College de France 1978-79, trans. Burchell., Graham (New York: Palgrave, 2008), 75-157.

38 Blackbourn, David and Eley, Geoff, The Peculiarities of German History: Bourgeois Politics and Society in Nineteenth Century Germany (New York: Oxford University Press, 1984).

39 Winkler, Der lange Weg nach Westen, 2:ix.

40 See, e.g., Wehler, Deutsche Gesellschaftsgeschichte, 3, 19; Henke, Klaus-Dietmar, Die amerikanische Besetzung Deutschlands (Munich: R. Oldenbourg, 1995); Rupieper, Hermann-Josef, Die Wurzeln der westdeutschen Nachkriegsdemokratie. Der amerikanische Beitrag (Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1993); Jarausch, After Hitler, 19-95.

41 Breunig, Werner and Wetzel, Jürgen, eds., Fünf Monate in Berlin. Briefe von Edgar N. Johnson aus dem Jahre 1946 (Munich: Oldenbourg/de Gruyter, 2014); Höhn, Maria, GIs and Fräuleins: The German-American Encounter in 1950s West Germany (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002); Fehrenbach, Heide, Race after Hitler: Black Occupation Children in Postwar Germany and America (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005); Schroer, Timothy L., Recasting Race After World War II: Germans and African Americans in American-Occupied Germany (Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2007). For France, see Roberts, Mary L., What Soldiers Do: Sex and the American GI in World War II France (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2013).

42 Moeller, Robert G., Protecting Motherhood: Women and the Family in the Politics of Postwar West Germany (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993); idem, The Homosexual Man is a ‘Man,’ the Homosexual Woman is a ‘Woman’: Sex, Society, and the Law in Postwar West Germany,” Journal of the History of Sexuality 4, no. 3 (1994): 395-429; Heineman, Elizabeth, What Difference Does a Husband Make? Women and Marital Status in Nazi and Postwar Germany (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999). See also Evans, Jennifer, ”Why Queer German History?,” German History 34, no. 1 (2016): 371-84

43 This literature goes back to Frevert, Ute, Frauen-Geschichte. Zwischen Bürgerlicher Verbesserung und Neuer Weiblichkeit (Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp, 1986). For a more recent overview, see Hagemann, Karen and Quataert, Jean, eds., Gendering Modern German History: Rewriting History (New York: Berghahn, 2007).

44 Chin, Rita, “Thinking Difference in Postwar Germany: Some Epistemological Obstacles around ‘Race,’” in Migration, Memory, and Diversity: Germany from 1945 to the Present, ed. Wilhelm, Cornelia (New York: Berghahn), 206-29; Meng, Michael, “Silences about Sarrazin's Racism in Contemporary Germany,” Journal of Modern History 87, no. 1 (2015): 102-35.

45 Kauders, Anthony, Unmögliche Heimat. Eine deutsch-jüdische Geschichte der Bundesrepublik (Munich: DVA, 2007).

46 Ulrich Herbert, “Ausländer-Asyl-Pogrome. Das hässliche Gesicht des neuen Deutschlands,” in Bajohr et al., Mehr als eine Erzählung, 145-55.

47 Hong, Young-Sun, Cold War Germany, the Third World, and the Global Humanitarian Regime (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015); Slobodian, Quinn, Foreign Front: Third World Politics in Sixties West Germany (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012); Borutta, Manuel and Jansen, Jan C., eds., Vertriebene and pieds-noirs in postwar Germany and France: Comparative Perspectives (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016).

48 Jarausch, “The Federal Republic at Sixty,” 22. See also Jarausch, After Hitler, 10-14. On the critique of civilizational narratives, see Chakrabarty, Dipesh, Provinicializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007), 27-71.

49 Hansen, Peo and Jonsson, Stefan, “Eurafrica Incognita: The Colonial Origins of the European Union,” History of the Present 7, no. 1 (2017): 1-32; Gray, William Glenn, “Waffen aus Deutschland? Bundestag, Rüstungshilfe und Waffenexport 1961-1975,” Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte 64, no. 2 (2016): 327-64; Bülow, Mathilde von, West Germany, Cold War Europe and the Algerian War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016); von Bressendorf, Agnes Bresselau, Seefried, Elke, and Ostermann, Christian F., eds., West Germany, the Global South, and the Cold War (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2017); Büschel, Hubertus, Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe. Deutsche Entwicklungsarbeit in Afrika 1960–1975 (Frankfurt/Main: Campus, 2014).

50 Lutz Raphael, “Die Geschichte der Bundesrepublik schreiben als Globalisierungsgeschichte. Oder die Suche nach deutschen Plätzen in einer zusammenrückenden Welt,” in Bajohr et al., Mehr als eine Erzählung, 203-18.

51 Jarausch, “The Federal Republic at Sixty,” 22-23.

52 See Tompkins, Andrew S., Better Active than Radioactive: Anti-Nuclear Protest in 1970s France and West Germany (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016); Terhoeven, Petra, Deutscher Herbst in Europa. Der Linksterrorismus der siebziger Jahre als transnationales Phänomen (Munich: Oldenbourg, 2014). On the interaction between globalization and nationalism, still unsurpassed is Conrad, Sebastian, Globalization and the Nation in Imperial Germany, trans. O'Hagan., Sorcha (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).

53 Conze, Die Suche nach Sicherheit, 14.

54 Moeller, Robert G., “What Has Coming to Terms with the Past Meant in the Federal Republic of Germany?,” Central European History 35, no. 2 (2002): 223-56.

55 Schildt, “Fünf Möglichkeiten,” 265-68.

56 For the classic statement of this argument, see Lübbe, Hermann, “Der Nationalsozialismus im deutschen Nachkriegsbewusstsein,” Historische Zeitschrift 236, no. 1 (1983): 579-99.

57 Jarausch, After Hitler.

58 Frei, Norbert, Vergangenheitspolitik. Die Anfänge der Bundesrepublik und die NS-Vergangenheit (Munich: C. H. Beck, 1996); Herbert, Ulrich, Best. Biographische Studien über Radikalismus, Weltanschauung und Vernunft, 1903-1989 (Bonn: J. H. W. Dietz Nachf., 1996); Manig, Bert-Oliver, Die Politik der Ehre. Die Rehabilitierung der Berufsoldaten in der frühen Bundesrepublik (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2004).

59 Glienke, Stephan A., Paulmann, Volker, and Perels, Joachim, “Einleitung,” in Erfolgsgeschichte Bundesrepublik? Die Nachkriegsgesellschaft im langen Schatten des Nationalsozialismus, ed. Paulmann, Volker, Glienke, Stephan A., and Perels, Joachim (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2008), 9. For an example of this, see Gregor, Neil, Haunted City: Nuremberg and the Nazi Past (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008)

60 Mentel, Christian and Weise, Niels, Die zentralen deutschen Behörden und der Nationalsozialismus. Stand und Perspektiven der Forschung (Munich/Potsdam: Institut für Zeitgeschichte and Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung, 2016).

61 Chin, Rita, The Guest Worker Question in Postwar Germany (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 239-40.

62 Rothberg, Michael and Yildiz, Yasemin, “Memory Citizenship: Migrant Archives of Holocaust Rememberance in Contemporary Germany,” Parallax 17, no. 4 (2011): 35.

63 See the essays in Georgi, Viola B. and Ohliger, Rainer, eds., Crossover Geschichte. Historisches Bewusstsein Jugendlicher in der Einwanderungsgesellschaft (Hamburg: Körber Stiftung, 2009); Partridge, Damani J., “Holocaust Mahnmal: Monumental Memory amidst Contemporary Race,” Comparative Studies in Sociey and History 52, no. 4 (2010): 820-50.

64 Meng, “Silences about Sarrazin's Racism”; Chin, “Thinking Difference in Postwar Germany.”

65 Partridge, “Holocaust Mahnmal,” 836.

66 Rothberg and Yildiz, “Memory Citizenship,” 38.

67 On the link between Holocaust memory and decolonization, see Rothberg, Michael, Multidirectional Memories: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2009); also see Maier, Charles S., “Consigning the Twentieth Century to History: Alternative Narratives for the Modern Era,” American Historical Review 105, no. 3 (2000): 825-29.

68 Biess, Frank and Moeller, Robert G., eds., Histories of the Aftermath: The Legacies of the Second World War in Europe (New York: Berghahn, 2010); Ahonen, Pertti, “Germany and the Aftermath of the Second World War,” Journal of Modern History 89, no. 2 (2017): 355-87.

69 Geyer, Michael, “Das Stigma der Gewalt und das Problem der nationalen Identität,” in Von der Aufgabe der Freiheit. Politische Verantwortung und bürgerliche Gesellschaft im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert. Festschrift für Hans Mommsen zum 5. November 1999, ed. Niethammer, Lutz, Jansen, Christian, and Weisbrod, Bernd (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1995), 673-98.

70 The reverberations expressed themselves, for example, in food consumption; see Weinreb, Alice, Modern Hungers: Food and Power in Twentieth-Century Germany (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017); see also the discussion of the “war children” in Seegers, Lu and Reulecke, Jürgen, eds., Die “Generation der Kriegskinder.” Historische Hintergründe und Erfahrungen (Giessen: Psychosozial, 2009). See also Naumann, Klaus, ed., Nachkrieg in Deutschland (Hamburg: Hamburger Edition, 2001); Biess, Frank, Homecomings: Returning POWs and the Legacies of Defeat in Postwar Germany (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006); Seegers, Lu, “Vati blieb im Krieg.” Vaterlosigkeit als generationelle Erfahrung im 20. Jahrhundert. Deutschland und Polen (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2013); Goltermann, Svenja, The War in their Minds: German Soldiers and their Violent Pasts in West Germany (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2017).

71 Black, Monica, “Miracles in the Shadow of the Economic Miracle: The ‘Supernatural ’50s’ in West Germany,” Journal of Modern History 84, no. 4 (2012): 833-60; Goltermann, The War in Their Minds, 29-37, passim; Biess, Frank, Die Republik der Angst. Eine andere Geschichte der Bundesrepublik (Reinbek: Rowohlt, 2019).

72 Gumbrecht, Hans Ulrich, After 1945: Latency as Origin of the Present (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2013); Felsch, Philipp and Witzel, Frank, BRD Noir (Berlin: Matthias & Seitz, 2016).

73 Radkau, Joachim, Geschichte der Zukunft. Prognosen, Visionen, Irrungen in Deutschland von 1945 bis heute (Munich: Hanser, 2017), 131.

74 Jarausch, After Hitler, vii, 103-55.

75 Reckwitz, Andreas, Das hybride Subjekt. Eine Theorie der Subjektkulturen von der bürgerlichen Moderne zur Postmoderne (Göttingen: Velbrück Wissenschaft, 2006); Tändler, Maik, Das therapeutische Jahrzehnt. Der Psychoboom in den Siebziger Jahren (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2016); Eitler, Pascal and Elberfeld, Jens, eds., Zeitgeschichte des Selbst. Therapeutisierung—Politisierung—Emotionalisierung (Bielefeld: transcript, 2015). A focus on the history of democratic subjectivity exists for the Weimar Republic but has not been fully developed for the Federal Republic. See Barndt, Kerstin, Canning, Kathleen, and McGuire, Kristin, eds., Weimar Publics/Weimar Subjects: Rethinking the Political Culture of the 1920s (New York: Berghahn, 2010); Föllmer, Moritz, Individual and Modernity in Berlin: Self and Society from Weimar to the Wall (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013).

76 Verheyen, Nina, Diskussionslust. Eine Kulturgeschichte des “besseren Arguments” in Westdeutschland (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2010).

77 Föllmer, Individual and Modernity, 277.

78 Bröckling, Ulrich, Das unternehmerische Selbst. Soziologie einer Subjektivierungsform (Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp, 2007).

79 Wehler, Deutsche Gesellschaftsgeschichte, 61, 250.

80 Wolfrum, Die geglückte Demokratie, 253, 391, 395.

81 This depiction of oppositional forces as irrational and pathological also stands in a long tradition of portraying the Nazi dictatorship in similar terms. Wolfrum, for example, approvingly cites Hans-Peter Schwarz's assertion that a “completely hysterical people” during the Third Reich managed to accomplish almost immediately a “civilized peace” in the Federal Republic. See ibid., 185.

82 Klein, Judy L., Erickson, Paul, Daston, Lorraine, Lemov, Rebecca, Sturm, Thomas, and Gordin, Michael D., How Reason Almost Lost Its Mind: The Strange Career of Cold War Rationality (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2013).

83 For Hayden White's “emplotments,” see Joachim Häberlen's contribution to this special issue.

84 Winkler, Der lange Weg nach Westen, 252-53; Jarausch, After Hitler, 179-81.

85 Brüggemeier, Franz-Josef, Blauer Himmel über der Ruhr. Geschichte der Umwelt im Ruhrgebiet, 1840-1990 (Essen: Klartext, 1992); Bergmeier, Monika, Umweltgeschichte der Boomjahre 1949-1973. Das Beispiel Bayern (Münster: Waxmann, 2002); Hünemörder, Kai F., Die Frühgeschichte der globalen Umweltkrise und die Formierung der deutschen Umweltpolitik, 1950-1973 (Stuttgart: Steiner, 2004); Engels, Jens Ivo, Naturpolitik in der Bundesrepublik. Ideenwelt und politische Verhaltensstile in Naturschutz und Umweltbewegung, 1950-1980 (Paderborn: Schöningh, 2006); Frohn, Hans-Werner and Schmoll, Friedemann, eds., Natur und Staat. Staatlicher Naturschutz in Deutschland 1906-2006 (Bonn: Bundesamt für Naturschutz, 2006); Chaney, Sandra, Nature of the Miracle Years: Conservation in West Germany, 1945-1975 (New York: Berghahn, 2008); Hasenöhrl, Ute, Zivilgesellschaft und Protest. Eine Geschichte der Naturschutz- und Umweltbewegung in Bayern 1945-1980 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2008); Uekötter, Frank, The Greenest Nation? A New History of German Environmentalism (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2015); Metzger, Birgit, “Erst stirbt der Wald, dann du!” Das Waldsterben als westdeutsches Politikum, 1978-1986 (Frankfurt/Main: Campus, 2015).

86 Frank Uekötter, “Entangled Ecologies: Outlines of a Green History of Two or More Germanys,” in Bösch, A History Shared and Divided, 147-90; Astrid M. Eckert, West Germany and the Iron Curtain: Environment, Economy, and Culture in the Borderlands (New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2019).

87 Steffen, Will, Crutzen, Paul, and McNeill, John R., “The Anthropocene: Are Humans Now Overwhelming the Great Forces of Nature?,” Ambio 36, no. 8 (2007): 614-21; McNeill, John R. and Engelke, Peter, The Great Acceleration: An Environmental History of the Anthropocene since 1945 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016). For a discussion of the terminology and the earlier concept “1950s Syndrome,” see Pfister, Christian, “The ‘1950s Syndrome’ and the Transition from Slow-Going to a Rapid Loss of Global Sustainability,” in The Turning Points of Environmental History, ed. Uekötter, Frank (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010), 90-118.

88 For this familiar narrative, see, e.g., Wehler, Gesellschaftsgeschichte, 48-88; Wolfrum, Die geglückte Demokratie, 75-95; Conze, Die Suche nach Sicherheit, 157-80.

89 Graf, Rüdiger, Oil and Sovereignty: Petro-Knowledge and Energy Policy in the United States and Western Europe in the 1970s, trans. Skinner, Alex (New York: Berghahn, 2018); Morris, Craig and Jungjohann, Arne, Energy Democracy: Germany's Energiewende to Renewables (Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016); Gross, Stephen G., “Decoupling and the New Energy Paradigm in West Germany, 1973-1986,” Central European History 50, no. 4 (2017): 514-46.

90 Conze, Die Suche nach Sicherheit, 13.

91 Ibid., 12. His framework is the search for “security” in various forms, yet the ensuing narrative frequently suggests that this sense of security had mostly been achieved. The narrative thus becomes almost inadvertently yet another version of the success story.

92 Großbölting and Lorke, Deutschland seit 1990.

93 See the ongoing project by Kerstin Brückweh on the “long history of the Wende,” which consciously moves beyond 1989 but restricts itself to East German transformations: See also Eckert, West Germany and the Iron Curtain.

94 For a discussion of these issues in both German states, carried out in a relational but not parallel framework that pursues interdependencies and mutual influences while minding obvious differences, see Bösch, A History Shared and Divided. The various topics are then developed up to the year 2000.

95 Conze, Suche nach Sicherheit, 109; Wolfrum, Die geglückte Demokratie, 16; Winkler, Der lange Weg nach Westen, 2:655-56.

96 Wolfrum, Die geglückte Demokratie, 16; Jarausch, “The Federal Republic at Sixty,” 25.

97 Naumann, Klaus, “Die Frage nach dem Ende. Von der unbestimmten Dauer der Nachkriegszeit,” Mittelweg 36 8, no. 1 (1999): 21-32.

98 On this problem, see Graf, Rüdiger, “Die Unkenntnis der Zukunft und der Zukunftsbezug der Zeitgeschichte,” in Die Zukunft des 20. Jahrhunderts. Dimensionen der historischen Zukunftsforschung, ed. Hölscher, Lucian (Frankfurt/Main: Campus, 2017), 303-19.

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Central European History
  • ISSN: 0008-9389
  • EISSN: 1569-1616
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