The Adenauer Era: Anxieties and Traumas of Violence in the Postwar Period

in German Politics and Society

Researching and writing contemporary history move forward in a

certain rhythm. Today, the 1960s are the decade of major interest,

whereas the 1970s increasingly are becoming the testing ground of

new approaches and reinterpretations. By contrast, the 1950s seem

of little interest—with most of the issues solved and most sources

accessible. But this could be a false impression, especially if one

takes into account the dominant views on this period that have

become popular in the last years. After 1989/90, with the fall of the

Berlin Wall, the unification of Germany, and the end of the Cold

War, many historians developed and corroborated an interpretation

of the postwar decades—a now widely accepted master narrative of

the “German question.” With the benefit of hindsight, they claimed

that Konrad Adenauer’s policy of Western integration was a necessary

and inevitable course, which facilitated eventual reunification.

Other political options would have rendered the Federal Republic of

Germany (FRG) dangerously open to stronger communist pressure or

even would have presented the Soviet Union with the opportunity to

expand its empire to Germany as a whole.

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