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TV Journalism, Infotainment, and Reality TV

“Team Wallraff,” “Undercover Boss,” and the 2014 Burger King Scandal in Germany (As Seen on TV!)

Jörg Neuheiser

Abstract

This article analyzes the role of tv formats in the 2014 Burger King scandal in Germany as part of the popular representation of work, work-related conflicts, and the dynamic of power relations in both contemporary German companies and the German economy in general. It shows that investigative journalistic techniques in popular tv formats like Team Wallraff are essentially undermined by the existence of reality tv shows like Undercover Boss that use comparable techniques to present fundamentally different messages about companies, work conditions, and the relationship between employees and employers. I argue that to understand the effect of these representations of politics on the “real political arena,” in Germany and elsewhere, we should consider not only individual films, tv series, genres, and media formats, but also the cross-effects of multiple, often widely differing representations of politics in similar tv formats that can be viewed via identical media outlets.

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Book Reviews

Louise K. Davidson-Schmich, Matthew Hines, Thomas Klikauer, Norman Simms, Jeffrey Luppes, Stephen Milder, Robert Nyenhuis, and Randall Newnham

John Kampfner, Why the Germans Do it Better: Notes from a Grown-Up Country (London: Atlantic Books, 2020).

Karen Hagemann, Donna Harsch, and Friederike Brühöfener, eds., Gendering Post-1945 German History: Entanglements (New York: Berghahn Books, 2019).

Daniel Marwecki, Germany and Israel: Whitewashing and Statebuilding (London: C. Hurst & Co., 2020).

Robert Gellately, Hitler's True Believers: How Ordinary People Became Nazis (New York: Oxford University Press, 2020).

Thomas Fleischman, Communist Pigs: An Animal History of East Germany's Rise and Fall (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2020).

Joanne Miyang Cho, ed., Transnational Encounters between Germany and East Asia since 1900 (New York: Routledge, 2018).

Andrew Nagorski, 1941: The Year Germany Lost the War (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2019).

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Denkmalpflege, Denazification, and the Bureaucratic Manufacture of Memory in Bavaria

Lauren Schwartz

Abstract

How, in the aftermath of National Socialism and World War II, was the memory landscape of Munich and Bavaria denazified under the Office of the Military Government of the United States? Supplementing existing cultural approaches and scholarship on denazification in Bavaria, this article considers the execution of Allied Control Council Directive Number 30 by the American occupation government (omgus) in Bavaria, in conjunction with appropriated native Bavarian bureaucracies and bureaucrats, to inventory and assess the built environment in order to register militaristic or Nazi monuments and prioritize their removal or modification. The limitations of the project to renew or restore the monument landscape confront in turn the limitations on the “bureaucratic manufacture of memory” in the modification of individual memory.

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Explaining Change in Germany's Anti-corruption Policy in the Era of Chancellor Merkel

Sebastian Wolf

Abstract

Chancellor Angela Merkel's second grand coalition (2013–2017) was the most successful federal government since 2005 regarding the adoption of anti-corruption measures. This article first gives an overview of recent German anti-corruption reforms. In order to explain the varying policy outputs of Merkel's coalition governments, an analytical perspective drawing on the multiple streams approach is utilized. This theoretical perspective is then applied to the analysis of three major anti-corruption reforms. Mainly on the basis of these case studies, the article concludes that the spd was a crucial policy entrepreneur between 2013 and 2017. In former legislative periods, the Social Democrats could not advance their favored anti-corruption policies. But when the cdu and csu decided not to make full use of their veto power, the spd pushed policy change through. Analyses of anti-corruption reforms should not overlook the constellations of veto players such as coalition parties and their preferred policy options.

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Freed from Sadness and Fear

Politics, COVID-19, and the New Germany

Michael Meng and Adam R. Seipp

Abstract

This article argues that we are witnessing the possible emergence of a Germany confident in the strength of its rational and democratic approach to governance. Thinking about this development through Baruch Spinoza's insights into the centrality of reason to democracy, we suggest that Germany has responded to its past in a salutary manner by building a rational and responsible democracy. Few recent events illustrate this transformation more clearly than Germany's reaction to the covid-19 pandemic.

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Germany's Approach to Countering Antisemitism since Reunification

Thomas Just

Abstract

Since reunification in 1990, the German government has taken numerous steps to counter antisemitism and improve its relations with the Jewish community more broadly. Its approach has consisted primarily of two parts: anti-radicalization legal measures and public diplomacy. In terms of legal measures, Germany has banned hate speech and incitement, adjusted immigration policy for Jews, and granted Judaism full legal status. In terms of public diplomacy, Germany has created a network of both governmental and non-governmental organizations to counter antisemitic attitudes within domestic society and to demonstrate progress abroad. This article examines these facets of the German approach, evaluates its success through an analysis of extremist group membership and survey data measuring antisemitic attitudes, and discusses some evolving challenges to which the approach must adapt.

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Inside Contested Cultural Memory

The Alternative für Deutschland in Dresden

Bhakti Deodhar

Abstract

This article explores the role played by the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), a German right-wing political party, in the politics of memory in and of Dresden. Based on ethnographic fieldwork among AfD members and observation of the party's organization, the article demonstrates that the performative acts of local AfD members bear crucial significance in explaining the party's attempts to challenge the mainstream memory discourse that is linked to the centrality of the Holocaust. I argue that party members not only draw upon established discursive narratives of Germany's victimhood, but also find ways to skillfully adapt their messages in their efforts to achieve legitimacy. Their performative contestations have enabled the AfD to be both a beneficiary and an instigator of the shifting boundaries of what is considered admissible in Germany's official culture of memorialization.

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Book Reviews

Alexander Dilger, Christopher Thomas Goodwin, George Gibson, Michelle Lynn Kahn, Randall Newnham, Christopher Thomas Goodwin, and Stephen F. Szabo

Mark K. Cassell, Banking on the State: The Political Economy of Public Savings Banks (Newcastle upon Tyne: Agenda Publishing, 2021).

Bryce Sait, The Indoctrination of the Wehrmacht: Nazi Ideology and the War Crimes of the German Military (New York: Berghahn Books, 2019).

Frank Bösch, ed., A History Shared and Divided: East and West Germany since the 1970s (New York: Berghahn Books, 2018).

Christopher A. Molnar, Memory, Politics, and Yugoslav Migrations to Postwar Germany (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2018).

Eva Noack-Mosse, Last Days of Theresienstadt, trans. Skye Doney and Birutė Ciplijauskaitė (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2018).

Michael H. Kater, Culture in Nazi Germany (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2019).

Rolf Steininger, Germany and the Middle East: From Kaiser Wilhelm II to Angela Merkel (New York: Berghahn Books, 2019).

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Brexit, Erewhon, and Utopia

Porscha Fermanis

Abstract

Viewing Brexit as part of a longer history of Anglo-Saxon racial and cultural exceptionalism, this article reflects on what Samuel Butler's satirical novel Erewhon, or Over the Range (1872) can tell us about the utopian impulses informing Brexit's neoimperialist ideology and hence about British identity politics today. Set in an inward-looking, socially homogeneous, and postindustrial society somewhere in the colonial southern hemisphere, Erewhon provides an anachronistic simulacrum of both an isolationist “Little England” and an imperial “Global Britain,” critiquing the idea of the self-sufficient, ethnonationalist “island nation” by demonstrating the extent to which it relies on the racial logic of White utopianism, as well as on a disavowal of the non-British labor that supports and sustains it.

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Coda — Pandemic Brexit

Cancelling the Political Future

Bill Schwarz

Abstract

Taking off from a 1940 speech by Winston Churchill, I explore the shifting sensibilities underwriting the twin impact of Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic, suggesting that a component of the current period turns on a disabling incapacity to think about a determinate political future.