This article outlines how Germany has sought to project a strategic narrative of the Eurozone crisis. Germany has been placed center stage in the Eurozone crisis, and as a consequence, the German government's crisis narrative matters for the future of the common currency. We highlight how the German government has sought to narrate a story of the cause of the Eurozone crisis and present policy solutions to influence policy decisions within the EU and maintain domestic political support. This focus on the public communication of the crisis is central to understanding the development of Germany's policy as it was negotiated with EU partners, the U.S. and international financial institutions. We draw on speeches and interviews by Chancellor Angela Merkel and two of her senior cabinet ministers delivered at key moments of the Eurozone crisis between May 2010 and June 2012. The article argues that while Merkel and her governments have been able to shore up domestic support for her Eurozone policies, she has struggled to find a coherent strategic narrative that is both consistent with German domestic preferences and historical memory, and with those of other Eurozone members.
Isabelle Hertner and Alister Miskimmon
German foreign policy operates in a strategic triangle, the corner points of which are Bonn, Paris, and Washington. This constellation dates to the end of World War II. Since that time, German foreign policy has been influenced by this strategic triangle, which provides for
political opportunities as well as for significant risks. It relies on the interdependence of German-American, German-French, and French-American relations.
This article reports on contemporary debates in Germany on the extensive use of English in Germans' use of German. In particular, it focuses on the debate held at the University of Birmingham between Professor Jürgen Schiewe and Thomas Paulwitz on the question: “The influence of English on German today: Grounds for concern?” The rise of a nationalist discourse on language since the mid-1990s is traced with particular reference to the Verein Deutsche Sprache and the quarterly publication Deutsche Sprachwelt. The purist position represented by Paulwitz, editor of Deutsche Sprachwelt, and opposed by Schiewe, Professor of German Philology at the University of Greifswald, is found to represent a discourse on national identity that fails to engage with modern linguistic science.
In the past century, Germany, for better and for worse, offered itself
as a natural laboratory for political science. Indeed, Germany’s
excesses of political violence and its dramatic regime changes largely
motivated the development of postwar American political science,
much of it the work of German émigrés and German-Jewish
refugees, of course. The continuing vicissitudes of the German experience
have, however, posed a particular challenge to the concept of
political culture as elaborated in the 1950s and 1960s,1 at least in
part to explain lingering authoritarianism in formally democratic
West Germany. Generally associated with political continuity or only
incremental change,2 the concept of political culture has been illequipped
to deal with historical ruptures such as Germany’s “break
with civilization” of 1933-1945 and the East German popular revolution
of 1989. As well, even less dramatic but still important and relatively
rapid cultural changes such as the rise of a liberal democratic
Verfassungspatriotismus sometime around the late 1970s in West Germany3
and the emergence of a postmodern, consumer capitalist culture
in eastern Germany since 19944 do not conform to mainstream
political culture theory’s expectations of gradual, only generational
change. To be sure, continuity, if not inertia, characterizes much of
politics, even in Germany. Still, to be of theoretical value, the concept
of political culture must be able not only to admit but to
account for change.
In German public perceptions, right-wing populism is cast as a specifically east German problem. This article critically examines how this assumption is located within the debate on German unity. In order to clarify the sometimes-confusing arguments on German unification, two paradigmatic perspectives can be identified: German unity can be approached from a perspective of modernization, or through the lens of postcolonial critique. When it comes to right-wing populism in eastern Germany, the modernization paradigm suffers from a lack of understanding. Hence, the arguments of the postcolonial perspective must be taken seriously, particularly as the postcolonial reading can grasp the complex phenomenon of right-wing populism in east Germany, and prevent the discursive and geographic space of the region from being conquered by right-wing political actors.
A. James McAdams
The author ponders over the identity of the last self-identifying East German and wonders what he or she will say before leaving memories of the region behind. He distinguishes among three possible candidates for this honor: the ordinary citizen with little aspiration to political or social notoriety; the enthusiast with an interest in perpetuating the old regime's values; and the dissident activist dedicated to transforming that order. After identifying the likely last East German, the author speculates about the message our protagonist will have to share with the leaders of unified Germany. Finally, he provides reasons for why the Federal Republic can benefit from this advice.
This article explores the changing perception of "diversity" and "cultural difference" in Germany and shows how they were central in the construction of "self" and "other" throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries affecting minorities such as Jews, Poles, and others. It examines different levels of legal and political action toward minorities and immigrants in this process and explores how the perception and legal framework for the Turkish minority in the past sixty years was influenced by historical patterns of such perceptions and their memory. The article tries to shed some light on how the nature of coming-to-terms with the past ( Vergangenheitsbewältigung ) and the memory of the Holocaust have long prohibited a broader discussion on inclusion and exclusion in German society. It makes some suggestions as to what forced Germans in the postunification era to reconsider legislation, as well as society's approach to "self" and "other" under the auspices of the closing of the "postwar period" and a newly emerging united Europe.
Felix Philipp Lutz
German political culture has been undergoing gradual but significant changes since unification. Military engagements in combat missions, the introduction of a professional army, and a remarkable loss of recent historical knowledge mostly within the younger generations are hallmarks of the new millennium. Extensive education about the Holocaust is still prevalent and there is a strong continuity of attitudes and orientations toward the Nazi era and the Holocaust reaching back to the 1980s. Nevertheless, a lack of knowledge about history-not only the World War II period, but also about East and West Germany-in the age group of people under thirty is staggering. The fading away of the generation of victims who are the last ones to tell the story of persecution during the Holocaust and a parallel rise of new actors and technologies, present challenges to the educational system and the current political culture of Germany.
This special issue sets out to examine aspects of German politics, philosophy,
and society through the multifaceted lens of cosmopolitanism. A complex
and contested concept, cosmopolitanism has particularly important
implications for the study of contemporary nation-states, as conventional
understandings of bounded territory and sovereignty are reassessed in the
context of globalization, migration and transnationalism. Accordingly, this
introduction aims to outline several key strands of cosmopolitan thought
with reference both to contemporary Germany and the wider global conjuncture,
in order to provide a conceptual framework for the articles that
follow. It begins by briefly placing cosmopolitanism in the context of the
evolving concepts of German Heimat (homeland) and nation, because contemporary
cosmopolitanism can only be fully understood in relation to
nationalism. It then looks at the relevance of methodological, political and
ethical cosmopolitanism for the study of nation-states today, before introducing
the five articles in the special issue.
Are collective memories currently changing in the land where the
“past won’t go away?” Long dominated by memory of the Holocaust
and other Nazi-era crimes, Germany recently witnessed the emergence
of another memory based on the same period of history, but
emphasizing German suffering. Most commentators stress the novelty
and catharsis of these discussions of supposedly long-repressed
and unworked-through collective traumas and offer predominantly
psychoanalytic explanations regarding why these memories only
now have surfaced. However, thanks to “presentist” myopia, ideological
blinders, and the theoretical/political effects of Holocaust
memory, much of this discourse is misplaced because these Germancentered
memories are emphatically not new. A reexamination of
the evolution of dominant memories over the postwar period in the
Federal Republic of Germany is necessary in order to understand
and contextualize more fully these current debates and the changes
in dominant memories that may be occurring—tasks this article takes
up by utilizing the memory regime framework.