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.
Felix Philipp Lutz
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.
That old cliche Wechselbad der Emotionen aptly describes how Christian Democrats have felt since Germany’s September 1998 federal election. First came a crushing defeat, their worst showing in decades, and the end of sixteen years in power under Helmut Kohl, “chancellor of unity.” Two of Kohl’s proteges, newly chosen federal party and Bundestag caucus chair, Wolfgang Schäuble, and his handpicked general secretary, Angela Merkel, then helped the CDU to an unexpectedly rapid recovery: during 1999, the party gained ground in every Land-level election and an absolute majority of the vote in several contests. But even before their champagne went flat, party leaders found themselves mired in postwar Germany’s worst political finance scandal, triggered by revelations about Kohl’s penchant for long sustaining a personal slush-fund with large, unreported private contributions, and even by charges of bribery.
Roger A. Pielke
This essay explores the management and creation of ignorance via an exploration of the landscape of eastern Germany, which has seen profound social, political, and technological changes over the past several decades. Like in many places around the world decision makers in eastern Germany are seeking to reach a future state where seemingly conflicting outcomes related to the economy and the environment are simultaneously realized. The management of ignorance is an important but often overlooked consideration in decision making that the concept of "post-normal science" places into our focus of attention.
Policy on transport infrastructure in Germany will come under increasing pressure thanks to considerable changes in basic conditions. Demographic change, shifts in economic and regional structures, continued social individualization, and the chronic budget crisis in the public sphere are forcing a readjustment of government action. At root, the impact of the changes in demographics and economic structures touches on what Germans themselves think their postwar democracy stands for. Highly consensual underlying assumptions about Germany as a model are being shaken. The doctrine that development of infrastructure is tantamount to growth and prosperity no longer holds. The experience in eastern Germany shows that more and better infrastructure does not automatically lead to more growth. Moreover, uniform government regulation is hitting limits. If the differences between boom regions and depopulated zones remain as large as they are, then it makes no sense to have the same regulatory maze apply to both cases. In transportation policy, that shift would mean recasting the legal foundations of public transport.
Jonathan P.G. Bach, Between Sovereignty and Integration: German Foreign Policy and Identity after 1989 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999)
David F. Patton, Cold War Politics in Postwar Germany (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999)
Marc Trachtenberg, A Constructed Peace: The Making of the European Settlement, 1945-1963 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999)
Celeste A. Wallander, Mortal Friends, Best Enemies: German-Russian Cooperation after the Cold War (Ithaca/London: Cornell University Press, 1999)
Brigitte Young and Willi Semmler
Only a decade ago, slow growth and high unemployment plagued Germany, but the "sick man of Europe" has now moved to outperform the Eurozone average growth since the second quarter of 2010. This confirms Germany's recovery and its status as the growth engine of the continent. This surely is a success story. While Germany (also Austria and the Netherlands) is prospering, the peripheral countries in the Eurozone are confronted with a severe sovereign debt crisis. Starting in Greece, it soon spread to countries such as Ireland, Portugal, and Spain. In the course of the debate, Germany was blamed for the imbalances in Europe. In short, German export performance and the sustained pressure for moderate wage increases have provided German exporters with the competitive advantage to dominate trade and capital flows within the Eurozone. Thus, Germany is seen as the main beneficiary of the EURO. This argument, however, is vehemently disputed within Germany. Many economists and political leaders reject this argument and point to the flagrant lack of fiscal discipline in many of the peripheral countries. Some prominent economists, such as Hans-Werner Sinn, even disputes that Germany was the main beneficiary of the Eurozone. The paper analyzes the two sides of the controversy, and asks whether we are witnessing a more inwardlooking and Euroskeptic Germany. These issues will be analyzed by first focusing on the role of Germany in resolving the sovereign debt crisis in Greece, and the European Union negotiations for a permanent rescue mechanism. We conclude by discussing some possible explanations for Germany's more assertive and more Euroskeptic position during these negotiations.
Charles S. Maier
This essay looks at postunification Germany through the pages of German Politics and Society. The articles published during this period reveal the evolution of intellectuals' understanding of the unified country—concerns that mirrored changes in social, political, and cultural reality. Of course, academics are beholden to their own histories and Weltanschauung, a fact that produced, at times, prescient, sometimes fragmentary, and sometimes alarmist interpretations and analyses of the country in an attempt to provide orientation. Nevertheless, this review shows how German watchers have slowly up-dated their paradigms and are now not worrying as much about a mellowed, less German country that has fascinated them over the decades.
When German foreign policy is being described, a reference to multilateralism
is rarely ever omitted. Together with Westbindung, restraint
in using military force, and a trading-state orientation, Germany’s
preference for multilateral settings is recognized as one of the central
elements of its foreign policy. In recent years, a number of studies
have shown that, in contrast to realist expectations from the early
1990s, the more powerful unified Germany has continued to embrace
this multilateralism. This applies to Germany’s willingness to bind
itself to NATO and other European and Euro-Atlantic security institutions,
1 to Germany’s policy within and vis-à-vis the EU,2 and to its
foreign policy on a global scale.
This article examines the complex interplay between the American military governor and German political leaders through an analysis of two crises that occurred over the making of the Basic Law. Why did a trial of strength between General Lucius Clay and the Social Democratic Party leadership in March and April 1949 come about? Understanding Clay's intervention in the politics of constitution-making in occupied Germany requires a more probing investigation than references to the temperament of a “proconsul” or a bias against a left-wing party. The analysis of Clay's intervention in this account shows how the Social Democrats evaded and challenged directives from the occupation authorities, and illuminates the limits of his influence over German framers of the Basic Law.