This article examines how colonial reckoning is belatedly becoming part of the German memory landscape thirty years after reunification. It argues that colonial-era questions are acquiring the status of a new phase of coming-to-terms with the past in Germany alongside—and sometimes in tension with—the memory of the National Socialist and East German pasts. This raises new and difficult questions about what it means for the state and citizens to act responsibly in the face of historical wrongs and their lasting consequences. Given deep disagreements over what responsibility for the past means in practice, these questions also raise the stakes for the future of Germany’s global reputation as a normative model for democratic confrontations with difficult pasts. It provides an overview of the circumstances after reunification in which colonial memory issues came to the fore, and analyzes a 2019 Bundestag debate on colonial heritage as an example of how the main contours of colonial memory are being configured within the context of contemporary politics.
Stephen J. Silvia
Since German unification, assessments of the German economy have swung from “sick man of the euro” in the early years to dominant hegemon of late. I argue that the German economy appears strong because of its recent positive performance in two politically salient areas: unemployment and the current account. A deeper assessment reveals, however, that German economic performance cannot be considered a second economic miracle, but is at best a mini miracle. The reduction in unemployment is an important achievement. That said, it was not the product of faster growth, but of sharing the same volume of work among more individuals. Germany’s current account surpluses are as much the result of weak domestic demand as of export prowess. Germany has also logged middling performances in recent years regarding growth, investment, productivity, and compensation. The article also reviews seven challenges Germany has faced since unification: financial transfers from west to east, the global financial crisis, the euro crisis, internal and external migration, demographics, climate change, and upheavals in the automobile industry. German policy-makers managed the first four challenges largely successfully. The latter three will be more difficult to tackle in the future.
An Examination of Survey Evidence
Anti-immigration sentiments can take on a variety of forms, but a particularly prevalent version across Europe is welfare chauvinism. According to welfare chauvinism, the services of the welfare state should be provided only to natives and not to immigrants. Like many other European countries, German politics also features welfare chauvinism, and not only on the far right segment of the political spectrum. What drives welfare chauvinism? Most studies of welfare chauvinism try to assess whether economic or cultural factors matter most. In an attempt to bridge these perspectives, this article brings in neoliberalism. An examination of survey results from EBRD’s Life in Transition project suggests that neoliberal economic attitudes are a key determinant of welfare chauvinism. German respondents who have neoliberal economic views tend to see immigrants as a drain on the welfare state, while those who have economically leftist views tend to see immigrants as providing a positive contribution.
Multiculturalism, Ritual and Cultural Reproduction
Jay (Koby) Oppenheim
The concept of Jewish space, initially conceived by Diana Pinto as a unique European development, marked a critical shift in relations between Jews and non-Jews, the latter embracing a Jewish past as constitutive of their countries' own. The hoped-for European multiculturalism failed to blossom and Jewish space, in Pinto's assessment, has not born the fruit of its potential. To investigate the shortfall of Jewish space, this article examines the 2012 debate on ritual male circumcision in Germany (Beschneidungsdebatte) that drew contemporary Jewish practice into the public eye. Pinto's formulation is premised on a multicultural society that actively works to blunt intolerance, a condition whose fulfilment in contemporary Europe remains incomplete and uneven. Moreover, this attempt to extend the integration of history into memory was stymied by its lack of a living subject. While Jews constitute a long-standing minority population with a unique history in Germany, their success in establishing a shared Jewish space is tied to the broader project of tolerance and integration facing immigrant and minority groups in Western Europe.
Michael Ebert, Ilona Ostner, Uschi Brand, and Steffen Kühnel
Large-scale initiatives to improve individual life chances and social structures face many problems. They need proper theorising and equally proper operationalisation. This is where the EFSQ project on ‘Social Quality Indicators’ comes into play: its main objective was to develop concepts and instruments for a country- and European-wide assessment of social quality. On the basis of ontological considerations about ‘the social’, the new approach defined a ‘quadrangle’ of four basic conditions which were assumed to determine the development of social quality: ‘socio-economic security’, ‘social inclusion’, ‘social cohesion’ and ‘social empowerment’. Relevant domains and sub-domains for each of the four components were identified and a restricted set of ‘ideal’ – mostly objective – indicators was chosen. The availability of already existing ‘hard’ data did not influence that process. Hence the project has stretched beyond the mere description of social quality in Europe and provided a stimulus to gather new relevant data on ‘forgotten’ aspects of the social quality of life. Social indicator research has a long tradition in Germany which helped us to draw effectively upon the results of regularly conducted surveys. The following report starts by explaining the German context. It then summarises key-findings from existing databases to give meaning to the ninety-five social quality indicators in the four components. Finally, we have included discussion of relevant policy initiatives.
Thomas Lenk and Volkmar Teichmann
This article analyses East German economic and social development of the last eight years, which, due to the reunification, represents a special case of the transformation processes occurring throughout the former socialist countries of Middle and Eastern Europe. Eight years after German reunification, an interim balance of the reform process in the new German states should be drawn up with an examination of West German financial contributions.
A Case of “Good, but Could Do Better”
Germany has traditionally been viewed as a country where corruption is under control. Corruption has never been viewed as nonexistent, but for much of the postwar period it was still seen as something that happened largely elsewhere. Where it
Since the 1990s, political apathy among young people has been a recurrent issue in political science. This article examines, on the basis of a survey of the current debate about political apathy in Germany and an analysis of civic education textbooks for the lower secondary level in Baden-Württemberg, how contemporary German textbooks reflect young people’s interest in politics. This article will show that, while political apathy in textbooks can be explained as the result of either an individual deficit on the part of the reader or a structuralist deficit of the political system, the latter explanation is more likely to encourage critical political thinking among young people in Germany.
The Effect of European and North American Motorway Construction on Attitudes in Britain, 1930-1960
GERMANY, GREAT BRITAIN, MOTORWAYS, NATIONALISM, and TRANSPORT
This article examines British attitudes to motorway construction during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, stressing the importance of international events to Britain's motorway building policy. It shows that while national social, political and economic imperatives, movements, and contexts were clearly of primary importance in debates about motorway construction in Britain, these often emerged amidst discussions about road-building developments abroad, particularly in mainland Europe and North America. The article focuses on British reactions to the construction of the German National Socialist Party's Autobahnen in the 1930s, examining how the Autobahnen became embroiled in a spectacular propagandist performance of the modern German nation. Finally, the paper examines the attention paid to European and U.S. motorways in postwar Britain, as engineers, landscape architects, designers, and civil servants undertook research to help inform their plans and designs for British motorways.
From Civilian Power to a Geo-economic Shaping Power
Stephen F. Szabo
Germany has emerged as the big Western winner from globalization and is striving to become what its policymakers label a “shaping power” ( Gestaltungsmacht )—one that has the ability to shape outcomes and events through the development and