One of the most important developments in the incipient Berlin Republic's memory regime has been the return of the memory of German suffering from the end and aftermath of World War II. Elite discourses about the bombing of German cities, the mass rape of German women by members of the Red Army, and, above all, the expulsion of Germans from then-Eastern Germany and elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe have gained massive visibility in the last decade. Although many voices have lauded these developments as liberating, many others within Germany and especially in Poland—from where the vast majority of Germans were expelled—have reacted with fear. Yet, do these elite voices resonate with mass publics? Have these arguments had demonstrable effects on public opinion? This paper delves into these questions by looking at survey results from both countries. It finds that there has been a disjuncture between the criticisms of elites and average citizens, but that the barrage of elite criticisms leveled at German expellees and their initiatives now may be affecting mass attitudes in all cases.
The 2012 French presidential election witnessed an increase in discussion about the European Union and its policies. To an equal degree the two top contenders, Nicolas Sarkozy and Fran?ois Hollande, criticized European policies and made promises to rectify EU mistakes, if elected. European institutions and decisions became scapegoats for domestic failures and tough economic choices, reflecting a long-term surge in Euroscepticism among French voters, especially in comparison to EU averages. Both candidates sought advantage by engaging in “EU-Negative“ campaigns to be able to mobilize as many potential voters as possible. Surprisingly, a half-year of EU criticisms has not led, at least in the short term, to a further increase in anti-EU positions in the public opinion.
Bernd Eichinger's Der Untergang is the first all-German production in fifty years to feature Hitler in a full-length dramatic film. This article explores the choices and intentions of the producer/scriptwriter, aspects of German public opinion about Hitler, and the critical responses to what was widely seen as an effort to humanize Hitler on screen-though I argue it was ultimately more an effort to finally lay Hitler to rest.
Mark E. Spicka
Perhaps the most remarkable development in the Federal Republic
of Germany since World War II has been the creation of its stable
democracy. Already by the second half of the 1950s, political commentators
proclaimed that “Bonn is not Weimar.” Whereas the
Weimar Republic faced the proliferation of splinter parties, the rise
of extremist parties, and the fragmentation of support for liberal and
conservative parties—conditions that led to its ultimate collapse—the
Federal Republic witnessed the blossoming of moderate, broadbased
parties.1 By the end of the 1950s the Christian Democratic
Union/Christian Social Union (CDU), Social Democratic Party
(SPD) and Free Democratic Party (FDP) had formed the basis of a
stable party system that would continue through the 1980s.
From the beginning of the West German state, a lot of public opinion polling was done on the German question. The findings have been scrutinized carefully from the 1950s onward, but polls have always been taken at face value, as a mirror of society. In this analysis, polls are treated rather as an observation technique of empirical social research that composes a certain image of society and its public opinion. The entanglement of domestic and international politics is analyzed with respect to the use of surveys that were done around the two topics of Western integration and reunification that pinpoint the “functional entanglement” of domestic and international politics. The net of polling questions spun around these two terms constituted a complex setting for political actors. During the 1950s, surveys probed and ranked the fears and anxieties that characterized West Germans and helped to construct a certain kind of atmosphere that can be described as “Cold War angst.” These findings were taken as the basis for dealing with the dilemma of Germany caught between reunification and Western integration. The data and interpretations were converted into “security” as the overarching frame for international and domestic politics by the conservative government that lasted until the early 1960s.
Gianfranco Baldini and Alan Renwick
The topic of electoral reform, a recurring feature of the Italian political agenda, resurfaced in 2014. At the start of the year, a ruling by the Constitutional Court returned the country to a proportional system, similar to the one in place during the First Republic. This chapter examines the key political responses to that ruling and how the decision has spurred further electoral reforms, resulting in the most majoritarian system in Italy's democratic history.
British Concepts for a New World Order during and after the World Wars
Antero Holmila and Pasi Ihalainen
The carnage of World War I gave rise to liberal visions for a new world order with democratized foreign policy and informed international public opinion. Conservatives emphasized continuity in national sovereignty, while socialists focused on the interests of the working class. While British diplomacy in the construction of the League of Nations has been widely discussed, we focus on contemporary uses of nationalism and internationalism in parliamentary and press debates that are more ideological. We also examine how failed internationalist visions influenced uses of these concepts during World War II, supporting alternative organizational solutions, caution with the rhetoric of democracy and public opinion, and ways to reconcile national sovereignty with a new world organization. The United Nations was to guarantee the interests of the leading powers (including the United States), while associations with breakthroughs of democracy were avoided. Nationalism (patriotism) and internationalism were reconciled with less idealism and more pragmatism.
Politics and Power after the 2017 Bundestag Election
Although it has not been that long since the articles of the previous special issue devoted to the 2017 Bundestag election and its aftermath have been published, the political situation in Germany appears to have stabilized. After almost six months without a new government, German politics has sunk back into a kind of late-Merkel era normality. Public opinion polls continue to show that the CDU/CSU is slightly above its election outcome, the SPD is still down in the 17–18 percent range, the FDP has lost about 2 percent of its support, while the AfD, Greens and Left Party are up 1–2 percent.
This article reconstructs the evolution of the representation of Italian colonialism in history textbooks for upper secondary schools from the Fascist era to the present day. Textbook analysis is conducted here in parallel with the development of Italian historiography, with special attention being paid to the myth of the "good Italian", incapable of war crimes and violence against civilians, that has been cherished by Italian public opinion for a long time. Italian historians have thoroughly reconstructed the crimes perpetrated by the Italian army both in the colonies and in Yugoslavia and Greece during the Second World War, and this issue has slowly entered history textbooks.
Jean-Paul Sartre and Ronald Aronson
In early 1945, with the war not yet over, Sartre travelled to the United States for the first time. He travelled with a group of correspondents who were invited in order to influence French public opinion favourably towards the United States.1 Sartre was sent by his friend Albert Camus to report back to Combat, the leading newspaper of the independent left. Once invited, he arranged also to report back to the conservative newspaper, Le Figaro. Simone de Beauvoir reports that learning of Camus’ invitation in late 1944 was one of the most exciting moments of Sartre’s life.