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Asiye Kaya

The year 2011 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the bilateral recruitment

agreement that the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) signed with

the Republic of Turkey in 1961. According to official figures, the immigrant

group with roots in Turkey and its offspring make the second largest

group currently after ethnic German emigrants (resettlers) in Germany.

Understanding this migration experience and the broader issues of immigration

in Germany is the motivation behind this special issue.

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Gavriel D. Roseneld

Few issues have possessed the centrality or sparked as much controversy

in the postwar history of the Federal Republic of Germany

(FRG) as the struggle to come to terms with the nation’s Nazi past.

This struggle, commonly known by the disputed term Vergangenheitsbewältigung,

has cast a long shadow upon nearly all dimensions of

German political, social, economic, and cultural life and has prevented

the nation from attaining a normalized state of existence in

the postwar period. Recent scholarly analyses of German memory

have helped to broaden our understanding of how “successful” the

Germans have been in mastering their Nazi past and have shed light

on the impact of the Nazi legacy on postwar German politics and

culture. Even so, important gaps remain in our understanding of

how the memory of the Third Reich has shaped the postwar life of

the Federal Republic.

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Hope M. Harrison

Fifty years ago on 13 August 1961, the East Germans sealed the east-west

border in Berlin, beginning to build what would become known as the

Berlin Wall. Located 110 miles/177 kilometers from the border with West

Germany and deep inside of East Germany, West Berlin had remained the

“last loophole” for East Germans to escape from the communist German

Democratic Republic (GDR) to the western Federal Republic of Germany

(FRG, West Germany). West Berlin was an island of capitalism and democracy

within the GDR, and it enticed increasing numbers of dissatisfied East

Germans to flee to the West. This was particularly the case after the border

between the GDR and FRG was closed in 1952, leaving Berlin as the only

place in Germany where people could move freely between east and west.

By the summer of 1961, over 1,000 East Germans were fleeing westwards

every day, threatening to bring down the GDR. To put a stop to this, East

Germany’s leaders, with backing from their Soviet ally, slammed shut this

“escape hatch.”

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Stephen Milder and Konrad H. Jarausch

The September 2013 Bundestag election, which reelected Angela Merkel

as chancellor, was a clear defeat for the Green Party. Alliance 90/The

Greens (henceforth the Greens) fared far better than the Free Democratic

Party (FDP), which failed even to score the five percent of the vote required

for representation in parliament, but still fell from 10.7 percent to 8.4 percent,

losing five of their sixty-eight seats in parliament. Since in March of

that same year, surveys had shown their support at 17 percent, this disappointing

result forced Jürgen Trittin, the leader of the parliamentary delegation

to step down.1 In many ways, this perceived electoral debacle marked

the end of an era. The former Federal Minister of the Envi ron ment, who

had originally joined the party in 1980, told reporters that “a new generation” would have to step forward and lead the party into the 2017

campaign. This statement suggested not only that the Greens’ rebellious

founding impulse was spent, but also that they had become part of the

establishment in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), now requiring a

reinvigoration of their own. Since the Greens were once expected to be little

more than a short-lived byproduct of the social conflicts of the 1970s, a

closer look at the party’s founding moment at the beginning of the 1980s

might shed new light on its current predicament.

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Werner Pfennig, Vu Tien Dung and Alexander Pfennig

In many countries, the process of German unification is of continued interest. While the fact that peaceful unification was possible is generally appreciated, the costs of unification seem to still be of great concern. Yet, they have always to be seen in relationship to costs of division. It may be impossible to work out exactly the final sum of costs of German division. We searched for costs that occurred for the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) since 1949 and what we put together is, admittedly, an incomplete compilation, as it is a difficult undertaking which has not been done before. Furthermore, it is almost impossible to calculate the costs the German Democratic Republic (GDR) paid for division. Thus, we can only present an estimate. Costs of division as juxtaposed to unification costs will show that unification in Germany is not even twice as expensive as was division. Many of these costs facilitated normalization and the opening up of East Germany—in the end they turned out to be a most valuable prepayment for German unification.

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Helga A. Welsh

After the two German states unified in 1990, the tendency to transplant West German practices to the former East Germany was particularly pronounced in areas where systemic differences and perceived inefficiency met ideological reservations. The higher education system was among them. Comprehensive institutional, policy, and personnel transfer from West to East ensued. Starting in the mid 1990s after many failed initiatives, however, new policies were launched in the unified Germany. Reinforced by feedback from institutional and policy transfer to the East, factors such as Europeanization and globalization empowered newly formed advocacy coalitions to advance a reform agenda. Competition and performance seeded other ideas, prominent among them diversification, internationalization, autonomy, and accountability. Existing institutions and firmly rooted traditions still condition and limit change, and reforming the reforms has become commonplace. Differentiation among Länder and higher education institutions has become more pronounced, adding to the variety of outcomes. In ways unforeseen in 1990, some areas of the German higher education system have seen paradigmatic change, while others have survived relatively unscathed. The recalibration of the system continues, and reform pressure persists.

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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.

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Eric Langenbacher

The Federal Republic of Germany—both before and after 1989—has been influenced deeply by collective memories of the Nazi period and the Holocaust, a seemingly "unmasterable past." In a first phase after unification, memory trends, which had their origin in the mid 1980s, continued, but a second period, beginning around the 1999 move of the capital back to Berlin, however, witnessed the erosion of this older trend and the delayed rise of new memory dynamics. Substantively, there have been three vectors of memory concerning Nazi crimes, German suffering, and the period of division, especially regarding the German Democratic Republic. In this article, I outline the major collective memory dynamics and debates, first from a qualitative and then from a more quantitative perspective where I analyze the holdings of the German National Library. I conclude that an intense period of memory work characterized the postunification years, but the peak of concern was reached several years ago and the German future will be much less beholden to the past. Given inevitable normalizing trends and the unintended consequences of the hegemony of Holocaust memory, Germany's difficult historical legacy increasingly appears to be disappearing or even mastered.

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Eric Langenbacher

Germany-watchers and many Germans have long been sour about the unified country. Often for well-founded reasons, there are few policy or cultural areas that have not been subjected to withering criticism: failed integration of immigrants, an antiquated political economy, insufficient coming-to-terms with the past, atrophied parties, or lackluster foreign policy. Nevertheless, the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Wall and unification is an appropriate moment to pause and reflect on the accomplishments of contemporary Germany—export champion, environmental pioneer, cultural leader, and staunch multilateral European. Despite all of the problems of the last twenty years and the daunting challenges ahead, perhaps Germans can dare some cautious optimism and even a sense of pride.

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Pertti Ahonen

The Berlin Wall was a key site of contestation between the Federal Republic and the German Democratic Republic in their Cold War struggle over political legitimacy. On both sides, the Wall became a tool in intense publicity battles aimed at building legitimacy and collective identity at home, and undermining them in the other Germany. The public perceptions and politicized uses of the barrier evolved through stages that reflected the relative fortunes of the two German states, moving gradually from extensive East-West parallels in the early 1960s toward a growing divergence by the 1970s and 1980s, which became increasingly indicative of East Germany's weakness.