The years of Adenauer's chancellorship 1949-1963 were an extremely violent and anxiety laden period in recent history. Adenauer himself tried to combine as basic aims Western integration and German unification, but the latter more and more became a matter of lip-service for the time being for domestic reasons. The article focused on his Potsdam complex which meant the fear that the Western allies and the Soviet Union might find a solution of the German question without unification or in a kind of neutralism. In the course of the 1950ies and especially during the Berlin Wall crisis 1958-1962, Adenauer's course became more and more isolated because he tried to prevent all talks on relaxation of tensions, but also on the German question: both might lead to a status minor and the FRG especially. The author demonstrates how this process of isolation in the domestic as well as in the international field diminished the authority of the first chancellor of the FRG. He nevertheless continued to adhere to the necessary dichotomy of the Cold War camps with being able to formulate a diverging line. It is suggested that these questions of alternatives to the Cold War, given the mutual anxiety of the two camps should be used as a starting point for further research.
William Glenn Gray
This essay explores the relationship between West Germany's “economic miracle” and the goal of reunification in the early postwar decades. It argues that Konrad Adenauer was reluctant to mobilize economic resources on behalf of German unity-instead he sought to win trust by proclaiming unswerving loyalty to the West. Ludwig Erhard, by contrast, made an overt attempt to exchange financial incentives for political concessions-to no avail. Both of these chancellors failed to appreciate how West Germany's increasing prosperity undermined its diplomatic position, at least in the near term, given the jealousies and misgivings it generated in Western capitals and in Moscow. Only a gradual process of normalization would allow all four of the relevant powers-France, Britain, the United States, and the USSR-to develop sufficient trust in the economically dynamic Federal Republic to facilitate the country's eventual unification.
This article argues that state visits are highly symbolic political performances by analyzing state visits to Berlin in the 1950s and 1960s. The article concentrates on how state visits blended in the Cold War's culture of suspicion and political avowal. Special emphasis is placed on the role of mass media and on the guests' reactions and behavior. State visits to Berlin illuminate the heavy performative and emotional burden placed on all participants. Being aware of the possibilities for self-presentation offered by state visits, West German officials incorporated state visitors into their symbolic battle for reunification. A visit to Berlin with extensive media coverage was, therefore, of prime importance for the German hosts. Despite their sophisticated visualization strategies, total control of events was impossible. Some visitors did not want to play their allotted role and avoided certain sites in Berlin, refused to be accompanied by journalists or cancelled their trips altogether.
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.
Researching and writing contemporary history move forward in a
certain rhythm. Today, the 1960s are the decade of major interest,
whereas the 1970s increasingly are becoming the testing ground of
new approaches and reinterpretations. By contrast, the 1950s seem
of little interest—with most of the issues solved and most sources
accessible. But this could be a false impression, especially if one
takes into account the dominant views on this period that have
become popular in the last years. After 1989/90, with the fall of the
Berlin Wall, the unification of Germany, and the end of the Cold
War, many historians developed and corroborated an interpretation
of the postwar decades—a now widely accepted master narrative of
the “German question.” With the benefit of hindsight, they claimed
that Konrad Adenauer’s policy of Western integration was a necessary
and inevitable course, which facilitated eventual reunification.
Other political options would have rendered the Federal Republic of
Germany (FRG) dangerously open to stronger communist pressure or
even would have presented the Soviet Union with the opportunity to
expand its empire to Germany as a whole.
Peter Gay, My German Question: Growing Up in Nazi Berlin (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1998)
Review by Charles S. Maier
Jan-Werner Müller, Another Country: German Intellectuals, Unification and National Identity (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000)
Review by A. Dirk Moses
Margaret Lavinia Anderson, Practicing Democracy: Elections and Political Culture in Imperial Germany (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000)
Review by Sheri Berman
J.H. Brinks, Children of a New Fatherland; Germany’s Post-War Right-Wing Politics, trans. Paul Vincent (London/New York: I.B. Tauris Publishers, 2000)
Review by Elliot Neaman
Stephen Padgett, Organizing democracy in eastern Germany: Interest groups in post-communist society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000)
Review by John Brady
Alan D. Schrift, ed., Why Nietzsche Still? Reflections on Drama, Culture, and Politics (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2000)
Review by Silke-Maria Weineck
Steve Hochstadt, Mobility and Modernity: Migration in Germany 1820–1989 (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1999)
Review by William H. Hubbard
Angelika Timm, Jewish Claims Against East Germany: Moral Obligations and Pragmatic Polic y(Budapest: Central European University Press, 1997)
Review by Belinda Cooper
Ireneusz Pawel Karolewski, Julian Pänke, and Jochen Roose
how to contain German power in Europe—the new old German question. 10 Julian Pänke explores three peripheral perceptions of a “German plot” to rule Europe—in Greece, Poland, and the uk . He uses sociological role theory to address the “normalization
A Research Report
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. Twenty years ago he wrote an introduction to Nietzsche’s philosophy for the Twayne Series, in which he dealt with Nietzsche’s response to social and scientific issues of his time, including the German Question, women’s emancipation, and Darwinism. As an
Klaus Berghahn, Russell Dalton, Jason Verber, Robert Tobin, Beverly Crawford, and Jeffrey Luppes
, the argument goes, is too big to balance power and too small to exercise hegemony. Geography combined with German nationalism and a sense of the “German national mission” gave rise to the “German Question,” which describes how Germany long destabilized