Thirty years on from the peaceful revolution in the former communist German Democratic Republic (GDR) Germany remains profoundly divided between the perspectives of Germans living in the eastern and the western parts of the country, which is becoming ever more obvious by the polarization of domestic politics. Hence, Germany today resembles a nation which is formally unified but deeply divided internally in cultural and political terms. This article examines the background to the growing cleavages between eastern and western regions, which have their roots in the mistakes that were made as part of the management of the domestic aspects of German reunification. From a historic-institutionalist perspective the merger of the pathways of the two German states has not taken place. Instead, unified Germany is characterized by the dominance of the institutional pathway of the former West German Federal Republic, which has substantially contributed to the self-perception of East Germans as dislocated, second-class citizens.
East-West Cleavages in Germany Thirty Years After Reunification
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.
This article analyzes references to history and, a fortiori, to memory in official French discourse during and after German unification. It shows that the understanding of the past complies, in every sense of the word, with France's European policy. Entirely oriented towards the promotion and justification of the European future, official memory distorts some historical facts in order to exorcise the present of a cumbersome past. Because it serves as a means of deferring to the national interest rather than as an end in itself, this representation of the past shows the limits of the official memory.
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.
Continuity, Change, and the Role of Leaders
which took place in quick succession—German reunification and the collapse of the ussr —have altered the very basis of bilateral ties. When this is added to the more gradual progress of the European Union toward unification, the map of Europe has
The Political Climate in Pausewang's Novel Die Wolke (1987) and Anike Hage's Manga Adaptation (2013)
Sean A. McPhail
, Hage's text is noteworthy for its elision of almost all reference to the conflict, while its manga form counters the received opinion of comics in West Germany from the war until shortly before the Wiedervereinigung [reunification]. Finally, where
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.
Robert Gerald Livingston
Robert L. Hutchings, American Diplomacy and the End of the Cold War: An Insider’s Account of U.S. Policy in Europe, 1989-1992 (Washington, D.C. and Baltimore: The Woodrow Wilson Center Press and The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997)
Charles S. Maier, Dissolution: The Crisis of Communism and The End of East Germany (Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1997)
Peter E. Quint, The Imperfect Union: Constitutional Structures of German Unification (Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1997)
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.
Across former East Germany today there are more than two dozen private museums devoted to representing everyday life under socialism. Some are haphazard collections in cramped spaces, others marketable mainstays of their local tourist economy. Historians have criticized them as at best amateurish and, at worst, a trivialization of the GDR's repressive practices. Yet, this article argues how, as a social phenomenon, these museums form an important early phase in postunification efforts by public cultural institutions to incorporate the GDR everyday into working through the past. The article examines the museum's modes of representation and shows how the museums lay claim to authenticity through a tactile, interactive, and informal approach. Despite valid criticisms, the article argues that the museums can be seen as helping overcome, rather than reinforce, the binary of totalitarianism and everyday life as antagonistic frameworks for understanding the socialist past.