This article explores the changing perception of "diversity" and "cultural difference" in Germany and shows how they were central in the construction of "self" and "other" throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries affecting minorities such as Jews, Poles, and others. It examines different levels of legal and political action toward minorities and immigrants in this process and explores how the perception and legal framework for the Turkish minority in the past sixty years was influenced by historical patterns of such perceptions and their memory. The article tries to shed some light on how the nature of coming-to-terms with the past ( Vergangenheitsbewältigung ) and the memory of the Holocaust have long prohibited a broader discussion on inclusion and exclusion in German society. It makes some suggestions as to what forced Germans in the postunification era to reconsider legislation, as well as society's approach to "self" and "other" under the auspices of the closing of the "postwar period" and a newly emerging united Europe.
Jeffrey Kopstein and Daniel Ziblatt
A core lesson of Germany's federal election of September 2005 is the enduring legacy of the communist past in East Germany, a legacy that substantially shapes politics in unified Germany. Fifteen years after unification, the crucial difference in German politics still lies in the East. The 2005 election demonstrated the enduring east-west divide in German party politics. The result is that Germany today has two coherent party systems, one in the East and one in the West. Combined, however, they produce incoherent outcomes. Any party that hopes to win at the federal level must perform well in the very different circumstances in the East.
Observers across Europe and the world were shocked when British voters decided in June 2016 to leave the European Union. Since the Brexit decision, British politics have been in disarray and the government’s incoherent negotiation positions have created much economic and political uncertainty. Germans and others have had to formulate policy based on assumptions and predictions. Despite slightly different emphases, all mainstream German parties have endorsed a harder line rejecting British efforts to cherry pick the most desirable aspects of a relationship with the EU. This stance accords with the preferences of European Union actors and the vast majority of member states. Moreover, the likely effects on the German economy will not be catastrophic. Thus, as much as Germans prefer that the UK remain in the EU, there is also little desire to accommodate British demands—and there may even be a sense of relief.
Isabelle Hertner and Alister Miskimmon
This article outlines how Germany has sought to project a strategic narrative of the Eurozone crisis. Germany has been placed center stage in the Eurozone crisis, and as a consequence, the German government's crisis narrative matters for the future of the common currency. We highlight how the German government has sought to narrate a story of the cause of the Eurozone crisis and present policy solutions to influence policy decisions within the EU and maintain domestic political support. This focus on the public communication of the crisis is central to understanding the development of Germany's policy as it was negotiated with EU partners, the U.S. and international financial institutions. We draw on speeches and interviews by Chancellor Angela Merkel and two of her senior cabinet ministers delivered at key moments of the Eurozone crisis between May 2010 and June 2012. The article argues that while Merkel and her governments have been able to shore up domestic support for her Eurozone policies, she has struggled to find a coherent strategic narrative that is both consistent with German domestic preferences and historical memory, and with those of other Eurozone members.
Germans are inordinately preoccupied with the question of national integration. From the Kulturkampf to the Weimar Republic to the separation of East and West, social fractiousness is deeply ingrained in German history, giving rise to a desire to unify the "incomplete nation." Yet, the impulse to integrate German society has long been ambivalent. Between Bismarck and the Nazi interregnum, top-down efforts to force Germans to integrate threatened to erase valued differences. The twentieth anniversary of German reunification is the occasion to assess the reality of and ambivalence towards social integration in contemporary Germany. A review of economic and social measures of East-West, immigrant, and Muslim integration provides many indications of progress. Nevertheless, social cleavages persist despite political integration. Indeed, in some aspects, including in the party system, fragmentation is greater now than it was two decades ago. Yet successful social integration is a two-way street, requiring newcomers and oldtimers to interact. Integration of the European Union to some extent has followed this German path, with subsidiarity ensuring a decentralized social model and limited cohesion. German ambivalence about social integration is a major reason for the continuing social fragmentation of the society.
British-German relations have undergone a considerable transformation since 1945 with both countries having to adapt to significant changes in their own status, as well as a very different international environment. Germany's status as a morally and militarily defeated and occupied power in 1945 is in stark contrast to the confident role it is playing at the beginning of the new millennium when—sixty years after the end of World War II—the German chancellor for the first time took part in the VE-Day celebrations of the victors. This article analyzes recent dynamics of collective memory in both countries and examine if and to what extent their collective memories play a role in British-German relations.
France and Germany played a highly visible leadership role during the management of the Euro crisis and the efforts to design a reform governance framework for the Euro area. This article provides a conceptualization of this bilateral leadership, which is then applied to trace the process of Franco-German leadership during the ongoing crisis of the Euro area. Franco-German leadership grew ever more important as the crisis deepened. After the French presidential election of 2012, however, the divergences between the two core states of the Euro area deepened and made the exercise of joint leadership more difficult to achieve. I consider this leadership role to be based on a compromise by proxy logic in which France and Germany, starting from divergent positions, strike bilateral compromises acceptable to other member states that feel their own interests are represented by either France or Germany. Their common capacity to find suitable remedies to cope with crisis, however, is not beyond doubt. The Franco-German approach followed an additive logic, combining the temporary and permanent financial support schemes-a French preference-with a concomitant strengthening of fiscal rules advocated by Germany. In the end, the two governments did not develop a common comprehensive strategy based on a shared conceptual framework.
Charles S. Maier
This essay looks at postunification Germany through the pages of German Politics and Society. The articles published during this period reveal the evolution of intellectuals' understanding of the unified country—concerns that mirrored changes in social, political, and cultural reality. Of course, academics are beholden to their own histories and Weltanschauung, a fact that produced, at times, prescient, sometimes fragmentary, and sometimes alarmist interpretations and analyses of the country in an attempt to provide orientation. Nevertheless, this review shows how German watchers have slowly up-dated their paradigms and are now not worrying as much about a mellowed, less German country that has fascinated them over the decades.
Leander Haußmann (Sonnenallee), a theater and film director with East German roots, contributed the documentary Die Durchmacher to the television series Denk ich an Deutschland. In his documentary, Haußmann interviews some of his old friends who in the late 1970s formed a group in East Berlin and presents their stories about the time. This paper explores the image of the German Democratic Republic that is created by the memories of the participants and their presentation through Haußmann. An important element of the memories is the perspective from which they come: out of a subculture that tried to escape East German reality with only limited success. This article also examines how the ambiguity and unreliability of memories are presented in the film. The documentary is put into the context of a debate on the concept of "Ostalgia" (Ostalgie), arguing that this can still be a productive means to communicate East German experiences without idealizing them.
Film history marks the various transformations in the material and imaginative relations between Germans and Poles in the postwar era. This article explores how film—the primary contemporary vehicle for imaginative communities—has played an important role in envisioning various spatial relationships, as well as the political and cultural shifts in the general population of Germany, West and East, and Poland. The article surveys the representation of flight and expulsion from the East first in the fictional feature film and then in the documentary genre. It then turns to contemporary productions that offer new visions of contemporary German-Polish relationships. It considers different strategies of filmmaking, such as big budget historic event films, the melancholic frame of expellee videos, the contemporary interzonal film, among others.