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.
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