Dear Colleagues and Friends,

As I write these words, the cherry trees are in bloom here in Washington, D.C., spring is in the air, and the GHI is full of activity.

On February 1 the German-American Center for Visiting Scholars (GACVS) opened its doors on the fourth floor of the GHI's building on New Hampshire Avenue. As I reported in the last issue of the Bulletin, the German-American Academic Council (GAAC), the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS), and the GHI have formed a partnership to run the GACVS, which will be supported over the next three years by funds from the European Recovery Program. The Center provides researchers in the humanities and social sciences with a modern working environment for a period of up to six months. Representatives of the three partner organizations have selected the inaugural group of seventeen scholars who will work at the Center until the end of October 1998.

On February 21, the federal minister for research and technology, Dr. Jürgen Rüttgers, accompanied by Jürgen Chrobog, the German ambassador to the United States, and a number of German journalists, toured the GACVS. Representatives of the three partner organizations - Dr. Jackson Janes from the AICGS, Prof. Theodore Ziolkowski and Robert Tuch from the GAAC, and myself - thanked Dr. Rüttgers for the support that this project has received at various levels of his ministry. Special thanks were expressed to Ministerial Director Volker Knoerich and to Dr. Josef Rembser, the managing director of the GAAC in Bonn, for their prudence, energy, and recommendations in turning this idea into a reality. Minister Rüttgers appreciated the importance of the new center for German-American cultural relations. He also was impressed with the state-of-the-art computer equipment available to the visiting scholars.

State-of-the-art technology also plays a central role in another innovation at the GHI. As many friends of the GHI and readers of the Bulletin have already noticed, the GHI has a new Web page. Information on GHI activities, publications, library holdings, and staff is now accessible over the Internet. The Web page was posted on February 1, 1998, and for those who have not found it yet, the URL address is We will continue to update and expand this site over the next few months.

Important changes also took place in personnel. Christof Mauch was nominated by our Academic Advisory Council to replace Martin Geyer as deputy director and was approved as such by the Board of Trustees. Dr. Geyer left the GHI to accept a professorship at the University of Munich. Since his arrival on January 1, 1998, Dr. Mauch has instituted a number of changes. He has intensified the supervision of the doctoral candidates, has revived the Summer Program for North American graduate students in a somewhat altered format, and has built the foundation for a new internship program. Our new research fellow, Raimund Lammersdorf, is not only a proven scholar but also a competent and an ardent computer "freak" whose knowledge benefits our entire organization. Our new copy editor, Annette M. Marciel, strengthens our editorial team, which includes Daniel S. Mattern, senior editor, and David B. Morris, editor.

In closing, I would like to report on another development that further enriches the Institute's wealth of institutional, political, and historical resources, particularly when it comes to experience and wisdom. Robert Gerald Livingston, who was the founding director of the AICGS, has been working with the GHI as a senior visiting research fellow since January 1, 1997. He is currently writing a book on politics in the German-American relationship since 1945. As of September 1, 1998, Thomas L. Hughes also will join the GHI as a senior visiting research fellow. The president emeritus of the Carnegie Foundation, Hughes has a long and distinguished history of promoting German-American cooperation. At the GHI, he will work on a project that deals with his own family history in the sixteenth century, namely, a study of Sigismund, archbishop of Magdeburg and margrave of Brandenburg.

Yours truly,

Detlef Junker 

"The Transformation of European Politics, 1763-1848: Episode or Model?"

Conference at the University of Illinois, Monticello, Ill., October 31-November 2, 1997, co-sponsored by the German Historical Institute, Washington, D.C., and the University of Illinois. Conveners: Peter Krüger and Paul W. Schroeder.

A distinguished group of historians and political scientists from Canada, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States gathered at the University of Illinois' Allerton Conference Center, Monticello, Ill., from October 31 to November 2, 1997, to discuss the implications of Paul W. Schroeder's work, The Transformation of European Politics, 1763-1848 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994), for European and world international politics from the Peace of Westphalia to the present day. The specific question debated was whether Schroeder's central thesis of a fundamental transformation of European politics in the Vienna era from the essentially competitive and conflictual politics of the eighteenth century to the more restrained Concert and solidarity politics of the early nineteenth century represented merely an episode or could serve in some sense as a model for understanding other transformations, earlier, later, or current.

No consensus was reached on that question, but the theme of the transformation of European politics offered a strong basis for fruitful discussion as both a theoretical possibility and an historic reality. Charles S. Maier (Harvard) opened the discussion with a keynote address titled "Black Boxes or Blue Blood: Socioeconomic Dimensions of International Systems, 1720-1990," arguing that while the old question of primacy of foreign or domestic politics had always been important and, in past eras, could be answered by making careful distinctions between the two, what had happened in the twentieth century is that that very distinction had become impossible. Internal and international socioeconomic factors had become so intertwined and embedded in international politics that any discussion of a "system" of international affairs had to include both foreign and domestic issues, and vice versa.

In the first session, which covered the period 1648-1763, the introductory remarks by Heinz Duchhardt (Mainz) supported the belief that the first half of the eighteenth century, at least, had been considerably more stable and peaceful than Schroeder's portrait indicated. Klaus Malettke (Marburg) argued that the policies of Richelieu and Mazarin, particularly the former, represented a surprisingly modern concept of peace through collective security under French leadership. Lucien Bély (Paris-Sorbonne) analyzed the Peace of Utrecht as having established a workable balance of power in Europe, while in a wide-ranging essay on the idea of balance of power in the early modern era, Paul Sonnino (UC Santa Barbara) doubted that the notion had much more than propagandistic and instrumental content and purpose. However, the commentator, Charles Ingrao, insisted that the "balance of power" concept had provided stability in the earlier half of the eighteenth century, arguing that the wars from 1740 on were largely due to the rise and predatory conduct of both Prussia and Russia, which upset the balance.

The second session, focusing on the period 1763-1812, probably saw the most agreement. The chair, T. C. W. Blanning (Cambridge-Sidney Sussex), agreed with the basic thesis (anticipated in his own work) that the French revolutionary wars began before the revolution itself, made them "revolutionary," and destroyed the European state system; he disagreed only with the too-favorable picture of Austrian policy under Leopold II. H. M. Scott (St. Andrews) demonstrated how France's decline to negligible international status before the revolution contributed heavily to the breakdown of the system and to the recklessness of the other actors. Hugh Ragsdale (Alabama), although agreeing that Russia followed predatory policies under Catherine II, demonstrated that some of the ideas of Vienna-era politics, in particular the Concert principle and general guarantees of rights and security, were foreshadowed in the policies of Paul I and Alexander I. The commentator, Robert Jervis (Columbia), reflected on how the changes in behavior discussed by historians could be applied to and explained by models used by political scientists.

The third session, concentrating on the years 1812-56, by contrast, produced the greatest dissonance and generated the liveliest debate. The chair, Enno Kraehe (Virginia), opened by arguing that the Schroeder thesis exaggerated the harmony of the Vienna settlement and the later era, as well as underemphasized the persistent power-based political aims and conflicts in both. Wolf Gruner (Rostock) called for a new look at the reconstruction of Europe in this period that takes into account all the salient determinants in international politics, including socioeconomic and domestic political influences in particular. Günther Heydemann (Leipzig) stressed the importance of the political and ideological split between constitutional and absolutist blocs as a factor in weakening and ultimately destroying the Vienna system. In perhaps the most grievous challenge to the Schroeder thesis, Edward Ingram (Simon Fraser) argued that peace in the Vienna era depended on the export of war and bellicism to the periphery, particularly the Ottoman Empire. Two commentators, John Vasquez (Vanderbilt) and Volker Sellin (Heidelberg), however, sided more with Schroeder's thesis. Vasquez agreed that the balance-of-power concept had little explanatory value in history or political science and stressed that the Vienna system created the most vital condition for stability, namely, the possibility of binding contracts and institutional arrangements. Sellin then analyzed the shift in collective mentalities and assumptions represented by the Vienna treaty system.

The final session, 1856 to the present, generally confirmed the relevance of the idea that there was a transformation in international politics in the modern era. Chairperson Peter Krüger (Marburg) stressed the importance of the Vienna system as a model of an open system of rules and methods for peace. F. R. Bridge (Leeds) contended that after the breakdown of 1856, the European system was not headed for ultimate collapse. Instead, there had been repeated rejuvenations of the system and renewed stability until the decade before 1914. Both Georges-Henri Soutou (Paris-Sorbonne) and Klaus Schwabe (Aachen) described failed attempts at a fundamental reconstruction of a harmonious order in the post-World War II era; Soutou concentrated on the original premises of Yalta and Potsdam, ruined by Stalin and the Cold War, and Schwabe discussed NATO and the hopes for overcoming the division of Europe through détente. The commentator, Edward Kolodziej (Illinois), developed his scheme for an emerging world order, based on reconciling three vital external and internal requirements of state and society: order, welfare, and legitimacy.

In his closing comments, Schroeder outlined three transformations of international politics in the modern era that followed on three catastrophic breakdowns of order: Utrecht, Vienna, and the current era. Each, he claimed, was characterized by three structural elements: the emergence of a benign hegemony; a new, widely accepted principle of order; and a consensus among the major actors on the practical definition and requirements of peace. The latter, he insisted, was the most vital for a durable peace and the most essential to cultivate and maintain.

Paul W. Schroeder

< back to Bulletin 22

Atlantik Brücke/Deutsche Welle Media Conference

Organized by Atlantik-Brücke and Deutsche Welle, hosted by the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C., supported by a grant from the German Marshall Fund of the United States, November 6-8, 1997. Speakers and Commentators: Michael Behrens (Director of English Programs, Deutsche Welle), Anthony Blinken (Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Strategic Planning, National Security Council), Rich Jaroslovsky (Managing Editor, The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition), Detlef Junker (Director, GHI), Frederick Kempe (Editor and Associate Publisher, The Wall Street Journal Europe), Walter Leisler Kiep (Chairman, Atlantik-Brücke), Kurt Kister (Deputy Foreign Editor, Süddeutsche Zeitung), Thomas Middelhoff (Member of the Managing Board, Bertelsmann AG), Torsten Kroop (Internet Services, Deutsche Welle), Robert Gerald Livingston (Senior Visiting Fellow, GHI), Philip A. Odeen (President and CEO, BDM International, Inc.), Norman Pearlstine (Editor-in-Chief, Time, Inc.), Elizabeth Pond (Freelance Journalist, Bonn), Dieter Weirich (Director General, Deutsche Welle), Leo Wieland (U.S.-Correspondent, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung).

In November 1997 a distinguished group of 45 journalists, businesspeople, and scholars met for two days in the historic rooms of the GHI's Woodbury Blair Mansion in Washington, D.C., to discuss issues concerning the role of the media in the relationship between Germany and the United States. What follows is an abridged version of the conference report by Gebhardt Schweigler, currently the Konrad Adenauer Visiting Professor at Georgetown University and a Senior Research Associate at the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik in Ebenhausen (Germany).

Who cares about Germany and its image in the United States? For that matter, why should anyone care how the United States is portrayed and perceived in Germany? When these questions were raised by the participants of the Atlantik Brücke/Deutsche Welle Media Conference, it was not an expression of frustration; rather, they reflected the original intentions of the conference organizers, who wanted to know what, if anything, had changed in the mutual perceptions of Germans and Americans after the Cold War and German reunification, in addition to what had been brought about by the revolution in information technology in recent years. The answers to these questions covered a broad spectrum, from the empirical (Who actually cares and in what way?) to the speculative (What is the role of new media such as the Internet?) to the normative (Why should we, especially those in the media, be concerned about how Germans view the United States and how Americans see Germany?).

Conference participants were recruited mainly from the media. The conference organizers were particularly interested in the professional assessments of practicing journalists regarding their respective colleagues' work: How does an American correspondent working in Germany, or a German reporter living in the United States, view the way his country is being portrayed on the other side? In addition, scholarly experts on communication and analysts of German-American relations were on hand to provide background information and broader perspectives. Finally, practitioners in the area of new information technologies shared their views on the consequences of the rapidly evolving use of the Internet for international communication. In the end, that mix of expertise made for a fascinating conference that raised many questions, provided important answers, and left some issues undecided.

Germans in the United States frequently do not recognize their home country in the clichés, cartoons, and caricatures presented by the media: This was the main observation regarding Germany's image in the United States. Either Germany is hardly present or its image is distorted by the historical telephoto lens that makes the Nazi period appear to be today's reality. That complaint about traditional stereotypes dominating U.S. reporting on Germany provoked an intensive discussion not only about its correctness but also about its implications. The elite press, according to data compiled by the German Embassy in Washington, D.C., carries far more stories about economic aspects of life in Germany (51%) than about issues having to do with Nazism (15%). This reflects a more broadly based development in the United States, where relations with other countries are increasingly viewed through the prism of economic interests, partly because the United States has become more globally interdependent but also because traditional security concerns simply have faded after the end of the Cold War. On the economic front, Germany is viewed quite favorably, not least because of the continued high acceptance of German luxury goods. At the same time, however, Germany remains rather uninteresting compared with other countries, particularly with regard to the developments in Asia in recent times. Germany no longer is of primary interest to either the American public or the American media. The reduction in the number of American correspondents and closure of bureaus operating in Germany could be seen as a clear indicator of a relative decline in interest.

But is Germany really that dull and uninteresting? That depends not only on how one views Germany but also on the medium covering it. Representatives of the American media, but also some experts on German affairs, argued that beneath the veneer of political consensus and low inclination to change, Germany is indeed moving rapidly, from shifting the capital to Berlin to participating in the introduction of a common European currency. In fact, Germany stands poised to become a more interesting country in the course of the 1998 elections, which may break the political gridlock that has prevented so many necessary reforms. Thus there is much to report from Germany, if only the reporters do what they are supposed to do: serve as the eyes and ears of their audience and approach their subjects with curiosity and no obvious biases (and the requisite language skills that allow them to understand the full context of the stories they cover).

Such reporting is good procedure for the few elite newspapers, which can deliver important background information to their readers. It is less relevant for the many local newspapers that have to rely on "news you can use" and may have different regional emphases with West Coast papers, for instance, looking more toward Latin America and Asia. At best, local newspapers may include the occasional report from the news services of a national newspaper, thus helping to subsidize the big papers' foreign correspondents. For television, however, the situation is quite different because the types of stories the print media may find relevant cannot be put into pictures and thus on TV, not least because news coverage on American TV has shifted to a magazine format that relies on appealing pictorial content more than straightforward news reporting. Reports about Germany therefore appear either in the form of occasional sensational pictures, such as neo-Nazis on the march, or by way of comparison with American developments, such as the effects of doing away with speed limits on American interstate highways.

Whereas the American public at large may thus be exposed to ever fewer high-quality reports about Germany, the possibly increasing number of those Americans with a specific interest in Germany can get access to the type of information they desire with growing ease. Already cable television in many local markets carries German programming originating from Deutsche Welle, the Federal Republic's voice to the world; in some communities, such as Washington, D.C., it is also made available through normal broadcast facilities. The Internet, embraced at first reluctantly but now whole-heartedly by Germany, carries a wealth of information, including English-language news also provided by Deutsche Welle. Private newsgathering organizations, German as well as American, make their information available via the Internet. Although it still is an uncertain environment for profitable commercial efforts, the Internet will become viable for commercial information providers if they can offer the means for speedy and effective access and selection. To the extent that established newspapers already offer comprehensive information services on the Internet, the Net has become the source of choice for those seeking detailed, targeted information. The future is likely to see an explosion of such offerings. In general, the opening up of new information channels increases the demand for new and interesting content.

Thus, those who care about Germany will have their requirements for information satisfied. But should Germany care that it may continue to be portrayed in stereotypical fashion among the rest of the population? Not to worry, argued many of the American participants. The prominence of the "Hitler Channel," as the History Channel has been dubbed by some critics, has more to do with an American need for reaffirming its own identity than with any attempt to depict contemporary Germany in historical terms. Nazis are perceived by American viewers like extraterrestrials, with no immediate current relevance. If anything, the evocation of the evils of Nazism may actually help improve the image of today's Germany, as the audience is reminded of how much Germany has accomplished in the meantime and in comparison with countries that have not confronted their past as thoroughly as Germany has.

In fact, Germany's efforts at Vergangenheitsbewältigung have become almost counterproductive, as some American observers argued. If the German political class truly is worried about the fact that members of Congress or other important segments of the elite believe that there is something almost genetically wrong with the Germans, Germans should stop phrasing the need for the European Union in terms of containing Germany. Others might stop using inflammatory rhetoric, such as referring to members of the Church of Scientology as rats or vermin. In short, as American observers reminded the audience, Germans should be pragmatic about their own past and about their country's role because they have many reasons to shed their apparently deeply ingrained sense of insecurity. It is up to the Germans, then, and not to the American media, to shape Germany's self-image.

Do Americans care about the image of the United States in Germany, and should they? After the war, the United States became Germany's "big brother" but also encountered some resentment due to its ubiquitous presence and for its bouts of inattention. That ambivalence in German attitudes toward the United States, however, predates the Federal Republic of Germany, as some participants argued. Germans, from the very beginning of the American republic, were torn between the sentiments expressed by Goethe, "Amerika, du hast es besser..." ("America, you are better off "), and the values purveyed by Germany's old master of pulp fiction, Karl May, who fascinated generations of German schoolchildren with his tales of heroic Indians and treacherous white immigrants. There has been a remarkable constancy of stereotypes in German perceptions of the United States. Today, German reactions to the United States are still divided between those who fervently argue that Germany does not want "American conditions" and those who share the conviction that Germany needs to adopt the American model in areas such as education, technological innovation, political reform, or even crime fighting. That long tradition of German ambivalence toward the United States is evident in the common denunciation of the violent nature of Hollywood movies, whereas Hollywood has apparently discovered that it can make its products more attractive to European audiences by including more violent scenes.

As Germany becomes more "Americanized" under the influence of globalization, American conditions are beginning to look more attractive and more worthy of further study. American correspondents in Germany expressed their surprise over the high level of media attention given to the crime-fighting efforts of New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and the importance that the issue of crime has been given in recent German elections. Apparently news from the United States - delivered by a new generation of less ideologically inclined reporters who have themselves been influenced by the American style of reporting - can be put to good use in Germany as it seeks to cope with the massive changes brought by the end of the Cold War and the impact of globalization. In that sense, the media form an important underpinning of the emerging transatlantic learning community.

Anti-Americanism, long prevalent on the extreme right and left ends of Germany's political spectrum, has waned, as evidenced by the high number of West (71%) and East (52%) Germans who profess that they find Americans sympathisch. There was some disagreement among the participants over whether the disappearance of anti-Americanism is the result of Germany's being once again in need of "big brother's" inspiration and help or, conversely, whether it is due to Germany's finally growing up and engaging less in some sort of "sibling rivalry." Some claimed that Germany's self-confidence was shattered after 1990, when reunification led to the search for a new identity. Along the way, it was argued, Germany has incorporated a strong American element into its own identity, which is why Germany cares so much about the United States and "the United States in us." With the emergence of the United States as both a "hard" and "soft" superpower after the end of the Cold War, Germany seems ready to develop an even stronger "American" identity. That would hold true particularly for the younger generations, with their openness to global developments. Others argued that the maturing of the Federal Republic has lessened the need for defining itself against a domineering American influence. Whatever the psychological processes might be, anti-Americanism, for the time being, is not an issue in Germany. Americans do not, and need not, worry.

The new media play an exceedingly important role in all these developments. Their influence is likely to grow - but in which directions? The sheer speed of the growth of the Internet alone is staggering. After only five years, the number of users of the World Wide Web has reached 100 million. The Internet has become a global mass medium that offers not only a new type of personal communication but also a wide range of opportunities for commercial use. Germany first hesitated to endorse this new technology and is still struggling to come to terms with it, as evidenced not only by futile efforts at content regulation but also by adverse Telecom pricing policies. The number of households with PCs is still half that of the United States, the number of those with access to online services, one-third. But Germany has begun to realize that it must meet the challenges of the information age, for it otherwise risks falling behind in economic competitiveness. Massive educational efforts to overcome technological inhibitions and to teach media competence are as necessary as governmental policies to stimulate the spread of the Net. Private German companies stand ready to enter that market in a major way.

German-American relations will undoubtedly benefit from these developments, not least because they will lead to a drastic increase in economic cooperation. There are other factors as well: On the one hand, new information technologies increase the dominance of the United States on television and computer screens worldwide. Technically, that dominance can hardly be challenged, as especially the Internet does not allow any central interference with the information flowing through chat, e-mail, telnet, and Web channels. The very symbol of openness presented by the Internet is already being embraced especially by young people, who eagerly absorb not only that "message" of the medium but also its content - most of which, at this point, is American in origin. In that sense, the Internet undoubtedly is an instrument of American "soft power."

On the other hand, however, the revolution in information technologies eventually also strengthens the power of local information providers. The need to offer information and entertainment on ever more channels can be met by local organizations. Presumably, they will find it profitable to do so, even without state-enforced rules providing for the primacy of domestic content, such as put into place by France. But because the information offered for local consumption is available around the globe, the Internet will be highly pluralistic in nature, offering a diverse multimedia world where the global and the local supplement each other. Hopefully, new technologies will reinforce pluralistic tendencies in all Western societies, which therefore can grow together even more, rather than fall apart as the result of identity conflicts or intense economic competition.

The information revolution has not rendered the traditional media and their representatives, namely, journalists, superfluous. Quite the opposite is true: Precisely because the pluralistic offerings on the Internet and other channels are so vast and seemingly impenetrable, individual users will still require the guidance of experts who sort the information and vouch for its accuracy. Thus the Internet does not spell the end of traditional journalism, just as the digital revolution has not meant the end of the classical print media. For those who have the time and interest, the Internet offers the opportunity to gain access to unmediated information. For most everybody else, however, the need for mediation (through navigation) on the information superhighway will be greater than ever. The media have always been the caretakers of information. The information revolution, rather than changing that, will reinforce the role of responsible journalism. This is something everyone should care about.

Gebhardt Schweigler

< back to Bulletin 22

"Remapping the German Past: Grand Narrative, Causality, and Postmodernism."

Conference at the German Historical Institute, Washington, D.C., , December 4-7, 1997. Conveners: Eckhardt Fuchs and Detlef Junker.

The efforts of the GHI to foster a transatlantic exchange of ideas among scholars from Germany and the United States in the fields of historical theory and methodology started with a workshop in 1995 and continued on a broader scale with this conference. It brought together about thirty historians from Germany, Great Britain, and the United States to discuss the epistemological consequences that have resulted from new approaches in contemporary historiography and have had differing impacts on historical scholarship in both countries. Linking specific theoretical concepts with empirical research, the meeting surveyed the common cognitive principles of historical understanding and methods of historical research. The conference also aimed to investigate the advantages and limitations of different theoretical approaches and their transformations in historical practice by comparing modern epistemological principles to postmodern theoretical concepts. The sessions therefore focused on three epochs in German history: the German Empire, the Weimar Republic, and the events of 1989-90. However, in contrast to academic debates that have taken place in Germany over the past two decades, the sessions did not center on interpretations of specific developments in German history but rather on three systematic concepts in particular: the advantages and limits of grand narrative, the problem of causality, and the issues of objectivity, memory, and historical meaning.

After some introductory remarks, Detlef Junker read Otto G. Oexle's (Göttingen) keynote lecture, which analyzed past and current trends in the study of history in Germany. Drawing an impressive picture of the history of German historiography since the nineteenth century, Oexle tried to trace the origins and historical dimensions of the "cultural turn" in the Historische Kulturwissenschaft. By comparing traditional and cultural historians Oexle showed that the dividing line between cultural history and traditional historical scholarship could be found in both the object of study and the epistemological orientation. He suggested an alternative to Ranke's historiographical and theoretical concept that is offered by the epistemology of cultural history, which readdresses two challenges of the nineteenth century, namely, the relative status of historical versus scientific knowledge and the concept of objectivity. Oexle then analyzed Troeltsch's books on historicism and made clear that German historians of the 1920s and 1930s - in contrast to French historians - did not accept the new challenges of cultural history - and probably were not even aware of them, a development that has affected German historiography to the present day.

The first session of the conference, chaired by Ernst Breisach (Kalamazoo), dealt with the concept of grand narrative, focusing on the possibilities of a synthetic historiography and its cognitive elements. Deconstructing the book, The Peculiarities of German History (1984) by David Blackbourn and Geoff Eley, Allan Megill (Charlottesville) discussed the concepts of synthesis, necessity, and contingency in the narrative of German history. He distinguished between four types of narratives: the narrative simpliciter, the master narrative, the grand narrative, and the metanarrative. According to Megill, a postmodern approach denies a master narrative, on the one hand, but it cannot be replaced by the reduction of history to memory, on the other, because it makes history the servant of the interests and desires of particular groups. Arguing against a deterministic interpretation of history, he suggested that contingency and accident have their legitimate places within the academic historical discourse.

In his talk, "Writing German Microhistory: The Small Story and the Big Picture," David Blackbourn (Boston) gave an overview of the broad shift toward microhistory in the historical profession since the late 1970s. He addressed the basic assumption of this challenging approach and emphasized the skepticism that it faced in Germany. His evaluation of the advantages and disadvantages of microhistory led to the conclusion that German historians should continue to reflect on the many different ways of interweaving the small stories of microhistory and the big picture of macrohistory as the basis of new synthesis. Roger Chickering (Washington) addressed the topic, "The Kaiserreich and the Grand Narrative." He demonstrated the changes in interpretations of and approaches to the history of the Kaiserreich in Germany. He especially emphasized the ideological implications of those narratives that caused the "academic wars," which began in the 1960s and continue to this day. In investigating the most important debates, such as the Fischer controversy, the rise and fall of the Sonderweg theory, and the challenges of the modernistic interpretations of the Historische Sozialwissenschaft by practitioners of Alltagsgeschichte, Chickering made clear that no consensus has yet been reached on the place of the Kaiserreich in a new grand narrative.

The second session, chaired by Ute Frevert (Bielefeld), concentrated on new approaches to the history of the German Empire. In his paper, "Problems with Culture: German History After the Linguistic Turn," Geoff Eley (Ann Arbor) opposed Hans-Ulrich Wehler's attack on "culture" and "cultural history." He argued especially against attempts to reconstruct a specifically German lineage of influences since the nineteenth century, particularly by Dilthey and Weber, that both deinternationalize the debate on cultural history and reconstitute a national-historiographical paradigm. After a fundamental critique of the perceptions of cultural history by German social historians, Eley pointed out that the contemporary discussions among American cultural anthropologists, which are more pluralistic than the debates on cultural history, were not recognized by the Bielefeld school at all. Calling for a productive dialogue between historians and anthropologists, he stressed the plurality of approaches and mutual respect that led to an acknowledgment of each other's production of history.

Wolfgang J. Mommsen (Düsseldorf), in his paper "Bourgeois Culture and Semi-Autocratic Rule in Imperial Germany," took a different view of culture and cultural history. As he did in his book, Bürgerliche Kultur und künstlerische Avantgarde (1994), he did not refer to the broader, anthropological notion of culture but to a more narrow definition that was limited to high culture. Therefore, his main focus was the status of bourgeois culture and its significance for the political order. He argued that even though bourgeois culture was an important element in strengthening the political and social position of the middle classes, a clear dividing line between an aristocratic and a bourgeois culture could not be drawn. Mommsen pointed out that the relationship between culture and politics was very complex. But whereas bourgeois culture was closely associated with the ideas of liberalism, it nevertheless did not have profound consequences for the political order, mainly because of the change in the bourgeois ethos after 1870 and the dissociation of the avant garde from the mainstream of bourgeois culture.

In the final paper of this session, Alf Lüdtke (Göttingen) presented a "History of the Kaiserreich as History of Everyday: People's Practices and Emotions Writ Large." Using examples from the magazine Simplicissimus, he demonstrated how rudimentary our knowledge still is concerning readership and audience. Lüdtke analyzed the sentiments expressed in caricatures and cartoons and how they represent bourgeois culture in general. Lüdtke made a strong plea to historians to consider the study of feelings, emotions, and mentalities as part of Alltagsgeschichte and to link it with other historical approaches.

The third session, chaired by Detlef Junker, focused on the problem of causality. At the center of all three papers presented were the specific question of why Hitler came to power and the related problems of causal development, historical proof, and varying interpretations. Hagen Schulze (Berlin), in his paper "Explaining the Failure of the Weimar Republic," started with a list of various factors that have been identified in scholarly debates as the causes for Weimar's failure. In relating them to actual historical events, he suggested a hierarchy of primary and secondary causes. Whereas the collapse of Weimar was probably caused by certain necessary factors and conditions, it was not, as Schulze claimed through counterfactual arguments, inevitable. For him, causality does not refer to scientific causal concepts, but it is used to reduce the complexity of phenomena. Therefore, the concept of causality is to be used, from a heuristic point of view, as a regulative idea but not as a means to prove deterministic causal laws in history.

In contrast to Schulze, Henry A. Turner (New Haven) closely analyzed the last thirty days of the Weimar Republic in order to demonstrate the "uncaused causes" in the descent from democracy to dictatorship. "Uncaused causes" are to be understood as those developments that could not be accounted for in terms of the sorts of chains of causation accessible to historians. In Turner's view, the failure of the first German republic cannot be explained by historical causation but rather by individual decisions, emotional attitudes, and actions. Hitler's survival of a car accident in 1930 is used by Turner as a classic example of an "uncaused cause." Whereas structural history is essential to an understanding of the past, it cannot explain why the Third Reich happened. In his paper, David Lindenfeld (Baton Rouge) suggested a nonlinear model of causality based on chaos theory. He attempted to distinguish the meanings and uses of key terms and propositions of complexity theory that are applicable to history and those that are not. He therefore investigated the various dimensions of chaos theory, such as linearity and nonlinearity, sensitivity to initial conditions, similarity across differences in scale, dissipative systems, phase space, and attractors, and demonstrated how these concepts can lead to new perspectives on causality regarding the rise of the Third Reich. Lindenfeld saw in their application and use for historical narratives a way to prevent an "indiscriminate pluralism" by counterfactual arguments.

The fourth session, chaired by Konrad H. Jarausch (Chapel Hill/Potsdam), dealt with the events of 1989-90 in East Germany and the question of whether a paradigm shift in German contemporary historiography has resulted from this major historical break. Martin Sabrow (Potsdam), in his paper "The Second Reality of GDR Historiography," analyzed the different modes of historical interpretation of the June 1953 uprising. He distinguished between hagiographic, normative, and pragmatic approaches before 1989 and exculpatory or sympathetic (pragmatic) and accusatory (normative) discourses for the post-1989 era. In suggesting a discursive reconstruction as a new paradigm, Sabrow showed that the normative and pragmatic approaches before and after 1989 shared one important element: the analysis and evaluation of the second German historiography (East) within the auspices and categories of the first German historiography (West). These approaches therefore do not sufficiently explain the inner structures of GDR historiography. In order to understand the phenomenon of a "fettered history," Sabrow suggested a model of discourse reconstruction that avoids the interpretation of eastern scholarship within western categories and understands East Germany's modes of operation on its own terms, such as the concepts of scholarliness, historical truth, correctness, and so forth. Claus Leggewie (New York/Gießen) took the events of 1989-90 as the starting point of his analysis in "The Berlin Republic - What's New About the New Germany?" He raised two questions: First, was 1990 a turning point in German history such as 1933 and 1945, assuming a common history since World War II; second, how do we assess the place of Central Europe in the political, social, economic, and cultural history of the twentieth century? Leggewie stated that the new Berlin Republic was not only the result of a national revolution but also an unaccomplished refoundation of the Bonn Republic. He suggested a multidimensional scheme of periods in the Federal Republic between 1949 and 1990, narrowing it down to a generational perspective that allowed him to show how long waves of social and cultural modernization had converged with shorter cycles of political change.

The last paper of this session, Wolfgang Ernst's (Cologne) "The Archi(ve)texture of 1989 in a 'Postmodern' Perspective (A Disclaimer)," was presented in two parts. First, Ernst suggested different postmodern ways to interpret the events of 1989-90, focusing on an "archivological" perspective. Whereas he stated the different views of postmodern history, he also made clear how such a perspective restrained itself from historical imagination and dismembered any attempt at a coherent representation. In the second part, Ernst therefore tried to disclaim postmodernism as a mode of coping with the events in Eastern Europe. For him the postmodernist aesthetic of "anything goes" since 1989 has been replaced by focusing on memories of the past. The most important question is which agency governs the access to memory; that is to say, access to power corresponds with archival access to the memory of power. In analyzing the archival identity and memory of East Germany, Ernst stressed the problems that arose from the fact that digital memory in the form of electronic data banks were accessible only for those who knew the programs or codes. The fact that many sources on the GDR are stored electronically raises methodological problems for historians, who are mostly only skilled in working with print documentation.

The third day's session opened with Jörn Rüsen's (Essen) paper, "Narrativity and Objectivity." He introduced various concepts of the two categories of objectivity and narrativity, which were considered to be contradictory characterizations of historical studies. In order to realize a return of truth claims to historical thinking, Rüsen redefined the meaning of objectivity and suggested a new concept in which objectivity does not mean neutrality but, by contrast, includes the features of practical life in historical representation. Historical narratives can therefore enforce experience and intersubjectivity in cultural orientation.

Alexander Demandt (Berlin) concluded the conference with a paper titled "Finis Historiae?" in which he gave a historical overview from Hesiod to Fukuyama on how men had thought about the end of history. He showed that people always identified their own wishes with history's supposed last stage. Regarding the new millennium, hopes will probably concentrate on a new age, but it will soon emerge that human events are always qualitatively historic.

As the variety of papers anticipated, the debates touched on a broad spectrum of historical theory and methodology. Opened with the comments of Jürgen Kocka (Berlin), Volker Berghahn (Providence), Chris Lorenz (Amsterdam), Mary Fulbrook (London), and Thomas Haskell (Houston), the discussions showed that recent challenges to traditional historiography have broadened the historical perspective but have left certain epistemological problems unresolved. The conference demonstrated how important these problems are not only for the historical practice but also for the public function of the historical profession and its ability to mediate between past and present and to meet a need for guidance in giving the present meaning. The debates also underscored the fact that academic discourse among historians does not differ according to geography bur rather according to different theories and methodologies. An openness toward plurality and the mutual acceptance of different approaches to history are the only way to bridge these gaps.

Eckhardt Fuchs

< back to Bulletin 22

"The Genesis of Nazi Policy: Structure and Decision-Making Process: New Research on the National Socialist System of Rule."

 Conference at the University of Florida, Gainesville, April 9-12, 1998. Conveners: Geoffrey Giles and Eberhard Jäckel.

The University of Florida in Gainesville in conjunction with the GHI hosted an international conference on "The Genesis of Nazi Policy" The conference was co-sponsored by the Office of Research, Technology, and Graduate Education, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Department of History, the Center for Jewish Studies, and the Center for Modern German Studies - all at the University of Florida. The activities began with a reception on the evening of April 9 and concluded with an excursion to historic St. Augustine - the oldest continually inhabited settlement in the United States - on Florida's Atlantic coast. A highlight of the gathering was the address by Vice Provost David Colburn, who welcomed back Prof. Jäckel to the Gainesville campus for the first time since 1952-3, when Jäckel was a Fulbright exchange student. Prof. Giles later presented his co-convener with a copy of the school's 1953 yearbook, which contained a photograph of "Foreign Students," including a very young Eberhard Jäckel, detraining at the station on their arrival in Gainesville.

The purpose of the conference was to gather historians from Germany and the United States to discuss new research on the decision-making process of Nazi rule within Germany and in the occupied territories of western and eastern Europe. The conference also aimed at creating a setting for senior and junior scholars to discuss how recent discoveries fit into the existing scholarship on National Socialism. The format was similar to previous GHI conferences in that the papers were circulated beforehand and emphasis was placed on discussion. As a result, the speakers were limited to short presentations of 10-15 minutes. These were followed by a brief comment. This structure fostered a more conversational and less formal atmosphere that carried over from the first session to the final one.

As Jäckel phrased it in his opening remarks, the question most pertinent was: How were decisions made under National Socialism, especially once World War II started? Also: How and by whom were intentions to do something converted into action? What, especially, was the role of Adolf Hitler, who more than anyone else had long before 1933 formulated intentions that Germany would finally act on during the war, particularly with respect to the annihilation of the European Jews as well as the conquest of eastern Europe and the Soviet Union? Jäckel argued that it was not just any anti-Semitism or any expansionism we are talking about, but a specific anti-Semitism and a specific expansionism that should be the focus of our research. Furthermore, we need to pose the question: Were Hitler's intentions also the intentions of others? Finally, did certain processes develop over time or were they actively pursued?

The first session included papers by Henry Friedlander (Brooklyn College of the City University of New York) and Robert Gellately (Huron College, University of Western Ontario). In his presentation "Concerning the Extra-Legal Decisions of the German State in the Nazi Era," Friedlander urged participants to think about two sets of decisions in the process that led to mass killings and the Holocaust. The first are basic decisions about whether or not to act (Should we do it?). The second are implementation decisions (How do we do it? Can we get away with it?). Gellately then spoke about how "War Revolutionizes the Revolution: Social Control and Terror on the Home Front in Hitler's Germany." He discussed the period leading up to the outbreak of the war and how the Nazi police state became harsher and more invasive during this time. The need to suppress enemies in wartime and the opportunity to do so were both in play. The presenter also talked about what he called the "völkisch theory of the police" and how the Nazis argued that their more brutal police practices not only were different but also were superior to those of the West. In his comments Alan E. Steinweis (University of Nebraska at Lincoln) underscored what he saw in both papers as the central role of Adolf Hitler, the importance of the institutional framework for the implementation of decisions, and the importance of 1939 as a watershed year in this process.

The second session was moderated by Peter Hayes (Northwestern University). Andreas Wirsching (University of Tübingen) presented his research on "Kommunalpolitische 'Polykratie' und Judenverfolgung in Deutschland 1933-1939" (Nazi "Polycracy" and the Persecution of the Jews in Germany, 1933-9). He divided his presentation into three main areas: the competitive and redundant nature of Nazi rule ("polycracy"); the nature of administrative practice and bureaucracy; and the withdrawal of Jews' civil rights. Wirsching stressed that the localities enjoyed a large degree of independence and that anti-Jewish policies should be seen as a dialectical process developing between different levels and centers of power within the Nazi state. For the implementation of Nazi policy and for understanding the issue of motivation, the local level was crucial and yet has been inadequately researched to date. The second paper was presented by Stefan Kley (University of Stuttgart) on "Ribbentrop und die Entfesselung des Zweiten Weltkriegs" (Ribbentrop and the Unleashing of World War II). In his talk, he asserted that foreign policy is intelligible only in connection with domestic policy, that Hitler was involved in practically every decision, and that Ribbentrop was a good assistant but did not always see eye-to-eye with his boss. In his comments, Gerhard L. Weinberg (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) applauded Wirsching's work on localities and also emphasized that it was a two-way street: just as localities were being deprived of their autonomy under National Socialism, they were also developing their own ideas. He used the example of the various directives to boycott Jewish businesses: The impetus came from above but was implemented and elaborated on at the local level.

The third and final session of the first day was moderated by Jäckel. The first presenter, Magnus Brechtken (University of Munich) summarized his paper "Zwischen Rassenideologie und Machtpragmatismus: Zerstreuende Auswanderung, Territorialfrage und die Entwicklung des 'Endlösung'-Begriffs (1933-1940)" (Between Race Ideology and Pragmatic Power Politics: Diaspora, the Territorial Question, and the Development of the Term "Final Solution"). Brechtken highlighted important steps in the history of the term "final solution" since the nineteenth century. He discussed the different schemes for a solution of the "Jewish problem," from forced emigration to Palestine to the Madagascar plan. Brechtken showed how the failure of all "extraterritorial" and "territorial solutions" led to genocide. He also illustrated how the different approaches taken by the Security Service of the SS (Sicherheitsdienst or SD), which looked for "practical" answers, and the Foreign Office, which took a more ideological stance, contributed to a radicalization of Nazi anti-Jewish policies. The second presenter, Peter Longerich (Royal Holloway College, University of London) spoke on "Die Eskalation der NS-Judenverfolgung zur 'Endlösung': Herbst 1939 bis Sommer 1942" (The Escalation of the Nazi Persecution of the Jews Toward the "Final Solution": Fall 1939 to Summer 1942). Longerich urged the participants to avoid one-dimensional explanations that either describe the "final solution" as a series of single decisions in reaction to certain "necessities" on the ground or simply stress the preponderance of ideology. Rather, the genesis of the "final solution" should be studied in the context of a number of long-term developments that led to a radicalization of Nazi "Jewish policy" and for the purposes it served within the National Socialist system of rule. Distinguishing four stages of escalation of Nazi policy toward the Jews, Longerich saw a decisive moment in the transition from general persecution of the Jews to a basic decision on their destruction (Vernichtung) in the fall of 1939. In his commentary Peter Hayes submitted that both papers emphasized the processes that led to decisions, Brechtken from a more institutional viewpoint that described the active planning within the Foreign Office and the SD, Longerich from a structural perspective that stressed the tendency of policy makers to react to certain conditions.

The fourth session, which opened the second day of the conference, was moderated by Jay Baird (Miami University of Ohio). Jonathan Petropoulos (Loyola College of Maryland) presented a paper on "'People Turned to Ashes, Their Property Did Not': Plundering and the Pursuit of Profit During the Holocaust." Petropoulos argued that greed was an important motivating factor but does not explain everything. Although anti-Semitism must certainly be seen as the ultimate motive for the Holocaust, there are ancillary reasons that need to be explored. Also, greed played a different role for different groups of perpetrators, which Petropoulos categorized as policy makers (the leading Nazis), midlevel managers, and functionaries. By studying how policies from above intersected with actions from below, including the widespread ignorance of the Führervorbehalt (the Führer's prerogative) with respect to the appropriation of art, the issue of greed also can help us understand the decision-making process. Thomas Sandkühler (University of Bielefeld) elaborated the question of how to synthesize the individual findings of regional research on Nazi policy in occupied Europe. He proposed a dynamic model of the roles of "center" and "periphery." By comparing the anti-Jewish policy in the occupied Netherlands and that in the district of Galicia in Poland, Sandkühler acknowledged the importance of ideology in both cases. But he also highlighted differences by exploring various economic and personal factors leading toward vast differences in the implementation of the same policy. Peter Hayes, in his comment, urged the participants to distinguish more clearly between motives and impulses. Whereas economic arguments might have served as a rationalization for the murder of so many Jews, it certainly was not necessary to kill them in order to achieve specific economic and social goals. In a similar vein, Jäckel reminded the participants that exploring the motives of the perpetrators is not only the central question but also the most difficult one to answer. Clear definitions are necessary, he argued, in order to distinguish between what motivated perpetrators on different levels of the Nazi system and what were mere side effects of different goals. Friedlander was concerned about a recent, perhaps subconscious tendency to rationalize decisions that led to the Holocaust. It is important but insufficient to explore economic necessities.

The fifth session was chaired by Bruce Pauley (University of Central Florida). Doris Bergen (University of Notre Dame) delivered a paper on "The Volksdeutschen and Their Neighbors: Nazi Race and Settlement Policies in Practice," and Ruth Bettina Birn (Canadian Department of Justice) spoke on "Sandberger's Experiment: The Security Police Forces and the Holocaust in Estonia." Bergen was particularly interested in how impulses from the highest levels of the Nazi system interacted with decisions by midlevel managers as well as with initiatives taken by the ethnic Germans (Volksdeutsche) in the East. Whereas the center provided an ideological framework, general guidelines, and sometimes detailed instructions, the issue of Volksdeutsche resettlement also served as a rationalization within the polycratic structure of the regime. At the same time, midlevel actions were crucial in shaping the outcome of Nazi policy, while the destructive potential of the initiatives taken by the Volksdeutsche themselves was substantial. Birn underscored the importance of local initiative and of non-German personnel for the implementation of occupation policies in eastern Europe. Although Estonia was unique with respect to the level of involvement of the indigenous population, Birn showed how local conditions shaped the outcome of the decisions made by the German occupiers. In his commentary Alan E. Steinweis reinforced those points by underscoring how different ideological predispositions, the circumstances created by the war, the number of people targeted for removal, and the social and economic conditions in different countries shaped occupation policies.

The two afternoon sessions focused on the roles of Hitler, Himmler, and the Nazi elite in the decisions that led to the Holocaust. Participants also discussed the question raised earlier of whether and at what point in time Hitler had made and/or announced a decision for the "final solution." The first of these two sessions was chaired by Bruce Pauley, and the commentary was provided by Nathan Stoltzfus (Florida State University). Dieter Pohl (Institute of Contemporary History) explored Himmler's role. He characterized Himmler as a "manager," not as an "architect," of the Holocaust. According to Pohl, Himmler's main interest was the resettlement of ethnic Germans, which necessarily entailed the deportation of large groups of the indigenous population and their ultimate annihilation. Thus, it is no accident that settlement decisions coincided with the implementation of genocidal policies. Pohl observed that Hitler's role has again returned to the center of scholarly discussion. The re-Hitlerization of Nazi policy, however, has its limits. Furthermore, the decision to kill the Jews was not opposed to the war effort, as earlier studies have argued, rather, it represented a broad consensus within the Nazi elite, and it was seen as a precondition for winning the war. Hans Safrian (U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum) explored the cooperation between the German army and the SS after the German attack on the Soviet Union. Studying the crucial period between spring and fall 1941, when the anti-Jewish policies of the Third Reich entered a new phase, Safrian argued that the SS depended on the support of the army and the civil administration for carrying out its policies. Frequently, the Wehrmacht took active steps that led to the murder of civilians, including women and children.

The concluding session was chaired by Baird. Christian Gerlach (Technical University of Berlin) presented his work on "Kriegsentwicklung, wirtschaftliche Intensivierung und zwei entscheidende Phasen auf dem Weg zum Völkermord: Herbst 1941 und Jahreswende 1941/42" (War, Economic Intensification, and Two Decisive Phases Toward Genocide: Fall 1941 and Winter 1941-2), and Christopher Browning (Pacific Lutheran University) talked about "Hitler and the Final Solution: When Did He Decide?" Gerlach, like other participants, stressed the fact that in the eyes of the Nazi leadership the annihilation of European Jewry was a precondition for winning the war. Therefore, radical and violent anti-Semitism must be seen as a necessary but insufficient explanation for the Holocaust. Thus, the question should not be whether Nazi policies made either ideological or economic sense because they were meant to achieve both. Gerlach agreed with many other participants that a decisive turning point came in September 1941 when Nazi planners began to realize that the war would have to be extended into 1942. This led to increased mortality first among Soviet POWs but also entailed an acceleration of murderous policies toward the Jews. The extent and speed of these anti-Jewish policies, however, was largely contingent on local or regional conditions. Thus, in the fall of 1941 Nazi policy toward the Jews was transformed from a utopian resettlement and annihilation program to a short-term program of mass murder. Until the winter of 1941-2, Gerlach insisted, there was no fundamental decision by Hitler to kill all European Jews. This came only during December 1941, after the United States had entered the war.

In his paper Browning focused on the timing of Hitler's decision to effect a "final solution." According to Browning, the issue of timing is of utmost importance for our understanding of the genesis of the Holocaust and the structure and functioning of the Nazi system. Browning rejected the claims of Gerlach and others who have argued for December 1941 as the date for Hitler's decision. Discussing the evidence in great detail, Browning argued that a fundamental decision was made earlier, in October 1941. In his comments Weinberg raised a number of issues discussed in the two papers that became the focus of the subsequent discussion: The question of dating Hitler's decision and the interpretation of key documents, such as Hitler's conversations with foreign diplomats, Himmler's office diary, and Eichmann's testimony in Jerusalem. Weinberg cited evidence that pointed to a much earlier date, whereas Jäckel reminded the audience that what is at stake is, of course, only the question of whether and at what time Hitler announced such a decision. Friedlander underscored the point that economic factors provide reasons but not an ultimate motive. Longerich argued that any attempt to explain the Holocaust by just a single fateful decision would be futile and would downplay its complexity. That only limited answers are possible was the thrust of co-convener Jäckel's concluding remarks. He reminded the audience that there are still many open questions that need to be explored.

Philipp Gassert
Daniel S. Mattern

< back to Bulletin 22

"Politics in the German-American Relationship Since 1945."

 Robert Gerald Livingston, senior visiting fellow at the Institute since January 1997, is working on a book that will deal with the politics on both sides of the German-American relationship from 1945-90. Cast in a narrative form and aimed at a general as well as an academic readership, Livingston's survey will be constructed around a dozen or so episodes that characterized the countries' relationship and determined the course of events during that period. It will focus on political leaders and explore their personal interactions as well as the politics in each country that drew them together and occasionally divided them.

As presently envisioned, Livingston's book will treat the Berlin Blockade and German currency reform for the 1940s, highlighting the roles of Lucius Clay, Ernst Reuter, and Ludwig Erhard; for the 1950s, Germany's rearmament and adherence to NATO will be discussed, concentrating on Konrad Adenauer and John Foster Dulles; for the 1960s, the tensions with the German Democratic Republic and the Soviet Union that culminated with the Berlin Wall in 1961 and the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 will be the focus, along with Adenauer, Willy Brandt, and John F. Kennedy; for the later 1960s, the Dollar-DM pressures and the American effort to draw Germany into a Vietnam commitment will be treated, concentrating on Erhard and Lyndon B. Johnson; for the early 1970s, American détente and German Ostpolitik will be discussed, highlighting Brandt and Henry Kissinger; for the later 1970s, the European Monetary System, the neutron bomb, and, later, the intermediate-range missile crisis will be discussed, centering on Jimmy Carter and Helmut Schmidt; for the 1980s, the Bitburg visit of 1985 will be treated, with Helmut Kohl and Ronald Reagan in the foreground; and for 1989-90, the process of German reunification will be discussed, with Kohl and George Bush as the central figures.

Livingston is basing his narrative mainly on secondary literature, memoirs, autobiographies, and biographies, supplemented in the cases of Bitburg, Ostpolitik-détente, and German reunification by interviews with some of the principals.

Gerald Livingston

< back to Bulletin 22

"Turning Toward the West: The United States, West Germany, and the Westernization of German Political Culture After 1945."

One of the most profound changes of the twentieth century was West Germany's successful democratization and Westernization after 1945. Only four years after the end of World War II, the former enemy started to become one of the closest allies of the United States and an important member of the Western community of values (westliche Wertegemeinschaft). Today, Germany's deep political and ideological roots in the West are an essential feature of the Federal Republic's identity. However, in contrast to Germany's economic, military, political, and cultural incorporation into the West, the ideological paradigm shift that accompanied these developments has remained largely unexplained.

This research project aims at exploring the process of the ideological Westernization of Germany through a comparison of German and American political cultures and an analysis of their interaction during the development of West German democracy from the end of World War II through the Adenauer era. The results should provide insights into the emergence of a German democratic political culture from conflicting authoritarian and liberal traditions and a clearer understanding of the West as an ideological entity during the Cold War.

In West Germany's political self-conception, the apparent break with authoritarian and antidemocratic political and social traditions after 1945 and 1949 and the sudden appreciation of a liberal democratic order are largely taken for granted. The existence of long-term authoritarian ideological continuities as important elements of West Germany's political culture is generally ignored or denied. During the last twenty years German historiography has recognized numerous and complex economic, social, personal, and political continuities as well as breaks in twentieth-century German history. It is safe to assume that this developmental pattern also is true for West Germany's political culture, that while the departure from National Socialist ideology and politics may have been profound there was no ideological "zero hour" (Stunde Null). The difficulty lies in how to distinguish between elements of continuity and innovation in the development of a German democratic Western political culture, how to even define Westernization, and how to measure its development and success.

Whereas the United States cannot be held up as an absolute yardstick for the measurement of Germany's democratic evolution, the history of German-American interactions and perceptions and a comparison between the two political cultures provide material for an assessment of German Westernization. Distinguished by its strong democratic ideological continuities, the United States provides an excellent backdrop against which the characteristics of a more heterogeneous German political culture stand out in relief. Even more compelling of course is America's dominant role in Germany's democratization. At no time was the debate about Germany and the contact between the American and German systems as intense as during World War II and the postwar occupation period. The content and form of these discourses on Germany, and activities and observations during the occupation, clearly reveal American conceptions of the Western belief system. A more distinct representation of a Western political culture emerges out of the obvious self-referentiality of the American encounter with Germany.

Taken by themselves, German debates and plans during this period appear far less congruous. However, seen from an American point of view the characteristics that emerge define these discourses as distinctly German. The encounter between the political cultures during the occupation, in particular during the writing of the state (Länder) constitutions and the Basic Law, in addition to the gradual establishment of West German sovereignty, further delineate distinctions as well as similarities between the systems.

What emerges in the German political discourse is the idea of the West as a pre-existing political and cultural entity in which Germany had to retake its rightful place. The resolution of the manifold German catastrophe was to be found in a political order based on a return to the Occident, its Christian and democratic values. The renewal did not so much call for revolutionary change but for the resurrection of old but trusted concepts of state, administrative tradition, political discourse, and civic virtue. From a German perspective Westernization was not innovation or modernization but rather the recollection of past German values, because Germany's well-established political and cultural heritage could be construed as a genuine element of the West.

It is an open question how far these authoritarian traditions stunted the growth of a liberal democracy. At the very least the conservative republic that was founded on these underlying tenets looked far different from what American democratization policies were trying to achieve in Germany. In fact, the Eisenhower administration was concerned about the authoritarian outlook and statist principles of the chancellor's democracy (Kanzlerdemokratie). Adenauer not only reestablished an autocratic style of government but also reinstated a traditionalistic and undemocratic bureaucracy that even included a large number of former Nazis as important functionaries of the new republic.

However, the Westernization of Germany cannot be interpreted solely from an American perspective because the realization of vaguely defined Western ideals can take very different forms. A new German democracy could well be far removed from the American system and still embrace democratic and Western values. And as domestic strife in the 1950s showed, the United States was not without its own antidemocratic excesses and imperfections.

What helped both countries to overcome their differences and to closely align these two rather distinct political cultures was the Cold War. Once the conflict with the Soviet Union started and the immediate postwar period came to an end, ideological differences and concerns about the democratic character of the West German state rapidly declined in importance. The common threat of the Soviet bloc called for ideological unity and obscured inherent dissimilarities, contradictions, and variances in the Western belief system. The realities of the Cold War made an inclusive approach to an indispensable German military power not only strategically important but also necessary as a containment of the German situation. Although the United States was not wholly unconcerned about the direction German domestic developments took, there nevertheless was an anxiously optimistic attitude fed by the recognition of actual improvements in West Germany's democratic sensibilities and the exigencies of the Cold War. Ironically, the Germans perceived America's policy of double containment as a friendly embrace. It reinforced their conviction that Germany's future was in the West and thus furthered the acceptance of a Western democratic system of government.

Raimund Lammersdorf

< back to Bulletin 22

"The United States and Germany in the Era of the Cold War, 1945-1990."

The Institute's Cold War project continues to make excellent progress. Nearly all of the 138 articles that make up the two-volume work have been reviewed by our editorial team and revised by the authors. The next phase has therefore now begun in earnest. After copy editing, the articles are being translated into either English or German; the translations also will be copy edited here at the Institute.

An interministerial committee chaired by the German Federal Ministry of Trade and Commerce recently reviewed our project and decided to extend its full funding through the end of 1999. We plan to finish our work on the English edition of the book by April of that year and submit the German edition to the press shortly thereafter.

Detlef Junker

< back to Bulletin 22

Summer Program for North American Graduate Students

We are pleased to announce that beginning in June 1999 the GHI will organize a new Summer Program for North American graduate students in German history. The Max Kade Institute in Madison, Wis., has indicated that it will support our initiative both financially and administratively.

The Summer Program has been on hold for the last three years, pending new funding after a generous grant from the Volkswagen Foundation ended.

The first part of the new program will consist of a summer course in Koblenz (Bundesarchiv and Landesarchiv) that will introduce graduate students to German handwriting styles of various periods. It also will introduce them to the organization of archives in Germany.

The second part of the Summer Program will consist of a tour of various German archives (church, city, media, trade, and university). The exact itinerary has not yet been determined, but the grant will include round-trip air fare to Germany, ground transportation, and hotel accommodations (double occupancy).

Details of the Summer Program will be published on our Web page and in the fall Bulletin. The application deadline is December 31, 1998.

Christof Mauch

< back to Bulletin 22

GHI Internships for German Students of History and Political Science

We are pleased to announce that the GHI now offers a small number of "observierende Praktika" to German history or political science students. The internships will last one to four months, with a possibility for extension. The purpose of the program is to allow German students to observe the various activities of the GHI and to assist the director, the fellows, and the librarians with various projects.

Students will be admitted to the United States as "Exchange Visitors" with a J-1 visa under Section 101 (A)(15)(J) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. They are responsible for obtaining their own visas through the Bonn office of the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) and for covering the costs of visas and insurance. They also are obliged to demonstrate that they have enough assets at their disposal for the duration of their stay.

Christof Mauch

< back to Bulletin 22

GHI to Publish Ten-Year Report

The GHI celebrated its tenth anniversary in 1997. Over the last ten years, the Institute has sponsored dozens of international conferences on a wide variety of historical topics and has published a number of essay collections and historical monographs. The lecture series sponsored by the Institute brings prominent German and American historians to Washington and continues to attract a substantial audience. The recently established German-American Center for Visiting Scholars (GACVS) on the fourth floor provides an auspicious start for our second decade.

To offer a comprehensive overview of the many activities the GHI has sponsored between 1987 and 1997, we have prepared a ten-year report that will highlight the most important aspects of our work. Two research fellows, Thomas Goebel and Edmund Spevack, compiled information on the international conferences sponsored by the GHI and on the scholars who participated in them; on our various lectures series (Annual Lecture, Alois Mertes Memorial Lecture, Spring and Fall Lecture Series); on the historians, social scientists, and other staff members who have worked here over the last ten years; on the fellowships we have awarded; on projects we have supported; on the publications published by the Institute; and on the development of the library. The final version of the report will be published this summer. A copy will be sent to everyone on our mailing list.

< back to Bulletin 22

Recipients of Dissertation Scholarships, 1998

The Institute awarded the following dissertation scholarships for 1998:

Ute Ackermann, "Internationalisierungsstrategien deutscher multi-nationaler Unternehmen nach 1945-1960 unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika." Doctoral adviser: Prof. Alan Milward, European University, Florence.

Delia Gonzalez Afonso, "Der Sonderweg Sonoras: Eine mexikanische Region als Interessensgebiet und Experimentierfeld ausländischer Mächte, 1821-1876." Doctoral advisers: Prof. Dr. Günter Kahle and Prof. Dr. Jürgen Heideking, University of Cologne.

Frank Biess, "Returning Prisoners of War and the Reconstruction of Citizenship in East and West Germany, 1945-1955." Doctoral adviser: Prof. Volker Berghahn, Brown University.

Kai Dreisbach, "Die Vereinigten Staaten und Südostasien von 1969 bis 1995. Die US-amerikanische Aussenpolitik gegenüber ASEAN und Indochina zwischen Wirtschafts- und Sicherheitsinteresse." Doctoral adviser: Prof. Dr. Jürgen Heideking, University of Cologne.

Jennifer Evans, "From Nazi Weiber to Veronikas: Rape, Citizenship, and the Political Public in Postwar Berlin, 1944-1958." Doctoral adviser: Prof. Jean H. Quataert, State University of New York- Binghamton.

Alexander Freund, "Subjektivität und Migration: Lebensgeschichten von Zeitzeugen der deutschen Überseewanderung 1945-1960." Doctoral adviser: Prof. Dr. Dirk Hoerder, University of Bremen.

Eric J. Goldberg, "Creating a Medieval Kingdom: Carolingian Kingship, Court Culture, and Aristocratic Society under Louis of East Francia (826-876)." Doctoral adviser: Prof. Thomas F.X. Noble, University of Virginia.

Diana Gring, "Die Auflösung der Konzentrationslager: Evakuierungsmärsche, Massaker, Auffanglager." Doctoral adviser: Prof. Dr. Claus Füllberg-Stolberg, University of Hannover.

Thomas Grumke, "Rechtsextremismus in den USA." Doctoral adviser: Prof. Dr. Margit Mayer, Technical University of Berlin.

Russell A. Kazal, "Becoming 'Old Stock': The Waning of German-American Identity in Philadelphia, 1900-1930." Doctoral adviser: Prof. Michael Katz, University of Pennsylvania.

Jens Knappe, "The Influence of Ethnic Groups on American German Policies: Marshall-Plan, Ostpolitik, German Unification Process." Doctoral adviser: Prof. Dr. Knud Krakau, Free University of Berlin.

Anette Neff, "Die Amerikaner auf dem Dorf 1947-1952: Die Reaktionen der ländlichen deutschen Bevölkerung auf Maßnahmen der amerikanischen Besatzungsmacht zur Beeinflussung politischer und gesellschaftlicher Bedingungen." Doctoral adviser: Prof. Dr. Christof Dipper, Technical University of Darmstadt.

Howard Sargent, "The Struggle over the Nation Between Volk and Staat: Framing the German Citizenship Law of 1913." Doctoral adviser: Prof. Roger Chickering, Georgetown University.

Richard D. Wiggers, "Allied Compliance with the 1929 Geneva Convention and the 1907 Hague Rules of Land Warfare in the Postwar Occupation of Germany." Doctoral adviser: Prof. David Painter, Georgetown University.

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The GHI on the Web

The GHI now has its own Web site at It currently features general information about the Institute, a directory of its members, a list of the Institute's publications, a calendar of upcoming events, information about the scholarships offered by the GHI, and the most recent edition of the Bulletin. We are particularly pleased to offer an online version of our Library Catalog that allows author, title, and subject searches.

For the immediate future we plan to post full text versions of our Reference Guides (see the Publications List at the end of this issue). Please have a look and feel free to make suggestions on how we can improve our site.

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Library Report

The Library Catalog now is accessible over the Internet. The address is Although we are not a lending library, the site will provide interested scholars with the opportunity to browse our book and periodical listings to see what is available to them for on-site use. Moreover, the library's holdings have grown to more than 20,000 volumes. Below are two examples of our more important recent acquisitions:

1. Gorzny, Willi, ed., Deutscher Biographischer Index (German Biographical Index), 8 vols. (Munich, 1998), meant to be used in conjunction with the Deutsches Biographisches Archiv (German Biographical Archive), microfiche (Munich, 1998). This index should be of great interest to students of German history because it contains an alphabetical listing of biographical information on about 451,000 subjects. In addition, it provides data on locations of articles and references to the sources on the person cited. The Library owns a microfiche printer-reader, available for use by our visitors in the reading room.

2. Tolzmann, Don Heinrich, ed., German-Americans in the World Wars: A Documentary History, 5 vols. (Wiesbaden, 1995-8). This five-volume collection is a documentation of the German-American experience during the two world wars. It deals with anti-German hysteria, the internment of German-Americans, and the persecution of German-Americans.

Also, we would like to remind our readers that the library has subscriptions to over 200 scholarly journals and to the following German periodicals: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Der Spiegel, Süddeutsche Zeitung (Munich), Die Tageszeitung (Berlin), and Die Zeit (Hamburg). We will shortly begin receiving the Berliner Zeitung. Current issues are kept for a period of two to four weeks. However, we have a complete set of back issues of Der Spiegel from 1947 to present (on CD-ROM for 1993 to present).

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Staff Changes

Pamela Abraham, Special Project Coordinator, "Germany and the United States in the Era of the Cold War, 1945-1990," has left the Institute to take a position as Commercial Liaison and Program Specialist for the U.S. Department of Commerce/Foreign Commercial Service's Office of International Operations for Multilateral Development Banks to the World Bank.

Peter Becker, Research Fellow, left to accept a professorship with the History Department at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. While at the Institute he organized several conferences, workshops, and other events; he also led the Summer Program, presented papers at various conferences, and pursued his research project on "The Image of the Criminal Among the Anglo-American, French, and German Police in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries."

Iris Golumbeck, Librarian, has left the Institute to accept a position as the sales manager for Germany with Ex Libris, an Israeli company based in Hamburg that develops and sells library automation systems. Under her direction, the Library's holdings were reorganized into a new computerized catalog. She also oversaw the design and installation of a new compact shelving system for the collection.

Raimund Lammersdorf, Research Fellow, born in 1960 and raised in Cologne. He studied history, English language and literature, and musicology at the University of Cologne, the Free University of Berlin (M.A., 1985), and Stanford University. He received his Ph.D. in modern history at the Free University of Berlin in 1992 and taught American history at the FU's Kennedy Institute for North American Studies (1989-93) and American and British history at the English department of the Technical University in Chemnitz (1993-5). He also was a Kennedy Fellow at the Center for European Studies at Harvard University (1996-7).
His Ph.D. thesis was published as Anfänge einer Weltmacht: Theodore Roosevelt und die transatlantischen Beziehungen der Vereinigten Staaten, 1901-1909 (1994). He has written a number of articles on American foreign policy at the start of the twentieth century and is currently working on his second book (or habilitation), a study of the Westernization of West Germany's political culture after 1945 (for a full description, see New Research Topics in this issue).
Memberships: American Historical Association, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Amerikastudien, Organization of American Historians, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations.

Annette Marciel, Copy Editor for in-house publications, born in Kassel, Hessen. B.A., ancient history, University of Texas. M.A., criminal justice, currently in progress, American University.
Ms. Marciel has a 10-year background in scholarly and commercial publishing; she also is a certified German-English translator through the American Translators' Association, where she is a member.
Ms. Marciel recently completed a translation of the book, The Encyclopedic Dictionary of Ecotoxicology and Environmental Chemistry (1997).

Christof Mauch, Deputy Director, born in Sindelfingen, 1960. Studied history, literature, theology, and philosophy at the University of Tübingen, King's College and Leo Baeck College, London. Dr. phil. University of Tübingen (1990). Lecturer, Tübingen (1990-4), Bonn, and Cologne (1994-5, 1996); Visiting Professor, The American University (1996); Director, OSS Oral History Project, Georgetown University (since 1996). Fellowships: Volkswagen Foundation (1989-91); American Council of Learned Societies (1993); German Research Foundation (1996-7).
Major Publications: Für eine Welt ohne Krieg. Otto Umfrid und die Anfänge der Friedensbewegung (with T. Brenner, 1987, 1995); Kurt Marti (ed., 1991); Poesie - Theologie - Politik. Studien zu Kurt Marti (1992); Geheimdienstkrieg gegen Deutschland (ed. with J. Heideking, 1993); USA und deutscher Widerstand (ed. with J. Heideking); American Intelligence and the German Resistance to Hitler (ed. with J. Heideking, 1996). Articles on German and American cultural and political history in various books, as well as in Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte, Amerikastudien/American Studies, and Prologue.
Current research interests include American intelligence, the "Hessians" in American and German history and historiography, and nineteenth-century environmentalist movements in America and Germany.

Janine Micunek, Copy Editor, left the Institute after more than seven years of service to pursue other interests. During her tenure she copy edited and revamped the GHI's in-house publications. She also worked on numerous projects, including reference guides, the Transatlantische Historische Studien series, and the Summer Program. 

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Visit of German Minister for Science and Technology, Dr. Jürgen Rüttgers

On February 21, 1998, Dr. Jürgen Rüttgers, the German minister for science and technology, visited the GHI. He was accompanied by a group of government officials and a delegation of journalists. The occasion of his visit was the inauguration of the German-American Center for Visiting Scholars (GACVS) on the fourth floor of the GHI building at 1607 New Hampshire Avenue. Also present to welcome Minister Rüttgers were representatives of the German Embassy, including Ambassador Jürgen Chrobog, and the GACVS's sponsoring organizations, particularly Jackson Janes and Carl Lankowsky of the American Institute of Contemporary German Studies at Johns Hopkins University, Robert Tuch of the German-American Academic Council in Washington, Theodore Ziolkowski of Princeton University, and Detlef Junker, director of the GHI.

Following his visit to the new Center, Dr. Rüttgers met with German journalists and diplomats, the fellows of the GHI, and scholarship recipients of the GACVS in the Institute's lecture hall for a 90-minute discussion. The discussion, led by the director of the GHI, centered on the German university system and proved to be both lively and contentious. Two questions were particularly controversial: The first centered on whether, and to what extent, the current German institutions and mentalities are prepared for and capable of fundamental reform; the second dealt with whether or not reforms could be instituted without additional government funding. Dr. Rüttgers's prediction that the number of German university students would rise by approximately 350,000 over the next few years was especially significant in this context.

A number of participants, including the director of the GHI, also pointed out a grave contradiction between theory and practice in the German university system's support and furtherance of education and training. Although announcements and public statements repeatedly demand that young German scholars widen their horizons by spending a longer period of time abroad, those scholars who take that step often encounter disadvantages in practice. Younger scholars in particular are confronted repeatedly with the fact that it is extremely difficult to re-enter the German university system because the positions available when they left the country were filled in the meantime by those who elected to stay.

Christof Mauch

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Sixth Annual Symposium of the Friends of the GHI

"New Research Topics in German History."

In 1997 the Friends altered the format of their annual symposium. Held on November 14, the meeting highlighted new research being carried out by junior scholars. We were interested to hear in detail about some of the projects being pursued by the research fellows of the GHI itself, and at the same time we were keen to present the joint winners of the Friends of the GHI Dissertation Prize. All those who attended were highly satisfied with the less hurried program of only four presentations during the daylong meeting, instead of six or eight, because this allowed for expansive discussions, and everyone went away with the feeling that they had gained a solid grasp of the theses proposed by these outstanding scholars and colleagues. It was enthusiastically agreed at the Friends of the GHI board meeting the next day that the new format should be repeated in 1998.

The symposium began with a fascinating paper on a German-American topic by Research Fellow Andreas Daum, "The Invention of a Hero: Alexander von Humboldt in the American Public Sphere, 1850-1900." Daum analyzed how the world-renowned German scientist Alexander von Humboldt, until his death in 1859 an eminent figure in the intellectual life of the nineteenth century, became an American icon during the second half of that century. Daum revealed the intricate processes involved in how Humboldt and his achievements were appropriated and functionalized by succeeding generations in the United States. He argued that these generations used Humboldt's heritage to invent their own cultural traditions and strengthen particular national, ethnic, and intellectual identities.

Humboldt himself had visited the United States only once, in 1804, stopping briefly on the return trip from his five-year journey through Central and South America. In the following years, however, he maintained a vigorous correspondence with scientists in the United States. Moreover, there was a constant flow of Americans visiting Humboldt in Europe.

Whereas the historiography has hitherto explained Humboldt's appeal to Americans in terms of his scientific achievements, his interest in the scientific exploration of America, and his sensitivity toward both the political and economic problems accompanying the growth of the United States, Daum offered a new interpretation: Instead of following biographical traditions, he combined the approaches of cultural and social history in order to explain the striking facts that the peak of Humboldt's veneration in the United States was reached in the two decades following his death and that his popularity radiated widely into American society, far beyond the realm of scientific institutions. Humboldt the hero, he argued, was "invented" by a peculiar mixture of groups based mainly on immigrant milieus but not limited to them.

Citing a number of regional examples, Daum delineated in detail how, from the 1850s on, German-American groups, other immigrant groups, and even the native-born population celebrated Humboldt as a cultural hero. This veneration of Humboldt culminated in spectacular festivities, the erection of monuments, and a vast memorializing literature. According to Daum, in a time of rapid social change, the new ethnic groups in particular were in need of a cultural hero to create a common cultural consciousness and project their self-definitions onto an undeniably positive figure. Consequently, Humboldt became an embodiment of various and sometimes conflicting cultural values - such as cosmopolitanism, the German idea of education, the free-thinking ideology of German radicals, and even creationist thinking. Daum differentiated among a whole set of Humboldt narratives that could be used for the varying purposes of different social groups. Humboldt was venerated by urban German-American, freemasons, and some Irish immigrants; he became so Americanized that he was honored on such occasions as the centennial of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

With this interpretation, Daum made a strong case for studying science and the work of scientists not only as endemic, internal phenomena of high culture but also as elements of popular culture during the nineteenth century. This approach also characterizes Daum's book, The Popularization of Science in the Nineteenth Century: Bourgeois Culture, Scientific Education, and the German Public Sphere, 1848-1914, which was published recently in Germany.

The second presentation was by Paul Lerner (Assistant Professor, University of Southern California, Los Angeles), the joint winner of the Friends of the GHI Dissertation Prize. His paper was based on his manuscript in progress titled "Hysterical Men: War, Memory and German Mental Medicine, 1914-1926," discussed the response of German psychiatrists and neurologists to the "epidemic" of male hysteria during and shortly after World War I. Covering the period from the late 1880s through the war, the November Revolution and into the Weimar Republic, it sketched the story of the hysteria diagnosis, the doctors who diagnosed it, and the soldier-patients whom they examined and treated. Lerner explored the context for the acceptance of hysteria, once considered an exclusively female affliction, as the preferred diagnosis for Germany's tens of thousands of "shell shocked" men and then surveyed the therapeutic and administrative dimensions of the war-neurosis problem.

Lerner put forward four distinctly intertwined arguments. First, he showed that male hysteria became an acceptable diagnosis when used on sufferers of industrial trauma in the late nineteenth century. By attributing the condition to the patient's psyche rather than to the direct effects of an accident, the hysteria diagnosis offered an attractive alternative to "traumatic neurosis," the other available diagnostic choice. That is, explaining the symptoms as manifestations of hysteria made trauma patients ineligible for pensions and mandated their return to work. In this context, a powerful - and uniquely German - opposition between hysteria and work was forged that, he argued, displaced the traditional "femininity" of the affliction, partially replacing its gender dichotomy with one based on class. German doctors conceived of the war neuroses in precisely these terms, viewing neurotic soldiers within the framework of peacetime trauma cases and seeing the war - and its psychological consequences - as an industrial accident writ large.

Second, Lerner claimed that the demands of war accelerated the turn away from an approach to mental health based on the individual patient to a collectivistic paradigm. Forced to handle unprecedented numbers of patients with limited resources, wartime doctors borrowed from industrial models - they developed "assembly line" techniques for making diagnoses, giving treatments, and reaching decisions on pension and discharge matters. Speed and efficiency became the primary medical values as methods of treatment and administration were centralized and rationalized, and a comprehensive approach to the psychic health of the whole nation was adopted. Furthermore, therapeutic goals were redefined around national utility, and as particularly labor shortages reached crisis proportions, psychiatric and neurological treatments concentrated on efficiently channeling neurotic patients into the nation's war economy. As such, Lerner opposes the facile continuities often drawn between shell-shock treatment and the euthanasia program carried out by psychiatrists in the Nazi period, stressing instead the connections between rationalized psychiatric care and other features of Weimar Germany's economic and cultural history.

Third, Lerner argued that by choosing particular treatments and diagnoses, psychiatrists and neurologists gained opportunities to further their own ideas about acceptable soldierly conduct. Their self-appointed task as caretakers of the nation's mental and nervous health cast them in the roles of judge, teacher, and disciplinarian and enabled many to exercise a decisive influence over the fates of thousands of soldiers. Lerner showed that although they were at first baffled by the war neuroses, by 1916 certain doctors could point to incredible treatment successes. Reversing the long-standing "therapeutic crisis" in German psychiatry, these doctors supervised the creation of a set of institutions and facilities over which they had complete control. Treating war neurotics thus gave a generation of university-based doctors the opportunity to cast their authority and professional expertise over issues that lay in a gray area among the legal, military, and medical spheres; mental health practitioners continued to exercise this authority, acting as state agents against an increasingly hostile population in pension claims filed during and after the war. Doctors, according to Lerner, used their newly achieved control and authority over the patient to promote medical views of German manhood, which were based on duty, obedience, and, most of all, economic productivity.

In his final thesis Lerner examined the relationship between traumatic wartime events and post-traumatic conditions. Through a series of case histories, he treated the struggle between psychiatrists and patients over the reality and significance of traumatic war experiences as a contest between the competing narratives of war and its traumatizing impact. In denying the pathogenic power of the "traumatic" war event, Germany's psychiatrists ultimately rejected any causal connection between war service and mental illness, contributing to a broader Weimar-era narrative that celebrated the combat environment and undermined the victim status of its veterans. Lerner showed that for most psychiatrists, the war neuroses essentially had nothing to do with the war, meaning that they did not consider the tens of thousands of nervously ill casualties to be victims of the war in any real sense. Denying that war was damaging to the individual's mind and nerves, Lerner concluded, meant that psychiatrists implicitly denied the traumatizing impact of war as a whole, constructing the war experience as a positive influence on the minds of individuals and the lives of nations.

The afternoon session opened with a paper by Sandra Chaney (Assistant Professor, Erskine College), who was the second joint winner of the Friends of the GHI Dissertation Prize. Chaney's presentation was titled "Visions and Revisions of Nature: From the Protection of Nature to the Invention of the Environment in the Federal Republic of Germany, 1945-1975." The period covered by her study was the most critical to the evolution of an ecological consciousness in West Germany. Precisely during this time, as the Federal Republic became more densely populated, highly urbanized, industrialized, and polluted, concern about preserving nature (Naturschutz) came to be an important, yet subordinate aspect of managing and protecting the human environment (Umweltschutz). Using the shift in discourse from an emphasis on Naturschutz to Umweltschutz as a broad framework, Chaney addressed the people, ideas, events, and developments that contributed to the replacement of "nature" by the "environment." She argued that the meaning of these concepts, and the definition of environmental problems, are socially constructed and change according to shifting contexts. She also discussed the implications of replacing "nature" with "environment."

According to Chaney, between 1945 and 1954 conservationists demanded the long-term, careful use of limited natural resources that were being exploited more than ever before to promote economic recovery. From 1955 to 1967, conservationists responded to public health and regional planning concerns by establishing nature parks for a growing urban population and advocating professional land-use planning of the country's limited space. Conservationists warned that people had radically changed their surroundings to such an extent that they had become de-natured and unhealthy. With effective land-use planning, however, conservationists hoped to construct a "more natural living space" for human beings. To an extent, Chaney asserted, "nature" had been replaced in discourse by the more abstract and versatile concept "space."

After the late 1960s conservationists and wider circles of the public addressed worsening pollution and strains on the land by demanding the protection of humanity's threatened surroundings, which they called the "environment." Chaney argued that the arrival of the SPD/FDP coalition government, the media, and especially international developments, such as the legislation passed in the United States in 1969 and 1970 to protect "the environment," European Conservation Year in 1970, and the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment in 1972, contributed to the invention of the environment in popular discourse. The invention of the environment in the early 1970s, Chaney submitted, indicated that people had come to regard themselves as the primary architects of their surroundings. The implications were that people had to accept the responsibility for ensuring that parts of the environment retain varying degrees of "naturalness."

In the final session of the day, Research Fellow Edmund Spevack, presented a stimulating paper on "Members of the Bonn Parliamentary Council (1948-1949) and Their Links to the United States of America." Spevack explained that the paper stands in the context of his book project, titled "American Political and Ideological Influences on the Shaping of West German Basic Law (Grundgesetz), 1948-1949."

Spevack mentioned that whereas the activities of the Parliamentary Council are well documented and have received much scholarly attention, the contributions of the Western Allies are much less widely known. At the London six-power conference of 1948, the Allies preplanned the constitutional reconstruction of western Germany, and they later took steps to implement their plans and to influence the Parliamentary Council's work.

In the intermediate postwar period, a new political elite formed in the western zones of Germany: It participated in the shaping of both the Länder constitutions and the Basic Law. Spevack argued that the constitutional reconstruction of western Germany would have been very different had members of the Parliamentary Council not had intensive links to Western countries, above all to France, Great Britain, and the United States. Spevack first supplied selected statistics on the composition of the Parliamentary Council's members (age, profession, educational background, political experience) and then evaluated some of the data he collected on the members' links to Britain, France, and, most importantly, the United States.

Spevack found that 12 of the 77 members of the Parliamentary Council had links to the United States; these 12 members included some of its most central figures. A number of these connections were established long before 1945, some in the immediate postwar period and some in 1948 and thereafter. Seven specific examples were treated in some detail by Spevack: Hermann von Mangoldt (expert on American constitutional law), Rudolf Katz (proponent of a German supreme court), Friedrich Wilhelm Wagner and Fritz Eberhard (returning socialist emigrés), Ludwig Bergsträsser and Walter Menzel (constitutional experts), and Georg-August Zinn (legal expert).

Spevack closed with the thesis that members of the Parliamentary Council with links to the United States functioned in three ways: some were able to establish contact with the Allies and understand their languages and legal systems; some actively worked for the inclusion of Western legal and ideological assumptions in the new West German constitution; and all were in favor of the German and American shared interest of western European integration.

Geoffrey Giles

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GHI Dissertation Scholarships

Each year the GHI awards scholarships of up to six months' duration to doctoral students researching topics related to the Institute's general areas of interest. Applications for 1999 should be addressed to: GHI Dissertation Scholarships, German Historical Institute, 1607 New Hampshire Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20009. The deadline is May 31, 1998. Applications should include:

  • A curriculum vitae
  • A research proposal (itinerary, summary, time frame)
  • A letter of recommendation from doctoral adviser

American students applying for these scholarships should be working on topics in German history for which they need to evaluate sources located in the United States. For more information, please contact Dr. Christof Mauch, Deputy Director, e-mail:

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Recipients of the German-American Center for Visiting Scholars (GACVS) Research Grants, 1998

The German-American Center for Visiting Scholars (GACVS) has invited the following scholars to join the center in 1998:

Austenfeld, Thomas, Ph.D. "A World in Turmoil: Four American Women Writers in Nazi Germany." Drury College.

Beestermöller, Gerhard, Dr. theol. habil. "The Call for Reconciliation as a Challenge to Theology." Institute for Theology and Peace, Barsbüttel.

Greven, Thomas, Doctoral student, "Coping with Globalization: International Labor Rights and U.S. Foreign Policy." Technical University of Berlin.

Grimm, Heike, Dr. "The Role of Entrepreneurship in Germany and the U.S." Union Mittelständischer Unternehmer, Munich.

Grzymala-Busse, Anna, Doctoral student. "The Adaptation of Communist Parties to Democracy in East Central Europe After 1989." Center for European Studies, Harvard University.

Hauser, Susanne, Dr. "The Aesthetics of Revitalization: Industrial Wasteland Regained." Berlin.

Hillmann, Felicitas, Dr. "Integration of Immigrants into Labor Markets." Wissenschaftszentrum für Sozialforschung, Berlin.

Keil, Hartmut, Prof. Dr. "German Immigrants and African- Americans in Mid-Nineteenth-Century America: A Study for Group Interaction." University of Leipzig.

Krankenhagen, Stefan, Doctoral student. "Contemporary Forms of Representation of Auschwitz." University of Hildesheim.

Kühlen, Michael, Doctoral student. "Newt Gingrich's Breach of Contract with America." University of Münster.

Remy, Steven, Doctoral student. "Nazification, Denazification and the Future of the University: The Case of Heidelberg." Ohio University.

Schild, Georg, Dr. "Development of Social Policy in the U.S. in the Twentieth Century." University of Bonn.

Schneider, Ulrike, Dr. "Living and Care Arrangements of German and U.S. Elderly." University of Hannover.

Schwanitz, Wolfgang, Dr. "The Third Reich and the Near East." Technical University of Berlin.

Schwarte, Ludger, Dr. "Geschichte des öffentlichen Raums." Institute for European Studies, Paris.

Siedschlag, Alexander, Dr. "Institutionalization and Conflict Management in the New Europe." Technical University of Berlin.

Zittel, Thomas, Dr. "Democracy in the Information Age." University of Mannheim.

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GHI Serves as Soviet Embassy

In March 1998 Moses Films in Washington, D.C., produced a documentary for the Discovery Channel. It is the story of the CIA and Xerox, which got together in the early 1960s to design a camera that would fit inside a standard Xerox copier machine. The machine was then sold to the Soviets and placed inside their embassy in Washington, D.C.

The GHI building was chosen by the filmmakers "because of its embassy-like appearance" in lieu of the old Soviet Embassy building.

Letting the film team do their work in the Institute's building was, in the words of Director Detlef Junker, part of "our contribution to Cold War research."

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