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For undergraduate junior/senior level courses in German history. Covering the entire period of modern German historyfrom nineteenth century imperial Germany right through 2001this well-established text engages students with its narrative, problem-focused approach, presenting a balanced, general survey of the country's political division in 1945 and reunification in the present. Detailing foreign policy as well as political, economic, and social developments, it presents a central theme of the problem of asymmetrical modernization in the country's history as it fully explores the complicated path of Germany's troubled past and stable present.
Table of Contents
Maps. Preface. 1. The Founder's Generation, 1871-1890. 2. Wilhelminian Germany, 1890-1914. 3. The First World War, 1914-1918. 4. Revolution, Inflation, and Putsches: The Search for a New Consensus, 1918-1923. 5. Fool's Gold: The Weimar Republic, 1924-1930. 6. From Authoritarianism to Totalitarianism, 1930-1938. 7. Conquest, Death, and Defeat, 1938-1945. 8. "Condominium for the Allied Powers," 1945-1949. 9. The Federal Republic of Germany, 1949-1990. 10. The German Democratic Republic, 1949-1990. 11. Germany Since Reunification: Euphoria and Disillusionment, 1990-Present. 12. Conclusion. Suggestions for Further Reading. Index.
Much of the history covered in this work seems to contradict the title of this book. For almost all of the second half of the twentieth century, Germany had been not one country, but two: West Germany, formally the Federal Republic of Germany, and East Germany, the German Democratic Republic. At first glance they seemed to have little in common. West Germany was (and is) a liberal democracy representing values of political and cultural pluralism and modified free enterprise. East Germany was a Communist state whose leaders attempted to create a society founded on the principles of Marxism-Leninism. The two nations were integrated into opposing power blocs. West Germany is a friend of the United States and a member of the NATO alliance; East Germany was the Soviet Union's most important European ally and a member of the now-defunct Warsaw Pact. Relations between the two Germanies were strained, to put it mildly. Yet, as if to illustrate that nothing in history is permanent, as this fifth edition ofA History of Modern Germanygoes to press, Germany has been reunited for more than a decade. When the text first appeared, fourteen years ago, there seemed little likelihood that East and West Germany would be reunited. But the dramatic events of 1989 led to the swift and unexpected collapse of the GDR. In a few short months, the East German Communist regime fell from power, the hated Berlin Wall crumbled, and the East German people in a genuinely free election voted for reunification with the West. Ironically, as a divided nation the two German states achieved much of what the German people sought in vain when they were last a united country: a long period of political stability, economic prosperity, and peace with their neighbors. Equally paradoxical, despite the existence of two German states, interest in the two countries' joint history seemed to increase. The reason is easy to see: The division of the country was the result of the course of German history in the years from 1871 to the end of World War II in 1945. For almost three-quarters of a century, German history was synonymous with "the German problem," a shorthand way of indicating that Germany was an unstable and unpredictable factor in modern European history. A revolution, several coup attempts, and four constitutions gave the country political systems that ranged from monarchical authoritarianism to liberal democracy and Nazi totalitarianism, but no lasting stability. Closely related to political and social upheavals, the German economy experienced alternate periods of boom and bust. Twice in modern times the country reached the brink of economic and fiscal collapse. Domestic upheavals in turn were related to repeated attempts by Germany's leaders to change the balance of power in Europe and the rest of the world. Having achieved national unity by victorious wars, the German leaders repeatedly attempted to use international aggression to provide the nation with domestic stability, economic prosperity, and respect abroad. The pattern culminated with Adolf Hitler's deliberate unleashing of World War II to realize his vast ambitions. At the end of that conflict, bombed cities, millions of dead, wounded, homeless, and a divided nation subject to the whims of the victors represented the consequences of hubris. Yet modern German history is more than Prusso-German authoritarianism, the Nazi dictatorship, military aggression, and the Holocaust. This account of the country's path from national unification in 1871 to political division in 1945 and reunification in our own day attempts to present the alternative aspects as well. Long-standing, if often submerged, traditions of political, cultural, and economic liberalism as well as left-wing radicalism existed side by side with authoritarian and regressive strains. Their surprisingly swift and strong establishment as societal values after World War II happened in large part because for many years t