Jürgen Kocka - Brandeis IR



Jürgen Kocka - Brandeis IR
ci vi l societ y an d d ictato rs h ip
i n m odern g erman h is t o ry
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the menahem stern jerusalem lectures
Sponsored by the Historical Society of Israel and published for
Brandeis University by University Press of New England
Editorial Board:
Prof. Yosef Kaplan, Senior Editor, Department of the History of
the Jewish People, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, former
chairman of the Historical Society of Israel
Prof. Michael Heyd, Department of History, The Hebrew University
of Jerusalem, former chairman of the Historical Society of Israel
Prof. Shulamit Shahar, professor emeritus, Department of History,
Tel-Aviv University, member of the Board of Directors of the
Historical Society of Israel
For a complete list of books in this series, please visit
Jürgen Kocka, Civil Society and Dictatorship in Modern German
Heinz Schilling, Early Modern European Civilization and Its
Political and Cultural Dynamism
Brian Stock, Ethics through Literature: Ascetic and Aesthetic
Reading in Western Culture
Fergus Millar, The Roman Republic in Political Thought
Peter Brown, Poverty and Leadership in the Later Roman Empire
Anthony D. Smith, The Nation in History: Historiographical
Debates about Ethnicity and Nationalism
Carlo Ginzburg, History Rhetoric, and Proof
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Jürgen Kocka
t h e m e n a h e m s t e r n j e ru s a l e m l e c t u r e s
Society of
published by university press of new england
Hanover and London
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Brandeis University Press / Historical Society of Israel
Published by University Press of New England,
One Court Street, Lebanon, nh 03766
2010 © Historical Society of Israel
Printed in the usa
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Kocka, Jürgen.
Civil society and dictatorship in modern German history/
Jürgen Kocka.
p. cm. — (The Menahem Stern Jerusalem lectures)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
isbn 978-1-58465-865-8 (cloth: alk. paper)
isbn 978-1-58465-866-5 (pbk.: alk. paper)
1. Civil society — Germany — History — 20th century. 2. Dictatorship — Germany — History — 20th century. 3. Germany — History — 20th century. 4. Germany — Social
conditions — 20th century. I. Title.
jc337.k63 2010
943.087 — dc22
University Press of New England is a member of the Green Press
Initiative. The paper used in this book meets their minimum
requirement for recycled paper.
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Foreword by Shulamit Volkov
I. Introduction
II. Bourgeois Culture and Civil Society:
The German Case in a European Context
The Opportunities of Semantic Ambivalence / 9
Bürgertum: Bourgeoisie Defined by Its Opponents
and Its Culture / 10
Civil Society: The History and Definition of a Concept / 15
Universal Claims versus Exclusive Realities
in the Nineteenth Century/ 20
Bourgeoisie and Civil Society during the Kaiserreich / 22
A Short View on the Twentieth Century / 28
III. Comparing Dictatorships:
Toward a Social History of the German
Democratic Republic
Why a History of the GDR? / 35
The Political Construction of a New Society / 40
Social Blockades and the Limits of Political Control / 48
1949–1989: Four Periods of GDR History / 54
The GDR in Comparative Perspectives / 56
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IV. Dealing with Difficult Pasts:
Collective Memories and Politics in Germany
after 1945 and 1990
How West Germans and East Germans Dealt
with Their Nazi Past, 1945–1990 / 70
Remembering the GDR after Unification:
Different Layers, Controversial Debates / 82
Memories Compete and Reinforce One Another / 88
V. Historians, Fashion, and Truth:
The Last Fifty Years
History: A Changeable Discipline/ 101
An Example: Changing Views of World War I/ 103
Five Major Trends/ 108
The Productivity of Fashion and the Attainability
of Truth: History as a Profession/ 111
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It is virtually impossible to approach any subject related to German history of the past two centuries without coming across
one of Jürgen Kocka’s books or essays. Indeed, his voice has
been heard throughout all the crucial turning points of the previous four decades, carrying the weight of his scholarship and
introducing a note of moderation, of balanced and thoughtful
consideration. For much of this time, I too have benefited from
his insights into questions that reside at the center of our joint
preoccupations as historians, admiring his learning as well as
his theoretical and methodological refinement. I then also enjoyed (this too for more years than I would like to admit) his
close personal friendship. It was thus a particular pleasure for
me to greet him on the occasion of his visit to Israel in 2001 as
guest of the Historical Society of Israel, invited to give its annual Jerusalem lectures in memory of Menahem Stern.
Jürgen Kocka’s first steps as a historian took him into the
emerging field of social history. By the early 1960s, the limits
of both old-style Ideengeschichte after the fashion of Friedrich
Meinecke’s work and of the grand political-diplomatic history
in the style of Ludwig Dehio seemed unsuitable to the task of
dealing creatively with the main historical issues at hand. The
Nazi past was still very close and it quickly became apparent
that new approaches were needed if one wanted to deal with it
in a fruitful way, offering convincing explanations and pointing towards the lessons that ought to be drawn from them. At
the same time, both long-term explanations, common to many
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of the Anglo-American historians such as William Shirer or
A.J.P. Taylor, and short-term ones, often applied by some of
the more conservative German historians, seemed inappropriate to the task. Concentrating upon socioeconomic themes or
social-class studies, while leaning upon the theory and practice of the social sciences, became the order of the day, and the
period from the second half of the nineteenth century until
World War I provided an obvious chronological middle ground.
Kocka’s first book was published in 1969. Dealing with whitecollar employees in the Siemens concern between 1847 and
1914 and subtitled On the Relationships between Capitalism
and Bureaucracy during the German Industrialization, it became a model for all those who were then seeking their way
upon the new historiographical terrain.
The transition that followed, aptly characterized by Eric
Hobsbawm as “from social history to the history of society,”
likewise found an exemplary execution in Kocka’s work, especially in his book Facing Total War: German Society, 1914–
1918 (1973). This was a general social history of World War
I in Germany, a kind of small-scale exercise in turning older
social-historical conventions into an overall narrative, no longer eschewing politics or even diplomacy, while still placing
the main burden of explanation on economic circumstances
and the social-class structure of the society under investigation. This book dealt with the tensions between workers and
entrepreneurs, the so-called polarization of the lower middle
classes, and the interrelations between such societal developments and politics. While the earlier, less ambitious type of social history sought to treat topics that had been previously neglected, the new Gesellschaftsgeschichte applied the principle
of the primacy of domestic policy to the overall panorama, revising the old historical narratives in a radical way and offering an alternative.
By then Kocka’s methodological and theoretical interests
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were becoming forcefully apparent. In terms of subject matter,
he was expanding the canvas to include the lower classes on
the one hand and the capitalist employers or entrepreneurs on
the other hand. But in parallel he was concentrating, in numerous books and essays, on the implications and the didactic balance of the new approach, becoming one of the central critical
and self-critical voices in all matters relating to the meaning
and role of history in postwar Germany — history in general
and social history in particular.
At about that same time, the Sonderweg thesis, pointing out
the uniqueness of German developments in comparison with
the other major countries of the West — an inseparable part of
the social history project from its inception — came under fire
from various sides. A new generation of historians contested
the assertion that a significant deficit in liberal faith together
with a particularly backward civil society had been caused by
the weakness of the German bourgeoisie. As this was a major
pillar of the Sonderweg approach as a whole, the matter clearly
required further elaboration. Characteristically, Kocka set out
to decide the issue by initiating a wide-ranging international
study on the nature of the European bourgeoisie. It was not
a matter of speculation, ran the subtext of this project, but of
precise theoretical clarification together with detailed historical research. In this manner, studying the bourgeoisie — and in
particular the German bourgeoisie — was added to Kocka’s list
of interests and it has preoccupied him for many years.
Once again, theory and method required rethinking and
innovation beyond the particular subject matter of research.
The old Fragestellung, dictated by social history, was no longer sufficient, and while studying the bourgeoisie Kocka was
gradually embracing some aspects of the new cultural history,
adding anthropology to the social sciences relevant to the historian and widening the canvas of the good old Gesellschaftsgeschichte to include, ever more prominently, issues related
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to the linguistic and symbolic sides of the past. His numerous
publications of that time are of the greatest importance, indispensable for all students of modern German history. During
this period, his voice was heard on matters of method and substance alike. His efforts to correct the Sonderweg thesis without completely discarding it demonstrated his unique sense of
proportion and turned him into a true leader among contemporary historians.
By then, however, world events were changing his agenda.
In the years following the fall of the Berlin wall and the collapse of communism, Kocka’s intellectual alacrity and flexibility stood out among his peers. He immediately realized the
need for rethinking old historical truths in view of the dramatic events of the present and turned his attention and skills
to the questions aroused by German unification. Mountains of
new material were now available for the study of what he then
often called “the second German dictatorship” in the German
Democratic Republic, and a new research institute, established
and headed by him, set out to do the job.
As a result, Kocka’s focus shifted from the nineteenth century. From then on, he became a historian of the twentieth
century, most particularly of Nazi Germany and GDR communism. Like previous changes in subject matter, this shift
too entailed a methodological expansion. Comparative history,
always part of Kocka’s toolbox, now became still more crucial.
He compared — and encouraged others to compare — the two
German dictatorial regimes, the Germans with the East Europeans, and Germany’s performance with that of the other
Western states, past and present.
Kocka was now capable of bringing to bear his immense
knowledge of the nineteenth century on issues that emerged in
the study of the twentieth, but also — in the manner of all great
historians — of using problems faced by Germany in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries to illuminate the historiogra-
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phy of the nineteenth. In 2001 he published a masterly overview of that century in the Gebhardt Handbuch der deutschen
Geschichte, under the title: “The Long Nineteenth Century:
Work, Nation and Bourgeois Society,” followed by a flood of
articles and essays on his various fields of interest — separately
and together.
It was at this point that we managed to win him for our lecture series in Jerusalem. Unexpectedly, these lectures became
the ground upon which he could achieve a sort of summary of
his historical career to date. They discuss the history of Germany’s bourgeoisie and civil society from the beginning of the
nineteenth century until the end of the twentieth. They set out
the problem of a divided Germany after World War II, the peculiarities of the Bundesrepublik and the GDR, their complex
entanglement with each other, and their place in the global
history of our time. Above all, they expose the mind of a historian contemplating the nature of his profession, its ways of
advancing, the chances and pitfalls along the road. This book
is a unique document and I feel that we were privileged to have
provided the opportunity for its composition.
Shulamit Volkov
Tel Aviv University
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he descriptions and explanations that historians offer
change over time. Certainly, they are based on evidence,
and they follow the rules that define the historical profession. But they deal with moving targets, and they vary
with the historians’ viewpoints and questions, which are constantly reconstituted and reformulated, under the impact
of the developing challenges and opportunities of the present time. History is not identical with the past, nor with a
photography of the past. History is rather a relation between
past and present, open to the future. Historians are searching for truth, and frequently they find it, since they are well
equipped for this task. But their truth, by necessity, contains
elements of construction that are historical in themselves:
changeable, context-related, and in need of interpretation.
This is a leitmotiv of the following chapters. They deal with
traditions and innovations in historical research. They also
deal with the reconstruction of collective historical memories.
They show how changing historical perceptions — both inside
and outside the profession — interrelate with the changing historical structures and processes that they try to grasp and of
which they are part.
On the other hand there is much continuity in what historians and their audiences find worthwhile to investigate and
to study. Take Germany as an example. The relation between
democracy and dictatorship continues to be a central problem
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civil society and dictatorship
whenever one deals with the basic lines of nineteenth- and
twentieth-century German history in Europe. The breakdown
of democracy, two very different dictatorships, and the “second chance” (Fritz Stern) Germans got after 1945 and 1989 to
rebuild democratic institutions in the context of an increasingly civil society were decisive experiences of the twentieth
century, which have left their stamp on the intellectual maps
Germans have in their heads when they write and read history.
The catastrophe of the Nazi dictatorship, the world war it triggered, and the genocide it carried out remain focal points of interpreting modern German history, particularly for the generation of historians to which this author belongs.
It is true, step by step the German record has been put into
broader European contexts, and most recently global ramifications have received much attention. Comparative approaches
have gained much ground, increasingly in combination with
growing interest in transnational interactions and interrelations. The questions, topics, and findings of historical research
and writing have multiplied. Social history, cultural history,
and a new brand of political history have led us into new directions and have succeeded in discovering new territory far
beyond — and below — national history. But interest in the history of democracy and dictatorship — frequently related to the
history of civil society and barbarism — continues to be something like a disquieting basso continuo in the modern history
of Germany and Europe. This is certainly true for the following chapters.
The history of the Bürgertum — bourgeoisie or middle
class — has been a field in which German historians have invested much and produced many innovations over the last two
to three decades. In this field a productive combination of social
and cultural history has taken place. Owing to semantic particularities of the German language — Bürger stands for “bourgeois” and “citizen” alike — the history of the bourgeoisie was
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soon extended into and amalgamated with the history of civil
society, its culture and institutions. Concepts, approaches, and
insights were thus developed that allow new interpretations
of German history in its European context, from the late eighteenth century until today. This is the topic of chapter II.
The breakdown of state socialism and the end of the German Democratic Republic (gdr) have had an important impact on the interpretation of twentieth-century German and
European history. The history of the gdr became a boom field
for historical research. It became very common to speak of the
“two German dictatorships” of the twentieth century — Nazi
Germany and the gdr — and to compare them (also with other
dictatorships). In such a comparative perspective, the historical understanding of the gdr has gained salience and substance, and the history of modern dictatorships has been enriched. The dictatorships of the twentieth century appear as
outright negations — or enemies — of civil society. But in the
long run they have contributed to its rebuilding and revival.
This is the topic of chapter III.
Chapter IV summarizes how Germans in the West and the
East have dealt with their National Socialist past over the decades. It compares how differently the first and the second
German dictatorships were perceived, debated, dealt with, and
turned into elements of collective memories after they had
ended. It deals with the competition between and the reinforcement of different memories in present-day Germany. Again the
emphasis is on civil society, which needs and encourages this
type of remembrance and historical endeavor. The history of
collective memory can serve as a lead-in to the history of civil
society, its changes, failures, and achievements.
In all this historians have played their role. There is an overlap as well as much tension between history and memory, between what historians study and what cultures — or groups of
people — prefer to remember. At the same time historiograph-
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civil society and dictatorship
ical trends are influenced by cultural needs. This partly explains the tremendous changes that have been occurring in
historical research and writing internationally in the last fifty
years summarized in chapter V. It argues that fashion plays a
role in changing the preferences and practices of historians,
and makes the point that this is not necessarily harmful. The
truth of the historians is itself a historical phenomenon.
The chapters of this volume have been thoroughly revised,
augmented and updated recently. I am grateful to Arnd Bauerkämper, Gunilla Budde, Oliver Janz and Ralph Jessen for
their suggestions. Morgan Schupbach Guzman has compiled
the index and Heike Kubisch has helped with the editing work.
But the text is based on the Menahem Stern Lectures I had the
honor to deliver in Jerusalem in 2001. Other obligations have
prevented me from preparing them for publication earlier. I am
grateful for having had this opportunity, and I want to express
my thanks to the colleagues who made this possible in one
way or another: Shulamit Volkov, Michael Heyd, Fania OzSalzberger, Moshe Zimmermann, Yosef Kaplan, Maayan
Avineri-Rebhun, and the Historical Society of Israel.
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Bourgeois Culture and
Civil Society: The German
Case in a European Context
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The Opportunities of Semantic Ambivalence
t is the aim of this chapter to bring together two lines of
argumentation and two bodies of historical research that
are separate in most languages, including English: the history of civil society and the history of the bourgeoisie. Such
an attempt is in a way natural for German-speaking historians, owing to the ambivalent meaning of the German concept
Bürger. With respect to the late eighteenth, nineteenth, and
twentieth centuries, Bürger refers to those who belong to the
Bürgertum, a small social formation including businessmen,
entrepreneurs, capitalists, managers, and rentiers as well as
lawyers, judges, academically trained civil servants, ministers,
engineers, and scientists, that is, persons of property and education. At the same time, Bürger means “citizen” and refers to
all members of a community regarding their rights and duties.
With respect to this second meaning, the corresponding adjective bürgerlich can be translated as “civil” or even “civic,”
bürgerliche Gesellschaft as “civil society.”1
The double meaning of Bürger is present in the language of
the sources that historians of the modern period study. As a
Breslau philosopher and translator, Christian Garve, wrote in
1792: in German, the concept Bürger possesses “more dignity”
than the French bourgeois, since it refers to two matters that
have two different names in French. On the one hand, Bürger
refers to every member of a civil society (bürgerliche Gesell­
schaft), that is, citoyen in French. On the other hand, it means
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civil society and dictatorship
a nonnoble inhabitant of a town (or a city) who lives off a trade,
that is, bourgeois.2 The double meaning of Bürger is reflected
upon and made use of by a large part of the recent scholarly literature produced by German-speaking historians with respect
to the history of the bourgeoisie or the middle class in modern
times. Research and writing about this topic have expanded
in the last twenty-five years.3 One should take this semantic
ambivalence seriously. Does it have structural causes related
to a more or less hidden similarity between the bourgeoisie
and civil society in German-speaking central Europe? How has
the relation between the bourgeoisie and civil society changed
over time? Does the combination of these two concepts permit
a comparative view on the history of European societies and
particularly the German case in the nineteenth and twentieth
centuries? I want to explore these questions, but first the two
concepts — and the phenomena they refer to — must be introduced in a slightly more thorough way.
Bürgertum: Bourgeoisie Defined by
Its Opponents and Its Culture
Historians have dealt with the history of the Bürgertum — bourgeoisie or middle class — for a long while. One type of studies
concentrated on the Bürgertum as a legally and culturally specific group within European towns and cities, including master artisans, merchants, shopkeepers, and similar categories.
This research focused on the early modern period but continued into the nineteenth century. Another type of research dealt
with the bourgeoisie as a class vis-à-vis (and in conflict with)
other classes, frequently inspired by Marxist categories. In this
view, the wealthy merchants and bankers, the rising industrialists, managers, and capitalists (Wirtschaftsbürgertum), their
economic interests and political influence took center stage
from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. In the con-
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Bourgeois Culture and Civil Society
text of the history of education (Bildung) and professionalization, other historians dealt with other types of middle-class
persons, from the study of the seventeenth- and eighteenthcentury Enlightenment through the history of academic professions to research on science and its institutions in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In this context historians dealt
with the educated and academically trained parts of the bourgeoisie (Bildungsbürgertum), and it was in this area that the
social history of the bourgeoisie connected, early on, with the
history of culture and with the history of gender relations.4 In
the 1980s, historians intensified research on the Bürgertum.
As far as this work was conducted in German, attempts toward
clarifying definitions took place that owed a lot to the rise of
cultural history on the one hand, Weberian conceptual influences on the other.
On the one hand it became accepted that both merchants,
manufacturers, bankers, and other businesspeople as well as
professionals, university professors, higher civil servants, and
other administrators should be seen as belonging together to
the eighteenth- through twentieth-century Bürgertum (bourgeoisie, middle class), while nobles, peasants, manual workers, and lower-class people in general were outside its boundaries. Master artisans, retail merchants, innkeepers, and the
like had certainly belonged to the group classified as the burghers of the early modern towns. But toward the end of the
nineteenth century and later they were — together with lowerranking civil servants and the growing mass of salaried employees (Ange­stellte) — mostly classified as Kleinbürger or
Mittelstand (lower middle class). In other words, they were
distinguished from the Bürgertum proper, which continued to
be a small though slowly growing minority; with their families
they accounted for around 5 to 8 percent of the population in
the nineteenth century.
On the other hand, it became clear that such a heteroge-
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civil society and dictatorship
neous formation was not really a class in any strict (e.g., Marxist) sense, since it included both self-employed and salaried
persons, that is, people occupying different market positions.
Nor did it qualify as a corporate group (Stand), since it had no
specific legal privileges — in contrast to the burghers of the medieval and early modern towns. What then kept these different categories under the label Bürgertum together? What were
their common denominator and their differentia specifica?
Two compatible answers emerged, one relational, the other
In general, individuals are more likely to form social groups
with some cohesion, common understanding, and potential
for collective action if some tension or conflict exists between
them and other social groups. It is well known from the history
of classes, religions, and ethnicities that an identity is acquired
by setting oneself apart from others. The same holds true for
the European bourgeoisie as it emerged as a postcorporate, supralocal social formation in the second half of the eighteenth
and early nineteenth centuries. Merchants, entrepreneurs, and
capitalists, professors, judges, journalists, ministers, and highranking civil servants differed from one another in many respects, but they shared a sense of social distance from the privileged aristocracy and, on the continent, from the absolutist
monarchy. By stressing the principles of achievement and education, work, thrift, and self-reliance, many members of the
middle class supported the emerging vision of a modern, secularized, postcorporate, self-regulating, enlightened order that
would eventually become reality and be distinguished from
the privileges and autocracy of the ancien régime.
This self-differentiation was a complicated and multifaceted process with many exceptions. Still, the various subgroups of the emerging bourgeoisie were to some degree united
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Bourgeois Culture and Civil Society
by their common opponents: the nobility and unrestricted absolutism and religious orthodoxy. In opposition to them they
acquired common interests and experiences, a certain degree
of shared self-understanding, and common ideologies. In this
way, the bourgeoisie constituted itself as a social formation
that encompassed various occupational groups, sectors, and
class positions.
In the course of the nineteenth century, this line of distinction (vis-à-vis the old elites) lost part of its structuring power
but did not altogether fade away. The blurring was due to the
gradual abolition of the nobility’s legal privileges in most parts
of Europe and the gradual rapprochement between the upper
grades of the middle classes and parts of the nobility. Simultaneously, another line of demarcation came into play, which, although it had not been completely absent around 1800, became
more prominent during the second third of the nineteenth century. The boundary that set the bourgeoisie apart from the
lower strata (the emerging working class and “small people”
in general, including the “petite bourgeoisie,” the lower middle class) was becoming sharper. In spite of their differences,
late nineteenth-century industrialists, merchants, and rentiers, lawyers and higher civil servants, professors, high school
teachers, and scientists shared a defensive and critical distance
from “the people,” the “‘working class’” and the labor movement, and this perceived social front had a significant influence on their self-understanding, social alliances, and political
While developing cohesion in opposition to people above and
below, the bourgeoisie defined itself by a common culture and
common values. Families from various parts of the bourgeoisie shared a respect for individual achievement, on which they
based their claims for rewards, recognition, and influence.
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civil society and dictatorship
They, at least the male part of the bourgeoisie, shared a positive attitude toward regular work, a propensity for emotional
control, and a fundamental striving for independence and autonomy, either individually or through their associations and
initiatives. They emphasized the value of education (more
than of religion). General, usually classical education (Bil­
dung) served as a basis on which they communicated with one
another. Bildung distinguished them from those who did not
share it. Scholarly pursuits were respected, as were music, literature, and the arts.
In bourgeois culture, a specific ideal of family life was essential: that of the family as end in itself, a community held
together by emotional ties and fundamental loyalties. Strictly
differentiated by sex and dominated by the paterfamilias, it
was meant to be a haven protected from the world of economic
competition and materialism, from politics and the public.
It was a sphere of privacy (although not exclusively, and not
without servants, whose work made it possible for the bourgeois mother to devote sufficient time to family life, transmitting “cultural capital” to the next generation).
Bourgeois culture could flourish only in towns and cities.
Communication was central. There had to be peers with whom
one could meet in clubs and associations, at feasts and at cultural events, in numbers that a rural environment could hardly
provide. If one sees the cohesion and the specificity of the Bürg­
ertum as defined by its culture and its sociabilité, one appreciates the importance of symbolic forms in middle-class daily
life, of bourgeois table manners and conventions, of quotations
from classical literature, titles, customs, and dress codes.
Bourgeois culture was exclusive, but it claimed universal
recognition. In contrast to aristocratic or peasant cultures, it
had a built-in tendency to expand beyond the social boundaries of the Bürgertum and to imprint the whole of society.
The Verbürgerlichung of other social groups was a dynamic
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Bourgeois Culture and Civil Society
element built into bourgeois culture. The school system, the
workplace, the army, the media, theaters, concert halls, and
museums were the most important arenas in which bourgeois
culture could express its hegemonic ambition and its attractiveness. But in order to participate in the practices of bourgeois culture adequately, one needed a secure economic status, well beyond the subsistence minimum: means, space, and
time. This excluded large, though slightly decreasing, majorities of most populations from becoming truly bourgeois.
I have to add a word on semantics. Because it includes professionals and other persons of higher education, the German
word Bürgertum is broader and less exclusive than the German
word Bourgeoisie, which tends to concentrate on capitalists,
entrepreneurs, employers, and other persons of property and
wealth, and which is frequently used in a polemical, conflictoriented way (frequently in a Marxist tradition). By not (fully)
including the masses of modest self-employed persons — small
businesspeople, Mittelstand — the German term Bürgertum is
narrower and more exclusive than the English term middle
class. In English, neither the narrow term bourgeoisie nor the
broader term middle class(es) is fully equivalent to the German term Bürgertum, whose scope puts it somewhere in the
middle between the two English terms. But both terms are actually used in order to translate the German Bürgertum into
English. In this book I usually translate Bürgertum, Bürger,
and bürgerlich as “bourgeoisie” and “bourgeois,” but in some
cases “middle class” appears to be more adequate.6
Civil Society: The History and
Definition of a Concept
The concept “civil society” has had a remarkable career since
the 1980s.7 In many countries it is widely used: in the social
sciences and history as well as in public debates. It carries dif-
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civil society and dictatorship
ferent meanings in different contexts. It is frequently used in
normative ways, usually in a positive sense.8 If one wants to
use it for scholarly purposes, one has to trace the history of the
concept and offer a definition.
The term civil society has a long history: it can be traced
back to societas civilis in the Aristotelian tradition. For centuries it has been a central concept in European thought about
politics and society. Its connotations have varied, but it has almost always dealt with social and political life beyond the domestic sphere of home and family. It has usually referred to issues of community beyond the purely particular: that is, to the
general and the political. It was often normative and emphatic
in nature.
The term civil society, société civile, Zivilgesellschaft, or
Bürgergesellschaft assumed its modern meaning in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, largely in the works of Enlightenment writers: John Locke, Adam Ferguson, Jean-Jacques
Rousseau, Baron de Montesquieu, the Encyclopedists, Thomas
Paine, Immanuel Kant, and many others.
Civil society had a positive connotation in the Enlightenment. The term stood for what at those times was a utopian
project for a future civilization in which people would live together in peace: as private individuals in their families and as
responsible citizens in public. They would be independent and
free, cooperating under the rule of law without being spoonfed or repressed by an authoritarian state. There would be tolerance of cultural, religious, and ethnic diversity but without
great social inequality, and certainly without the traditional
corporative (ständische) inequality on an ascriptive basis.
Civil society (in German bürgerliche Gesellschaft or Bürger
gesellschaft) came to be defined in contrast to the state (more
on the continent than on the British Isles); at the time this
largely meant the absolutist state. In other words, the idea of
civil society was antiabsolutist. At the core of this antiabso-
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Bourgeois Culture and Civil Society
lutist, anticorporative “plan” for a future society, culture, and
politics was the notion of social self-organization by individuals and groups. The project “civil society” was critical of the
status quo; it was utopian, and way ahead of its time.
Under the influence of capitalism and industrialization,
the definition changed in the first half of the nineteenth
century — for example, in the works of Hegel and Marx. Civil
society became even more clearly distinguished from the state.
It became understood as a system of needs and work, of the
market and particular interests, in the sense more of a bürger­
liche Gesellschaft of the bourgeoisie than of a civil society
made up of citizens (Bürger). In German the terms Zivilgesell­
schaft and Bürgergesellschaft, which traditionally had implied
a positive connotation, were superseded by the term bürger­
liche Gesellschaft, which was still used in the late twentieth century mostly in a critical and polemical way. The traditional, positive meaning was retained longer in English and
French, for example by Alexis de Tocqueville. On the whole,
however, the term civil society receded into the background
in most languages, playing only a marginal role until roughly
1980 — with some exceptions, Gramsci among them.
Around 1980 the term civil society experienced a dazzling
comeback. It was used in the context of antidictatorial critique, especially in central Eastern Europe — in Prague, Warsaw, and Budapest, where dissidents such as Václav Havel,
Bronisław Geremek, György Konrád, and Iván Szelényi used
similar terms to speak out against one-party dictatorships, Soviet hegemony, and totalitarianism, and for freedom, pluralism,
and social autonomy. Corresponding movements could also
be observed, in some cases even earlier, in Latin America and
South Africa. The term is now used around the world — always
with a positive connotation — in various political contexts, by
political centrists and, on the left, by liberals, communitarians, and antiglobalization activists, as well as by social scien-
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civil society and dictatorship
tists such as John Keane, Ralf Dahrendorf, Shmuel Eisenstadt,
Charles Taylor, and Jürgen Habermas. In German one uses
Zivilgesellschaft and Bürgergesellschaft synonymously (rather
than bürgerliche Gesellschaft, which stays in the semantic vicinity of bürgerlich in the sense of “bourgeois”). Eighteenthcentury ideas evidently assumed new relevance at the close
of the twentieth century. The concept civil society became attractive again in the successful struggle against dictatorship,
which can be seen as the most egregious negation of civil society in the twentieth century.
But in the nondictatorial world, the term has been fitting
into the general political and intellectual climate, too. First, it
emphasizes social self-organization and individual responsibility, and thus reflects a skepticism toward being spoon-fed by
the state, a skepticism that has grown in the last decades. Many
have come to believe that the interventionist welfare state, by
regulating too much and thus becoming overburdened, is approaching its limits. Secondly, civil society, as the term is used
by today’s antiglobalization movements, for example, promises an alternative to the unbridled capitalism that has globally
gained dominance, in spite of much criticism and crisis. The
logic of civil society, characterized by discourse, conflict, and
agreement, promises solutions different from those of the market, which is based on competition, exchange, and the optimization of individual benefits. Finally, civic involvement and efforts to achieve common goals are an integral part of behavior
in civil society, no matter how differently the goals may be defined. In highly individualized and partially fragmented modern societies, civil society promises an answer to the pressing
question of what, if anything, holds these societies together.
In many countries, the debate about civil society is about the
need to redefine the relationships between politics, society,
and the market, and about the moral foundations of politics
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Bourgeois Culture and Civil Society
and the community. This explains why the term is so attractive and highly charged in many public discussions today.9
Against this background we can offer a working definition
of civil society with two closely related dimensions.10 First,
the term refers to a specific type of social action. This type
of social action is oriented toward conflict, compromise, and
agreement in the public sphere; it stresses individual independence and collective self-organization; it is nonviolent; it
recognizes differences and plurality as legitimate; it is related
to general issues, frequently oriented toward something like
the “common good,” even though different actors hold different opinions about what specifically constitutes the common
good. Second, civil society refers to a social sphere in which
the aforementioned type of social action is dominant. It encompasses “a complex and dynamic ensemble of legally protected non-governmental institutions that tend to be nonviolent, self-organizing, self-reflexive, and in permanent tension with each other,” a social space occupied by clubs, associations, social movements, networks, and initiatives. It is related to but distinguished from government, business, and the
private sphere. Both as a type of social action and as a sphere of
social self-organization, civil society either presupposes or requires an institutional framework including decentralized economic power (usually in the form of a market economy) and
limited government permitting civil society actors to exert
political influence (usually a system of constitutional government with some sort of parliamentary mechanisms, democratic elements, and the rule of law).11
Understood this way, civil society is an ideal type. It has
never been identical to real, existing societies, which always
also include other elements, such as violence, chaos, and other
uncivilized manifestations. Societies can be distinguished according to the degree to which and the manner in which they
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have implemented the principles of civil society. There is a
large task here for comparative historical and social science
studies to tackle.12
Universal Claims versus Exclusive Realities
in the Nineteenth Century
In principle, the project of civil society, when it emerged in the
late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, claimed universal applicability. It aimed at freedom, equal chances, and
participation for all. The rights, duties, and principles that it
formulated should be valid for all (grown-up) human beings,
whatever their socioeconomic status, nationality, religion,
and even sex. In that it reflected its inspiration by ideas of the
However, in reality, the project of civil society was, when
it emerged and during much of its history, tied to small social
groups that promoted and profited from it, much more than
others. In Germany of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the project was closely connected with the bourgeois
milieus in the towns and cities, described above. These milieus were in principle open to those who brought with them
the appropriate qualifications to enter. They were not organized by ascriptive criteria. But in reality these milieus were
small and exclusive, clearly differentiated from the masses
below. It was in those social milieus — frequently enriched by
some aristocratic and some lower-middle-class persons — that
in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century reading societies, clubs, lodges, and circles, friendship and correspondence networks, and later on liberal associations, local selfgovernment bodies, and voluntary organizations with social,
cultural, and political purposes developed, all of which articulated and supported those ideas and practices out of which
the project of a civil society consisted. In other words: this
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project emerged in the milieu of the rising urban bourgeoisie
because there existed a basic affinity between the principles
of the project and bourgeois culture based on education, selfreliance, achievement orientation, intensive communication,
and systematic conduct of life. It was a specific type of culture that the project of civil society needed in order to gain
On the other hand bourgeois status (in social and cultural
terms) was very helpful if not indispensable in order for a person to fully qualify as a citizen, that is, as a fully entitled subject of civil society. In order to participate fully as a citizen one
needed personal autonomy, education, and some social skills.
Such qualifications were much more likely to exist in the urban
middle (and perhaps upper) classes than in the lower classes or
among peasants, rural laborers, and lords in the countryside.
Citizenship and bourgeois status were intrinsically interwoven. Along the same line: full citizen status was withheld on
the basis of sex. Women were not allowed to vote, their right
to join political associations was severely curtailed throughout the nineteenth century, and their legal status was minor
in many respects. This gender-related discrimination with respect to citizenship was also anchored in social inequalities
specific to bourgeois culture as institutionalized in the bourgeois family. A third case in point, along the same line: in most
German territories the legal emancipation of the Jews was a
long and protracted process with many steps. Jews, as members of a minority group, were denied full citizenship status
in the first two-thirds of the nineteenth century (though to a
decreasing extent and with regional variations). It is interesting to see that many contemporaries — Jews and others — saw
Verbürgerlichung (the gradual attainment of a bourgeois way
of life in social and cultural terms) as a precondition or at least
as very helpful for accelerating emancipation (i.e., gaining citizenship): again an indicator for the intrinsic interrelation-
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ship between middle-class status and full acceptance in civil
During the nineteenth century the project of civil society
was actively supported by and beneficial for minorities. However, given its universal claims, it was a promise not fully kept.
This discrepancy between its universal claims and its limited
realization did not go unnoticed. Under the influence of critical intellectuals and an increasingly lively public opinion it
was turned into an open contradiction and translated into demands and protests. The demands and protests were brought
forward by liberal and democratic reformers, by the emerging
labor movements and women’s movements, particularly in the
1840s, the revolution of 1848/49, and again in the 1860s/70s.
The historical reality of protests, revolutions, and reforms was
complex. But the core mechanism was this: the critiques, the
protests, and the reformers referred to the promise that, as they
knew, was built into the civil society program, and demanded
its realization. They took its universalistic claims seriously.
The tension between claims and reality thus became a powerful motor of change.14
Bourgeoisie and Civil Society
during the Kaiserreich
1. In Germany, the second part of the nineteenth century was
a period of accelerated industrialization, spreading capitalism
and fast urbanization. This socioeconomic change was carried on by bourgeois capitalists, entrepreneurs, and managers mainly, and it increased their numbers, their wealth, and
their reputation and influence. Within the business communities factory owners and industrialists, together with bankers,
gained status relative to merchants, who had been the leading group earlier. Managers rose alongside and in close contact
with owners. On the other hand, the school system was dras-
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Bourgeois Culture and Civil Society
tically expanded and intensified, largely under the influence
and control of (bourgeois) bureaucrats. The rise of academic
education since the beginning of the nineteenth century — itself a first-rate middle-class achievement — made itself felt.
It strongly contributed to the upgrading and expansion of the
academic professions. The doctors, lawyers and judges, ministers, professors and scholars, professional administrators, and
civil servants gained in number and status, soon followed by
engineers, scientists, and academic experts of different kinds.
In the German-language research literature one distinguishes
between Wirtschaftsbürgertum (the economic middle class)
and Bildungsbürgertum (the educated middle class). These
two bourgeois fractions were increasingly intertwined, owing
to marriage and kin relations, an increasingly similar educational background, common culture, and common political
It is true that middle-class influence in society, culture,
and politics remained limited. The line of distinction between
Bürgertum and nobility continued to be neatly drawn, more
sharply than in France or in England. Aristocratic background
remained important for being recruited into top positions at
the court and in the army, in government, and in the rural
power structure, particularly in the East. The Catholic Church
proved remarkably resistant to being penetrated by bourgeois
values. Very early, already by the 1860s, a separate, autonomous social democratic labor movement had emerged that became a massive bloc of antibourgeois politics, based in nonbourgeois working-class cultures — in spite of accepting and
cultivating some middle-class values like discipline, the work
ethos, career orientation, and high respect for education. The
limits of social and cultural embourgeoisement were obvious
and more narrowly drawn than in Western Europe.
But in contrast to older theses, recent research has not confirmed the view that the bourgeoisie of the German Empire
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was generally weak and crippled. In contrast to the older “feudalization thesis,” it has been shown that aristocratic influence on the German bourgeoisie — through marriages and lifestyle imitation — was limited, probably more limited than in
France and England. The influence of bourgeois culture percolated into many social milieus and spheres of life, even in the
countryside and the better-off layers of the proletariat. Remarkable achievements in economic as well as in academic life, in
the sciences and the arts, in city planning, public health, and
social welfare were due to bourgeois persons, their ambitions,
work, and achievements. Particularly on the highly important
local level, in city and town governments, bourgeois influence
on politics was remarkably strong and decisive. Here, on the
local level, traditions of bourgeois liberalism survived even in
the Wilhelmine period.16
Still, on the whole, the German middle class became less
liberal toward the end of the nineteenth and the start of the
twentieth centuries. Bourgeois lifestyles became more exclusive than they had been at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Setting oneself apart from the masses below became more
important than distinguishing oneself from the old elites. For
the most part, the German bourgeoisie had made its peace
with a political system that, after national unification under
Prussian hegemony, maintained strong authoritarian traits
(besides some liberal concessions and democratic elements).
It became common to give support to a kind of nationalism
that increasingly moved to the right, with imperialist aggression and chauvinistic radicalization. Racism and antisemitism
gained ground within the bourgeoisie and, particularly, the
lower middle classes. Faced by an ever-growing oppositional,
social democratic labor movement on the left, large parts of
the bourgeoisie became more defensive. In important ways,
bourgeois support for the universalistic elements of civil society weakened.17
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Bourgeois Culture and Civil Society
2. In Germany, a civil society emerged in three and a half
stages between 1800 and the early 1870s. Certainly, there had
been preparations in the eighteenth century: capitalism had
slowly advanced in both agriculture and industry, and some
administrative and legal reforms had taken place, in Prussia
for example in 1794. But it was in the period between 1800
and 1815 that the feudal order in the countryside and the corporate order in the towns were either brought to an end or severely weakened. This laid the legal ground for the dynamics
of capitalism in the coming two centuries. Far-reaching educational reforms institutionalized the importance of education,
which — besides capitalism — became the other great dynamic
force of the time to come. Administrative reforms were enacted. Constitutional reforms remained limited but were not
altogether absent; they provided for the eventual political participation of the emerging bourgeoisie and others afterward. A
national movement began. Directly or indirectly, French influence was decisive. Basically, these were reforms “from above,”
planned and implemented by those in power; popular movements played only a marginal role.
In contrast, popular movements were important in making liberal demands for constitutional reform partly successful in some German regions in 1830/31. A similar
constellation — though more dynamic and socially more
heterogeneous — appeared in the revolution of 1848/49, which,
although largely unsuccessful, did not just end in total defeat
but advanced the cause of civil society: by accelerating the
still-unfinished business of agrarian reform, by making economic policy more favorable for industrialization, and by establishing constitutional government (though of a rather conservative nature) in the two leading monarchies of the German
Federation, in Prussia and (temporarily) in Austria.
It was the decade from the early 1860s to the early 1870s
that brought the decisive breakthrough. Legal reforms deliv-
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civil society and dictatorship
ered the final blow to the surviving remnants of the feudal and
corporate order, and loosened the government’s encroachment
on society; administrative controls and checks were weakened; economic change and social mobilization accelerated.
The industrial revolution quickly advanced, social conflicts
sharpened, and labor movements emerged. A German national
state was put together under Prussian hegemony, under Bismarck’s guidance and with the help of three wars — something
the revolution of 1848/49 had sought in a different way but
in vain. And the constitutional question was decided: against
full parliamentarization as demanded by the liberals and, in
effect, maintaining much of the power of the old elites and
old institutions; but also against the reactionary demands of
many conservatives and in favor of a constitution with some
liberal elements. Universal manhood suffrage in national elections — rather democratic for the period — added a further element that was meant by Bismarck to be a weapon against the
liberals. This compromise sharply distinguished the German
constitutional history of the following decades from the West
European model of parliamentary government. Again, radical
change had been guided “from above,” but in contrast to his
1800–1815 predecessors, Bismarck had to come to terms with
an active sociopolitical movement, the liberals, whose conflict
and cooperation with the government deeply influenced the
decisions and results of the decade.
By the 1870s, the core elements of a civil society had been
established, in a special state-centered way. They were further
developed in the phase of the empire (1871–1918): a capitalist economy, highly dynamic, innovative, increasingly industrialized, and growing; a relatively liberal system of law regulating essential elements of civil society, namely civil rights,
private contracts, and family life; a functioning arena of public debate; a huge number of voluntary associations, clubs, and
citizens’ initiatives; a growing tradition of volunteering and
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Bourgeois Culture and Civil Society
endowments for social and cultural purposes; a dynamic system of education and science; competing parties and constitutional government. On the other hand, the Kaiserreich was
definitely not a parliamentary system. Much political power
and cultural influence stayed with the old elites, the nobility,
the bureaucracy, and the army. Everyday life and public culture were tainted by social militarism and civil bureaucratization. Nationalism grew, became more aggressive, and moved
to the right, in close association with growing illiberal moods
and movements, including racism and antisemitism. On the
national level at least, liberalism severely declined. Constitutional reforms got stuck. It took a war, a humiliating defeat,
and another revolution to realize parliamentarization, against
stiff resistance. The Kaiserreich, on the whole, turned out to
be a deeply ambivalent and unstable compromise on the difficult path toward civil society in Germany.18
3. It should be obvious by now that the structural deficits of
bourgeois culture and of civil society clearly corresponded. In
this sense, the history of the bourgeoisie and the history of
civil society continued to be closely related, throughout the
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. But two qualifications should be added. On the one hand, bourgeois support for
and identification with the program of civil society (and particularly with its universalistic claims) became much weaker
in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries than it
had been in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth. This
does not appear to be a specifically German phenomenon: the
bourgeoisie became more established, exclusive, conservative,
and defensive in other countries as well. On the other hand, as
time went on, the program and promises of civil society gained
(new) support from social quarters until then excluded or marginalized, from the better-qualified workers and artisans, from
newly emerging groups of clerical employees and experts, from
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civil society and dictatorship
women and feminist movements. With its demands for political reform, social justice, and economic redistribution the social democratic labor movement became one of the most important propagators and — in the Weimar Republic — one of the
few defenders of the civil society project (without using this
term). The history of the bourgeoisie and the history of civil
society, so closely linked in the beginning, started to move
During this transition, the program of civil society changed.
It had been born in a predemocratic period; in the late nineteenth and twentieth century it was gradually democratized.
In the early period its bourgeois progenitors had not been very
explicit on social reform. Under the impact of industrialization it was supplemented by social welfare aims. Its later proponents also learned to emphasize women’s rights more than
before. These changes contributed to making the project less
congenial and less acceptable to the bourgeoisie.
A Short View on the Twentieth Century
The wars of the twentieth century weakened the bourgeoisie
and deeply damaged what previous decades had achieved along
the way toward civil society.19 The radical movements on the
extreme right and the extreme left, which emerged from World
War I, were postbourgeois. With their totalitarian claims and
violent practices they were outright enemies of civil society.
But they had been made possible by previous democratization
and by the existence of a public sphere that they could use.
Weimar Germany offers disturbing examples of how the mechanisms of civil society, including ngos and social movements,
can be used in a way that contradicts the substance of civil society and undermines its basis. At least the type of civil society
that then existed turned out to be helpless against its enemies
on the right and on the left.
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The Nazi dictatorship was brought to power with the help
of important parts of the bourgeoisie. Once in power it contributed to the further decline and disintegration of the bourgeoisie, as well as to a fundamental destruction of civil society. The
second German dictatorship, the state-socialist German Democratic Republic (gdr) in the East, was brought to power without the help of the bourgeoisie. During the forty years of its
existence it reduced the bourgeoisie on its territory to nearly
nothing and simultaneously destroyed civil society in most respects. In other words: the history of the bourgeoisie and the
history of civil society continued to be parallel and intertwined
in these twentieth-century periods in which both of them experienced decline and destruction. Still, it is worthwhile to ask
which residuals of civil society survived the dictatorships. One
can argue that a deep violation and near extinction of civil society during the dictatorships of the twentieth century started
a basic reevaluation and reaffirmation of the project in the end.
The relatively successful development of civil society in Western Europe after the defeat of fascism seems to support this
view. So does the sympathizing rediscovery of its substance
by dissidents in Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia in the
1980s. To the extent that civil society is successful in the postcommunist countries of Eastern Europe, it is a civil society
without a strong bourgeoisie (but with much transnational
In the Federal Republic of Germany the principles of civil
society have been more clearly realized than in any previous
period of German history, although the results are far from perfect, as one can experience and observe every day. One needs
to reflect on what it means that the West German civil society emerged from extremely uncivil antecedents, a bloody war
and an extremely murderous dictatorship.21 The meaning of
civil society has changed remarkably over the last half century.
Gender issues have become centrally important, and ecologi-
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cal concerns demand its further reworking. The media have
gained much importance, systems of communication have
been revolutionized, and public space continues to be restructured under the impact of the electronic revolution.22
The relationship between civil society and the nation-state
has undergone constant redefinition and continues to do so.
Between 1945 and 1990 Germans did not live under the roof of
a nation-state, but in a divided country. This did not at all prevent the reintroduction of principles and practices of civil society, quite the contrary: for the first time, they became stable
and effective, solidly anchored in West German society. Unification extended the still-evolving system of West German
civil society to East Germany, where it is slowly developing
roots. European integration raises the question to what extent
and how civil society can be established on a level beyond the
While in the gdr the reduction of the bourgeoisie and the
destruction of civil society went hand in hand, the reconstruction of civil society in West Germany was paralleled by a certain revival and reaffirmation of the bourgeoisie. But compared
with the bourgeoisie of the nineteenth and early twentieth
centuries, the bourgeoisie of the Federal Republic is fundamentally different in structure and culture. Together with its basic
pillars — family structure and unequal gender relations — the
bourgeoisie has lost its major opponents, a radical working
class and a class-conscious nobility. It has thus lost a large part
of its coherence and identity. It has been deprived of its Jewish component, which had been of outmost importance during the nineteenth and first third of the twentieth centuries.
In contrast to its beginnings more than two hundred years ago,
the project of civil society is no longer tied closely to one specific social milieu, but is broadly supported by different groups.
Maybe this explains its stability and relative success today.23
This chapter started with the semantic ambivalence of our
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key concept. Indeed the German language uses one and the
same word, Bürger, for “citizen” and “bourgeois.” I have tried
to show that this ambiguity has been more than a semantic accident. In the German case the ups and downs and reconstructions of the Bürgertum were linked to the rise, decline, and revival of civil society. But the linkage has been loosened in the
long run. The social basis of civil society has broadened far
beyond the bourgeoisie. Bourgeois culture has deeply changed
and partly evaporated. It should not be impossible to have a
strong civil society without a distinctive bourgeoisie in the
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III Comparing Dictatorships:
Toward a Social History of the
German Democratic Republic
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Why a History of the gdr?
ohann Gustav Droysen, historian and philosopher of history in nineteenth-century Germany, refused to accept
Zeit­geschichte (contemporary history) as a legitimate part
of the discipline. His reason was not the fear that l’histoire
du temps présent would still be too near and raise too much
passion so that an objective historical evaluation would still be
impossible. Nor was he afraid that the relevant sources would
not yet be sufficiently available, for historical research proper
must be based on archival sources. Rather, he did not regard the
most recent developments as a legitimate topic of historical research because it was not yet clear where they would go and
how they would end, for a good historical narrative could only
be written, according to Droysen, if the results and the consequences of past phenomena could be taken into account.1
In early October 1990, the German Democratic Republic,
the socialist gdr, which a year before had celebrated its fortieth birthday, ceased to exist. Its history became a quickly expanding field of scholarly research. After all, the subject matter to be studied had ended; the result seemed to be clear; and
ample sources were made available to historians, since the
“second German dictatorship” did not leave mountains of dead
behind like the first, the Nazi dictatorship, but instead mountains of files and dossiers. The most secret and the most trivial,
the most delicate and the most normal facets of the perished
regime became accessible as far as they had found their ways
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civil society and dictatorship
into written documents of any sort. The history of the gdr became a boom field, with much public interest.2
Three expectations guided historical research on the gdr
in the early 1990s. First, nearly everybody had been surprised
by the fast and smooth way in which the gdr had been overthrown, dissolved, and merged into the Federal Republic, which
thus had expanded its territory to the east and increased its
population from 63 million to 80 million, but had not changed
much of its structure. One knew of course that social and cultural unification had barely begun and that difficult times could
lie ahead, particularly with respect to the economy. But the expectation was that the process of adjusting what was left of the
gdr to the enlarged Federal Republic would continue fast. It
was widely expected that the gdr would soon be a quickly fading memory while becoming part of our common history, debated of course but increasingly distant.
Second, West German conservatives and East German dissidents, very different in most other respects, had a common
political aim when they practiced or supported the study of
gdr history, namely the retrospective delegitimization of the
gdr in moral and political terms. The aim was a fundamentally critical history of the gdr, from which one would set
oneself apart while reconstructing it.3 Yet there were also deep
rifts and active fronts, particularly between West and East but
also between the minority of East German dissidents, who had
actively supported the nonviolent revolution of 1989/90 and
demanded historical recognition, and those in the mostly silent East German majority, who had supported or accepted the
old system and now felt they had lost but did not give up their
claim for a meaningful and even dignified past. All this influenced the way in which the scholarly reconstruction of the
gdr history began.
Third, the need was felt to place the history of the gdr
in broader contexts. The collapse of the sed (Socialist Unity
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Comparing Dictatorships
Party) system was obviously part of the breakdown of communism in Europe and beyond, a global caesura that would lead
Eric Hobsbawm among others to speak of the “short twentieth
century,” starting with World War I and ending with the dissolution of the Soviet Union.4 How were historians to interpret
the history of East Germany in the context of the history of
communism? How relate it to the history of the other German
state, the Federal Republic of Germany, and to German history in general? Seen in such contexts, how important would
these forty gdr years turn out to be in the long run — perhaps
not more than a mere footnote to world history, as the East
German writer Stefan Heym sarcastically remarked in March
One way in which historians reacted to such expectations
was by conceptualizing the gdr as a dictatorship, sometimes
as a totalitarian dictatorship. The rulership of party and state
was seen to have been central, all-pervasive, and decisive,
while social and cultural processes were regarded as products
and outcomes of dictatorial rule. East German society was
seen as politically constituted in a fundamental way, as a function of politics rather than as a sphere with a logic of its own.6
One implication was that social relations, the economy, cultural patterns, mentalities — indeed the very life of the people — would quickly change once the dictatorial rule of the
communist state and its dominant party had been removed.
Now, about two decades later and after a huge amount of
scholarly research, this view has not been completely reversed.
Conceptualizing the gdr as a dictatorship has become widely
accepted, while the meaning of the concept dictatorship varies. Massive evidence has been collected that proves the repressive, undemocratic, illiberal, nonpluralistic character of
the gdr regime and its ruling party. It is clear and has been
shown in much detail that the gdr government intervened
in all spheres of life with the aim of controlling them, with
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instruments ranging from the unequal distribution of welfare
through mass propaganda and a vast apparatus of control to
brutal force if necessary.7
But after twenty years, it has become clear that the adjustment of the former gdr to the enlarged Federal Republic has
not progressed in a linear way. The dissolution or self-dissolution of the gdr into unified Germany has not worked as
was expected right after unification. With respect to economic
strength, social life, party politics, and mentalities differences
between East and West Germany continue to exist. In the East,
the memory of the gdr has not faded away but instead has
been revived, sometimes with a slightly nostalgic touch and as
a basis for a common and distinctive East German identity post
factum. Things are complicated and contested, but, clearly, as
a specific culture within unified Germany, the gdr has survived much better than had been expected in 1990, when the
East German State ceased to exist.8
Droysen had a point. The historical treatment of past phenomena is influenced by our knowledge of the consequences to
which they have led or are going to lead. The long-term consequences of the gdr were not yet that clear when the gdr disappeared as a state in 1990. Nor are they totally clear today.
This makes the history of the most recent period, l’histoire
du temps présent, a bit unstable and insecure, but at the same
time interesting and intellectually challenging.9
The reasons behind this unexpected survival of the gdr as
a culture and as a memory are partly to be found in decisions,
developments, and new cleavages produced by the process of
reunification itself. On the other hand, this remarkable survival of the gdr as a culture and as a memory leads historians to reconsider their viewpoints and approaches. Maybe East
German society has always been more than just a function of
dictatorial rule from above? Maybe the dicatorship’s rule was
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Comparing Dictatorships
actually more limited than assumed by theories of totalitarianism? How should one see the relation between political history
on one side, social and cultural history on the other, in this dictatorship? What was the gdr after all? The relation between
political rule and social plus cultural dynamics is central for
any history of the gdr, especially if seen from a social historical point of view. The relation between dictatorial rule and social developments will be the empirical center of the first part
of this chapter.
In a second step the history of the gdr will be put into three
different comparative perspectives, in order to discuss it in a
broader analytical framework. It can be productive to compare
the two German dictatorships of the twentieth century, that is,
Nazi Germany and the gdr. But in this case it is particularly
important to understand that comparing does not mean equalizing but, rather, searching for similarities and differences. As
a rule historians are particularly interested in the differences.10
It can be even more productive to compare the history of the
gdr in the East with the history of the Federal Republic of
Germany in the West, and to analyze the many interrelations
and interactions between the two Germanys. Comparative history and entangled history belong together.11 It is even more of
an intellectual challenge to compare the gdr with other statesocialist systems in east-central, southeastern, and farther
eastern Europe. Among them the gdr was the most advanced
economically. How did dictatorial state socialism do under relatively modern conditions compared with the constellations of
relatively backward conditions farther east?12 The second part
of this chapter will explore all three comparative perspectives.
But its major aim is to use comparison to understand and explain better the peculiarities of the gdr itself.
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civil society and dictatorship
The Political Construction of a New Society
Historians debate what type of dictatorship the gdr was. They
use different adjectives to characterize it: authoritarian, totalitarian, post-totalitarian, or “late-totalitarian.” Some speak of
a socialist or a communist dictatorship with a short Stalinist and a long post-Stalinist phase. Others speak of a “modern
dictatorship” or a “welfare dictatorship,” and some postcommunist writers refer to the “dictatorship of the proletariat,” a
Marxian concept used by gdr spokesmen for self-classification. Consensus has not yet emerged.13
But few historians if any would question the gdr’s dictatorial character as such. By contrast with the ideal type of the liberal, constitutional state — including due process of law, a pluralistic society, and functionally defined subsystems governed
by their specific logics — one can see that the gdr system of
government was set up with some basic traits that it kept
through the following decades, and that defined it as a dictator­
ship: it was a slightly disguised one-party rule by the Socialist
Unity Party (sed) without party competition and democratic
elections, and without legitimate opposition. MarxismLeninism became the institutionalized ideology with hegemonic claims and no legitimate challengers. Political power
was not limited by a working constitution, an independent
judiciary, and due process of law. Autonomous intermediary institutions did not exist, with one partial exception, the
churches. The gdr used specific methods of mass mobilization and control with the help of centralized media, a huge
bureaucratic apparatus, and different forms of repression including violence against dissidents and other “enemies” of the
socialist state. “Democratic centralism” was the concept used
for official self-description.14
It was a modern dictatorship insofar as it aimed at the political steering, penetration, and control of the economy, so-
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ciety, and culture. It explicitly denied institutional differentiation between functionally defined subsystems. It prevented
them from working according to their own, subsystem-specific
sets of logic. Vis-à-vis the economy, education, the arts, the
judiciary, or other subsystems, the primacy of sed-controlled
politics was claimed. The aim was the building of a new postbourgeois, socialist, finally communist society and the formation of a new personality (neuer Mensch) by political means,
particularly in the early period.
Historians take these claims seriously. They study how the
gdr government formulated and reformulated these aims,
very radically in the beginning, rather lukewarmly and in a ritualized manner at the end. They study the steps by which the
government tried to reach these aims: the collectivization of
property rights, expropriation without compensation, the replacement of the market by a centrally administered economy,
a radical reform of the education system, the building of huge
bureaucracies with diversified functions. Most of these steps
were taken between the late 1940s and early 1960s, against
much resistance, with a lot of force and the decisive support of
the Soviet occupation power.15
On the one hand, historians study the personnel, the structure, the everyday routines of government intervention into
society, frequently under the heading “dominance as social
practice” (Herrschaft als soziale Praxis).16 On the other hand,
they are interested in the social effects of dictatorial rule. I
want to summarize some findings with respect to these two
fields of research.
The apparatus and the personnel responsible for steering,
penetrating, and controlling life in the gdr was steadily expanding, immense, expensive, and — in spite of increasing professionalization — badly in need of coordination itself. Mary
Fulbrook has used the octopus metaphor to illustrate this situation, for which the Secret Service, the Stasi, can serve as a
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good example.17 In the mid-1980s, this service employed one
informant, one informal part-time agent, per each 120 inhabitants! The Stasi was huge and ubiquitous, and responsible for
many tasks, from the outright repression, persecution, and psychological disintegration of suspects and “enemies” to what
one can call preventive social engineering and control with the
help of continuous communication, bargaining, and assistance
with respect to individual problems. The Stasi also served as
an espionage organization abroad. It was used to mobilize information in a system without a self-regulating public space,
but — one of several paradoxes of the East German dictatorship — the massive amounts of information it provided overcharged the central leaders for whom it was mainly prepared.
The agencies and functionaries in charge of penetrating and
controlling economic, social, and cultural relations followed
procedures that were sharply distinguished from the rules and
practices of classic bureaucracies as they were analyzed by Max
Weber. Central principles of modern bureaucracy were continuously violated by politics, by the “primacy of the party,” principles such as limiting the power of the administration by legal
norms and codified procedures, selecting personnel according
to criteria of qualification, and maintaining a separation between official and private life. In case of doubt, the arbitrary
decision of a party secretary was more important than laws
and rules. This is why it would be not altogether correct to describe the sed regime as a bureaucratic dictatorship.18 It was
partly because of the unbureaucratic character of this system
of power that its decisions could penetrate very deeply and in
unforeseen ways into the everyday life of its subjects.19
The offices for literature and publication, that is, the agencies responsible for censorship, can serve as examples. They
did not just set and implement rules, check manuscripts and
decide about their publication, identify and persecute offenders. All this they did, but in addition they acted proactively:
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Comparing Dictatorships
they tried to communicate with prospective authors, gave advice beforehand, established contacts with the world of writing, and participated in shaping trends of literary production.
Self-censorship by authors became more important than direct
control by the authorities. Censoring agents could serve as intermediaries between authors and the authorities.20
In this example we can identify a more general pattern: ultimately the central authorities at the top had an unchallenged
monopoly on decision making and executive power. Disobedience, deviant behavior, and political opposition were severely
punished. But most of the time the relation between the authorities and functionaries on the one hand, and the citizens,
subjects, families, neighborhoods, and work units on the other
hand, was not a relation of pure command and obedience but of
asymmetric symbiosis, at least in the lower ranks and in everyday context. There was less of a clear-cut dichotomy between
a bureaucracy regulated by laws and rules on the one hand, and
clients, subjects, applicants, or citizens on the other. Rather,
between both sides emerged a network of arrangements. Public and private spheres mixed: the political entered the more or
less private niches, while private concerns made their way into
the lower ranks of the segmented authority structure.
The practices of local police — Volkspolizei — can serve as
another case in point.21 Similar patterns governed the relation
between managers and workers in the plants and the relations
between political authorities and scientific personnel in the institutes of the Academy of Science.22 It is this complicated mixture of pressure, support, and adjustment; reciprocal dependence
and instrumentalization; order, obedience, and some autonomy
that historians try to capture with the concept Herrschaft als
soziale Praxis (dominance as social practice). But I should stress
that this is more the picture of the 1970s and 1980s than of the
1950s and 1960s, when this pattern was still being set up — with
much conflict and compulsion, resistance and adjustment.23
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civil society and dictatorship
As to the effects of these policies: I take demographic change
and social mobility as two related examples. It was mainly due
to political interventions that between 1949 and 1961 about
2.7 million persons left the gdr and moved to the West, that
is, one-seventh of the population. East German society lost
its bourgeoisie, the overwhelming part of its upper and middle strata, who went away and started a new life in the Federal Republic.24 On a general level, Albert O. Hirschman has
described this process and its long-term effects convincingly
as one of two alternative strategies people use to cope with
repression and deprivation: “exit” instead of “voice.”25 It is
easy to see that the constant brain drain to the West not only
transferred a large number of talented, qualified, and energetic
persons into the Federal Republic but also diminished the potential of critics and dissidents within the gdr. So the mass
migration during the 1940s and 1950s from the sed’s point of
view had a double-edged effect: it strengthened the regime by
reducing its opponents, but it also weakened its position in the
competition between the two German societies.
The case of the East-to-West migration shows that the dictatorial policy of the sed and the reaction of the people concerned could reinforce each other — with stabilizing effects in
the short run and destabilizing effects in the long run. This
becomes clear when the political regulation of careers is recognized as one of the important causes of the exodus from the
gdr. The sed and the state bureaucracy practiced a conscious
recruitment policy that discriminated against the offspring of
upper- and middle-class families and punished political abstention or opposition, while it rewarded political loyalty and privileged working-class and lower-middle-class youngsters, particularly those from workers’ and later on from functionaries’
families.26 This biased policy of sociopolitical selection and
promotion was thoroughly pursued, particularly in the 1950s.
With this policy, the sed could partly build on traditional ideas
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Comparing Dictatorships
of social justice as cultivated in the German labor movements
of previous decades. The sed also justified its highly selective
recruitment and promotion policy as a measure designed to
“clean” society from the burdens of its fascist past. In reality it
closely followed Soviet models.27
This policy of recruitment and promotion fit into the changing pattern of social inequality that could be found in all communist dictatorships, although with various modifications: inequality on the basis of difference in ownership was effectively
reduced, owing to the thorough expropriation of the owners of
private capital and large fortunes. When the gdr was founded
in 1949, much of the private business sector, particularly the
larger businesses, had already been expropriated without compensation. Small and middle-size businesses continued to exist
in the 1950s and 1960s under increasingly unfavorable circumstances and unsympathetic supervision by the authorities.
They were collectivized in the early 1970s. This undermined
and destroyed a large part of the bourgeoisie as a social group.
It marginalized economic autonomy as a social resource and a
factor of social differentiation.28
The break in agriculture was even more radical than in industry. The land reform of 1945 expropriated the large landowners, including the noble rural elites if they had not already
been expropriated and driven away by the Soviet occupation
during the last weeks of the war. More than 200,000 new peasants were settled, some of them refugees or expellees from the
eastern territories of the former German Reich, now becoming part of Poland or the Soviet Union. But this new class of
smallholders had no real future in the emerging socialist society. Since the beginning of the 1950s the sed promoted collective forms of rural labor and economy. Finally the compulsive
collectivization of the late 1950s transformed nine out of ten
self-employed peasants into more or less dependent agricultural employees of cooperatives and collectivized farms. In the
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economy as a whole, the percentage of self-employed persons
went down from 20 percent in 1950 to 2 percent in 1988.29
Since economically autonomous positions were largely destroyed, with most private businesses expropriated and institutions such as universities rigidly controlled, opportunities
for upward social mobility on the basis of careers were largely
restricted to publicly financed and politically controlled elite
positions. The only exception was offered by the Protestant
church. It is not accidental that during the 1970s and 1980s it
became a haven for those who were politically dissatisfied and
As a consequence of all that, massive upward mobility
from the ranks of workers and the lower middle class into the
upper echelons and leading positions took place until the mid1960s. The systematic selection by social and political criteria enlarged the proportion of students with working-class
background, by the end of the 1950s, to a historically unprecedented 53 percent.31 After some delay this politically initiated
redistribution of social opportunities made itself felt among
the academic elites as well. Before World War II only 4 percent of German university professors came from a workingclass background. In the gdr the percentage climbed to 13 percent by 1954 and skyrocketed to 39 percent by 1971.32 Similar
evidence could be given for the leading ranks in politics, the
media, the economy, and elsewhere.33 This was, indeed, a radical exchange of elites within a short period of time, unprecedented in German history, even though the social distance
between those near the top and those further down narrowed,
and the society as a whole became more equal.
In other words: the gdr experienced a radical and fast exchange of elites, but only during its early years. At the same
time the shape and the content of elite positions thoroughly
changed. Consequently, the pattern of social inequality was restructured. This had deep consequences for the relations be-
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Comparing Dictatorships
tween society and state. Three of these consequences should
be mentioned.
First, the overall competitiveness of the gdr, compared
with West Germany and other countries, probably suffered,
while the acceptance of the regime by the gdr population
must have increased. The generation of those who benefited as
young men and women from the sed affirmative action policy
seems to have developed a particularly sustainable loyalty to
the political and social order of the gdr.34
Second, it was partly because of these structural changes
that the gdr developed a “culture of the ordinary people”
(Kultur der kleinen Leute), with distrust of too much wealth
and competition; with stress on equality and safety, not at all
eccentric, fashionable, or enterprising but usually solid; and
with stress on virtues like discipline, orderliness, and obedience — a bit gray and boring. Among the many differences between Westerners and Easterners in the period of division,
there was always a difference of class and rank. Among the
many problems of unification since 1990, there are also the
problems resulting from the confrontation and mixing of people from different classes, ranks, and cultures, and with different social habits.35
Third, it was the policy of party and state authorities that
decided about access to schools and careers, about success or
failure to be promoted, and thus about social mobility. This
experience left sustainable vestiges in the mentalities of those
concerned. It helped to create and confirm attitudes according to which one expected much from the authorities, the system, the state. We can read this pars pro toto: the sed regime
not only collectivized the economy and socialized the elites;
it also pursued the project of a “socialist welfare state,” which
was meant to protect, patronize, and equalize the life chances
of its citizens with the help of voluminous transfers and distributions of resources as well as with the creation of close
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networks of social institutions — from the Kinderkrippe (preschool) to the Feierabendheim (for retired persons, who in the
gdr were not well cared for). The German-American historian Konrad Jarausch coined the word Fürsorgediktatur (welfare dictatorship), while the East German author Rolf Henrich
spoke of the vormundschaftliche Staat (the state as guardian).36
In the long run, the project of a socialist welfare state accelerated the decline of the gdr, since the expanding costs overburdened the system and drove the state near bankruptcy.37
The government did not dare to correct this disastrous course,
since this would have meant frustrating widespread elevated
expectations, which party and state had nourished and encouraged in previous years. It was in the line of old German traditions of Staatsgläubigkeit (belief in the strength of the state)
that East Germans expected very much from their authorities,
much more than the authorities could deliver. This pattern of
high state-oriented expectations has survived the collapse of
the gdr and imprints East German mentalities to this day.
Social Blockades and the Limits of Political Control
Many other examples could be given for the making of a new, in
a way artificial society by political means, but here I will stop
and reverse the perspective. Now I want to show that there
were clear limits to the political construction of East German
society, which was always more than a mere function of dictatorial politics.38 Owing to three factors or mechanisms, the
dictatorial political penetration of society met resistance and
remained very incomplete.
First, there were older traditions that survived and proved
to be resistant to dictated change. Just one example: the Protestant church, with its more or less bourgeois ministers,
their families, and their nonsocialist culture in the Protestant
Pfarrhaus. As mentioned earlier, the church was not integrated
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Comparing Dictatorships
into the realm of party-controlled institutions but enjoyed a remarkable degree of internal autonomy as well as autonomy in
the training and recruitment of its ministers. Because of this
peculiar situation there was much intergenerational continuity in this small group, which helped to preserve residues of
the educated middle-class culture (Bildungsbürgertum) in a
social environment that was trying to break with its middleclass or bourgeois past. Part of this milieu offered protection
to dissident groups in the 1980s. It provided a proving ground
out of which several East German leaders emerged in the
1990s — hardly discredited by the ancien régime, with some experience in public life, committed to general purposes beyond
the private sphere.39 Although the social milieu of the Protestant church has been unique in its cohesion and homogeneity,
elements of social, cultural, and mental continuity also played
a role in other branches of society. For instance, “nonpolitical”
academic professions, particularly in fields like medicine, science, or engineering, preserved much of their traditional social
profile, some professional autonomy, and even a few elements
of an elitist esprit de corps.
Second, there were institutions and social spaces that enjoyed a certain amount of autonomy vis-à-vis politics so that
they were able to serve the internal needs of a modern society.
For instance, the sed government needed, wanted, and supported modern research, and hoped to reach world-class standards in this field. But that implied the necessity of limiting
political interventions and granting scientists the degree of
autonomy that they needed in order to achieve internationally recognized results. At least in academic fields like physics, chemistry, biology, or mathematics — rather useless as a
source of ideology but very important for economic modernization and international reputation — a universalistic model
of science and scientific truth remained valid in the gdr.40
Third, in many areas and ways the regime had to cope with
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civil society and dictatorship
unintended limits of domination. Mostly the means, the tools,
the procedures of political planning and control were just not
good enough. The state-controlled economy in particular was
an endless story of inefficiency, lack of competence, and undefined responsibility. Detailed studies have shown how difficult
it was for central administrators to monitor and steer the performance of managers who were responsible for single plants,
units, and organizations. The available information was not
sufficient and frequently distorted by made-up reports. The
monitoring instruments had weaknesses. Managers counteracted the intentions of central planning, for instance by hoarding raw materials, tools, and labor. There was a huge gap between the world of the plan and the reality of the economy.41
Another example: government and party never managed to
really control the life and the views of the young generation.
Although the official youth league of the communist party, the
Freie Deutsche Jugend, organized almost every teenager, its
leaders notoriously complained about their clients. Blue jeans
and beat music from the West turned out to be much more attractive for youngsters than the blue shirt of the fdj uniform
and homespun propaganda songs. Neither repression against
westernized youth culture during the mid-1960s nor selective
acceptance of some symbols of fashionable lifestyle like jeans
since the beginning of the 1970s could bridge the gap. Internal surveys of the 1980s alarmed those in charge because they
showed that large parts of the young generation had drifted
away, oriented themselves toward the West, and were skeptical or cynical about the promises of socialism. Even if the vast
majority of the youth in the gdr remained calm and well integrated into the official institutions, the party lost its moral and
political credibility the longer the regime remained in power.42
This lack of confidence on the one hand reflected a basic lack
of legitimacy of the sed dictatorship; on the other hand it was
a consequence of the very special dilemma of the gdr at the
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Comparing Dictatorships
borderline between East and West. The sed regime never managed to really control the influx of information. West German
tv transcended the fortified border, and mutual visits between
East and West multiplied after Willy Brandt’s New Ostpolitik
in the 1970s.43
The family can serve as another example of both the reach
and the limits of dictatorial intervention into society. In the
gdr the family lost several functions it had held in previous
periods. Under socialism the family largely ceased to be the
major channel through which wealth was transmitted from
one generation to the next. Schools and preschool institutions
were government sponsored and widespread. Consequently
the family became less significant in transmitting knowledge,
skills, and “cultural capital” from one generation to the next.
The high female participation in the labor force reinforced this
effect. On the other hand, the family gained new importance
with respect to informal ways of organizing access to scarce
goods and services not accessible on the market, in the emerging networks of informal relations, and sometimes as a haven
into which one could retreat from organized social and political pressures. With respect to recruitment into upper positions, families regained some importance toward the end of the
gdr: during the 1970s and 1980s sharply rising rates of selfrecruitment among academics indicated that the transmission
of cultural capital and status increasingly depended on familybased career strategies. The bottom line: political control of
the family remained limited and had paradoxical effects.44
The complex and somehow contradictory way that the functions of the family changed under the impact of the socialist
environment points to a more general aspect of East German
social history. There was something like a dialectical relation
between attempted political control of society by the state and
developments that counteracted and limited this control. The
situation at the workplace is an example. In the gdr the Be­
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trieb, the plant and the office, had many functions, including
cultural and social functions besides the economic ones. For
the workers, experts, and managers, the Betrieb was not just
a place to work and make money but also a place to socialize, develop collective identity, and get entitlements like vacation lodgings at a resort. The official policy encouraged the formation of workers’ organizations (“socialist brigades”), which
were meant to serve officially defined aims but which actually served also as platforms for self-regulated communication
among employees. As a consequence — also owing to the constant labor shortage in this labor-intensive and not very efficient economy, and because of rights granted to labor in this,
after all, socialist system — the position of labor in the gdr
plants and offices was rather strong. The uprising of 17 June
1953 had taught the rulers to be cautious. Workers could resist
instrumentalization, as individuals they could protest against
being pushed around, and they could informally bargain and
develop positions that set limits to intervention and control
by those above.45
But the strength and bargaining power of workers on the
shop-floor level was only one example of how official and unofficial structures, formal and informal modes of action, were intertwined in the gdr economy. The gdr was full of informal
networks that emerged either in reaction to dictatorial pressures or with the aim of compensating for deficits and gaps
that the official structures left open. Because of the built-in insufficiencies of central planning, the neglect of market incentives, the lack of competition, and the weight of bureaucratic
impediments, socialist economies were “economies of shortage” (Janós Kornai), at least in comparison to those of the West.
In addition these were economies that emphasized supply and
production over sale and consumption. Both the disfunctionalities of centralized planning and the neglect of consumer needs
led to compensatory arrangements, to a shadow economy, an
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informal economy in which personal relations, barter, and gift
giving played a much more important role than in functioning
market economies. The rise of these compensatory informal
mechanisms further weakened the formal economy and added
to its burdens, in a parasitic way.46
The gdr was a dictatorship with a command economy, but
in everyday practice contradicting aims and unintended consequences of political measures counteracted a clear-cut domination from above. Much in this state-organized economy looked
more like a chaotic and inefficient muddling through than like
a well-ordered party-state.47 Informal relations and modes of
action were a product of dictatorial politics. But they developed a logic of their own that limited the dictatorial steering
and control of society, tending to weaken the formal structures
of the socialist economy and polity while indirectly supporting
them by making them more bearable. In the long run, this contradiction undermined the system.48
A last example illustrating the self-destructive effects of
dictatorial social control in the gdr: massive and selective upward social mobility was certainly a result of conscious policy
decisions and their implementation, yet this policy contributed to the system’s undoing. At first, in the 1950s and 1960s,
the upward mobility helped to broaden the basis of legitimacy
on which the gdr system rested, as mentioned above. But
seen from a long-term perspective, the huge waves of social
mobility in the first two postwar decades proved to be a matter of one generation. Once the new elites, recruited from the
lower ranks of society to a remarkable degree, had replaced the
“bourgeois” experts, the process of social mobility nearly came
to a halt. Starting in the early 1960s the proportion of students
with a working-class background began to go down again, and
in the 1980s it was smaller in the gdr than in West German
universities. Members of the winner generation of the 1950s,
who had moved into the numerous newly established or force-
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fully vacated upper positions, now locked up those attractive
positions for a long time. In addition, they managed to secure
for their own offspring privileged access to academic training
and attractive careers. At the same time, job chances diminished for young men and women who did not come from families of the newly established elite. For them the gdr became a
closed society. This blockage of mobility contradicted the official promise of a “just society.” It contributed to the erosion
of loyalty that accelerated in the 1980s and became part of the
breakdown of the gdr.49
1949–1989: Four Periods of gdr History
The social history of the gdr cannot be separated from the history of its political system. Dictatorial rule deeply penetrated
and fundamentally constituted East German society. Still, the
society of the gdr was always more than a mere product of
political rule. Some of its elements were much older than the
gdr. Social, economic, and cultural processes possess a logic of
their own and could not be fully controlled by political means.
Planning and control from above frequently triggered countertendencies. The gaps and deficits of the system gave rise to
compensatory reactions. Informal networks and arrangements
emerged that set limits to dictatorial rule, partly contradicted
it, and undermined the system in the long run. Influences from
West Germany also played a role.
At first glance, the short period between 1945 and 1948 appears to have been a still-open phase in between dictatorships.
The Socialist Unity Party (sed), a product of merging the Communist and the Social Democratic parties in 1946, was on its
way to becoming a Stalinist mass party, but it still had competitors and had to accept a minimum of political plurality — at
least for tactical reasons. But it would be misleading to overemphasize the degree of freedom that existed in the immedi-
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ate postwar years. Major decisions were taken by the Soviet
occupation forces. Behind the official rhetoric of “democracy,”
“anti­fascism,” and “freedom” the Soviets paved the way for
the new regime. Fresh evidence shows more limitation than
openness in the postwar situation.50
A second phase lasted from the founding of the gdr in 1949
to the closing of the western border in 1961. It was a period of
fast change and thorough transformation put through “from
above,” with severe repression, heavy conflict, and a massive
exodus to the West. A deep reshuffling of the social structure
took place. The dictatorship became firmly established, but at
the same time it derived some support, energy, and hope from
the bottom up — by left-wing intellectuals for instance and the
younger generation, profiting from the turnover of the social
A third phase lasted from 1961 to the early 1970s. The mass
exodus had been stopped brutally by erecting the wall, yet
what followed was not a wave of repression but a period of consolidation and adjustment. Basic reforms were attempted, for
example in the “New Economic System,” which aimed at the
introduction of some market elements into the overall bureaucratic structure in order to strengthen its dynamics and prevent petrification. They failed. After 1968 and the suppression
of the Prague Spring uprising, reformist energies faded out, and
the change from Ulbricht to Honecker in 1971 marked the beginning of a status quo–oriented phase of gdr history.52
It lasted from the early 1970s to 1989. A new stress on social policy and consumption was meant to solidify waning support in the population. But the domestic products could usually not compete with their Western models. The system of
surveillance was expanded, but control now frequently worked
in an indirect way, with less severe and open repression than
in the first two phases. Growth and change of all kinds slowed
down. Tendencies toward petrification became paramount: in
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the economy, in society, and foremost in the ruling party itself,
on the top level led by virtually the same generation of communist true believers who had already fought the Weimar Republic, suffered under Hitler, and survived Stalin’s terror during their Moscow exile.
The gdr lived beyond its means. It got deeper and deeper
into an economic impasse. Now political governance and social developments moved far apart, while popular dissatisfaction reached a new peak. From hindsight it is clear that a crisis
built up that became an important presupposition of the crisis
of 1989, which the gdr did not survive.53
The gdr in Comparative Perspectives
two german dictatorships
What was specific to the gdr? Different comparisons highlight
different traits of the system. One frequently speaks of the two
German dictatorships and compares the gdr with the Nazi
Empire. This is part of the public debate, widespread but controversial, always full of political overtones, offensive to some,
evident to others, and particularly important when it comes to
the question of how the Germans have dealt with their different dictatorial experiences once they were over: after 1945 and
after 1989/90.54 Such comparisons between the two German
dictatorships have been made by professional historians as
well, frequently with the help of the concepts totalitarian and
totalitarianism.55 If one compares the two systems as manifestations of totalitarianism, much depends on which aspects
of totalitarian rule are stressed. Measured by the extent of systematic, ideology-supported terror and the ruthless dynamics
it produces, there can be no doubt that the Nazi dictatorship
was by far the more totalitarian. But if one emphasizes the degree to which totalitarian rule systematically penetrates and
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imprints all of life and social organization, the gdr appears
as the more totalitarian one.56 The usefulness of such comparisons may be limited. But they help us to recognize important differences between “modern dictatorships,” which — and
this is what they have in common — differ sharply from liberal,
democratic, pluralist systems.
The closer we look, the more the differences between the
two German dictatorships become paramount, ranging from
the fact that the gdr produced nothing like the Holocaust or
the Second World War to less obvious differences, such as the
different role of charismatic leaders in both systems (important
in the Nazi case, virtually absent in the gdr) or the different
impact of both systems on gender relations — reemphasizing
inequality in the Nazi case (at least before the war redefined
the needs of the system), in contrast to the gdr, whose policies contributed to more equality between the sexes in theory
but also in practice. The two systems also differed with respect to their popularity among the general population, and
in the way they came to an end. A large majority of Germans
was ready to support Hitler’s regime right into World War II
and, in spite of some erosion during the latter part of the war,
until the bitter and bloody end. By contrast, East German popular support for the sed regime has been much more ambivalent, less enthusiastic and more reluctant, changing over time,
and dwindling toward the end. The gdr imploded without a
bloody war but under the impact of the vanishing support of
the Soviet Union, internal protests, and a peaceful offensive by
the West toward the end of the Cold War. The Third Reich preserved the essentials of the capitalist market system; the gdr
eliminated them.
Finally, how German was the second German dictatorship,
after all? The homegrown character of the Nazi dictatorship is
beyond any doubt. The comparison between the two German
dictatorships draws one’s attention to the fact that the creation
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of the gdr depended heavily on Soviet power. The tiny group
of German communists who returned from exile in Moscow
to Berlin in 1945 would not have had any chance to make their
will felt had they not been supported by the Soviet military
government whose instructions they implemented. The presence and support of the Soviet troops remained a necessary
condition of the survival of the gdr. This became particularly
clear in June 1953, when it was the Soviet military and the
violence of their weapons that kept the sed regime in power
against a quickly growing popular uprising, starting with a protest of Berlin workers against reduced wages and unsatisfactory
work conditions and developing into a formidable and broadly
supported fight for social reforms, freedom, democracy, and
even unification.57 The gdr’s dependence on Soviet support
became dramatically clear when it was withdrawn, under Gorbachev in 1989, which decisively contributed to the collapse of
the East German state.
It would be misleading to see the gdr exclusively as a Soviet satellite and an element of the Soviet Empire, as a price the
Germans had to pay for their defeat in a war they had started
and carried into the Soviet lands, with tremendous devastation. The gdr had an important endogenous history, too. In
spite of the popular uprising of 1953, the building of the wall in
1961, and the antidictatorial mass demonstrations contributing to the collapse of 1989/90, the gdr was remarkably stable
and void of open conflict (in contrast to Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary) over long phases of its history. This stability cannot be sufficiently explained by repression, including
the pressure and the guarantees of Soviet political and military power. There was also a lot of support, acceptance, adjustment — and indifference — in large parts of the population, a
mixture that changed over time. But the mix between endogenous factors and determinants from outside remains an impor-
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tant research problem, relevant for the question of historical
responsibility.58 It also marks an important difference between
the gdr and the Nazi Empire.
The first German dictatorship lasted twelve years, the second one more than forty. The communist dictatorship in the
gdr had much more time, it used much more systematic energy, and it had more clearly defined strategies for renewing
and restructuring the economy, society, and culture. But it
controlled only a part of German territory and reshaped only
a fraction of the nation. It did not lead Germany and Europe
into catastrophes comparable to the devastation brought by
the Nazi regime. Those are probably the main reasons why the
Third Reich, though much more short-lived and less penetrating in the field of social and economic restructuring, will remain a much more important element in our collective memory than the gdr.
east and west germany
Comparison between East and West Germany, between the
gdr and the Federal Republic, has been deeply built into the
self-awareness of both Germanys throughout the decades of
German division. Self-comparison with the other Germany defined the identity of both, in different ways and with different
emphases: an asymmetric, intensive interrelationship. Comparisons between East and West Germany have been undertaken by historians as well.59 Such comparisons usually emphasize differences between East and West, summed up under
the headings “dictatorship versus democracy” and “different
degrees of modernization.” Both viewpoints are legitimate;
each has its problems, not to be discussed now.
It is not difficult to enumerate differences between the Federal Republic of Germany (frg) and the gdr: parliamentary
democracy versus communist party dictatorship; a market
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economy with welfare state modifications versus a centrally
directed and administered economy without (much) private
property; in the West a transition from an industrial society
to a postindustrial service society with strong dynamics, in
the East an artificially preserved industrial society with much
stagnation; a pluralist media structure with much open discussion versus intensive control of public opinion by the monopolistic state party; here a political culture in which civil society
standards have become more and more influential, there a welfare dictatorship directed by an ever-present state; Westernization versus self-isolation and provincialism. This is a comparison out of which the frg always emerges as a winner, whether
one applies normative or functionalist criteria. That result is
well supported by evidence, but one wonders after a while how
interesting and useful it is, beyond the purposes of legitimizing
the West German and delegitimizing the East German order.
Here I offer five perspectives that may lead the West German–
East German comparison beyond what is obvious.
First, it would be interesting to further historicize the comparison and find out exactly how similarities and differences
changed over time. It is likely that one would discover asynchronic developments, lags and divergences, not just parallels.
The political system differed early and fundamentally between
West and East; economic developments took longer to diverge;
patterns of urbanization, gender relations, and mental dispositions remained similar over longer periods of time.
Second, one can explore to what extent West German successes, with respect to modernization and Westernization,
were facilitated by the divergent developments in the East.
The West profited not only from the mass emigration of Easterners; having to set itself apart from the East and being confronted with threats from the East also motivated and facilitated the resolute Western orientation of the frg.60
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This draws our attention, thirdly, to the methodological opportunities that are opened up if one combines comparative
history (looking for similarities and differences) with entangled history (looking for relations, interactions, and transfers
between the units of analysis). In spite of divisions and contradictions between them, West Germany and East Germany remained heavily interconnected and intertwined, for example
by family relations, by the impact of radio and tv, and later
on by growing cross-border travel and economic exchange as
well as by common language and history. Particularly the gdr,
against its will, remained economically dependent on the frg
(but in other ways as well).61
Fourth: while major differences between West and East are
overwhelmingly clear, it is worthwhile to investigate the similarities between the two Ger­manys. Unification was accepted
if not always badly desired by an overwhelming majority of
Germans once it became possible in 1990. There must have
existed a solid stock of national identity and shared emotions,
including the notion of belonging together. One might also explore the hypothesis that both German states stood in a long
tradition of state-centered welfare policy, a shared disposition
that became even more manifest because the welfare state was
faced by new challenges, not only in the East but also (though
differently) in the West.62
Finally, both German states and societies shared one and the
same preceding history, within which the Nazi period looms
large. How did the two Germanys deal with this past? How
did they build on it or try to escape from it? Which of the two
German postfascist systems managed a more thorough departure into the future? Which one stayed more closely linked to
older German traditions sometimes critically discussed under
the heading of Sonderweg? The answers are less obvious than
one might think.63
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different state-socialist systems
Finally a word on comparing the gdr with other state-socialist countries, with its East European or east-central European
neighbors, a comparison rarely made.64 Here I want to emphasize only two aspects. First, such a comparison can draw attention to the fact that the gdr was a highly industrialized and a
relatively modern country, the most advanced one of all the socialist systems. This difference had far-reaching consequences.
On the one hand it appears that the highly developed economic structure within the gdr made state-socialist centralized planning particularly difficult. It is easier to run a mine or
a foundry in an early stage of industrialization under a state-socialist system than to develop, under state-socialist control, a
high-tech electronics industry in the era of the communication
revolution. On the other hand one can argue that the Soviet
state-socialist model may have contributed to the modernization of the less advanced regions of Eastern Europe. Removing
residues of feudalism that still survived, setting up for the first
time a system of mass education, developing streets and electrification, and facilitating social mobility would be cases in
point. In the gdr the state-socialist system did not have such
modernizing effects. Here those steps of modernization had
been already taken. On the whole it becomes clear that the Soviet type of state-socialist system corresponded relatively positively to an early stage of modernization but became less than
functional as development continued.65
Second, comparisons with other socialist countries draw attention to the fact that the gdr was not a national state, while
Poland or Hungary were. This had important consequences:
the lack of a clear-cut national identity — the gdr was, after
all, one of two German states — helps to explain why internal
opposition and political dissent were relatively weak in East
Germany.66 The dissidents in Warsaw, Prague, and Budapest
could positively relate themselves to older national identities,
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in the name of which they criticized Soviet domination and
socialist dictatorship while stressing the right of their country
to be an independent, self-determining state. East German critics could not, particularly for three reasons. On the one hand
the appeal to national traditions would have easily questioned
the very foundations of the gdr as a separate state, its autonomy vis-à-vis West Germany, its raison d’être. The national
argument was, consequently, not available to East German reformers and dissidents as long as they did not want to question
the pure existence of the gdr. Until November 1989 it played
hardly a role among them.67 On the other hand, owing to the
Nazi past, national values had lost much legitimacy and emotional power in both postwar Germanys. After World War I,
claims for the “lost territories” and the restoration of national
honor had fueled a widespread revisionist mobilization. After
the horrors of Auschwitz the credibility and self-evidence of
the national argument was severely weakened, although both
East and West Germany claimed sole representation of the
German nation-state.
Finally there is a third point: the East German communists
were particularly vehement defenders of Marxist-Leninist
principles, and they practiced dictatorial rule more rigidly than
their comrades in Poland and Hungary. This had something to
do with the gdr’s desire to set itself apart from a challenging
neighbor state with which it shared the same nationality. The
lack of a national state did not hinder the successful development of a civil society in the West German Federal Republic,
quite the contrary. The lack of a national state did, however,
contribute to the particular rigor and inflexibility of the dictatorial syndrome in East Germany. Here again the comparative
view leads to the discovery of entangled histories.
Comparing the gdr with its eastern neighbors will lead to
the discovery of many similarities, for example with respect
to their economic problems, their political instability, their de-
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pendence on the Soviet Union and the Soviet bloc. In order
to evaluate the merits and costs, the strengths and weaknesses, the rise and fall of the so-called socialist experiment in
twentieth-century history, one has to broaden the view and include several socialist countries.
The gdr and other post-1945 socialist dictatorships in eastcentral and Eastern Europe had prehistories distorted by rightwing dictatorships and autocracies, which is to say prehistories
that had already deeply damaged the principles and practices
of civil society.68 In many respects, the gdr and other socialist dictatorships continued this trend, though with different
contents, from the left. These were all systems that tried to
integrate and stabilize themselves through a particularly active role of the state, through governance from above, through
activities from the top instead of unleashing the dynamics of
civil society and hoping for cohesion and coherence to develop
from that. They deeply contradicted the principles of civil society. But, toward the end of these dictatorships, in the 1970s
and 1980s, the idea of civil society went through a formidable
period of renaissance, in Prague, Warsaw, and Budapest if not
in East Berlin.69
The breakdown of the state-socialist regimes of eastcentral and Eastern Europe from 1989 to 1991 has not only
accelerated globalization and the victorious spread of capitalism. It has not only given a boost to market/liberal ideologies
and transnational networks. It also testifies to the strength of
civil societies, whose logic distinguishes them both from capitalist markets and from state-controlled bureaucracies. The
last two decades have favored ideas and policies that build on
the strength of civil society, its dynamics and cohesiveness,
its freedom and solidarity — not just on markets nor only on
states and their interventions in social, economic, and cultural
affairs.70 Such a perspective has guided the preceding interpre-
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tation of the rise and fall of the gdr. It remains to be seen
whether the economic crisis since 2008 is changing the intellectual framework that influences the dominant interpretations of recent history. As Droysen knew, the interpretation of
recent history is not independent of its consequences, which
frequently take decades to emerge.
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IV Dealing with Difficult Pasts:
Collective Memories and
Politics in Germany after
1945 and 1990
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he two German states, the Federal Republic of Germany (frg) in the West and the German Democratic Republic (gdr) in the East, were strikingly different: one with a market economy, a pluralist society, a
parliamentary democracy, very much part of the Western camp
under the leadership of the United States; the other with a statesocialist economy, a thinly disguised one-party dictatorship with
Marxism-Leninism as an obligatory state ideology, very much
part of the Eastern bloc under Soviet hegemony.1 But the two
states also had some things in common, for example a common past. Both were postfascist systems. How did they relate
to their National Socialist past? — Nazi Germany and the gdr
were very different, but one can see them as the two German
dictatorships of the twentieth century.2 From this perspective,
it becomes interesting to study in a comparative way how the
two systems were remembered and dealt with after they ended:
Nazi-Germany after 1945 and the gdr after 1990. Comparing,
of course, means looking for similarities and differences. Usually, historians find differences more interesting.3
First I shall discuss how West Germans and East Germans
dealt with their fascist past between 1945 and 1989. Then I shall
compare the post-1989/90 memories and remembrance strategies with the post-1945 ones. I shall end with some remarks on
the situation today and offer some general conclusions.
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How West Germans and East Germans
Dealt with Their Nazi Past, 1945–1990
When the Westphalian Peace Treaty brought the Thirty Years
War to an end in 1648, it prescribed what many political settlements have stipulated before and thereafter: eternal forgetting
and amnesty for all the offenses, cruelties, and crimes committed during the previous war. It was forbidden to debate them
in public, for fear that they would create new tensions and
The documents that ended the Second World War held the
opposite message. They required that the crimes of the war and
the guilt of the losers be openly dealt with. This had something
to do with the nature of World War II: The denazification and
democratization of Germany had been one of the declared war
aims of the Allies. In contrast to wars in previous centuries,
the Second World War had been defined, conducted, and legitimized as a total war, implying a fundamental fight over values
and worldviews. It had been a war justified as a moral crusade
and a defense of civilization by the Allies.5 It followed that,
after 1945, war crimes and war criminals had to be discovered,
exposed, and punished — as revenge, as a contribution to justice, and as a strategy for making the former enemy and the
world “safe for democracy,” although the victors were committed to very different concepts of democracy.
The ways in which Germans have dealt with their Nazi
past have deeply changed. To a minor extent, these shifts were
due to new results of historical research and changing historical knowledge. To a much larger extent, they resulted from
the changing constellations within which Germans in West
and East related to their past in order to meet the changing
challenges of their present. At any time different and conflicting ways of remembering, forgetting, and repressing the past,
of evaluating and interpreting the Nazi period, coexisted and
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influenced one another. There was always much heterogeneity. Still, with respect to how Germans in the West and the
East dealt with their Nazi past, one can try to distinguish four
different periods: 1945–1948, from the late 1940s to the late
1950s, the “long 1960s,” and the years from the mid-1970s
until 1989/90.6
postwar years
In the immediate postwar period, between 1945 and 1948, the
main driving forces behind most efforts to expose the atrocities and the guilt of National Socialist Germany were the victors, who now held power in occupied Germany. The domestic forces behind the “denazification” of 1945–1948 were less
important, but they also existed. There were small antifascist
committees, composed of Germans on the left; there was an
early confession of guilt by the Protestant churches right after
the war. Moreover, there were German leaders like Konrad
Adenauer and Kurt Schumacher in the West or Walter Ulbricht
in the East who had returned from exile, from prison, or from a
marginalized position, who had suffered under the previous regime, and who now took a clear moral stand against it.
The large majority of Germans, however, remained indifferent, cautious, disoriented or defensive, and, from a national
point of view, defiant. While the polls showed majorities in
favor of removing and punishing the main perpetrators of the
previous years, there was not much commitment to this cause.
Opinions varied. There was the tendency to locate responsibility for the war, the defeat, and the atrocities in a small group of
leaders. Rather than seeing themselves as perpetrators, many
Germans thought of themselves as victims of war and defeat,
expulsion, and occupation. In those early years after 1945, only
small minorities reflected and accepted, with a feeling of guilt
or shame, the deep German involvement in and responsibility
for Nazi crimes. Up to the 1950s majorities said that National
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Socialism had been basically a good idea that was just badly
Both in the Western zones and in the Soviet zone of occupation, some hundred thousand Nazi activists and related categories were removed from power and office. Many of them
were put into internment camps for months or years, in the Soviet Zone up to 1950. Media-supported campaigns were started
to expose Nazi crimes. Reeducation campaigns were started
in the schools and in civic life. In the East, basic changes of
property rights were enacted, first in agriculture, then in industry. They were declared to be steps toward removing the social
causes of fascism.
Bringing perpetrators to the courts, exposing their guilt in
detail and making them known to the public, judging and punishing them with the authority of old or new laws — this became the major avenue for dealing with Nazi crimes and Nazi
perpetrators in those early years. The famous Nuremberg trials
took center stage, starting November 1945; they led to a large
number of condemnations, and, well publicized, they exposed
what Nazi Germany had done.
In the East about thirteen thousand persons were condemned
because of fascist war crimes and crimes against humanity; in
the West, about five thousand. Of these five thousand roughly
eight hundred were sentenced to death, five hundred of whom
were actually executed.
Even below this level on which activists and leaders were
sentenced in numerous trials, massive denazification was taking place between 1946 and 1948, particularly in the Western
zones. It was initiated and started by the occupation authorities, but the implementation was handed over to thousands of
decentralized German juries. Thirteen million detailed questionnaires had to be filled out in the American zone alone.
This was part of an attempt, with the help of testimony by
others, to measure each person’s individual involvement in the
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Nazi dictatorship in order to punish the most severe cases, remove from public functions those who were severely discredited, and relieve the others from further accusation and suspicion. But it turned out to be difficult to reach justice this way.
The authorities were flooded by testimony that was far from
being accurate and true. Evidence was distorted. Frequently,
in spite of enormous efforts, heavily bureaucratic procedures,
and unpleasant screenings, the outcome depended more on the
friends one could mobilize against the foes on hand than on
what one had really done or suffered in the preceding years.
The whole process of denazification became tremendously unpopular in nearly all political camps.
By 1948/49 the Nazi system had been destroyed, Nazi ideology had been delegitimized, and new forms of government
were emerging, with significant differences between West
and East, under the control of the occupation powers, which
were increasingly at odds with one another. The Nazi elites
had been replaced, most clearly in the political sphere, less
clearly in the economy, the media, the universities, and other
spheres. In most respects the denazification of personnel was
more thorough in the East than in the West, but in fact even in
the East it was much less radical than had been thought until
the 1990s, when more detailed research on the early years in
the East became possible. Everywhere purging remained very
limited below the leadership level. Previous crimes frequently
became known and visible, but denazification became increasingly unpopular, increasingly interpreted as a revenge of the
victors. The large majority of Germans concentrated on surviving in a difficult time. Worrying about and working for the
immediate future appeared to be more important than reflecting on and reworking the past. There was much confusion, disorientation, and obstinacy, but certainly not a general atmosphere of guilt or shame.7
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the 1950s
In 1948/49 a second phase began. The Cold War started. The
growing tension between East and West radically redefined the
situation. The active phase of denazification ended. The trials were largely stopped. Both in the West and in the East, the
newly established German authorities, with the active consent
of their respective occupation powers, made their peace with
the mass of former small and not so small Nazis.
In the East the theory of Marxist-Leninist antifascism became the official creed. According to this view German fascism had largely been a plot, an instrument, the responsibility
of capitalist and military elites, while the people at large had
been partly seduced and partly repressed victims, not really responsible. Obviously, the socialist gdr had freed itself from
those elites and removed the structural conditions of fascism,
while the same elites and the old structures were said to be
still alive and powerful in the Federal Republic. This was the
East German view, an East German ideology and at the same
time a Cold War propaganda tool to be used against the frg.
This ideology made it possible to honor those who had resisted National Socialist rule (particularly on the left) and to
take a basically critical position vis-à-vis the Nazi dictatorship
stressing its socioeconomic roots, its class basis, its repressive
character, and its anticommunist thrust — its war against the
Soviet Union and the world. According to this view, National
Socialism was not a product of the people, of ordinary Germans, who had rather been seduced and instrumentalized by
those above. According to this view, the gdr and its historical
roots had little to do with German fascism. Rather, the gdr
and its leaders belonged to those who had suffered from fascism and helped to defeat it. On the basis of such assumptions,
memorial sites and monuments were already built in the 1950s
that commemorated opponents of fascist rule and — some
of — its victims. This view remained basically dominant until
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the end of the gdr in 1989/90. To the extent that it entered
the thoughts and the feelings of normal East Germans, and to
some extent it did, East Germans never learned to say “we”
when talking about Nazi crimes.8
Such a self-congratulatory, self-exculpating theory of antifascism was absent in the West. Here the decade between the
late forties and the late fifties was contradictory. On the one
hand this was, as far as the Nazi crimes were concerned, a decade of relative silence. The philosopher Hermann Lübbe has
interpreted this widespread silence of the 1950s, this silence
about responsibility for the crimes and atrocities of the Nazi
dictatorship, as a helpful strategy, as a healing period, in a society in which many had been involved and become guilty in
one way or another.9 This strategy included pardoning many
of those who had been condemned in the previous period of
denazification, and taking back civil servants and others who
had been removed from office because of collaboration with
the Nazi dictatorship. In this period of the Cold War the front
against communism and the perceived Soviet threat became,
in West Germany, more important than developing a sober and
self-critical account of one’s own fascist past. The 1950s, by
and large, were a period of relative silence about and denial of
the Nazi past.
At the same time, however, the Adenauer government and
the political elites stood firm against any institutional or ideological revival of Nazism. A small right-wing party with neoNazi inclinations, the Sozialistische Reichspartei, emerged but
was quickly declared anticonstitutional in 1952 and forbidden.
Against some internal resistance, and with the help of the Social Democratic opposition, Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, a
Christian Democrat, put through parliament an agreement
with major Jewish organizations and a treaty with the Israeli
government under Ben Gurion for the restitution or compensation of those expropriated and damaged by the Nazis. Pay-
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ments to Israel and to Jews started in the 1950s. In the long
run, they were to reach a then unexpected volume — roughly
160 billion German marks by the late 1990s. Foreign policy
considerations were involved. For Adenauer this was a step toward West Germany’s regaining international recognition and
entering the network of Western policy making then clearly
dominated by the United States. Still, there was also a strong
moral dimension implied, publicly confessed, and debated
(e.g., in parliament).
There were other steps taken in the 1950s that do not really fit the overall picture of silence about and repression of
the Nazi past, allegedly dominant in the 1950s. There was the
founding of the Munich Institute of Contemporary History in
1950 with the task of doing research particularly on the period
from 1933 to 1945. There was also a gradual change in attitude
toward Stauffenberg’s and other officers’ attempt to take Hitler’s life on 20 July 1944. Gradually, this act of resistance was
accepted as a moral decision, as a brave attempt and a positive tradition for the newly formed West German army and
the Federal Republic at large. This reevaluation took place in
the 1950s.10
Still, while the decade saw a clear stabilization of West
German democracy and West Germany’s turn to the West,
the country’s relation to its National Socialist past remained
largely distorted and repressed. Victims were scarcely heard,
and they were not asked to speak out. Germans talked much
more about what they had suffered than about what they had
done. By the late 1950s German collective memory had started
to diverge between East and West, and in both parts the prevailing views of the Nazi past were far away from any honest
account of what had really happened.11
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the “long 1960s”
In the late 1950s a third period began, which lasted about two
decades, but it was limited to West Germany and absent in
the gdr. It was the dynamics of civil society that now set into
motion, both intellectually and practically, a process of critical
reevaluation of the Nazi past. Now it was no longer primarily
a process conducted from above or induced from outside, but
a process largely generated from inside the country, from the
middle of society and its public discourses, its media and its
institutions. Inside the Protestant and the Catholic churches
German guilt during the war and dictatorship became a topic
of self-critical discussion, particularly on the Protestant side.
Influential novels and dramas appeared that helped to shape
a self-critical consciousness vis-à-vis the pre-1945 past:
Heinrich Böll’s Wo warst Du Adam (a forerunner in 1951),
Günther Grass’s Blechtrommel (1959), and Rolf Hochhuth’s
Der Stellvertreter (1963) — to mention just three. Historians,
social scientists, and intellectuals of the “1945 generation”
(e.g., Jürgen Habermas, Hans-Ulrich Wehler, Martin Walser)
helped to develop a new interpretation of German guilt and responsibility, self-critical and forward looking at the same time.
Scandals emerged when a new brand of critical journalists discovered that many former Nazis had returned to positions of
power and influence. The Ludwigsburg Centre for Judicial Inquiries and Research on Nazi Crimes was established, and it
produced evidence to be used in the trials that were reopened
in the late 1950s. The famous Frankfurt Auschwitz trial took
place in 1963. It was widely publicized, and so had been the
Eichmann trial of 1961 in Jerusalem. The impact on public
opinion, on a new generation of Germans, was remarkable.12
Soon the conflict of generations played a role and was played
out in public — in West Germany, not in the gdr. The radical youth movement associated with an outburst of protests
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throughout Western Europe in 1968 expressed its distrust of
the older generation and the system it had built up after 1945
(or “restored,” as the young radicals preferred to say). Protesters inside and outside the universities revealed suppressed
memories of Nazi crimes, accusing those involved as well as
those who had so long been silent about them. The issue of
collective memory became, for the first time, central to a social movement, but the Nazi crimes were more exposed than
deplored. They were revealed and ascribed to a generation of
the past and to a system that was already widely condemned,
anyway. In the rhetoric of the protesters, it was not “we” but
“they” who did it. Still, a painful and dramatic process of historical reassessment was on the way, and it was not limited
to protesting youngsters. It took place inside important institutions as well, in parliament for example. Several controversial and honest parliamentary debates took place on whether
Nazi capital crimes should fall under the statute of limitation
(Verjährung) or not. Those debates, which took place in the
1960s and 1970s, gave a new quality to the public recognition
of Nazi — of German — guilt.13
In other words: the media, the courtroom, the streets, and
parliament — these were the arenas in which the identity of
the Federal Republic was, in a way, renegotiated in the 1960s
and 1970s by changing its collective memories, its relation
to the Nazi past. This relation continued to be controversial
and painful, there continued to be much denial of guilt and involvement, but from now on this debate became a central element of West German self-understanding. Nothing like that
could happen in the gdr. It was the difference between an increasingly civil society in the West and a relatively closed society under dictatorial rule in the East that accounted for these
contrasts in dealing with the Nazi past.14
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from the late 1970s to the late 1980s
This process of critical self-reevaluation has had its limits,
its ups and downs, but in principle it has continued — against
countertendencies and opposition — through the succeeding
decades. Additionally, in the late 1970s a fourth period began
in the West German history of collective memory of the Nazi
past, and this period did have a parallel in the gdr.
In the preceding period, in the 1960s and early 1970s, many
Germans had dealt with their history in a rather distanced
and critical way, exploring causes and consequences, discussing structures and processes, and discussing German guilt in
a rather rational and sometimes abstract way. The aim was to
learn from the past. People dealt with history in order to liberate themselves from it. In this respect, something changed in
the mid-1970s. “Dig where you are” became a slogan. “Roots”
were sought. It was only now that “memory” (Erinnerung) became a central concept. Interest in memorial sites began to
grow. History became interesting again, not just as an object
of study and a resource for learning, but as something to be internalized, as a basis of identity. Whatever the reasons for this
change, it was combined with new expectations toward one’s
own history, which became more interesting and even moving. In the 1980s, large exhibitions on regional history, on the
ruling dynasties of previous centuries, on Prussia indicated a
new public attitude toward one’s past in a broad sense. Comparable trends were visible in the gdr, where a new debate on
“heritage” and “tradition” opened the way toward a broader,
slightly less ideological, more positive view of national history. Both Germanys competed in this process of rediscovering
national history as a basis of identity.15
The relation toward the Nazi past changed again. On the
one hand the Nazi crimes appeared even more horrific. As individuals turned to their own history in order to internalize
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it, this criminal system was bound to become even more of a
stumbling block than before. On the other hand people now
became interested in action, experience, and perception, in the
subjective dimensions, in the internal side of history. Betrof­
fenheit, “concern,” became a central word. It became more acceptable to speak of “we” when speaking about Nazi crimes.
It was only now that the mass murder of the European Jews
moved into the center of the commemoration of the Nazi
The 1979 showing in Germany of the American tv series
Holocaust was an important step. What it showed had been
known and discussed before, but now it was shown in a way
that made the public betroffen (concerned). Victims and perpetrators appeared on the screen. During the following years
the concept Holocaust was adopted by everyday language and
scholarly literature. While the number of people who could
testify about the Holocaust from personal experience quickly
decreased, the memory of the Holocaust, its victims and perpetrators, became more concrete, frequently visualized, and moving. Besides the media and exhibitions, memorial days started
to play a central role, for example in 1983, the fiftieth anniversary of the Nazi seizure of power, with a public debate in the
Berlin Reichstag building.16
In 1985, on the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of Germany’s unconditional surrender in 1945, a widely publicized
speech of Richard von Weizsäcker, president of the Federal Republic, made the West German relation to the Nazi period,
its crimes, and its guilt clearer than ever before. For him the
eighth of May 1945 was primarily a day of liberation, only secondly a day of defeat. No previous president would have been
able to say this. Weizsäcker knew how to find a language that
combined knowledge with mourning, recognition of German
guilt with a new sense of dignity.17
Controversies did not die out. An outstanding example was
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the so-called historians’ debate — Historikerstreit — of 1986.18
Commemorating the Nazi period and the Nazi crimes did not
stop being painful, but in spite of the increasing passage of
time, memories and commemorations did not diminish. Toward the end of the 1980s the Nazi past was more present in
the German collective memory than ever before. It continued to be a burden, but a productive one. Over the decades the
memory of the Nazi period has served as a stimulus for many
Germans to commit themselves in one way or another to help
building a better Germany that would not allow similar catastrophes to happen. In the 1980s and 1990s, the memory of
the Nazi past even became something like a dark background
against which the achievements of the Federal Republic were
assessed with some satisfaction and pride. The memory of the
Nazi dictatorship has become an essential ingredient of West
German identity.
This was much less the case for the Germans in the gdr
because of the reasons already mentioned. Still, even there, in
the 1980s people became more willing to face their own Nazi
past in a more concrete way, including the crimes against the
Jews (which, until then, had been largely ignored in the gdr).
It was on the ninth of November 1988 that the antisemitic Pogrom of 1938 was officially commemorated in the gdr for the
first time. Until then 9 November had been the day to commemorate the beginning of the Revolution of 1918. East German authorities supported rebuilding the synagogue in East
Berlin’s Oranienburger Straße. For that they had different motives, the hope for additional international recognition among
them. After the March elections of 1990, when the gdr still
existed but for the first time with a freely elected parliament,
this parliament, the Volkskammer, began its official work by
issuing a declaration in which it acknowledged and accepted
its heritage of German guilt during the Nazi period, particularly for the crimes against the Jews.19
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Remembering the gdr after Unification:
Different Layers, Controversial Debates
One cannot expect that the commemoration of the gdr after
1990 would resemble the commemoration of Nazi Germany
after 1945. After all, the differences between the two German
dictatorships were overwhelming. The so-called Third Reich
had brought about the Holocaust, racist repression, and a terrible war in which it finally disappeared, bloodily by defeat
from outside, stubborn and with support from its population
until the end. The gdr had not generated anything like genocide, nor had it started a war. It was not brought to an end by
a bloody defeat but by implosion and the force of a popular uprising from within. It had not disappeared after twelve years
like Hitler’s Third Reich but had existed for forty years. So it
had had time to mitigate the initial rigor of its repression and
to temper its early revolutionary energy. It had left its Stalinist
totalitarian phase behind and became a post-Stalinist and — in
a way — post-totalitarian dictatorship in the 1970s and 1980s.
Whereas the Nazi dictatorship was very much homegrown and
German, the gdr was to a large extent the product of defeat
and occupation, of Soviet decisions and support. It disappeared
when the Soviets were no longer willing — or able — to fully
support it. Hitler ruled over Germany as a whole (and soon
over other parts of Europe), whereas the sed regime was restricted to one part of Germany. The gdr was always only one
of two German states, the much smaller and weaker one. This
was reflected by the way the gdr ended. It was absorbed by
the West German Federal Republic, which extended itself farther east. Whereas after 1945 Germans had to deal with a dictatorial past that, in principle, was the past of them all, it was
different after 1989/90. Now Germany dealt with a dictatorial
past that was the past of only one of its parts and of a minor
proportion of all Germans.
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All this reduces not only the similarities to be expected but
also the comparability of the breaks of 1945 and 1989/90.20
Still, comparing the post-1945 and the post-1989 eras with
respect to how Germans dealt with the legacy of their two different dictatorships became a major topic of political debate
and of scholarly discourse right after 1989/90. Different positions were taken. On one end of the spectrum were conservative West Germans and East German civil rights activists
who, together, stressed the dictatorial character of the gdr, denounced it as an example of totalitarianism, stressed its similarities with the Nazi dictatorship, and claimed that the replacement of East German elites and the rejection of whatever
was left of the gdr did not go far enough. On the other end
of the spectrum were ex-citizens of the gdr who had identified themselves with their state and its principles. They
deeply resented its being compared to the Nazi dictatorship,
and they stressed that the gdr had been established as an antifascist system with a sharp front against the Nazi Empire.
For them the incorporation of the gdr into the enlarged Federal Republic and the delegitimization of the gdr by historical
discourses under West German hegemony went much too far
and amounted to nothing more than an intellectual “colonization” of the former gdr by the new masters in the West. There
were, and there still are, many positions in between these two
There were no internment camps for gdr activists after
1989/90, nor were any of them sentenced to death. While the
Nazi party had been outlawed in 1945, the sed — the state
party that had ruled the gdr — was transformed but continued to exist with a new program, a new leadership, and a new
name: the Party of Democratic Socialism (pds). (In the meantime, the pds has become the major part of a new left-wing
party — Die Linke — which has gained support in the Western
states of Germany as well.) It is true, most of the basic eco-
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nomic and social policy decisions of the previous forty-five
years in the East were reversed after 1989, but not in every respect. As an example one can mention the property of the large
agricultural estates that had been taken away from their owners, many of them noble, without compensation right after the
end of the war under Russian occupation. Those families did
not get back, after 1989, what they had lost.
Still, the political system of the gdr was as thoroughly destroyed in 1990 and after as the Nazi system had been dismantled in 1945 and the following years. The economic order and
the political system of the Federal Republic were extended to
the East without any serious modification. The political elite
of the gdr was removed and replaced at least as thoroughly
as the Nazi elite after 1945. There are many sectors — for instance the universities — where the replacement of the leading
personnel has been more radical in the East after 1989/90 than
it had been in the West after 1945.
Certainly, there were no foreign occupation powers after
1989/90. The gdr’s unification with the Federal Republic and
its self-dissolution by this act was supported by a large majority
of East Germans, as became clear in the elections of 18 March
1990. But, later on, many East Germans perceived the West
Germans, who came over to rule, finance, and transform the
East according to their criteria, as something like an occupation power. In some respects this was true. West Germans presided over the radical institutional change and thorough leadership replacement in the East. West Germans initiated trials
against selected gdr leaders, who were now found guilty and
responsible for the shooting and killing at the East German border. These were highly publicized acts, which were also meant
to delegitimize the former regime in the eyes of the population
but which sometimes led to opposite reactions, to resentment
against the victors and their legal administration, against what
was sometimes called Siegerjustiz (“victor’s law”).
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The fundamentally asymmetric relation between West and
East deeply influenced the way in which the gdr was remembered and its history was dealt with after its collapse and accession to the frg in 1990. There was no period of silence and
merciful amnesia, no phase of unscrupulous repression of facts
and guilt as there had been after the end of the first German
dictatorship until the late 1950s. After 1989/90, active minorities both in the West and in the East, with different motives,
led drives and campaigns of exposure and research, of critical
reflection and moral judgment, which targeted guilt and failure, perpetrators and victims, crimes and repression within the
former gdr. A large agency was founded, under the leadership
of Joachim Gauck, formerly a dissident minister in the gdr,
that had to investigate and publicize the distressing legacy of
the East Germany State Security (Stasi). In contrast to the situation after 1945, there was now much public accusation and
defense, exposure and debate. After all, the (Western) majority of Germans in the reunited country had little to fear and
to lose from such exposure and soul-searching, quite in contrast to the majority in Germany after 1945. The media were
eager to serve as amplifiers and contributors to this process
of controversial commemoration. Those attacked because of
their support for and collaboration with the old system could
also use the media for defending themselves. All this was very
different from the years after 1945, when the media were less
powerful and not all-pervasive.22
As a consequence, the history of the gdr is now very well
known. Particularly its dictatorial, repressive, illiberal sides
have been thoroughly exposed, with special emphasis on its
early decades. History as an academic discipline has contributed its share. For nearly twenty years the history of the gdr
has been a booming field of historical research. The resulting
literature is abundant. At the initiative of former East German
civil rights activists, the parliament decided to install two
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commissions of inquiry, which have worked for years. They
produced a huge mass of sources, analyses, and interpretations
before they were transformed into a stable endowment with related tasks. Exhibitions, tv programs, talk shows, movies, and
novels have dealt with various aspects of life in the gdr.23
Resistance against revelations has usually been weak. The
passions of revealing and exposing, of accusing and defending have been remarkably strong and widespread. In all these
respects, dealing with the second German dictatorship after
1989/90 has been fundamentally different from dealing with the
first one after 1945. At the same time, patterns of thought, language, and action that had been developed in the debates about
Nazi Germany over the decades deeply influenced the way
in which the memory and the legacy of the gdr were treated
after 1989/90. Comparing the two systems — sometimes stressing the differences, sometimes the similarities — has become
a major strategy of commemorating and interpreting both of
them, of dealing with their legacies, and of positioning both in
sharp contrast to the Federal Republic with its liberal, democratic, postdictatorial, “post-totalitarian” order. Elements of an
antitotalitarian consensus emerged, which rejected both types
of twentieth-century totalitarianism in which Germany had
played such leading roles.24 This comparative element seems
specific to the way the communist regime is remembered and
its legacies are dealt with in Germany, quite in contrast to
the ways in which the communist regimes and their legacies
are remembered and dealt with in Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and the other postcommunist countries of eastcentral and Eastern Europe. This helps to explain why the communist legacies have been more clearly exposed, scrutinized,
rejected, and reworked in Germany than in most other former
Eastern bloc countries with a communist heritage.25
The emerging view of the gdr is not homogeneous. There
are former citizens of the gdr who, in retrospect, stress the
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achievements, the “normalcy,” the safety of life in the gdr,
qualities that they contrast with the aggressive competition,
the hectic speed, the pronounced inequality, the risks, and the
“Americanization” of present-day Germany. Nostalgic glances
into what is remembered as a better past are not altogether absent. Other voices — in literature, the movies, and public debate, but also in academia — emphasize that life in the gdr
was not fully controlled by the dictatorial regime but was full
of paradoxes and private niches.
Still, public commemoration of the gdr concentrates on its
repressive elements as well as on the victims of its dictatorial rule and repression. At least 620 memorial sites existed in
Germany in 2007 commemorating aspects of communist rule
and its victims in the Soviet zone of occupation and the gdr,
nearly all of them erected after 1990. Compared with this, attempts to establish a less critical, more positive tradition of
remembering worthwhile elements of the socialist gdr past
have remained futile, marginal, or restricted to some quarters
of the political left, for example in the context of the tradition
of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. A deeply critical view
of the gdr has become dominant, which, with good reason and
a growing mountain of evidence, depicts the gdr as a dictatorship: less democratic and liberal, less efficient and successful,
less viable and valuable than the West, ultimately a failure, ultimately a blind alley, an aberration, or simply a “state of injustice” (Unrechtsstaat). But the debates continue. Competing
and controversial interpretations are part of public discourse in
the present time and intrinsically related to the controversies
between political groups and positions as well as their competition for recognition and power. These debates have become
even more heated and more visible in the public arena recently.
The twentieth anniversary of the 1989 breakdown of communist rule has contributed to the revival of public interest in the
gdr after it had slightly declined since the late 1990s.26
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Memories Compete and Reinforce One Another
The collapse of communism, the dissolution of the gdr, and
reunification have helped to make 1989/90 a major turning
point of German and European history. It has been perceived
as a dramatic break and, increasingly, as product of a revolution, and it continues to be interpreted as one of the major caesuras of the twentieth century.27 It was frequently feared in the
early 1990s that the historical weight of 1989/90 would soon
overshadow the memory of 1945, that other decisive caesura
of the twentieth century, particularly since a major result of
World War II, the political division of Germany and Europe between East and West, was now to be revised and corrected. It
was feared that the memory of the second German dictatorship (the gdr) and its dramatic dissolution would weaken the
memory of the first German dictatorship (the Nazi Empire), its
crimes and its victims. It was feared that the increasingly vivid
remembrance of Stalinism would relativize the remembrance
of Nazism.
Indeed, there have been instances that nourished this suspicion.
Competition of memories has played a role and continues to do so.
I shall come back to this problem at the end of this chapter. But first
of all it should be emphasized that remembering dictatorships does
not necessarily follow the rules of a zero-sum game. Gaining recognition on one side does not have to mean loosing it on the other.
The increasing knowledge and memory of communist persecution
has not reduced the knowledge and memory of fascist crimes. Quite
on the contrary, it seems that dealing — in public debates, collective remembrance, and symbolic politics — with the second German dictatorship (gdr) has had the effect of vitalizing and sharpening consciousness of the first (Nazi Germany) simultaneously. At
least in the public arena topics related to the history of the Third
Reich, World War II, and the Holocaust have not been moved to the
background since 1990. They are more present than ever.
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In the 1990s films like Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List,
best sellers like Daniel Goldhagen’s Hitler’s Willing Execution­
ers, and numerous tv documentaries that heavily relied on oral
history and personal testimony brought a new concreteness to
the public remembrance of Third Reich–related topics. Victims
and perpetrators, their sufferings and their crimes, took center
stage instead of structures, processes, and constellations. Emotions were taken seriously and openly incorporated into public
recollections. Authenticity sometimes became more important than explanation — a problematic development. Questions of morality and guilt, responsibility and human failure
were publicly addressed, though less in the spirit of accusation
and defensiveness that had permeated the controversies of the
1960s and 1970s. Erinnerung (remembrance) became a central
concern, an aim in itself. Giving the past the recognition it deserves, and giving a voice to the victims, became matters of
historical justice.28
In 1999, a large and multipartisan majority of the German
federal parliament decided to build, in the center of Berlin, a
very visible monument commemorating the mass murder of
the European Jews. This decision brought to an end an intensive and controversial debate about the desirability and the
form of such a monument, a public debate that had lasted more
than ten years. The monument was inaugurated in 2005. Another example: an exhibition dealing with the crimes of regular soldiers of the German army (Wehrmachtsausstellung),
initiated by a nongovernmental organization, was shown in
many German cities over several years. It triggered public protests, and since it exaggerated some of what German soldiers
had done, it had to be revised and corrected. But its basic critical and sobering message remained intact and powerful, and
it reached a broad public. There was also a long and painful
debate about employing “slave labor” in factories and other
enterprises during World War II, usually foreigners who were
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brought to Germany against their will and were compelled to
work for German employers for a very low wage and frequently
under repressive conditions. Surviving victims and their families filed suits against German corporations in American
courts. They were partly successful. Finally a joint initiative
of business and government collected several billion German
marks in order to pay indemnities to the surviving victims and
their families.29
In contrast to frequently expressed hopes or fears, this part
of the German past has not faded away. It has remained a
highly sensitive subject of public debate and sufficiently hot
to produce scandals when unexpected revelations appear, as
in the case of Günter Grass and his early affiliation with the
ss, or when a public figure seems to move outside the established consensus. This was, for example, the case in 2007 when
the powerful prime minister of Baden-Württemberg, Günther
Oettinger, at the memorial service for Hans Filbinger, one of
his predecessors, attempted to present him as an anti-Nazi,
in contrast to what he had been (which was why he had had
to leave office roughly thirty years earlier). Oettinger became
a target of heavy public criticism until he distanced himself
from his statements. When the German pope Benedict XVI recently condoned and reinstated a British bishop who had a record of denying the Holocaust, he was heavily criticized even
by the German chancellor, who is usually reluctant to jump
into public controversy but found it necessary in this case to
take a public stand and admonish the Vatican. “It appears that
Hitler and national socialism are already stirring up the ‘third
generation.’ Measured by the media output, interest in these
subjects is continuing to grow,” wrote Norbert Frei in 2005,
and he stated: “Soviel Hitler war nie.”30
Nevertheless, things have changed in the last two decades.
I want to emphasize the institutionalization of memory on
the one hand, its diversification on the other. More than sixty
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years after the end of World War II and the Holocaust, the number of victims, perpetrators, and other persons who were directly involved one way or another has become small. It would
be wrong to say that personal concern with German guilt and
Nazi atrocities has faded away. But the remembrance of the
Nazi past is now much less a matter of direct communication and personal recollection than in earlier decades. It has
become a topic of the media and a duty of political representatives more than ever before. It has been turned into an institutionalized affair, in connection with memorial sites, memorial days, memorial institutions, specialized staff, and public
events.31 The institutionalization of collective memory guarantees its survival, but changes its nature and leads to nonintended consequences.
The recent quest for eyewitnesses and authenticity, which
was mentioned above, can be seen as a reaction to the increasing formalization and standardization of remembrance rhetoric in the public sphere. There may be an increasing gap between what is publicly commemorated and what is talked
about in the private sphere (e.g., within the families).32 Now
and then one can hear and read — clearly outside the rightist
political camp, in which German guilt continues to be denied
in national conservative or neofascist milieus33 — subtle and
less subtle expressions of reservation and even protest against
the massiveness of institutionalized and depersonalized waves
of collective remembrance.34
The impact of victims’ organizations has grown. Certainly,
victims have always been part of the process of demands and denials, negotiations and conflicts, that underlie collective commemoration. But in the early period surviving victims were
rather quiet. They were reluctant to raise their voices, and they
were hardly urged to do so. Up to the 1980s, they did not play a
dominant role in the developments sketched above. Since the
1990s, however, organized claims for public recognition have
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become the most important force behind further institutionalization of collective memories in official symbols and representations, also in the conflicts over restitution and recompensation.35 Related to this is a certain selectiveness of collective
memory. In the 1980s the Holocaust gained the central place
in the collective remembrance of the Nazi period (in the West,
not so much in the East) and has maintained this central place
ever since, very much at the cost of other aspects of Nazi terror, war, and dictatorship. To mention just one example: what
German troops and civilians did to the Poles, the Russians,
and other Slavic population groups between 1939 and 1945 is
much less present in the collective memory (although in this
respect differences continue to exist between East and West
Germans).36 Certainly, the unevenness and selectivity of public commemoration are partly due to the different degrees to
which victims’ organizations can make themselves felt.
So much for the institutionalization of historical memories of Nazi crimes and victims and some of its consequences.
On the other hand, a pluralization or diversification of collective memory has taken place and continues to take place in
the present. Here we come back to the relation between the
two German dictatorships as references for collective remembrance. As far as the collective memory of the second German
dictatorship is concerned, personal memories, direct communications, and testimonies of victims, perpetrators, and observers are still numerous and influential. Many of those who lived
then are still around and speak out. Nevertheless, attempts
to institutionalize collective memories are actively pursued,
in controversial debates about memorial sites and memorial
days, in controversies about the distribution of financial resources, institutional arrangements, and symbolic acts. Again,
victims’ organizations play a major role — and compete with
each other.37
As mentioned above, the public memory of the gdr and
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of Stalinist terror did not, as a rule, lead to marginalizing the
memory of the Nazi dictatorship and of fascist crimes. On the
contrary, dealing with the second German dictatorship put the
first one on the agenda, too, in a comparative way. This way,
both memories tended to reinforce each other. But in other respects, they tended to compete. When, for example, former
camps like Buchenwald (near Weimar) and Sachsenhausen
(near Berlin), which had been used as concentration camps by
the Nazis until 1945 and by the Soviets as “special camps”
(Speziallager) right after 1945, were to be designed or restructured as public memorial sites, difficult debates about the correct presentation of both types of persecution and both categories of victims (and about the relation between them) emerged.
Something like a competition of memories and memory politics became manifest. When political decisions were sought
about “comprehensive concepts” of commemorating the victims of both dictatorships, for instance in the federal parliament in June 2004, the debates led to controversies and to concerns such as those expressed by Jewish speakers who warned
against the danger of leveling out and minimizing the specific
inhumane quality of the Holocaust. Such debates have taken
place in Germany but also on the European level, as when the
former Latvian foreign minister, on a public forum in Leipzig
2004, described “Nazism and communism as equally criminal,” which led to a harsh protest by Salomon Korn, who spoke
for the Central Council of Jews in Germany. Victims of communism and Stalinism in particular — and their organizations — feel less recognized in the German “culture of remembrance” than the victims of fascism and National Socialism
and their organizations. They do have a point. The difficult
comparison between different types of mass crimes and their
victims continues and fuels public debates. Comparisons between Stalin’s and Hitler’s terror, between communist and fascist dictatorships, have long ceased to be taboo, while those
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who look on them with accuracy and responsibility continue
to stress the differences between them and the outstanding
particularity of the Holocaust.38
The ongoing diversification of collective memory has yet
another dimension. In the last decade it has become much
more common and accepted to publicly commemorate
Germans — not persecuted by the Nazis — as victims, that
is, German victims of World War II. The destruction of German cities like Dresden by Allied bombing raids has become
a major topic covered by best-selling books and the media.
The fate of German pows has raised new interest. The expulsion of millions of Germans from Poland, Czechoslovakia, and
other countries around 1945 — no doubt a huge act of ethnic
cleansing that changed the central and Eastern European settlement pattern in a decisive way — receives much more public remembrance and discussion than in previous decades, particularly since ethnic cleansing became a major topic of public
debate and general condemnation with the Balkan Wars of the
1990s. There are controversial debates about how to commemorate the suffering of Germans expelled from their homelands
around 1945, and these debates have affected Germany’s relations with Poland and the Czech Republic. When the Red
Army occupied East Germany, German civilians, no doubt,
became victims. People were killed, women were raped, men
were deported or put into camps whether they had been guilty
of war crimes or not. All this was not unknown during recent
decades. But now it is much more a topic of novels, media reports, tv series, and public discussions than it was ten, twenty,
or thirty years ago. Victims, that is, mostly the offspring of victims along with their organizations, play an important role,
particularly expellees’ organizations. They fight for the public recognition of previous suffering and, as others do, for the
institutionalization of collective remembrance, such as in the
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form of a “Center against Expulsions,” centrally located in Berlin. Such a center will probably be established soon.39
When reviewing this trend toward the pluralization of collective memory, one must not forget that there exists a long
and problematic tradition of superficially equating “red” and
“brown” dictatorships.40 It is equally important to know that
emphasizing the German victims of World War II, their sufferings through defeat, expulsion, and occupation, has been part
of a long and even more problematic tradition of right-wing
thought and politics in which German losses were counted
up against German crimes (by overstressing their similarities), in which German responsibility for the National Socialist crimes was relativized and anti-Western resentments were
cultivated.41 The categorical distinction between the Allied
air raids and the Holocaust must remain clear: the former a
cruel, devastating, and morally questionable part of a strategy
meant to accelerate the defeat of an enemy within the context of an increasingly total war, the latter the senseless and
criminal mass murder of millions of persons exclusively on
the basis of what was seen as their race, without any justification as a strategy of improving the military chances of winning
and ending the war. In addition it is necessary to be clear about
cause and effect, responsibilities and consequences. Certainly,
the destruction of German cities and of parts of those cities’
populations, the mass expulsion and ethnic cleansing, as well
as the suffering of German civilians under the troops of occupation, resulted from decisions for which the victors — or some
of them — bore responsibility. At the same time they were consequences of a war of aggression, destruction, and annihilation
that Germany had waged. The passions of remembrance must
not obscure the historical realities in which responsibilities
are, in this case, clearly and unevenly distributed.
As long as such caveats are respected and boundaries main-
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tained, the observable diversification of memory is nothing to
be feared or deplored. In a time in which the public commemoration of victims has gained much ground nearly everywhere
and has become a central concern in many political cultures,
certainly in Germany and Israel,42 it is neither surprising nor
avoidable but a matter of historical justice (and of political influence) that victims of war, defeat, and occupation as well
as victims of Stalinist terror and communist dictatorship — including those who were born later but see themselves standing in these traditions — speak out and want to be recognized
as such, besides and in relation to victims of fascist terror and
others. Historical memory tends to spill over; it is a process
that cannot be neatly departmentalized, restricted, or withheld. As a consequence, memories in a community or a culture must be related to one another, compared, contextualized,
and reworked. They are not the sole property of their specific
claimants but are of concern to the community as well. This
is where historians can be of help. While historical memories
have frequently motivated and triggered historical studies and
research, the methods of the historical discipline are indispensable for assessing, criticizing, and contextualizing historical memories.43
As a rule, memory exists in the plural form. Memories aiming for public recognition and claiming public resources may
compete with one another, particularly as far as they relate to
actors or victims, achievements or sufferings, for which singularity and perhaps even incomparability are claimed.44 But
with respect to intensity and truth, the existence of different
memories may strengthen each of them as long as they are not
proclaimed in splendid isolation from but entangled with each
other, in processes of public commemoration, and in compatibility with the principles of historical research and its findings.
Here the role of historians — and of a functioning civil society
with a public space — continues to be highly important. This
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is what the recent experience with commemorating two different types of dictatorship in Germany and Europe has shown.
It is not impossible that the recently intensified remembrance
of Germans as victims of war and defeat, expulsion, and occupation can be brought into a similarly productive relationship with the remembrance of the victims and perpetrators,
the sufferings and responsibilities under both German dictatorships. In these regards, comparison is a central operation. It
deals with similarities and particularly with differences.
This chapter has dealt with pasts and with memories mainly
in a national framework. It is about Germany. No question,
this is legitimate. National Socialism was, first of all, a German affair. The gdr was a German dictatorship, although
it could not have existed without Soviet power and support.
Collective memories of the past are important for the
collective identities and responsibilities of the present. Our
collective identities, responsibilities, and capabilities to act
continue to be defined, to a large extent, in national terms.
This is why it continues to be meaningful and desirable to reflect on the history and the memories of a nation or a nationstate and share collective memories in national frameworks.
But, increasingly, research is revealing transnational dimensions of our pasts and memories. Increasingly, our identities,
responsibilities, and political actions transcend the framework
of nation-states. Increasingly, Europe is becoming a reality, and
globalization proceeds. In addition to comparing national pasts
and memories, it is meaningful to study their interrelations.
In what sense do we have common European pasts and common European memories, however heterogeneous, conflicting,
and contested? They differ a lot; one should not be surprised.
But can they be made compatible? The transnationalization of
memory has only begun.45
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Truth: The Last Fifty Years
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History: A Changeable Discipline
n 1901, the English author and scholar Samuel Butler noted:
“It has been said that though God cannot alter the past, historians can.” Again and again, historians have been commended or mocked for producing new pasts. More recently the
Czech novelist Milan Kundera added a particular twist to this
discussion, when he wrote with irony and exaggeration: “The
past is full of life and eager to irritate us, provoke and insult us,
tempt us to destroy or repaint it. The only reason people want
to be masters of the future is to change the past.”1
Indeed, with astonishment, irony, or respect, observers from
outside the historical profession frequently note the quick
change of historical interpretations over time. No doubt they
have a point. Any survey of twentieth-century historiography2 shows that the thematic preferences within the profession have remarkably changed, and so have the questions and
answers asked and given with respect to single themes. The
mood, the methods, and the products of the discipline have
changed much more deeply and swiftly than I expected when I
started as a social historian in the 1960s.
How are we to describe and account for this dynamic change?
Since Georg Simmel’s “Sociology of Fashion” (1904/5), at the
latest, there has developed an interesting literature on fashion
and change. From this point of view, fast change is normal, and
we see change occurring in waves. According to the laws of
fashion, old views and patterns fade away or are marginalized,
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although they are not falsified or proven useless. New departures are valued highly as such, as long as the new does not appear to be merely the idiosyncratic preference of just a few individuals but possibly the indicator of a trend. According to the
laws of fashion, change is driven by individuals’ needs for distinction and recognition, but it occurs in parallel ways among
members of a population owing to the phenomenon of herding.
Both the wish to be different from others and the wish to imitate others play an intricate role.3
But is such a fashion-related approach adequate for explaining the changing agenda of a scholarly discipline, which, after
all, has something to do with the search for truth in one way or
another? From a truth-oriented perspective one would have to
ask whether the observed changes within the discipline can be
seen as advancement, as approximation to a better understanding of historical reality, to a fairer interpretation of complex relations, to more valid theses with an intersubjective reach — as
“progress” according to the discipline’s rules.4
Perhaps there is a third way of accounting for developments
in the discipline of history, namely by seeing the changing
questions and answers historians come up with as responses
to changing needs of the times in which they are living, as acts
of communication with the changing cultures to which they
How should one account for the observable changes within
the discipline: as mechanisms of fashion, closer approximations to truth, or dynamics of communication between the historians and their environment? Instead of discussing this in an
abstract way, I want to take one example: research and writing
about World War I, particularly about World War I from a German perspective.6 I am not interested in the specifics of historical research on this topic, but I use it as a case for illustrating
major changes within the discipline.
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An Example: Changing Views of World War I
Historical debates about World War I began before the war had
ended. Up to the late 1950s political, military, and diplomatic
studies dominated. It is true there were other approaches evident as early as the 1920s and 1930s, as documented by the
Carnegie Endowment series called the Social and Economic
History of the War. But clearly, the great powers’ responsibility
for the war, the question of war guilt, the causes, mechanisms,
and consequences of diplomatic and military actions, took center stage; they were debated with passion, on the basis of evermounting volumes of sources. World War II changed the political and intellectual mood but not the basic approach.7
A major change started in the late 1950s, continued throughout the 1960s, and reached its climax in the early 1970s. It was
connected to the stormy rise of social history. Different things
happened in the historiography about World War I.
On the one hand, historians learned (or at least tried) to explain foreign policy moves — including military decisions and
conflicts — in terms of domestic developments, by relating
changes in the international arena to the interests and strategies of the elites, the passions of the people, the conflicts
within the societies of the countries that competed and struggled with one another in the international arena. This represented a turn toward the primacy of internal factors even
though international conflict and responsibility for the war remained the main explanandum. In Germany this paradigmatic
change was fought through in the highly controversial Fritz
Fischer debate around 1960, which received much public attention, shook the profession, and initiated a mighty stream of
new, revisionist, productive research.8
On the other hand, and a little later, historians learned to
turn their lenses fully around and ask what the war meant for
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internal developments, how the war affected constitutional
change as well as social relations and economic development.
Historians researched the changing relations between social
groups as well as between them and the state — take Gerald D.
Feldman’s Army, Industry and Labour as an example. And historians moved, to quote Eric Hobsbawm, from social history
to the history of society, discussing the changing relationship
between a war economy, class society, and an increasingly authoritarian but overburdened state in a period of almost total
war. Marxist ideas played a role. Such studies could gain additional intellectual leverage by exploring long-term continuity
and change: Did the war accelerate societal trends already long
on the way, such as the emancipation of women? Did it reverse past trends, such as the long-term rise of living standards
(which was turned back by the war)? Did it bring in new factors, such as the brutalizing of social relations? What did the
war mean for the history of democracy and dictatorship in the
following decades? The mood of this social historical turn was
highly structural, macrohistorical, and analytical.9
But there was a third bundle of changes, in the 1970s
and later, that made social history less structuralist, more
experience- and action-related, and more friendly to microhistory. One input came from women and gender historians, the
other from everyday history (Alltagsgeschichte). These new
developments of the 1970s and 1980s did not explode or transcend social history, but they reshaped and enriched it after
hot debates and controversy — by starting to integrate the longneglected gender dimension, by emphasizing subjective aspects
of history, and by bringing agency back into the historical narrative. Research on World War I reflected this by investigating,
for example, how hunger and scarcity, fear and mobility were
experienced by women and men, by young and old; how families came under stress; and what all that meant for changing
patterns of life, for the political culture, and for the weakening
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of the social fabric when the war dragged on, defeat loomed,
and revolution broke out.10
But in certain respects the Alltagsgeschichte of the 1980s
did offer alternatives to the social history of the previous years.
Whereas the social historians of the 1960s and 1970s had experimented a lot with social science concepts and theories like
“class formation” or “modernization,” historians of everyday life usually rejected such approaches as too mechanistic
and hegemonic; they rather tried to study historical phenomena “from within” and “from below,” using “thick description” and the language of the subjects whose experiences they
wanted to recover. Whereas the rise of social history in the
1960s and 1970s had helped to make the discipline more analytical, everyday historians were less interested in the definition, discussion, and use of explicit concepts; they rather
helped to make history more “narrative” again. It is true, everyday historians took seriously what the social historians of
the 1960s and 1970s had frequently neglected: the meaning of
social phenomena to those who perceived them, while acting
on them or suffering from them. No doubt, this was a gain. But
everyday historians frequently paid for this gain of increased
complexity by neglecting broader contexts, such as patterns of
social inequality, relations between the state and the economy,
or the political system under pressure of war.11
In these respects the everyday historians of the 1980s anticipated what became dominant in the 1990s, when cultural
history — in one way or another — carried the day, or rather
the decade. Cultural history has deeply changed our views of
World War I.
On the one hand, by emphasizing and exploring meanings — the construction, symbolic framing, the transmission of
meanings — cultural historians brought back into focus what
had really been central to the war but was neglected or marginalized in much previous research: the practice of killing,
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the experience of death, the mutilation of bodies, physical and
mental suffering, speechlessness after a shock, the rituals and
practices of mourning and sorrow, bonding and comradeship
in and behind the trenches, the terror of the battlefield. By emphasizing such dimensions of the war experience they cast a
relativizing light on the social, political, and economic consequences of war so eagerly studied by previous social (and economic) historians.12
On the other hand cultural historians took seriously the
symbols and rituals, the images and myths, that the contemporaries constructed or adopted in order to cope with the war
experience — by trying to make sense of the war, by mourning their losses, and by celebrating their victories. From there
it was — finally — only a small step toward investigating the
symbols and rituals, the images and myths, that people later
on, after the war, constructed and shared in order to commemorate the war and its victims, losses, defeat, and national
shame as well as victory, heroism, and national triumph. Historians of memory and remembrance reconstructed the ways
in which the war was commemorated in different decades, in
different countries and cities, within different social milieus,
and for different purposes. This has become a major field for
comparative research. Sometimes it seems that historians are
now more interested in the way the war has been remembered
than in the way it was — which raises problems. But this historiographical trend is well suited to the widespread interest in
World War I–related lieux de mémoire, the memorial sites and
memorial days that have become more frequent and impressive
over the years and which are mostly situated and celebrated in
Western Europe — while in central and Eastern Europe memories of World War II and the Holocaust have acquired a central
What is new in the field? The short answer is a bordercrossing, transnational point of view, sometimes a global per-
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spective — and, related to this, a renewed interest in entanglements, structures, processes, and interrelations, clearly beyond
microhistory and beyond thick description.
It has been discovered and emphasized, for example, that
the two decades preceding the war were decades of accelerated
globalization, hand in hand with rising levels of aggressive nationalism. Will this lead to new interpretations of the war and
its causes? Technologies of globalized warfare and related logistics, compulsive population transfers across borders, the beginning of “ethnic cleansing” at the eastern and southeastern
peripheries of Europe, the related breakdowns of the three large
multinational empires at the end of the war, the changing perceptions of Europe in India and China in the aftermath of the
war — these are some topics for transnational comparative and
entangled history of a global scope.14
Maybe historians will finally take seriously the fact that
this is the first war that has survived in the textbooks under
the label “World War,” although the different world regions
varied a lot as to the degree they were involved in and shaken
by this war and its consequences. This is a time when the national frameworks of historical studies are not being abandoned but are becoming perforated, widened, and relativized
by comparative approaches and the investigation of transnational relations.
Related or parallel to this spatial widening of analytical
frameworks and leading questions, one can presently observe
a widening of the time frame as well. It is becoming more frequent to compare World War I and World War II. There are
other approaches that bring World War I and World War II
closely together. Some authors see them so closely related that
they speak of the “Thirty Years War” of the twentieth century.
The long-term consequences of World War I have become topics of interest again, for instance its place in a global history
of violence or in a global history of human rights. Various au-
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thors have suggested that we should consider the “short twentieth century” as a conceptual time frame, implying that an
integral era of causes and consequences began with World War
I and ended with the breakdown of communism. It remains
to be seen whether this chronology will survive, but it testifies to the huge importance ascribed to World War I by many
who have adopted a world historical perspective.15 In the light
of such considerations some of the questions historians used
to concentrate on half a century ago have become relatively
Five Major Trends
So much for research and writing about World War I in recent
decades, from a German perspective. Certainly, the developments in other fields, such as in European medieval history or
in the history of other parts of the world, were not identical.
Historians differ from one another; different paradigms coexist; the discipline is full of debates, conflicts, and fragmentation. German developments were specific in many ways. Still,
the changing views of World War I can serve as an example.
They illustrate five general trends that have shaped historical
studies over the last half century.16
1. Historians have become more numerous; the volume of historical research has grown; the degree of specialization has
been further advanced.
2. There continue to be national differences in history more
than in sociology, economics, or physics. To a higher degree
than practitioners of other disciplines, historians are part of
their national cultures and languages. History as memory has
to do with collective identity. History as a scholarly discipline
does not fully escape this constellation, which, after all, has
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made possible its rise as a mass phenomenon. But there are,
increasingly, transnational entanglements and mutual influences across national borders. There is also some convergence,
within Europe and beyond. The rise of English as the new lingua franca of scholarship is supporting this trend, and so are
the new communication technologies.
3. In the second half of the twentieth century, cross-disciplinary
contacts between historians and practitioners of neighboring
disciplines have been numerous, more numerous than in the
first half of the twentieth century or in the nineteenth. But one
cannot see a linear increase of cross-, inter-, or transdisciplinarity.
In spite of increasing internal diversification and frequent contacts across discipline boundaries, history continues to be a
clearly identifiable discipline distinguished from others.
4. With respect to methods, the discipline continues to be syncretistic. In the 1960s and 1970s, the discipline became more
analytic. Systematic approaches gained ground; in some areas
quantitative methods found broad application. This trend has
not been continued but reversed. Hermeneutic approaches and
narrative forms of presentation have regained prominence.
Quantitative approaches and systematic analysis continue to
be practiced in narrow subfields such as historical demography
and economic history.
5. On a very general level one can perhaps distinguish four
periods of historiographical development since 1945, but these
periods were heterogeneous and overlapping.
• A period in which political history continued to dominate,
in different forms, until about 1960.
• The 1960s and 1970s, perhaps a bit longer, when social history moved to the front, when an analytical turn took place,
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and when structures and processes were regarded to have
more explanatory power than events and actions.
• The 1980s and 1990s, when different variants of cultural
history took the lead, hand in hand with a powerful constructivist turn and, consequently, the rise of memory as
an object of historical studies. The rise of cultural history
was frequently connected with an antistructuralist thrust.
By preferring to talk about what and how people perceived,
experienced, acted, and suffered, and less about conditions
and consequences, this type of history could sometimes acquire a somewhat voluntaristic touch.
• Finally, the most recent period. Many of the previous developments continue and coexist; new areas of interest are
emerging or receiving renewed emphasis, such as the history
of religion, while other areas have become marginal, such
as the history of labor. Particular attention is being paid to
transnationalization in different forms, especially Europeanization and globalization. Transnational approaches fascinate the youngest generation of historians. Here we presently find the most promising challenges and opportunities.
More clearly than ever historians are moving beyond the national historical frameworks that have guided their interpretations for so long, at least in modern history. The usually
asymmetric relations between the history of the West and
the history of other parts of the world are receiving more attention. Among historians in the West, the history of China,
India, or parts of Africa is acquiring more relevance. Largescale comparison on the one hand, entangled histories (his­
toire croisée, Verflechtungsgeschichte) on the other, are becoming major approaches. They are fully compatible with
each other.
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There has been much change in the discipline, and change
will continue. How should we account for it, how interpret its
meaning? I return to the initial question: how do change in the
discipline, fashion, and truth interrelate?
The Productivity of Fashion and the Attainability
of Truth: History as a Profession
Disciplines, scholars, and projects are usually not happy to be
called fashionable. A German encyclopedia of 1909 defined
fashion (Mode) as a type of quick and conformist change, determined neither by tradition nor by compelling reason but by capricious moods (wechselnde Tageslaunen). Applying the concept fashion to the sciences and the arts, the entry continues,
implies criticizing them, since in these fields reason and aesthetic criteria should govern, not fashion. In his “Sociology of
Fashion” of 1904/5, Georg Simmel arrived at similar conclusions. More recent voices have followed the same line.17
But there can be no doubt that the thematic preferences of
history students and scholars change in waves (not randomly)
and frequently without clearly recognizable reasons. The same
holds true with respect to methods, though here change is
slower. Historians cluster, and the clusters change over time.
Topics, approaches, and interpretations are given up or moved
to the background, frequently not because they are exhausted,
rejected, or proved useless but because they become uninteresting, dull, and old-fashioned. It happens that approaches disappear and insights are forgotten. New approaches, topics, and
theses are often welcomed because they are new, as long as
they are not too crazy or idiosyncratic, and it helps if they appear to fit a new trend. This is exactly how fashion works in
other spheres of life.
One should not be amazed to discover that, to some extent,
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change within the discipline of history follows the patterns of
fashion. On the one hand, innovation, newness, discovery are
highly valued qualities and one might even say requirements
in modern scholarly work, not only in the natural and technical sciences, but also in the humanities and social sciences. In
this world, trying out something new is normal and needs less
explicit justification than mere repetition and continuation.
On the other hand, historians do not work in isolation from
one another; mutual recognition by peers is the most important method for determining quality, success, and failure. Take
both together — the quest for innovation in the field and the
collegial other-directedness of its practitioners — and you get
the likelihood of fast but slightly standardized change without
special justification, that is, change in the form of waves and
according to the patterns of fashion.
One should not be alarmed by this observation. On the one
hand, the elements of fashion within the profession are effectively balanced by other mechanisms. First, the discipline is
governed by rules and customs that secure continuity, thoroughness, and respect for tradition, for instance the methods in
which historians are trained, their passion for footnoting,18 and
the rule that any good piece of new research has to start with
a thorough review of previous research on the topic by “predecessors.” Second, there are nonfashion-based mechanisms of
change effective inside the discipline, change on the basis of
explicit criticism and rejection of received theses as well as
through critical discussion and explicit justification of alternative choices. Third, there are the stubborn individuals who
take their pride from consciously defying observable trends
and from keeping apart from programmatic debates about the
state of the art and its further development because they are
passionately devoted to a splendid idea and a specific project
in the long run. They do their professional work in a highly individualized form and despise fashion. So far the institutional
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Historians, Fashion, and Truth
conditions under which historians work permit such a choice.
It is important to preserve such spaces of professional freedom.
Given all this, it is not likely that the discipline will yield more
than a small extent to the rule of fashion.
On the other hand, elements of fashion within the discipline are not so detrimental to the finding of historical truth
as they might appear to be at first glance, owing to the specific
nature of truth in the realm of history.
Certainly, historians should not avoid making claims of
truth. As scholars, as practitioners of an empirical discipline,
historians are of course committed to searching for truth, and
frequently they find it. In order to be accepted as true, historical statements must meet several established — though
debatable — epistemological and methodological criteria related to the handling of empirical evidence and to the structure of critical discourse among them. But it is worthwhile to
remember — following Max Weber19 — that truth in history is
always selective and relational. What historians offer and accept as true, valid, and meaningful necessarily depends on the
questions they ask, which in turn vary with the viewpoints
and perspectives they have, themselves related to the problems
of their specific time. In this complex relationship, the category “meaning” (Bedeutung) is central.20 Times and problems
are changing, and with them the questions asked by historians.
This is why historical truth has to change as well — within
limits, however, controlled by methods, debates, and mutual
In the complicated processes of finding dynamic and relational truth, fashion can help. As Walter Benjamin wrote:
“Fashion has a flair for the topical, no matter where it stirs in
the thickets of long ago; it is a tiger’s leap into the past.”21 In
other words: fashion may contradict the rule of scientific rationality; it may lead astray. It needs to be controlled by other
cognitive processes of which history as a discipline is rich. But
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civil society and dictatorship
within these limits and respecting these caveats, fashion may
serve as a scout in the search for historical findings that are
both true and meaningful, and changing.
If one looks more closely at the historiographical changes
sketched above, one will discover losses. In Germany at least,
economic history belongs to the losers, which is strange in a
world increasingly stamped by a globalized economy. Analytical rigor has been lost in the revival of narrative. Sometimes
historians are too easily satisfied with reconstructing “discourses” without probing into their nondiscursive conditions
and consequences.22
On the other hand, the gains are immense. We know now
much more about World War I than was known fifty years ago;
we understand better; we are aware of dimensions unknown or
neglected in the 1950s.
But at least as important is this: the deep changes of the discipline over the decades have helped to make its products more
relevant in changing times. The social history of the 1960s and
1970s — its analytical mood, its social commitment, its critical thrust, its belief in the power of structures — fit well into
that period of accepted and accelerated modernization, turning
away from a catastrophic past, full of passionate rejection of
parts of the past, but also full of hope and optimism as to the
opportunity of emancipation and progress.
Something changed in the 1980s and 1990s. More urgently
than before, history was now expected to fulfill other functions
as well. In a period of accelerated change and after experiencing
new disappointments, people got interested in their roots — “dig
where you are” — and in history as a source of identity. Cultural history responded to these changing expectations.23
Then, in the 1980s, a period of accelerated globalization
set in, which defines the present era more than anything else.
Once the Cold War was gone and the wall had fallen, instead of
the East-West conflict of the previous decades the relation be-
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Historians, Fashion, and Truth
tween “the West” and other world regions moved center stage.
Crossing borders became a mass experience. A new type of
border-crossing biography became more frequent, particularly
among experts, intellectuals, and young scholars. The need for
entangled argumentations gained strength. It is in this situation that transnational global approaches — partly in the spirit
of postcolonialism — are inspired and offer relevant answers to
present needs.24
The interrelation between changing cultural needs and
changing historiographical trends is difficult to analyze. It is
always ambiguous and never plain, since it is up to the individual historian to decide what appears to be on the top of the intellectual agenda, and in what way he or she wants to respond
to this in his or her own work. Different historians draw different conclusions as to what is interesting, timely, and urgent.
To be untimely, old-fashioned, and out-of-date is always an
available and respectable choice, frequently compatible with
original scholarship of high quality.
On the other hand, historical scholarship can be inspired
and stimulated by the pressing questions and characteristic
problems of one’s time, while historians can help to clarify
and solve them if they relate to them, though usually in indirect ways. Relevance in this sense does not hinder professional
quality, nor does it impede the search for truth. In order to
achieve these objectives, an element of fashion can be of help.
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Kocka_Book.indb 116
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II. Bourgeois Culture and Civil Society
1. There is a third meaning of Bürger, in the sense of urban burghers of the late medieval and early modern periods, a corporate
group with specific legal privileges, lifestyles, and status, which
set itself apart from the other townsmen and the rural population.
This I leave aside. Cf. Mack Walker, German Hometowns: Com­
munity, State and General Estate, 1648–1871 (Ithaca, N.Y., 1971).
2. Christian Garve, Versuche über verschiedene Gegenstände
aus der Moral, der Literatur und dem gesellschaftlichen Leben,
vol. 1 (Breslau, 1792), 302–303: “Das Wort‚ Bürger,” he wrote, “hat
im deutschen mehr Würde als das französische bourgeois . . . und
zwar deswegen hat es mehr, weil es bei uns zwei Sachen zu­gleich
bezeichnet, die im Französischen zwei verschiedene Benennungen (haben). Es heißt einmal ein jedes Mitglied einer bürgerlichen
Gesellschaft, das ist das französische citoyen;—es bedeutet zum
anderen den unadligen Stadteinwohner, der von einem gewissen
Gewerbe lebt,—und das ist bourgeois.” Manfred Riedel, “Bürger,
Staatsbürger, Bürgertum,” in Otto Brunner et al., eds., Geschicht­
liche Grundbegriffe. Historisches Lexikon zur politisch-sozialen
Sprache in Deutschland, vol. 1 (Stuttgart, 1972), 672–725. Reinhart
Koselleck et al., “Drei bürgerliche Welten? Zur vergleichenden Semantik der bürgerlichen Gesellschaft in Deutschland, England und
Frankreich,” in Hans-Jürgen Puhle, ed., Bürger in der Gesellschaft
der Neuzeit (Göttingen, 1991), 14–58; Dieter Hein, “Bürger, Bürgertum,” in Fischer Lexikon Geschichte (Frankfurt/Main, 2003),
3. The Working Group on Modern Social History (Bad Homburg) stimulated this research in the early 1980s. Cf. Bildungs­
bürgertum im 19. Jahrhundert, 4 vols. (Stuttgart, 1985–1990). (The
volumes were edited by Werner Conze, Jürgen Kocka, Reinhart Ko-
Kocka_Book.indb 117
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Notes to Pages 10 –11
selleck, and M. Rainer Lepsius). Also see Ulrich Engelhardt, “Bil­
dungsbürgertum.” Begriffs- und Dogmengeschichte eines Etiketts
(Stuttgart, 1986). The University of Bielefeld became a center of
research in the history of the European middle classes. Cf. Peter
Lundgreen, ed., Sozial- und Kulturgeschichte des Bürgertums.
Eine Bilanz des Bielefelder Sonderforschungsbereichs (1986–
1997) (Göttingen, 2000). Comparing different types of Bürgertum
research, esp. in Bielefeld and Frankfurt/Main, cf. Thomas Mergel, “Die Bürgertumsforschung nach fünfzehn Jahren,” Archiv für
Sozialgeschichte 41 (2001), 515–538. Cf. Lothar Gall, Bürgertum
in Deutschland (Berlin, 1989) (a history of the Bassermann family); Dieter Hein/Andreas Schulz, eds., Bürgerkultur im 19. Jahr­
hundert. Bildung, Kunst und Lebenswelt (Munich, 1996); Andreas
Schulz, Lebenswelt und Kultur des Bürgertums im 19. und 20.
Jahrhundert (Munich, 2005); Gunilla Budde, Blütezeit des Bürger­
tums (Darmstadt, 2009). On the bourgeoisie or the middle classes
and civil society: Jürgen Kocka, “Das europäische Muster und der
deutsche Fall,” in idem and Ute Frevert, eds., Bürgertum im 19.
Jahrhundert. Deutschland im europäischen Vergleich (Munich,
1988), 11–76; Eng. trans. in Jürgen Kocka and Allan Mitchell, eds.,
Bourgeois Society in Nineteenth-Century Europe (Oxford/Providence, 1993), 3–39. The topics covered in this chapter qualify for
endless annotation. To keep the notes limited I shall refer often to
older publications of mine with extensive bibliographical notes. I
apologize for this type of self-referentiality.
4. Stressing social and legal historical concepts: Rainer Koch,
Grundlagen bürgerlicher Herrschaft. Verfassungs- und sozialge­
schichtliche Studien zur bürgerlichen Gesellschaft in Frankfurt/
Main (1612–1866) (Frankfurt/Main, 1983); two authors applying
Marxist concepts: Werner Küttler, “Stadt und Bürgertum im Feudalismus. Zu theoretischen Problemen der Stadtgeschichts­forschung
in der DDR,” Jahrbuch für Geschichte des Feudalismus 4 (1980),
75ff.; Hartmut Zwahr, Proletariat und Bourgeoisie in Deutschland.
Studien zur Klassendialektik (Cologne, 1980). With emphasis on
education, professionalization, and cultural history: R. S. Turner,
“The Bildungsbürgertum and the Learned Professions in Prussia,
1770–1830,” Histoire sociale—Social History 13 (1980), 105–135;
Rudolf Vierhaus, “Umrisse einer Sozialgeschichte der Gebildeten
in Deutschland,” Quellen und Forschungen aus italienischen Ar­
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Notes to Pages 11–15
chiven und Bibliotheken 60 (1980), 395–419; Claudia Huerkamp,
Der Aufstieg der Ärzte im 19. Jahrhundert. Vom gelehr­ten Stand
zum professionellen Experten: Das Beispiel Preußens (Göttingen,
1985). Review articles: Andreas Schulz, “Kultur und Lebenswelt
des Bürgertums im 18. und 19. Jahrhundert. Bilanz und Perspektiven,” Blätter für deutsche Landesgeschichte 139/140 (2003/4),
73–89; John Breuilly, “The Elusive Class: Some Critical Remarks
on the Historiography of the Bourgeoisie,” Archiv für Sozialge­
schichte 38 (1998), 385–395. A bibliography can be found in Jürgen Kocka, ed., Bürgertum im 19. Jahrhundert. Deutschland im
europäischen Vergleich. Eine Auswahl, vol. 1 (Göttingen, 1995),
5. For the following paragraphs cf. Jürgen Kocka, “The European Pattern and the German Case,” in Kocka and Mitchell, eds.,
Bourgeois Society, 3–39, esp. 4–8; idem, “The Middle Classes in
Europe,” in Hartmut Kaelble, ed., The European Way: European
Societies during the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (New
York/Oxford, 2004), 15–43, esp. 17–18. Important inputs came, in
the Weberian tradition, from the sociologist M. Rainer Lepsius.
See, e.g., his “Bürgertum als Gegenstand der Sozialgeschichte,”
in Wolfgang Schieder and Volker Sellin, eds., Sozialgeschichte in
Deutschland IV (Göttingen, 1987), 61–80. A decisive conference at
the Bielefeld Centre for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF) in 1985 is
documented in Jürgen Kocka, ed. Bürger und Bürgerlichkeit im 19.
Jahrhundert (Göttingen, 1987) (contributions by Rudolf Vierhaus,
M. Rainer Lepsius, Hermann Bausinger, Dieter Grimm, Thomas
Nipperdey, Dietrich Rüschemeyer, Eberhard Lämmert, David
Blackbourn, Paul Michael Lützeler, Martin Warnke, Wolf Jobst Siedler, Hans-Ulrich Wehler, Hans Mommsen).
6. Both concepts are treated as exchangeable, as one and the
same, in a book title: David Blackbourn and Richard J. Evans, eds.,
The German Bourgeoisie: Essays on the Social History of the Ger­
man Middle Class from the Late Eighteenth to the Early Twen­
tieth Century (London, 1991). The conceptual “morass” around
the phrase “middle class” is deplored in Pamela M. Pilbeam, The
Middle Classes in Europe, 1789–1914: France, Germany, Italy and
Russia (London, 1990), 1.
7. The next paragraphs are based on Jürgen Kocka, “Civil Society in Historical Perspective,” in John Keane, ed., Civil Society:
Kocka_Book.indb 119
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Notes to Pages 15–19
Berlin Perspectives (New York/Oxford, 2006), 37–50, esp. 37–41;
idem, “Civil Society in Nineteenth-Century Europe: Comparison
and Beyond,” in Manfred Hildermeier, ed., Historical Concepts
between Eastern and Western Europe (New York/Oxford, 2007),
85–100, esp. 85–90. Also see Jürgen Kocka, “Civil Society: Some
Remarks on the Career of a Concept,” in Eliezer Ben-Rafael and
Yitzhak Sternberg, eds., Comparing Modernities: Pluralismus ver­
sus Homogenity; Essays in Homage to Shmuel Eisenstadt (Leiden/
Boston, 2005), 141–147.
8. As an introduction: John Keane, Civil Society: Old Images,
New Visions (Cambridge, 1998), esp. 12–31.
9. Cf. Manfred Riedel, “Gesellschaft, bürgerliche,” in Otto
Brunner et al., eds., Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe, vol. 2 (Stuttgart,
1975), 719–800, esp. 732–767; Jürgen Kocka, “Zivilgesellschaft als
historisches Problem und Versprechen,” in Manfred Hildermeier
et al., eds., Europäische Zivilgesellschaft in Ost und West. Beg­
riff, Geschichte, Chancen (Frankfurt/Main, 2000), 14–20; Krzysztof Michalski, ed., Europa und die Civil Society. CastelgandolfoGespräche 1989 (Stuttgart, 1991); Frank Trentmann, ed., Paradoxes
of Civil Society: New Perspectives on Modern German and Brit­
ish History, rev. 2nd ed. (New York/Oxford, 2003); Agnes Arndt,
Intellektuelle in der Opposition. Diskurse zur Zivilgesellschaft
in der Volksrepublik Polen (Frankfurt/Main, 2007); Peter Krüger,
“Bürger, citoyen, bourgeois, neue Mitte—von der Bürgergesellschaft zur Zivilgesellschaft? Definitionen und Transformationen
eines politischen Begriffs nach 1945,” Zeitschrift für Religionsund Geistesgeschichte 59 (2007), 226–243; Peter Wagner, ed., The
Languages of Civil Society (Oxford/New York, 2006).
10. Similar definition in Hans-Joachim Lauth, “Strategische, reflexive und ambivalente Zivilgesellschaften,” in Heidrun Zinecker,
ed., Unvollendete Demokratisierung in Nichtmarktökonomien.
Die Blackbox zwischen Staat und Wirtschaft in den Transitions­
ländern des Südens und Ostens (Amsterdam, 1999), 95–120; Die­
ter Rucht, “Social Movements Challenging Neoliberal Globalization,” in Keane, ed., Civil Society. Berlin Perspectives, 189–212.
11. The quote is from Keane, Civil Society: Old Images, 6.
Sometimes the term civil society is closely related to terms such as
third sector or nonprofit sector. Cf. Helmut K. Anheier, “Der Dritte
Sektor im internationalen Vergleich,” Berliner Journal für Soziolo­
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Notes to Pages 19–22
gie 9 (1999), 197–212; Lester M. Salamon et al., eds., Global Civil
Society: Dimensions of the Nonprofit Sector (Baltimore, 1999). According to the definition proposed here, organizations, initiatives,
and networks of the third sector should be considered to be part
of civil society only if and to the extent that they correspond to
the aforementioned type of social action. Neither all third-sector
groups nor all self-organized associations belong to civil society in
the sense of this book. Violent, fanatical, or intolerant organizations, movements, and initiatives may belong to the third sector
but do not qualify as belonging to civil society. A different view in
Sheri Berman, “Civil Society and the Collapse of the Weimar Republic,” World Politics 49 (1997), 401–429.
12. Examples of using the concept in historical works: Hildermeier et al., eds., Europäische Zivilgesellschaft; Arnd Bauerkämper
and Manuel Borutta, eds., Die Praxis der Zivilgesellschaft. Ak­
teure, Handeln und Strukturen im internationalen Vergleich
(Frankfurt/Main, 2003); Dieter Gosewinkel et al., eds., Zivilgesell­
schaft—national und transnational. WZB-Jahrbuch 2003 (Berlin,
2004); Nancy Bermeo and Philip Nord, eds., Civil Society before
Democracy: Lessons from Nineteenth-Century Europe (Lanham,
Md., etc., 2000); Stefan Meißner, “Zivilgesellschaftsdiskurs und
Bürgertumsdebatte,” Vorgänge. Zeitschrift für Bürgerrechte und
Gesellschaftspolitik 44 (2005), 45–53; Karen Hagemann et al.,
eds., Civil Society and Gender Justice (Oxford/New York, 2008).
A broad historical approach in Jürgen Schmidt, Zivilgesellschaft.
Bürgerschaftliches Engagement von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart.
Texte und Kommentare (Reinbek, 2007); John A. Hall and Frank
Trentmann, eds., Civil Society: A Reader in History, Theory and
Global Politics (New York, 2005).
13. Shulamit Volkov, “The ‘Verbürgerlichung’ of the Jews
as a Paradigm,” in Kocka and Mitchell, eds., Bourgeois Society,
367–391; Moshe Zimmermann, “Eintritt in die Bürgerlichkeit.
Vom Selbstvergleich deutscher mit außereuropäischen Juden im
Vormärz,” in Kocka and Frevert, eds., Bürgertum im 19. Jahrhun­
dert, vol. 2, 372–391; Simone Lässig, Jüdische Wege ins Bürger­
tum. Kulturelles Kapital und sozialer Aufstieg im 19. Jahrhundert
(Göttingen, 2004); idem, “Emancipation and Embourgeoisement:
The Jews, the State and the Middle Classes in Saxony and AnhaltDessau,” in James Retallack, ed., Saxony in German History: Cul­
Kocka_Book.indb 121
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Notes to Page 22
ture, Society and Politics, 1830–1933 (Ann Arbor, Mich., 2000),
99–118; Uffa Jensen, Gebildete Doppelgänger. Bürgerliche Juden
und Protestanten im 19. Jahrhundert (Göttingen, 2005). As to the
exclusion of workers: Christiane Eisenberg, “Working Class and
Middle Class Associations: An Anglo-German Comparison, 1820–
1870,” in Kocka and Mitchell, eds., Bourgeois Society, 151–178;
Hartmut Zwahr, “Konstitution der Bourgeoisie im Verhältnis zur
Arbeiterklasse. Ein deutsch-polnischer Vergleich,” in Kocka and
Frevert, eds., Bürgertum im 19. Jahrhundert, vol. 2, 149–186; Jürgen Schmidt, Begrenzte Spielräume: Eine Beziehungsgeschichte
von Arbeiterschaft und Bürgertum am Beispiel Erfurts 1870–1914
(Göttingen, 2005). On the specific position of women in nineteenth-century civil society: Gunilla-Friederike Budde, “Bürgerinnen in der Bürgergesellschaft,” in Lundgreen, ed., Sozial- und
Kulturgeschichte des Bürgertums, 249–271. With emphasis on the
important contribution of women within the middle class in the
first half of the nineteenth century: Rebekka Habermas, Frauen
und Männer des Bürgertums. Eine Familiengeschichte 1750–1850
(Göttingen, 2000); idem, “Master and Subject, or Inequality as Felicitous Opportunity: Gender Relations of the Nineteenth-Century
Middle Class,” in Ulrike Gleixner, ed., Gender in Transition: Dis­
course and Practice in German-Speaking Europe, 1750–1830 (Ann
Arbor, Mich., 2006), 114–131.
14. Jürgen Kocka, “New Trends in Labour Movement Historiography,” International Review of Social History 42 (1997), 67–78;
Thomas Welskopp, Das Banner der Brüderlichkeit. Die deutsche
Sozialdemokratie vom Vormärz bis zum Sozialstengesetz (Bonn,
2000); Barrington Moore, Jr., Injustice: The Social Bases of Obedi­
ence and Revolt (London, 1978), 119–226; Ute Frevert, ed., Bürger­
innen und Bürger. Geschlechterverhältnisse im 19. Jahrhundert
(Göttingen, 1988); idem, “Mann und Weib, und Weib und Mann.”
Geschlechterdifferenzen in der Moderne (Munich, 1995); Simon
Morgan, “‘A Sort of Land Debatable’: Female Influence, Civic
Virtue and Middle-Class Identity, c. 1830–c.1860,” Women’s His­
tory Review 13 (2004), 183–211; Angela Schaser, “Women in a Nation of Men: The Politics of the League of German Women’s Associations (BDF) in Imperial Germany, 1894–1914,” in Ida Blom
et al., eds., Gendered Nations: Nationalism and Gender Order
in the Long Nineteenth Century (Oxford/New York, 2000), 249–
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Notes to Pages 22–28
268; idem, Frauenbewegung in Deutschland 1848–1933 (Darmstadt, 2006).
15. For a good survey cf. Hans-Ulrich Wehler, Deutsche Gesell­
schaftsgeschichte, vol. 3 (Munich, 1995), 712–772.
16. This amounts to a partial revision of the Sonderweg thesis, which has emphasized the weakness of the German Bürgertum
relative to those of other Western countries. This historiographical thesis, its lively debate and partial revision, are summarized
in Jürgen Kocka, “Asymmetrical Historical Comparison: The Case
of the German Sonderweg,” History and Theory 38 (1999), 25–39;
idem, “Bürgertum und Sonderweg,” in Lundgreen, ed., Sozial- und
Kulturgeschichte des Bürgertums, 93–110.
17. Cf. Dieter Langewiesche, “Liberalism and the Middle
Classes in Europe,” in Kocka and Mitchell, eds., Bourgeois Soci­
ety, 40–69; Langewiesche, Liberalismus und Sozialismus. Gesell­
schaftsbilder—Zukunftsvisionen—Bildungskonzeptionen (Bonn,
2003), 60–62 (puts the German case in a comparative perspective).
18. Cf. Jürgen Kocka, “The Difficult Rise of a Civil Society: Societal History of Modern Germany,” in Mary Fulbrook and John
Breuilly, eds., German History since 1800 (London, etc., 1997), 493–
511, esp. 500–501; David Blackbourn and Geoff Eley, The Peculiari­
ties of German History: Bourgeois Society in Nineteenth-Century
Germany (Oxford, 1984); Thomas Nipperdey, “Probleme der Modernisierung in Deutschland,” Saeculum 30 (1979), 292–303; Weh­
ler, Deutsche Gesellschaftsgeschichte, vol. 3, 1250–1295; Volker
Ullrich, Die nervöse Großmacht 1871–1918. Aufstieg und Fall des
deutschen Kaiserreichs (Frankfurt/Main, 1996); Ewald Frie, Das
deutsche Kaiserreich (Darmstadt, 2004); Sven Oliver Müller and
Cornelius Torp, eds., Das deutsche Kaiserreich in der Kontroverse
(Göttingen, 2008).
19. Michael Schäfer, Bürgertum in der Krise. Städtische Mit­
telklassen in Edinburgh und Leipzig 1890 bis 1930 (Göttingen,
2003); Dietmar Molthagen, Das Ende der Bürgerlichkeit? Liver­
pooler und Hamburger Bürgerfamilien im Ersten Weltkrieg (Göttingen, 2007). Christian Jansen, “Antiliberalismus und Antiparlamentarismus in der bürgerlich-demokratischen Elite der Weimarer
Republik. Willy Hellpachs Publizistik der Jahre 1925–1933,”
Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft 49 (2001), 769–773; Berman, “Civil Society.”
Kocka_Book.indb 123
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Notes to Pages 29–30
20. See chapter III below with respect to the social impact of the
two German dictatorships of the twentieth century.
21. See chapter IV below.
22. Cf. Konrad Jarausch, After Hitler: Recivilizing Germans,
1945–1995 (Oxford, 2006). Jarausch uses the concept civil society
in order to write an entangled history of West and East Germany.
Also see Hans-Ulrich Wehler, Deutsche Gesellschaftsgeschichte,
vol. 5 (Munich, 2008); and Eckart Conze, Die Suche nach Sich­
erheit: Eine Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland von der
Gegenwart bis zu den Anfängen (Berlin, 2009).
23. It is a matter of controversy to what extent and in what
sense one can identify a Bürgertum as defined above in the present
German society (or in any other modern Western society today).
I am skeptical. Cf. Jürgen Kocka, Unternehmer in Deutschland
seit 1945 (Bochum, 2002). The renaissance of a Bürgertum in the
Federal Republic of Germany is stressed in Hans-Ulrich Wehler,
“Deutsches Bürgertum nach 1945. Exitus oder Phönix aus der
Asche?” Geschichte und Gesellschaft 27 (2001), 617–634; Hannes
Siegrist, “From Divergence to Convergence: The Divided German
Middle Class, 1945 to 2000,” in Olivier Zunz et al., eds., Social
Contracts under Stress: The Middle Classes of America, Europe
and Japan at the Turn of the Century (New York, 2002), 21–46;
Klaus Tenfelde, “Stadt und Bürgertum im 20. Jahrhundert,” in idem
and Hans-Ulrich Wehler, eds., Wege zur Geschichte des Bürger­
tums (Göttingen, 1994), 317–353. Also see Bernd Ulrich, “The Senator’s Tale: The Development of Bremen’s Bourgeoisie in the Post1945 Era,” Social History 28 (2003), 303–321; Thomas Großbölting,
“Exklusives Bürgertum? Inkludierende Bürgerlichkeit? Bürgerliche
Handlungsfelder in ost- und westdeutschen Städten der Nachkriegszeit,” Blätter für deutschen Landesgeschichte 139/140 (2003),
129–145; Manfred Hettling/Bernd Ulrich, eds., Bürgertum nach
1945 (Hamburg, 2005), esp. 7–37 (“Bürgerlichkeit im Nachkriegsdeutschland” by Manfred Hettling); Friedrich Lenger, “Bürgertum
im 20. Jahrhundert,” Neue Politische Literatur 50 (2005), 389–390;
Eckart Conze, “Eine bürgerliche Republik? Bürgertum und Bürgerlichkeit in der westdeutschen Nachkriegsgesellschaft,” Geschichte
und Gesellschaft 30 (2004), 527–543; Jens Hacke, “Bekenntnis zur
Bürgerlichkeit. Selbstbehauptungsmotive in der politischen Philosophie der Bundesrepublik,” Vorgänge. Zeitschrift für Bürger­
Kocka_Book.indb 124
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Notes to Pages 30 –36
rechte und Gesellschaftspolitik 44 (2005), 33–45; idem, Philoso­
phie der Bürgerlichkeit. Die liberalkonservative Begründung der
Bundesrepublik (Göttingen, 2006); Cornelia Rauh, “Bürgerliche
Kontinuitäten? Ein Vergleich deutsch-deutscher Selbstbilder und
Realitäten seit 1945,” Historische Zeitschrift 287 (2008), 341–362;
Paul Kaiser, “Bürgerlichkeit ohne Bürgertum?” Aus Politik und
Zeitgeschichte 9/10 (2008), 26–32. The traditional affinity between
civil society and what is left of the bourgeoisie has not fully disappeared. Among those who volunteer and do unpaid work in civil
society (associations, social networks, initiatives, NGOs, etc.) educated persons with middle-class background continue to be overrepresented. Cf. Thomas Gensicke et al., Freiwilliges Engagement
in Deutschland 1999–2004 (Wiesbaden, 2006).
III. Comparing Dictatorships
1. J. G. Droysen, Vorlesungen über Enzyklopädie und Metholo­
gie der Geschichte, ed. Rudolf Hübner, 4th ed. (Darmstadt, 1960),
2. On research and problems of interpretation: Mary Fulbrook, The People’s State: East German Society from Hitler to Ho­
necker (New Haven/London, 2005); Helga Schultz and Hans-Jürgen
Wagener, eds., Die DDR im Rückblick. Politik, Wirtschaft, Gesell­
schaft, Kultur (Berlin, 2007), 9–25, 323–326; Arnd Bauerkämper,
Die Sozialgeschichte der DDR (Munich, 2005); Rainer Eppelmann
et al., eds., Bilanz und Perspektiven der DDR-Forschung (Paderborn, 2003); Corey Ross, The East German Dictatorship: Problems
and Perspectives in the Interpretation of the GDR (Oxford, 2002);
Beate Ihme-Tuchel, Die DDR (Darmstadt, 2002); Mary Fulbrook,
The Two Germanies, 1945–1990: Problems of Interpretation (London, 1992); also see the titles in chap. IV, nn. 21, 22, and 23 below.
3. Rainer Eckert et al., eds., Wer schreibt die DDR-Geschichte?
Ein Historikerstreit um Stellen, Strukturen, Finanzen und Deu­
tungskompetenz (Berlin, 1995). During the 1990s political debate and scientific research about the history of the GDR were
sometimes closely intermingled, for instance in the EnqueteCommission of the Bundestag. Deutscher Bundestag, ed., Mate­
rialien der Enquete-Kommission “Aufarbeitung von Geschichte
Kocka_Book.indb 125
3/17/10 10:37:35 AM
Notes to Pages 36–38
und Folgen der SED-Diktatur in Deutschland,” 9 vols. (BadenBaden, 1995, 1999).
4. Eric J. Hobsbawm, Age of Extremes: The Short Twentieth
Century, 1914–1991 (London,1994).
5. See for instance: Wolfgang J. Mommsen, “Die DDR in der
deutschen Geschichte,” Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte B 29/30
(1993), 20–29; Gerhard A. Ritter, “Die DDR in der deutschen Geschichte,” Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte 50 (2002), 171–200;
Martin Sabrow et al., eds., Wohin treibt die DDR-Erinnerung? Do­
kumentation einer Debatte (Göttingen, 2007); idem, “Die DDR
in der Geschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts,” Deutschland Archiv 41
(2008), 121–130.
6. Klaus Schroeder (with Steffen Alisch), Der SED-Staat. Partei,
Staat und Gesellschaft 1949–1990 (Munich, 1998); idem, “Die
DDR: eine spät-totalitäre Gesellschaft,” in: Manfred Wilke, ed.,
Anatomie der Parteizentrale. Die KPD/SED auf dem Weg zur
Macht (Berlin, 1998), 525–562; Eckhard Jesse, “War die DDR totalitär?” Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte B 40 (1994), 12–23. From
a different point of view but also using the concept of totalitarianism: Sigrid Meuschel, Legitimation und Parteiherrschaft. Zum Par­
adox von Stabilität und Revolution in der DDR 1945–1989 (Frankfurt, 1992). For a critique see Ralph Jessen, “DDR-Geschichte und
Totalitarismustheorie,” Berliner Debatte INITIAL no. 4/5 (1995),
7. Jürgen Kocka, “Eine durchherrschte Gesellschaft,” in Hartmut Kaelble et al., eds., Sozialgeschichte der DDR (Stuttgart, 1994),
547–553; idem, “The GDR: A Special Kind of Modern Dictatorship,” in Konrad H. Jarausch, ed., Dictatorship as Experience: To­
wards a Socio-cultural History of the GDR (New York, 1999), 17–
26; Hermann Weber, Die DDR 1945–1990, 4th ed. (Munich, 2006).
8. Hubertus Knabe, Die Täter sind unter uns. Über das Schönre­
den der SED-Diktatur (Berlin, 2007); Stiftung zur Aufarbeitung
der SED-Diktatur/Forschungsinstitut Medientenor, Vom gemein­
samen Anliegen zur Randnotiz. DDR, Wiedervereinigung und der
Prozess der deutschen Einheit im Spiegel der Medien. MedienInhaltsanalyse 1994–2004 (Berlin, 2005); Wolfgang Schluchter and
Peter E. Quint, eds., Der Vereinigungsschock. Vergleichende Be­
trachtungen zehn Jahre danach (Weilerswist, 2001); Jan-Werner
Müller, Another Country: German Intellectuals, Unification and
Kocka_Book.indb 126
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Notes to Pages 38–40
National Identity (New Haven, 2000); Hendrik Berth and Elmar
Brähler, eds., Zehn Jahre Deutsche Einheit. Die Bibliographie (Berlin, 2000); Martin Diewald et al., eds., After the Fall of the Wall:
Life Courses and the Transformation of East Germany (Stanford,
2006); Katja Neller, DDR-Nostalgie: Dimensionen der Orien­
tierungen der Ostdeutschen gegenüber der ehemaligen DDR, ihre
Ursachen und politischen Konnotationen (Wiesbaden, 2006). Also
see chap. IV below.
9. Thomas Sandkühler, “Zeitgeschichte in Deutschland am
Ende des 20. Jahrhunderts,” in Christoph Cornelißen, ed., Ge­
schichtswissenschaft. Eine Einführung (Frankfurt, 2000), 114–
129; Jeffrey Herf, “Not so Boring after All—Recent Trends in
Political History of Twentieth Century Germany,” Tel Aviver
Jahrbuch für Deutsche Geschichte 28 (1999), 13–31; Chris
toph Kleßmann, Zeitgeschichte in Deutschland nach dem
Ende des Ost-West-Konflikts (Essen, 1998); Hans Günter Hockerts, “Zeitgeschichte in Deutschland. Begriff, Methoden,
Themenfelder,” Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte B 29–30 (1993),
10. Jürgen Kocka and Heinz-Gerhard Haupt, “Comparison and
Beyond: Traditions, Scope and Perspective of Comparative History,” in idem, eds., Comparative and Transnational History:
Central European Perspectives and New Approaches (New York/
Oxford, 2010); Heinz-Gerhard Haupt, “Comparative History,”
in International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sci­
ences, vol. 4 (London, 2001), 2397–2403; Benjamin Z. Kedar, ed.,
Explorations in Comparative History (Jerusalem, 2009); Deborah Cohen and Maureen O’Connor, eds., Comparison and His
tory: Europe in Cross-national Perspective (New York/London,
11. Cf. Jürgen Kocka, “Comparison and Beyond,” History and
Theory 42 (2003), 61–81.
12. Christiane Brenner and Peter Heumos, eds., Sozialgeschicht­
liche Kommunismusforschung. Tschechoslowakei, Polen, Ungarn,
DDR 1945–1968 (Munich, 2005).
13. Cf. nn. 6 and 7 above; Mary Fulbrook, Anatomy of a Dic­
tatorship: Inside the GDR, 1949–1989 (Oxford, 1995); Lothar
Mertens, ed., Unter dem Deckel der Diktatur. Soziale und kul­
turelle Aspekte des DDR-Alltags (Berlin, 2003).
Kocka_Book.indb 127
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Notes to Pages 40 –42
14. For a good overview: Ralph Jessen, “Partei, Staat und
‘Bündnispartner’: Die Herrschaftsmechanismen der SED-Diktatur,” in Matthias Judt, ed., DDR-Geschichte in Dokumenten. Be­
schlüsse, Berichte, interne Materialien und Alltagszeugnisse (Berlin, 1997), 27–86.
15. Arnd Bauerkämper, Ländliche Gesellschaft in der kom­
munistischen Diktatur. Zwangsmodernisierung und Tradition
in Brandenburg von 1945 bis zu den frühen sechziger Jahren
(Cologne, 2002); Dierk Hoffmann, Aufbau und Krise der Plan­
wirtschaft. Die Arbeitskräftelenkung in der SBZ/DDR 1945–1963
(Munich, 2002); Raymond Stokes, Constructing Socialism: Tech­
nology and Change in East Germany, 1945–1990 (Baltimore, 2000);
Hans-Ulrich Thamer, ed., Die Errichtung der Diktatur. Transfor­
mationsgesellschaft und Stalinisierung in der Sowjetischen Besat­
zungszone (Paderborn, 2000); Gareth Pritchard, The Making of the
GDR, 1945–53: From Antifascism to Stalinism (Manchester, 2000);
Hermann Wentker, ed., Volksrichter in der SBZ/DDR 1945–1952.
Eine Dokumentation (Munich, 1997); David Pike, The Politics of
Culture in Soviet-Occupied Germany, 1945–1949 (Stanford, 1992);
Thomas Großbölting and Hans-Ulrich Thamer, eds., Die Errich­
tung der Diktatur. Transformationsprozesse in der Sowjetischen
Besatzungszone und in der frühen DDR (Münster, 2003).
16. Cf. Thomas Lindenberger, ed., Herrschaft und Eigen-Sinn in
der Diktatur. Studien zur Gesellschaftsgeschichte der DDR (Cologne, 1999).
17. As an introduction see David Childs and Richard Popplewell, The Stasi: The East German Intelligence and Security
Service (New York, 1996). The octopus metaphor: Mary Fulbrook,
“Methodologische Überlegungen zu einer Gesellschaftsgeschichte
der DDR,” in Richard Bessel and Ralph Jessen, eds., Die Grenzen
der Diktatur. Staat und Gesellschaft in der DDR (Göttingen, 1996),
274–297, 291; Jens Gieseke, ed., Staatssicherheit und Gesellschaft.
Studien zum Herrschaftsalltag in der DDR (Göttingen, 2007).
18. Jan Pakulski, “Bureaucracy and the Soviet System,” Stud­
ies in Comparative Communism 1 (1986), 3–24; Thomas H. Rigby,
“Introduction: Political Legitimacy, Weber and Communist Monoorganizational Systems,” in: idem and Ferenc Fehér, eds., Politi­
cal Legitimation in Communist States (London, 1982), 1ff.
19. Babett Bauer, Kontrolle und Repression. Individuelle Er­
Kocka_Book.indb 128
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Notes to Pages 42–43
fahrungen in der DDR (1971–1989). Historische Studie und meth­
odologischer Beitrag zur Oral History (Göttingen, 2006).
20. Simone Barck et al., eds., “The Fettered Media: Controlling
Public Debate,” in Jarausch, ed., Dictatorship as Experience, 213–
239; Sylvia Klötzer and Siegfried Lokatis, “Criticism and Censorship: Negotiating Cabaret Performance and Book Production,” in
ibid., 241–263; Simone Barck et al., “Jedes Buch ein Abenteuer.”
Zensur-System und literarische Öffentlichkeit in der DDR bis
Ende der sechziger Jahre (Berlin, 1997); Siegfried Lokatis, Der rote
Faden. Kommunistische Parteigeschichte und Zensur unter Wal­
ter Ulbricht (Cologne, 2003).
21. Thomas Lindenberger, Herrschaftspraxis und öffentliche
Ordnung im SED-Staat, 1952–1968 (Cologne, 2003); idem, “Creating State Socialist Governance: The Case of the Deutsche Volkspolizei,” in Jarausch, ed., Dictatorship as Experience, 125–141;
idem, “La police populaire de la RDA de 1952 à 1958. Une microétude sur la governementalité de l’État socialiste,” Annales HSS
53 (1998), 119–152; idem, ed., Herrschaft und Eigen-Sinn in der
22. Jürgen Kocka, ed., Die Berliner Akademien der Wissen­
schaften im geteilten Deutschland 1945–1990 (Berlin, 2002), esp.
401–411; idem, “Wissenschaft und Politik in der DDR,” in idem
and Renate Mayntz, eds., Wissenschaft und Wiedervereinigung.
Disziplinen im Umbruch (Berlin, 1998), 435–460.
23. For the modes of rude repression during the 1940s and 1950s
see for instance: Dierk Hoffmann et al., eds., Vor dem Mauerbau. Poli­
tik und Gesellschaft in der DDR der fünfziger Jahre (Munich, 2003);
Thomas Klein, “Für die Einheit und Reinheit der Partei.” Die inner­
parteilichen Kontrollorgane der SED in der Ära Ulbricht (Cologne,
2002); Thomas Horstmann, Logik der Willkür. Die Zentrale Kom­
mission für staatliche Kontrolle in der SBZ/DDR 1948–1958 (Cologne, 2001); Hermann Wentker, Justiz in der SBZ/DDR 1945–1953.
Transformation und Rolle ihrer zentralen Institutionen (Munich,
2001); Hermann Weber and Ulrich Mähler, eds., Terror. Stalinistische
Parteisäuberungen 1936–1953 (Paderborn, 1998); Hartmut Mehringer,
ed., Von der SBZ zur DDR. Studien zum Herrschaftssystem in der
Sowjetischen Besatzungszone und in der Deutschen Demokratischen
Republik (Munich, 1995); Gary Bruce, Resistance with the People:
Resistance in Eastern Germany, 1945–1955 (Lanham, Md., 2003).
Kocka_Book.indb 129
3/17/10 10:37:36 AM
Notes to Page 44
24. Reinhard Buthmann, “Abwanderung und Flucht von Eliten
aus der SBZ/DDR am Beispiel der wissenschaftlichen Intelligenz,”
in Günther Schulz, ed., Vertriebene Eliten. Vertreibung und Verfol­
gung von Führungsschichten im 20. Jahrhundert (Munich, 2001),
229–265; Volker Ackermann, Der “echte” Flüchtling. Deutsche
Vertriebene und Flüchtlinge aus der DDR (Essen, 1994); Helge
Heidemeyer, Flucht und Zuwanderung aus der SBZ/DDR 1945/46–
1961. Die Flüchtlingspolitik der Bundesrepublik Deutschland bis
zum Bau der Berliner Mauer (Düsseldorf, 1994); Hartmut Wendt,
“Die deutsch-deutschen Wanderungen—Bilanz einer 40jährigen
Geschichte von Flucht und Ausreise,” Deutschland Archiv 24
(1991), 386–395.
25. Albert O. Hirschman, “Exit, Voice, and the Fate of the German Democratic Republic: An Essay in Conceptual History,”
World Politics: A Quarterly Journal of International Relations 45
(1993), 173–202. Obviously the dialectical relation between “exit”
and “voice” was a different one at the end of the GDR, when mass
exodus was accompanied by mass demonstrations. Cf. Steven Pfaff,
Exit-Voice Dynamics and the Collapse of East Germany: The Cri­
sis of Leninism and the Revolution of 1989 (Durham, 2006).
26. Petra Gruner, Die Neulehrer—ein Schlüsselsymbol der
DDR-Gesellschaft. Biographische Konstruktionen von Leh­
rern zwischen Erfahrungen und gesellschaftlichen Erwartungen
(Weinheim, 2000); Michael C. Schneider, “Grenzen des Elitentausches: Zur Organisation- und Sozialgeschichte der Vorstudienanstalten und frühen Arbeiter- und Bauernfakultäten in der SBZ/
DDR,” Jahrbuch für Universitätsgeschichte 1 (1998), 134–176; Michael C. Schneider, “Chancengleichheit oder Kaderauslese? Zu Intentionen, Traditionen und Wandel der Vorstudienanstalten und
Arbeiter-und-Bauern-Fakultäten in der SBZ/DDR zwischen 1945
und 1952,” Zeitschrift für Pädagogik 41 (1995), 959–983; Hermann
Wentker, ed., Volksrichter in der SBZ/DDR 1945–1952. Eine Do­
kumentation (Munich, 1997); Gunilla-Friederike Budde, Frauen
der Intelligenz. Akademikerinnen in der DDR, 1945–1975 (Göttingen, 2003); idem, “Paradefrauen. Akademikerinnen in Ost- und
Westdeutschland,” in idem, ed., Frauen arbeiten. Weibliche Er­
werbsarbeit in Ost- und Westdeutschland nach 1945 (Göttingen,
1997), 183–211. A good summary: Bauerkämper, Sozialgeschichte,
Kocka_Book.indb 130
3/17/10 10:37:36 AM
Notes to Pages 45–46
27. Cf. Michael David-Fox, Revolution of the Mind: Higher
Learning among the Bolsheviks, 1918–1929 (Ithaca, N.Y., 1997);
idem, “Political Culture, Purges, and Proletarianization at the Institute of Red Professors, 1921–1929,” Russian Review 52 (1993),
20–42; Dietrich Beyrau, ed., Im Dschungel der Macht. Intellektu­
elle Professionen unter Stalin und Hitler (Göttingen, 2000).
28. Heike Solga, “Klassenlage und soziale Ungleichheit in der
DDR,” Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte B 46 (1996), 18–27; Moni­ka
Kaiser, 1972—Knockout für den Mittelstand. Zum Wirken von
SED, CDU, LDPD und NDPD für die Verstaatlichung der Kleinund Mittelbetriebe (Berlin, 1990).
29. Arnd Bauerkämper, Ländliche Gesellschaft in der kom­
munistischen Diktatur. Zwangsmodernisierung und Tradition in
Brandenburg 1945–1963 (Cologne, 2002); Damian van Melis, ed.,
Sozialismus auf dem platten Land. Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
von 1945 bis 1952 (Schwerin, 1999); Ulrich Kluge et al., eds., Zwis­
chen Bodenreform und Kollektivierung. Vor- und Frühgeschichte
der “sozialistischen Landwirtschaft” in der SBZ/DDR vom Kriegs­
ende bis in die fünfziger Jahre (Berlin, 2001); Jens Schöne, Früh­
ling auf dem Lande? Die Kollektivierung der DDR-Landwirtschaft
(Berlin, 2005).
30. Gerhard Besier, Der SED-Staat und die Kirche, 3 vols. (Munich, 1993; Frankfurt/Main, 1995); Horst Dähn and Joachim Heise,
eds., Staat und Kirchen in der DDR. Zum Stand der zeithisto­
rischen und sozialwissenschaftlichen Forschung (Frankfurt/Main,
2003); Christoph Kleßmann, “Zur Sozialgeschichte des protestantischen Milieus in der DDR,” Geschichte und Gesellschaft 19
(1993), 29–53; Detlef Pollack, Kirche in der Organisationsgesell­
schaft. Zum Wandel der gesellschaftlichen Lage der Evangelischen
Kirchen in der DDR (Stuttgart, 1994); Ehrhart Neubert, Geschichte
der Opposition in der DDR 1949–1989 (Bonn, 1997).
31. The “proletarization” of the students reached its peak in
1958. Rainer Geißler, Die Sozialstruktur Deutschlands. Ein Studi­
enbuch zur sozialstrukturellen Entwicklung im geteilten und ver­
einten Deutschland (Opladen, 1992), 227.
32. Ralph Jessen, “Professoren im Sozialismus. Aspekte des
Strukturwandels der Hochschullehrerschaft in der UlbrichtÄra,” in Kaelble et al., eds., Sozialgeschichte der DDR, 217–253;
idem, Akademische Elite und kommunistische Diktatur. Die ost­
Kocka_Book.indb 131
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Notes to Pages 46–49
deutsche Hochschullehrerschaft in der Ulbricht-Ära (Göttingen,
33. Arnd Bauerkämper et al., eds., Gesellschaft ohne Eliten?
Führungsgruppen in der DDR (Berlin, 1997); Peter Hübner and
Christa Hübner, Sozialismus als soziale Frage. Sozialpolitik in der
DDR und Polen 1968–1976 (Cologne, 2008).
34. Cf. Lutz Niethammer et al., Die volkseigene Erfahrung.
Eine Archäologie des Lebens in der Industrieprovinz der DDR. 30
biographische Eröffnungen (Berlin, 1991).
35. Wolfgang Engler, Die Ostdeutschen. Kunde von einem ver­
lorenen Land (Berlin, 2000); idem, Die zivilisatorische Lücke. Ver­
suche über den Staatssozialismus (Frankfurt, 1992); Stefan Wolle,
Die heile Welt der Diktatur. Alltag und Herrschaft in der DDR
1971–1989 (Berlin, 1998).
36. Konrad H. Jarausch, “Care and Coercion: The GDR as Welfare Dictatorship,” in idem, ed., Dictatorship as Experience, 47–
69; Rolf Henrich, Der vormundschaftliche Staat. Vom Versagen
des real existierenden Sozialismus (Reinbek b. Hamburg, 1989);
Hans Günter Hockerts, ed., Drei Wege deutscher Sozialstaatlich­
keit. NS-Diktatur, Bundesrepublik und DDR im Vergleich (Munich, 1998); Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Sozialordnung and
Bundesarchiv, eds., Geschichte der Sozialpolitik in Deutschland
seit 1945, vol. 2/1: Die Zeit der Besatzungszonen 1945–1949.
Sozialpolitik zwischen Kriegsende und der Gründung zweier
Deutscher Staaten, vol. 2/2: Die Zeit der Besatzungszonen 1945–
1949. Sozialpolitik zwischen Kriegsende und der Gründung zweier
Deutscher Staaten (Baden-Baden, 2001).
37. Charles Maier, Dissolution: The Crisis of Communism and
the End of the GDR (Princeton, 1997).
38. Jürgen Kocka, “Eine durchherrschte Gesellschaft,” in Kaelble et al., eds., Sozialgeschichte der DDR, 547–553; Corey Ross,
Constructing Socialism at the Grass-Roots (London/New York,
2000); Richard Bessel and Ralph Jessen, eds., Die Grenzen der Dik­
tatur. Staat und Gesellschaft in der DDR (Göttingen, 1996); Dierck
Hoffmann and Michael Schwarz, eds., Sozialstaatlichkeit in der
DDR. Sozialpolitische Entwicklungen im Spannungsfeld von Dik­
tatur und Gesellschaft 1945/49–1989 (Munich, 2005).
39. Christoph Kleßmann, “Zur Sozialgeschichte des protestantischen Milieus in der DDR,” Geschichte und Gesellschaft 19
Kocka_Book.indb 132
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Notes to Pages 49–50
(1993) 29–53; idem, “Relikte des Bildungsbürgertums in der DDR,”
in Kaelble et al., eds., Sozialgeschichte der DDR, 254–270; idem,
eds., Kinder der Opposition. Berichte aus Pfarrhäusern in der DDR
(Gütersloh, 1993); Michael Haspel, “DDR-Protestantismus und
politischer Protest. Politische Diakonie der evangelischen Kirchen
in der DDR in den 70er und 80er Jahren,” in Detlef Pollack and
Dieter Rink, eds., Zwischen Verweigerung und Opposition. Poli­
tischer Protest in der DDR 1970–1989 (Frankfurt, 1997), 78–105;
Detlef Pollack, “Von der Mehrheits- zur Minderheitskirche,” in
Schulz and Wagener, eds., Die DDR im Rückblick, 49–78; Thomas
Großbölting, SED-Diktatur und Gesellschaft. Bürgertum, Bürg­
erlichkeit und Entbürgerlichung in Magdeburg und Halle (Halle,
2001); Hedwig Richter, Fromme Lebenswelt und globaler Horizont
in der SED-Diktatur. Die Herrnhuter Brüdergemeine in der SBZ
und DDR 1945–1990 (Göttingen, 2009).
40. Jessen, Akademische Elite, 295–315; Anna-Sabine Ernst,
“Die beste Prophylaxe ist der Sozialismus.” Ärzte und medizinis­
che Hochschullehrer in der SBZ/DDR 1945–1961 (Münster, 1997);
Dieter Hoffmann and Kristie Macrakis, eds., Naturwissenschaft
und Technik in der DDR (Berlin, 1997); Agnes Charlotte Tandler,
Geplante Zukunft. Wissenschaftler und Wissenschaftspolitik
in der DDR 1955–1971 (Freiberg, 2000); Jens Niederhut, Wissen­
schaftsaustausch im Kalten Krieg: die ostdeutschen Naturwissen­
schaftler und der Westen (Cologne, 2007).
41. Jeffrey Kopstein, The Politics of Economic Decline in East
Germany, 1945–1989 (Chapel Hill, 1997); Theo Pirker et al., Der
Plan als Befehl und Fiktion. Wirtschaftsführung in der DDR.
Gespräche und Analysen (Opladen, 1995); André Steiner, Von Plan
zu Plan. Eine Wirtschaftsgeschichte der DDR (Munich, 2004).
42. Uta G. Poiger, Jazz, Rock, and Rebels: Cold War Politics and
American Culture in a Divided Germany (Berkeley, 2000); Dorothee Wierling, “Die Jugend als innerer Feind. Konflikte in der Erziehungsdiktatur der sechziger Jahre,” in Kaelble et al., eds., Sozi­
algeschichte der DDR, 404–425; idem, “Der Staat, die Jugend und
der Westen. Texte zu Konflikten der 1960er Jahre,” in: Alf Lüdtke
and Peter Becker, eds., Akten. Eingaben. Schaufenster. Die DDR
und ihre Texte. Erkundungen zu Herrschaft und Alltag (Berlin,
1997), 223–240; idem, “Generations and Generational Conflicts
in East and West Germany,” in Christoph Kleßmann, ed., The Di­
Kocka_Book.indb 133
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Notes to Pages 50 –52
vided Past: Rewriting Postwar German History (Oxford, 2001), 69–
89; Ulrich Mählert, Die Freie Deutsche Jugend 1945–1949 (Paderborn, 1995); Michael Rauhut, Rock in der DDR (Bonn, 2002); Marc
D. Ohse, Jugend nach dem Mauerbau. Anpassung, Protest und Ei­
gensinn (1961–1974) (Berlin, 2003); Philipp Heldmann, Herrschaft,
Wirtschaft, Anoraks. Konsumpolitik in der DDR der Sechziger­
jahre (Göttingen, 2004); Rebecca Menzel, Jeans in der DDR: Vom
tieferen Sinn einer Freizeithose (Berlin, 2004).
43. Peter Bender, Die “Neue Ostpolitik” und ihre Folgen. Vom
Mauerbau bis zur Vereinigung (Munich, 1996); Wolfgang Schmidt,
Kalter Krieg, Koexistenz und kleine Schritte. Willy Brandt und die
Deutschlandpolitik 1948–1963 (Wiesbaden, 2001); Michael Meyen,
Denver Clan und Neues Deutschland. Mediennutzung in der DDR
(Berlin, 2003); idem, Einschalten, Umschalten, Ausschalten? Das
Fernsehen im DDR-Alltag (Leipzig, 2003).
44. Jutta Gysi/Dagmar Meyer, “Leitbild: berufstätige Mutter—
DDR-Frauen in Familie, Partnerschaft und Ehe,” in Gisela Helwig
and Hildegard Maria Nickel, eds., Frauen in Deutschland 1945–
1992 (Berlin, 1993), 139–165; Heike Trappe, Emanzipation oder
Zwang? Frauen in der DDR zwischen Beruf, Familie und Sozial­
politik (Berlin, 1995); Bärbel Bohley, Mut. Frauen in der DDR (Munich, 2005); Donna Harsch, Revenge of the Domestic: Women, the
Family, and Communism in the German Democratic Republic
(Princeton, 2006).
45. See particularly Christoph Kleßmann, Arbeiter im “Ar­
beiterstaat” DDR. Deutsche Traditionen, sowjetisches Modell,
westdeutsches Magnetfeld (1945 bis 1971) (Bonn, 2007); Renate
Hürtgen and Thomas Reichel, eds., Der Schein der Stabilität. DDRBetriebsalltag in der Ära Honecker (Berlin, 2001); Andrew Port,
“The ‘Grumble Gesellschaft’: Industrial Defiance and Worker Protest in Early East Germany,” in Peter Hübner and Klaus Tenfelde,
eds., Arbeiter in der DDR (Bonn, 1999), 787–810; Thomas Reichel,
“‘Jugoslawische Verhältnisse’?—Die ‘Brigaden der sozialistischen
Arbeit’ und die ‘Syndikalismus’-Affäre (1959–1962),” in Lindenberger, ed., Herrschaft und Eigen-Sinn in der Diktatur, 45–73.
Peter Hübner, Konsens, Konflikt und Kompromiß. Soziale Arbe­
iterinteressen und Sozialpolitik in der SBZ/DDR 1945–1970 (Berlin, 1995); Jörg Roesler, “Der Brigadier, der Meister und der Plan.
Zur informellen Interessenvertretung der Arbeiter in der Indust-
Kocka_Book.indb 134
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Notes to Pages 52–54
rie der DDR 1950 bis 1958,” in Karl Lauschke and Thomas Welskopp, eds., Mikropolitik im Unternehmen. Arbeitsbeziehungen
und Machtstrukturen in industriellen Großbetrieben des 20. Jahr­
hunderts (Essen, 1994); Helga Schultz, “Das sozialistische Projekt
und die Arbeiter. Die DDR und die Volksrepublik Polen im Vergleich,” in Schulz and Wagener, eds., Die DDR im Rückblick, 224–
243; Peter Hübner et al., eds., Arbeiter im Staatssozialismus. Ide­
ologischer Anspruch und soziale Wirklichkeit (Cologne, 2005).
46. János Kornai, The Socialist System: The Political Economy
of Communism (Oxford, 1992); Ina Merkel, Utopie und Bedürfnis.
Die Geschichte der Konsumkultur in der DDR (Cologne, 1999);
Hans-Hermann Hertle and Stefan Wolle, Damals in der DDR. Der
Alltag im Arbeiter- und Bauernstaat (Munich, 2006); Mark Landsman, Dictatorship and Demand: The Politics of Consumerism in
East Germany (Cambridge, Mass., 2005); Jonathan R. Zatlin, The
Currency of Socialism: Money and Political Culture in East Ger­
many (Cambridge, 2007).
47. Martin Kohli, “Die DDR als Arbeitsgesellschaft? Arbeit,
Lebenslauf und soziale Differenzierung,” in Kaelble et al., eds., So­
zialgeschichte der DDR, 31–61; Dietrich Mühlberg, “Überlegungen zu einer Kulturgeschichte der DDR,” in ibid., 62–94. Many
good observations (Romanian examples) in Katharine Verdery,
What Was Socialism, and What Comes Next? (Princeton, 1996).
48. Ilja Srubar, “War der reale Sozialismus modern? Versuch
einer strukturellen Bestimmung,” Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziolo­
gie und Sozialpsychologie 43 (1991), 415–432; Jörg Roesler, “Alles
nur systembedingt? Die Wirtschaftshistoriker auf der Suche nach
den Ursachen der Wirtschaftsschwäche der DDR,” in Heiner Timmermann, ed., Die DDR-Politik und Ideologie als Instrument (Berlin, 1999), 213–232.
49. Ralph Jessen, “Mobility and Blockage during the 1970s,” in
Jarausch, ed., Dictatorship as Experience, 341–360; Heike Solga,
Auf dem Weg in eine klassenlose Gesellschaft? Klassenlagen und
Mobilität zwischen Generationen in der DDR (Berlin, 1995); Johannes Huinink and Heike Solga, “Occupational Opportunities in
the GDR: A Privilege of the Older Generations?” Zeitschrift für
Soziologie 23 (1994), 237–253; Karl Ulrich Mayer and Heike Solga,
“Mobilität und Legitimität. Zum Vergleich der Chancenstrukturen in der alten DDR und der alten BRD oder: Haben Mobil-
Kocka_Book.indb 135
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Notes to Pages 54–56
itätschancen zu Stabilität und Zusammenbruch der DDR beigetragen?” Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie 46
(1994), 193–208.
50. Norman M. Naimark, The Russians in Germany: A History
of the Soviet Zone of Occupation, 1945–1949 (Cambridge, Mass.,
1995); Andreas Malycha, Die SED—Geschichte ihrer Stalinisierung
1946–1953 (Paderborn, 2000); Dierk Hoffmann and Hermann Wentker, eds., Das letzte Jahr der SBZ. Politische Weichenstellungen
und Kontinuitäten im Prozess der Gründung der DDR (Munich,
2000); Monika Kaiser, “Wechsel von sowjetischer Besatzungspolitik zu sowjetischer Kontrolle? Sowjetische Einflußnahme und ostdeutsche Handlungsspielräume im Übergangsjahr von der SBZ zur
DDR,” in Michael Lemke, ed., Sowjetisierung und Eigenständig­
keit in der SBZ/DDR (1945–1953) (Cologne, 1999), 187–231.
51. Manfred Wilke, ed., Anatomie der Parteizentrale. Die KPD/
SED auf dem Weg zur Macht (Berlin, 1998); Dierk Hoffmann, Die
DDR unter Ulbricht: Gewaltsame Neuordnung und gescheiterte
Modernisierung (Zürich, 2003); Dorothee Wierling, Geboren im
Jahr Eins. Der Jahrgang 1949 in der DDR. Versuch einer Kollek­
tivbiographie (Berlin, 2002).
52. Hans-Herrmann Hertle et al., eds., Mauerbau und Mauer­
fall. Ursachen-Verlauf-Auswirkungen (Berlin, 2002); Rolf Steininger, Der Mauerbau. Die Westmächte und Adenauer in der
Berlinkrise 1958–1963 (Munich, 2001); André Steiner, Die DDRWirtschaftsreform der sechziger Jahre. Konflikt zwischen
Effizienz- und Machtkalkül (Berlin, 1999); Jaap Sleifer, Planning
Ahead and Falling Behind: The East German Economy in Compar­
ison with West Germany, 1936–2002 (Berlin, 2006); Monika Kaiser,
Machtwechsel von Ulbricht zu Honecker. Funktionsmechanis­
men der SED-Diktatur in Konfliktsituationen 1962 bis 1972 (Berlin, 1997); Christoph Boyer, ed., Sozialistische Wirtschaftsrefor­
men. Tschechoslowakei und DDR im Vergleich (Frankfurt, 2006);
Jeannette Z. Madarász, Working in East Germany: Normality in a
Socialist Dictatorship, 1961–79 (New York, 2006); Heinz-Gerhard
Haupt and Jörg Requate, eds., Aufbruch in die Zukunft. Die 1960er
Jahre zwischen Planungseuphorie und kulturellem Wandel. DDR,
CSSR und Bundesrepublik Deutschland im Ver­gleich (Weilers­
wist, 2004); Hübner and Hübner, Sozialismus.
53. From the abundant literature on the end of the GDR cf. for
Kocka_Book.indb 136
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Notes to Pages 56–57
instance: David Childs, The Fall of the GDR: Germany’s Road
to Unity (Harlow etc., 2001); Edward N. Peterson, The Secret
Police and the Revolution: The Fall of the German Democratic
Republic (Westport, Conn., etc., 2002); Jonathan Grix, The Role
of the Masses and the Collapse of the GDR (Basingstoke, 2000);
Wayne Bartee and Uwe Schwabe, A Time to Speak Out: The
Leipzig Citizen Protests and the Fall of East Germany (Westport, Conn., etc., 2000); Charles S. Maier, Dissolution: The Cri­
sis of Communism and the End of East Germany (Princeton,
1999); Konrad H. Jarausch, The Rush to German Unity (New
York, 1994); Dirk Philipsen, We Were the People: Voices from
East Germany’s Revolutionary Autumn of 1989 (Durham, 1993);
Ehrhart Neubert, Unsere Revolution. Die Geschichte der Jahre
1989/90 (Munich, 2008); Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk, Endspiel—
Die Revolution von 1989 in der DDR (Munich, 2009); KlausDietmar Henke, ed., Revolution und Vereinigung 1989/90. Als
in Deutschland die Realität die Phantasie überholte (Munich,
54. Cf. chapter IV below.
55. Cf. above nn. 6, 7, and 13; Detlef SchmiechenAckermann, Diktaturen im Vergleich (Darmstadt, 2002); idem,
“NS-Regime und SED-Herrschaft—Chancen, Grenzen und Probleme des empirischen Diktaturenvergleichs,” Geschichte in
Wissenschaft und Unterricht 52 (2001), 644–658; Ian Kershaw
and Moshe Lewin, eds., Stalinism and Nazism: Dictatorships
in Comparison (Cambridge, 1997); Ian Kershaw, “Totalitarianism Revisited: Nazism and Stalinism in Comparative Perspective,” Tel Aviver Jahrbuch für deutsche Geschichte 23 (1994),
23–40; Günther Heydemann and Eckhard Jesse, eds., Diktatur­
verglich als Herausforderung. Theorie und Praxis (Berlin, 1998);
Michael Geyer and Sheila Fitzpatrick, eds., Beyond Totalitar­
ianism: Stalinism and Nazism Compared (Cambridge, 2009);
Jürgen Kocka, “Nationalsozialismus und SED-Diktatur in vergleichender Perspektive,” in Deutscher Bundestag, ed., Materi­
alien der Enquete-Kommission “Aufarbeitung von Geschichte
und Folgen der SED-Diktatur in Deutschland,” vol. 9 (BadenBaden, 1995), h 589-597.
56. This is the view of Sigrid Meuschel, “Überlegungen zu einer
Herrschafts- und Gesellschaftsgeschichte der DDR,” Geschichte
Kocka_Book.indb 137
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Notes to Pages 57–61
und Gesellschaft 19 (1993), 5–14. Cf. Kocka, “Nationalsozialismus und SED-Diktatur,” 589–597.
57. Ulrich Mählert, ed., Der 17. Juni 1953. Ein Aufstand für Ein­
heit, Recht und Freiheit (Bonn, 2003); Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk, 17.
Juni 1953. Volksaufstand in der DDR (Bremen, 2003); Volker Koop,
Der 17. Juni. Legende und Wirklichkeit (Berlin, 2003); Gerhard A.
Ritter, “Der ‘17. Juni 1953.’ Eine historische Ortsbestimmung,” in
Roger Engelmann and Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk, eds., Volkserhebung
gegen den SED-Staat. Eine Bestandsaufnahme zum 17. Juni 1953
(Göttingen, 2005), 16–44.
58. Naimark, The Russians in Germany; Wilfried Loth, Stal­
in’s Unwanted Child: The Soviet Union, the German Question
and the Founding of the GDR (New York, 1998); Edward N. Peterson, Russian Commands and German Resistance: The Soviet Oc­
cupation, 1945–1949 (New York, 1998); Michael Lemke, ed., Sow­
jetisierung und Eigenständigkeit in der SBZ/DDR (1945–1953)
(Cologne, 1999); Stefan Creuzberger, Die sowjetische Besatzungs­
macht und das politische System der SBZ (Cologne, 1996).
59. Christoph Kleßmann, “Verflechtung und Abgrenzung. Aspekte der geteilten und zusammengehörigen deutschen Nachkriegsgeschichte,” Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte B 29–30 (1993),
30–34; idem, Die doppelte Staatsgründung. Deutsche Geschichte
1945–1955, 5th ed. (Bonn, 1991); idem, Zwei Staaten, eine Na­
tion. Deutsche Geschichte 1955–1970 (Bonn, 1988); Axel Schildt
et al., eds., Dynamische Zeiten. Die sechziger Jahre in den beiden
deutschen Gesellschaften (Hamburg, 2000); Jarausch, After Hitler.
60. Anselm Doering-Manteuffel, Wie westlich sind die
Deutschen? Amerikanisierung und Westernisierung im 20. Jah­
rhundert (Göttingen, 1999); Heinrich August Winkler, Der lange
Weg nach Westen, vol. 2: Deutsche Geschichte vom “Dritten
Reich” bis zur Wiedervereinigung (Munich, 2000).
61. Cf. nn. 10 and 11 above for methodological references. The
interrelations between East and West are emphasized by Konrad H. Jarausch (n. 22 of chapter II above). See also Peter Bender,
Deutschlands Wiederkehr. Eine ungeteilte Nachkriegsgeschichte
1945–1990 (Stuttgart, 2007).
62. Gerhard A. Ritter, Der Preis der deutschen Einheit. Die
Wiedervereinigung und die Krise des Sozialstaats (Munich, 2006).
63. Cf. chapter IV below; Jürgen Kocka, “Ein deutscher Sonder-
Kocka_Book.indb 138
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Notes to Pages 61–62
weg. Überlegungen zur Sozialgeschichte der DDR,” Aus Politik
und Zeitgeschichte B 40 (1994), 34–45; Jeffrey Herf, Divided Mem­
ory: The Nazi Past in the Two Germanys (Cambridge, Mass., 1997);
Werner Bergmann et al., eds., Schwieriges Erbe. Der Umgang mit
Nationalsozialismus und Antisemitismus in Österreich, der DDR
und der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Frankfurt, 1995); Jürgen
Danyel, “Die geteilte Vergangenheit. Gesellschaftliche Ausgangslagen und politische Dispositionen für den Umgang mit Nationalsozialismus und Widerstand in beiden deutschen Staaten nach
1949,” in Jürgen Kocka, ed., Historische DDR-Forschung. Aufsätze
und Studien (Berlin, 1993), 129–147.
64. Cf. John Connelly, Captive University: The Sovietization
of East German, Czech, and Polish Higher Education, 1945–1956
(Chapel Hill, 2000); Roswitha Breckner et al., eds., Biographies
and the Division of Europe: Experience, Action and Change on
the “Eastern Side” (Opladen, 2000); Philipp Ther, Deutsche und
polnische Vertriebene. Gesellschaft und Vertriebenenpolitik in der
SBZ/DDR und in Polen 1945–1956 (Göttingen, 1998); Beate IhmeTuchel, Das “nördliche Dreieck.” Die Beziehungen zwischen der
DDR, der Tschechoslowakei und Polen in den Jahren 1954 bis
1962 (Cologne, 1994); Hans-Joachim Kadatz, ed., Städtebauliche
Entwicklungslinien in Mittel- und Osteuropa. DDR, Tschecho­
slowakei und Ungarn nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg (Erkner,
65. Ivan T. Berend, History Derailed: Central and Eastern Europe in the “Long” Nineteenth Century (Berkeley, 2003).
66. Steven Saxonberg, The Fall: Czechoslovakia, East Germany,
Hungary, and Poland in a Comparative Perspective (Uppsala, 1997/
Amsterdam, 2001); Helmut Fehr, Unabhängige Öffentlichkeit und
soziale Bewegungen. Fallstudien über Bürgerbewegungen in Polen
und in der DDR (Opladen, 1996); idem, “Von der Dissidenz zur
Gegen-Elite. Ein Vergleich der politischen Opposition in Polen,
der Tschechoslowakei, Ungarn und der DDR (1976 bis 1989”), in
Ulrike Poppe et al., eds., Zwischen Selbstbehauptung und An­
passung. Formen des Widerstandes und der Opposition in der
DDR (Berlin, 1995), 301–334; Emmanuel Terray, “Die unmögliche
Erinnerung. Die Herstellung eines künstlichen nationalen
Gedächtnisses in der DDR und ihr Misslingen,” in Etienne Francois et al., eds., Nation und Emotion. Deutschland und Frankreich
Kocka_Book.indb 139
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Notes to Pages 62–69
im Vergleich. 19. und 20. Jahrhundert (Göttingen, 1995), 189–195.
67. Richard T. Gray and Sabine Wilke, eds., German Un­i­
fication and Its Discontents: Documents from the Peaceful Rev­
olution (Washington, 1996); Charles Schüddekopf, ed., “Wir sind
das Volk!” Flugschriften, Aufrufe und Texte einer deutschen
Revolution (Reinbek b. Hamburg, 1990).
68. Cf. Marck Mazower, Dark Continent: Europe’s Twenti­
eth Century (London, 1998).
69. Cf. chapter II above. Arndt, Intellektuelle in der Oppo­
sition; John K. Glenn, Framing Democracy: Civil Society and
Civic Movements in Eastern Europe (Stanford, 2001); Wolfgang
Merkel and Christian Henkes, Systemwechsel, vol. 5,
Zivilgesellschaft und demokratische Transformation (Opladen, 2000); Winfried Thaa, Die Wiedergeburt des Poli­
tischen. Zivilgesellschaft und Legitimitätskonflikt in den
Revolutionen von 1989 (Opladen, 1996); John Keane, De­
mocracy and Civil Society: On the Predicaments of Eu­
ropean Socialism, the Prospects for Democracy, and the
Problem of Controlling Social and Political Power (London,
1988); Václav Havel and John Keane, eds., The Power of the
Powerless: Citizens against the State in Central-Eastern Eu­
rope (London, 1985).
70. Cf. Kocka, “Civil Society in Historical Perspective.”
IV. Dealing with Difficult Pasts
1. See chapter III above.
2. Cf. pp. 56–59 above and p. 82 below. Jürgen Kocka, “Die
Geschichte der DDR als Forschungsproblem. Einleitung,” in
idem, ed., Historische DDR-Forschung. Aufsätze und Studien
(Berlin, 1993), 9–26; Richard J. Evans, “Zwei deutsche Diktaturen im 20. Jahrhundert?” Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte 1–2
(2005), 3–9; Eckhard Jesse, Diktaturen in Deutschland. Diag­
nosen und Analysen (Baden-Baden, 2008); Bernd Faulenbach,
“Erinnerung und Politik in der DDR und in der Bundesrepublik,” Deutschland Archiv 30 (1997), 599–606.
3. Cf. Jürgen Kocka and Heinz-Gerhard Haupt, “Comparison and Beyond: Traditions, Scope and Perspectives of Com-
Kocka_Book.indb 140
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Notes to Pages 69–73
parative History,” in Heinz-Gerhard Haupt and Jürgen Kocka,
eds., Comparative and Transnational History: Central European
Perspectives and New Approaches (New York/Oxford, 2010); Hartmut Kaelble, Der historische Vergleich. Eine Einführung zum 19.
und 20. Jahrhundert (Frankfurt/New York, 1999).
4. Martin Sabrow, “‘Erinnerung’ als Pathosformel der Gegenwart,” in idem, ed., Der Streit um die Erinnerung (Leipzig, 2008),
9–25, 10; Christian Meier, “Erinnern-Verdrängen-Vergessen,”
Merkur 50 (1996), 937–952.
5. Cf. Horst Boog et al., Der globale Krieg. Die Ausweitung
zum Weltkrieg und der Wechsel zur Initiative 1941–1943 (= Das
Deutsche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg, vol. 6) (Stuttgart, 1990),
6. Slightly different periodizations: Aleida Assmann, “Wende­
punkte der deutschen Erinnerungsgeschichte,” in idem and Ute
Frevert, Geschichtsvergessenheit—Geschichtsversessenheit. Vom
Umgang mit den deutschen Vergangenheiten nach 1945 (Stuttgart,
1999), 145ff.; Norbert Frei, “Deutsche Lernprozesse,” in Heidemarie Uhl, ed., Zivilisationsbruch und Gedächtniskultur. Das 20.
Jahrhundert in der Erinnerung des beginnenden 21. Jahrhunderts
(Wien, 2003), 87–102; with respect to the whole period: Aleida Assmann, Der lange Schatten der Vergangenheit. Erinnerungskultur
und Geschichtspolitik (Munich, 2006); Norbert Frei, 1945 und
wir. Das Dritte Reich im Bewusstsein der Deutschen (Munich,
2005) (2nd ed., 2009); Peter Reichel, Vergangenheitsbewältigung in
Deutschland. Die Auseinandersetzung mit der NS-Diktatur von
1945 bis heute (Munich, 2001); Herf, Divided Memory; Bergmann
et al., eds., Schwieriges Erbe; Dan Michman, ed., Remembering the
Holocaust in Germany, 1945–2000: German Strategies and Jewish
Responses (New York, 2002); Helmut König, Die Zukunft der Ver­
gangenheit. Der Nationalsozialismus im politischen Bewusstsein
der Bundesrepublik (Frankfurt/Main, 2003); Alono Confino, Ger­
many as a Culture of Remembrance: Promises and Limits of Writ­
ing History (Chapel Hill, 2003); Rudy Koshar, From Monuments to
Traces: Artefacts of German Memory, 1870–1990 (Berkeley, 2000).
7. Cf. Reichel, Vergangenheitsbewältigung, 13–45, 45–73;
Klaus Naumann, ed., Nachkrieg in Deutschland (Hamburg, 2001);
Lutz Niethammer, Die Mitläuferfabrik. Die Entnazifizierung am
Beispiel Bayern (Berlin, 1982); Hans-Ulrich Wehler, Deutsche
Kocka_Book.indb 141
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Notes to Pages 73–75
Gesellschaftsgeschichte, vol. 4: Vom Beginn des Ersten Welt­
kriegs bis zur Gründung der beiden deutschen Staaten 1914–
1949 (Munich, 2003), 955–966; Clemens Vollnhals, ed., Entnazi­
fizierung. Politische Säuberung und Rehabilitation in den vier
Besatzungszonen 1945–1949 (Munich, 1991); Gerd R. Üeberschär,
ed., Der Nationalsozialismus vor Gericht. Die alliierten Prozesse
gegen die Kriegsverbrechen und Soldaten 1943–1952 (Frankfurt/
Main, 1999). With respect to the Eastern zone: Helga A. Welsh,
“‘Antifaschistisch-demokratische Umwälzung’ und politische
Säuberung in der sowjetischen Besatzungszone Deutschlands,”
in Klaus-Dietmar Henke and Hans Woller, eds., Politische Säu­
berung in Europa. Die Abrechnung mit Faschismus und Kollabo­
ration nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg (Munich, 1991), 10–15; Henry
Leide, NS-Verbrecher und Staatssicherheit. Die geheime Vergan­
genheitspolitik der DDR (Göttingen, 2005).
8. Herf, Divided Memory, 13–39, 162–200; Annette Leo and
Peter Reif-Spierek, eds., Helden, Täter und Verräter. Studien
zum DDR-Antifaschismus (Berlin, 1999); idem, eds., Vielstim­
miges Schweigen. Neue Studien zum DDR-Antifaschismus (Berlin 2001); Joachim Käppner, Erstarrte Geschichte. Faschismus und
Holocaust im Spiegel der Geschichtswissenschaft und Geschichts­
propaganda der DDR (Hamburg, 1999); Ulrich Herbert and Olaf
Groeh­ler, eds., Zweierlei Bewältigung. Vier Beiträge über den Um­
gang mit der NS-Vergangenheit in den beiden deutschen Staaten
(Hamburg, 1992); Josie McLellan, Antifascism and Memory in East
Germany: Remembering the International Brigades, 1945–1989
(Oxford, 2004); Jürgen Danyel, ed., Die geteilte Vergangenheit.
Zum Umgang mit Nationalsozialismus und Widerstand in beiden
deutschen Staaten (Berlin, 1995); Annette Weinke, Die Verfolgung
von NS-Tätern im geteilten Deutschland. Vergangenheitsbewälti­
gung 1949–1969 oder Eine deutsch-deutsche Beziehungsgeschichte
im Kalten Krieg (Paderborn, 2002). The site of the Buchenwald concentration camp was used to erect an impressive memorial that incorporated this Marxist-Leninist antifascist message. Cf. Volkhard
Knigge et al., eds., Versteinertes Gedenken—Das Buchenwalder
Mahnmal von 1958, 2 vols. (Leipzig, 1997).
9. Hermann Lübbe, “Der Nationalsozialismus im politischen
Bewusstsein der Gegenwart,” in Martin Broszat et al., eds.,
Deutschlands Weg in die Diktatur. Internationale Konferenz zur
Kocka_Book.indb 142
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Notes to Pages 75–77
nationalsozialistischen Machtübernahme im Reichstagsgebäude zu
Berlin. Referate und Diskussionen. Ein Protokoll (Berlin, 1983), 329–49.
10. Fritz Stern, Five Germanies I Have Known (New York,
2006), 212–15; Norbert Frei, Vergangenheitspolitik. Die An­
fänge der Bundesrepublik und die NS-Vergangenheit (Munich,
1996); Edgar Wolfrum, Geschichtspolitik in der Bundesrepublik
Deutschland. Der Weg zur bundesrepublikanischen Erinnerung
1948–1990 (Darmstadt, 1999). On restitution: Constantin Goschler,
Schuld und Schulden. Die Politik der Wiedergutmachung für NSVerfolgte seit 1945 (Göttingen, 2005); Hans Günter Hockerts,
“Wiedergutmachung in Deutschland. Eine historische Bilanz
1945–2000,” Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte 49 (2001), 167–
214. David C. Large, “A Beacon in the German Darkness: AntiNazi Resistance in West German Politics,” in Michael Geyer and
John W. Boyer, eds., Resistance against the Third Reich, 1933–1990
(Chicago, 1994), 243–256; Norbert Frei, “Erinnerungskampf. Der
20. Juli 1944 in den Bonner Anfangsjahren” (1995), in idem, 1945
und wir, 129–144.
11. In addition to the titles already quoted cf. Robert Moeller,
War Stories: The Search for a Usable Past in the Federal Repub­
lic of Germany (Berkeley, 2003); Konrad H. Jarausch, After Hitler:
Recivilizing Germans, 1945–1995 (New York, 2008), 23–43; Fritz
Stern, Five Germanies I Have Known (New York, 2006), 247–290;
Norbert Frei, ed., Karrieren im Zwielicht. Hitlers Eliten nach 1945
(Frankfurt/Main, 2001); Hellmuth Auerbach, “Die Gründung des
Instituts für Zeitgeschichte,” Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte
18 (1970), 529–554; Horst Möller, ed., 50 Jahre Institut für Zeitge­
schichte. Eine Bilanz (Munich, 1999).
12. Cf. Dirk Moses, “Die 45er. Eine Generation zwischen Fa­
schismus und Demokratie,” Neue Sammlung 40 (2000), 234–263;
Marc von Miquel, Ahnden oder amnestieren? Westdeutsche Justiz
und Vergangenheitspolitik in den sechziger Jahren (Göttingen,
2004); Andreas Holzem et al., eds., Zwischen Kriegs- und Diktatur­
erfahrung. Katholizismus und Protestantismus in der Nachkriegs­
zeit (Stuttgart, 2005); Karl-Joseph Hummel, ed., Kirchen im Krieg.
Europa 1939–1945 (Paderborn, 2007); Vera Bücker, Die Schulddis­
kussion im deutschen Katholizismus nach 1945 (Bochum, 1998);
Clemens Vollnhals, Evangelische Kirche und Entnazifizierung
1945–1949. Die Last der nationalsozialistischen Vergangenheit
Kocka_Book.indb 143
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Notes to Pages 77–80
(Munich, 1989); Rainer Bendel, ed., Kirche der Sünder—sündige
Kirche? Beispiele für den Umgang mit Schuld nach 1945 (Münster, 2002); Peter Krause, Der Eichmann-Prozess in der deutschen
Presse (Frankfurt/Main, 2002); Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Je­
rusalem (New York, 1963); Rebecca Wittmann, Beyond Justice:
The Auschwitz Trial (Cambridge, Mass., 2005); Heike Krösche,
“Die Justiz muss Farbe bekennen. Die öffentliche Reaktion auf
die Gründung der Zentralen Stelle der Landesjustizverwaltungen
1958,” Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft 56 (2008), 338–357;
Annette Weinke, Eine Gesellschaft ermittelt gegen sich selbst.
Die Geschichte der Zentralen Stelle in Ludwigsburg 1958–2008
(Darmstadt, 2008). On trials and memory: Herf, Divided Mem­
ory, 336–343. Detailed revelations in the form of polemical attacks
against “war criminals” in West German positions of power were
continuously published by GDR media. They frequently led to opposite effects within West Germany, where such revelations were
frequently discarded as mere propaganda.
13. Norbert Frei, 1968. Jugendrevolte und globaler Protest
(Munich, 2008); Christoph Kleßmann, 1968—Studentenrevolte
oder Kulturrevolution? in Manfred Hettling, ed., Revolution in
Deutschland? (Göttingen, 1991), 90–105; Helmut Dubiel, Niemand
ist frei von Geschichte. Die nationalsozialistische Herrschaft in
den Debatten des deutschen Bundestages (Munich, 1999).
14. Axel Schildt et al., eds., Dynamische Zeiten. Die 60er Jahre
in beiden deutschen Gesellschaften (Hamburg, 2000).
15. Jürgen Kocka, “Erinnern—Lernen—Geschichte. Sechzig
Jahre nach 1945,” Österreichische Zeitschrift für Geschichtswis­
senschaften 16 (2005), 64–78. The new passion for “memory”
from the late 1970s onward is sketched by Sabrow, “‘Erinnerung’
als Pathosformel der Gegenwart,” 10–14. Helmut Meier and Walter Schmidt, eds., Erbe und Tradition in der DDR: Die Diskus­
sion der Historiker (Cologne, 1989); Helga Schultz, “Die DDRGeschichtswissenschaft in der Mitte der siebziger Jahre: Paradigmawechsel oder konservative Wende?” in Georg G. Iggers et al.,
eds., Die DDR-Geschichtswissenschaft als Forschungsproblem
(Munich, 1998), 227–240.
16. Broszat et al., eds., Deutschlands Weg in die Diktatur; Peter
Märtesheimer and Ivo Frenzel, eds., Im Kreuzfeuer. Der Fernseh­
film Holocaust. Eine Nation ist betroffen (Frankfurt/Main, 1979);
Kocka_Book.indb 144
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Notes to Pages 80 –83
Hans-Ulrich Wehler, Deutsche Gesellschaftsgeschichte, vol. 5 (Munich, 2008), 290–294, 301ff.; Assmann, Der lange Schatten, 43–49
(on an increasingly closer relation between history and memory in
the debate about German guilt in the 1980s).
17. Richard von Weizsäcker, Zum 40. Jahrestag der Beendi­
gung des Krieges in Europa und der nationalsozialistischen Ge­
waltherrschaft: Ansprache am 8. Mai 1985 in der Gedenkstunde
im Plenarsaal des Deutschen Bundestages (Bonn, 1985); Ulrich
Gill and Winfried Steffani, eds., Eine Rede und ihre Wirkung. Die
Rede des Bundespräsidenten Richard von Weizsäcker vom 8. Mai
1985 anläßlich des 40. Jahrestages der Beendigung des Zweiten
Weltkrieges. Betroffene nehmen Stellung (Berlin, 1986).
18. Historikerstreit: die Dokumentation der Kontroverse um
die Einzigartigkeit der nationalsozialistischen Judenvernichtung
(Munich, 1987). A good selection and interpretation: Peter Baldwin, ed., Reworking the Past: Hitler, the Holocaust, and the Histo­
rians’ Debate (Boston, 1990). Also see Charles Maier, The Unmas­
terable Past: History, Holocaust, and German National Identity
(Cambridge, Mass., 1988, rev. 1997).
19. Herf, Divided Memory, 362–365; Danyel, ed., Die geteilte
Vergangenheit; Torben Fischer and Matthias N. Lorenz, eds.,
Lexikon der “Vergangenheitsbewältigung” in Deutschland:
Debatten- und Diskursgeschichte des Nationalsozialismus nach
1945 (Bielefeld, 2009), 224–240; Bernd Faulenbach, “Die DDR als
antifaschistischer Staat,” in Rainer Eckert and Bernd Faulenbach,
eds., Halbherziger Revisionismus. Zum postkommunistischen
Geschichtsbild (Munich, 1996), 47–68 (p. 61 on the Volkskammer
resolution of 12 April 1990).
20. See chapter III above. As to the end of the GDR see Jürgen Kocka, “Reform and Revolution: Germany 1989–90,” in Rein­
hard Rürup, ed., The Problem of Revolution in Germany, 1789–
1989 (Oxford/New York, 2000), 161–179; Charles Maier, The Crisis
of Communism and the End of East Germany (Princeton, 1997);
Andreas Rödder, Deutschland einig Vaterland. Die Geschichte der
Wiedervereinigung (Munich, 2009); also the volumes by Kowalczuk and Henke cited in n. 53 to chap. III above. In a comparative
perspective: Saxonberg, The Fall.
21. Günther Heydemann and Eckhard Jesse, eds., Diktatur­
vergleich als Herausforderung: Theorie und Praxis (Berlin 1998);
Kocka_Book.indb 145
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Notes to Pages 83–86
Eckhard Jesse, Diktaturen in Deutschland: Diagnosen und Anal­
ysen (Baden-Baden, 2008); Frank Möller and Ulrich Mählert, eds.,
Abgrenzung und Verflechtung. Das geteilte Deutschland in der
zeithistorischen Debatte (Berlin, 2008). With emphasis on writers
and literary history: Jost Hermand and Marc Silberman, eds., Con­
tentious Memories: Looking Back at the GDR (New York, 1998).
22. Jörg Arnold, ed., Strafrechtliche Auseinandersetzung mit
Systemvergangenheit: am Beispiel der DDR (Baden-Baden, 2000);
Söhnke Leupolt, Die rechtliche Aufarbeitung des DDR-Unrechts
(Münster, 2003); Heiko Wingenfeld, Die öffentliche Debatte über
die Strafverfahren wegen DDR-Unrechts (Berlin, 2006); Michael
Kohlstruck, “Zwischen Geschichte und Mythologisierung. Zum
Strukturwandel der Vergangenheitsbewältigung,” in Helmut König
et al., eds., Vergangenheitsbewältigung am Ende des 20. Jahrhun­
derts (Opladen, 1999), 86–108; Petra Bock and Edgar Wolfrum, eds.,
Umkämpfte Vergangenheit: Geschichtsbilder, Erinnerung und
Vergangenheitspolitik im internationalen Vergleich (Göttingen,
1999); Martin Sabrow, Heilung durch Wahrheit? Zum Umgang mit
der Last der Vergangenheit (Leipzig, 2002); Möller and Mählert,
eds., Abgrenzung; also the titles cited in n. 8 to chap. III above.
23. Jens Hüttmann, DDR-Geschichte und ihre Forscher. Ak­
teure und Konjekturen der bundesdeutschen DDR-Forschung (Berlin 2008); also the titles cited in nn. 2 and 3 to chap. III above.
24. See the discussions in Deutscher Bundestag, ed., Materialien,
vol. 9, 588–598, 686–694 (e.g. the statement by Jürgen Habermas,
who called for an antitotalitarian consensus rejecting both dictatorial experiences). Also Jorge Semprún, Dank, in Friedenspreis des
Deutschen Buchhandels 1994 (Frankfurt, 1994), 51 (stressing the
obligation and the opportunity of Germans to come to terms with
both Nazism and Stalinism as parts of their history). Also see the
controversial debate about the “Black Book of Communism” published by Stéphane Courtois et al. in 1997: Horst Möller, ed., Der
rote Holocaust und die Deutschen. Die Debatte um das “Schwarz­
buch des Kommunismus” (Munich, 1999).
25. Cf. Thomas Großbölting and Dierk Hofmann, eds., Vergan­
genheit in der Gegenwart. Vom Umgang mit Diktaturerfahrun­
gen in Ost- und Westeuropa (Göttingen, 2008); Sorin Antohi and
Vladimir Tismaneanu, eds., Between Past and Future: The Revo­
lutions of 1989 and Their Aftermath (Budapest, 2000); Stephen R.
Kocka_Book.indb 146
3/17/10 10:37:37 AM
Notes to Pages 86–90
Graubard, ed., Exit from Communism, special issue of Daedalus,
Spring 1992 (New Brunswick, 1993).
26. Jarausch, ed., Dictatorship as Experience. A highly critical view of the GDR: Wehler, Deutsche Gesellschaftsgeschichte,
vol. 5, 399–419. Frank Möller and Ulrich Mählert, eds., Abgren­
zung und Verflechtung. Das geteilte Deutschland in der zeithisto­
rischen Debatte (Berlin, 2008). As to memorial sites commemorating different elements of the GDR legacy cf. Anne Kaminsky, ed.,
Orte des Erinnerns. Gedenkzeichen, Gedenkstätten und Museen
zur Diktatur in SBZ und DDR, 2nd ed. (Berlin, 2007), 10, 21 (figures for 2007 and 1989); Bernd Faulenbach, “Diktaturerfahrungen
und demokratische Erinnerungskultur in Deutschland,” in Kaminsky, ed., Orte des Erinnerns, 15–24, 17.
27. Cf. Kocka, “Reform and Revolution”; idem, “1989—Eine
transnationale Revolution,” Neue Gesellschaft / Frankfurter Hefte
56 (2009), no. 5, 46–49; Tony Judt, Postwar: A History of Europe
since 1945 (London, 2005), 701–749; Timothy Garton Ash, “1989,”
in The New York Review of Books, November 5, 2009, 4–8.
28. Cf. Assmann, Der lange Schatten, 47ff.; Julius H. Schoeps,
ed., Ein Volk von Mördern? Eine Dokumentation um die Rolle der
Deutschen im Holocaust (Hamburg, 1996); Frei, 1945 und wir,
8–11; Sabrow, “‘Erinnerung’ als Pathosformel der Gegenwart,” 9ff.
Norbert Frei, ed., Was heißt und zu welchem Ende studiert man
Geschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts? (Göttingen, 2006); Martin Sabrow and Konrad H. Jarausch, eds., Verletztes Gedächtnis. Erin­
nerungskultur und Zeitgeschichte im Konflikt (Frankfurt/Main–
New York, 2002).
29. Sibylle Quack, Auf dem Weg zur Realisierung. Das Denk­
mal für die ermordeten Juden Europas und der Ort der Informa­
tion. Architektur und historisches Konzept (Stuttgart, 2002); Michael S. Cullen, Das Holocaust-Mahnmal. Dokumentation einer
Debatte (Zurich, 1999). Hamburger Institut für Sozialforschung,
ed., Vernichtungskrieg. Verbrechen der Wehrmacht 1941 bis 1944
(Hamburg, 1996); idem, ed., Verbrechen der Wehrmacht. Dimen­
sionen des Vernichtungskrieges 1941–1944 (Hamburg, 2002). Michael Klundt, Geschichtspolitik: die Kontroversen um Goldhagen,
die Wehrmachtsausstellung und das “Schwarzbuch des Kommu­
nismus” (Cologne, 2000). Susanne–Sophie Spiliotis, Verantwor­
tung und Rechtsfrieden. Die Stiftungsinitiative der deutschen
Kocka_Book.indb 147
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Notes to Pages 90 –91
Wirtschaft (Frankfurt/Main, 2003); Goschler, Schuld und Schul­
den, 215–219, 407–413.
30. Britta Gries, Die Grass-Debatte: die NS-Vergangenheit in
der Wahrnehmung von drei Generationen (Marburg, 2008), 63–
67; “Oettingers Weltsicht,” Süddeutsche Zeitung, 17 April 2007.
“Kanzlerin kritisiert Papst. Vatikan lässt Merkel abblitzen,” Süd­
deutsche Zeitung, 4 February 2009. Frei, 1945 und wir, 7.
31. This has been analyzed as a transition from “communicative” to “collective memory.” Cf. Assmann, Der lange Schatten.
Cf. Ulrike Puvogel et al., Gedenkstätten für die Opfer des Natio­
nasozialismus, vol. 1, 2nd ed. (Bonn, 1996); Stephanie Endlich et
al., Gedenkstätten für die Opfer des Nationalsozialismus, vol. 2
(Bonn, 1999).
32. Very important: Harald Welzer, “Der deutsche Holocaust
im deutschen Familiengedächtnis,” in Norbert Frei and Volkhard
Knigge, eds., Verbrechen erinnern (Munich, 2002), 342–358; idem,
Opa war kein Nazi (Frankfurt/Main, 2002); idem, “‘Ach Opa!’ Zum
Unterschied zwischen öffentlichem und privatem Erinnern in Europa,” in Sabrow, ed., Der Streit um die Erinnerung, 25–48.
33. Heiko Buschke, Deutsche Presse, Rechtsextremismus und
nationalsozialistische Vergangenheit in der Ära Adenauer (Frankfurt/Main, 2003); Wolfgang Benz, ed., Legenden, Lügen, Vorurteile.
Ein Wörterbuch zur Zeitgeschichte, 5th ed. (Munich, 1994); Till
Bastian, Auschwitz und die “Auschwitz-Lüge.” Massenmord und
Geschichtsfälschung (Munich, 1997); Richard Stöss, Rechtsex­
tremismus im Wandel (Berlin, 2007), 41f.
34. One example is Reinhard Koselleck, “Der 9. Mai zwischen
Erinnerung und Geschichte,” in Robert Traba, ed., Borussia. Kul­
tura, Historia, Literatura 38 (Olsztyn, n.d. [2005?]), 25–32: Koselleck held that Erinnerung (memory) in the full sense of the
word could only be individual. He questioned the status of “socalled collective memory.” He also held that silence might be
a more adequate form of remembrance than continuous talking
(p. 21). Martin Walser’s protest against being permanently “enlisted” in a more or less compulsive “remembrance service” (Er­
innerungsdienst) should be seen in a similar context. On Walser’s
controversial speech in the Frankfurt Paulskirche 1998 and the
ensuing public debate cf. Frank Schirrmacher, ed., Die WalserBubis-Debatte. Eine Dokumentation (Frankfurt/Main, 1999).
Kocka_Book.indb 148
3/17/10 10:37:37 AM
Notes to Pages 92–94
35. Cf. Goschler, Schuld und Schulden, 413–437; Hans Günter
Hockerts, “Wiedergutmachung in Deutschland. Eine historische
Bilanz 1945–2000,” Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte 49 (2001),
36. Lutz Niethammer, “Juden und Russen im Gedächtnis der
Deutschen,” in Walter H. Pehle, ed., Der historische Ort des Na­
tionalsozialismus. Annäherungen (Frankfurt/Main, 1990), 114–
134; Annette Leo, “Keine gemeinsame Erinnerung. Geschichtsbewusstsein in Ost und West,” in Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte
B 53 (2003), 27–32; Christina Morina, “Vernichtungskrieg, Kalter
Krieg und politisches Gedächtnis: Zum Umgang mit dem Krieg
gegen die Sowjetunion im geteilten Deutschland,” in Geschichte
und Gesellschaft 34 (2008), 252–291.
37. Martin Sabrow et al., eds., Wohin treibt die DDRErinnerung? Dokumentation einer Debatte (Göttingen, 2007).
38. Cf. Faulenbach, “Diktaturerfahrungen,” 17–22; also the titles cited in n. 24 above. Salomon Korn, Die fragile Grundlage.
Auf der Suche nach der deutsch-jüdischen “Normalität” (Berlin,
2004); “Was unterscheidet NS-Verbrechen von DDR-Unrecht?
Ein Interview mit Salomon Korn,” Die Zeit, no. 47, 15 November 2007. Peter Reif-Spierek and Bodo Ritscher, eds., Spezial­
lager in der SBZ. Gedenkstätten mit “doppelter Vergangenheit”
(Berlin, 1999). Volkhard Knigge, “Die Umgestaltung der DDRGedenkstätten nach 1990. Ein Erfahrungsbericht am Beispiel Buchenwald,” in Peter März and Hans-Joachim Veen, eds., Woran er­
innern? Der Kommunismus in der deutschen Erinnerungskultur
(Cologne, 2006), 91–108; Petra Haustein, Geschichte im Dissens:
Die Auseinandersetzung um die Gedenkstätte Sachsenhausen
nach dem Ende der DDR (Leipzig, 2006); Detlef Hoffmann, ed.,
Das Gedächtnis der Dinge. KZ-Relikte und KZ-Denkmäler 1945–
1995 (Frankfurt/Main, 1998). The most recent example within a
long tradition of elaborate comparisons between the two most devastating dictatorships in twentieth-century Europe: Michael Geyer
and Sheila Fitzpatrick, eds., Beyond Totalitarianism: Stalinism
and Nazism Compared (Cambridge, 2009). Peter Reichel, Politik
mit der Erinnerung. Gedächtnisorte im Streit um die national­
sozialistische Vergangenheit (Munich, 1995); Ulrich Borsdorf and
Heinrich Theodor Grütter, eds., Orte der Erinnerung. Denkmal,
Gedenkstätte, Museum (Frankfurt/Main, 1999).
Kocka_Book.indb 149
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Notes to Page 95
39. As to literature about the destruction of cities and city populations, particularly by British and American bombing raids, cf. W. G.
Sebald, Luftkrieg und Literatur (Munich, 1999), and Jörg Friedrich,
Der Brand. Deutschland im Bombenkrieg 1940–1945 (Berlin, 2002).
The public debate about flight and expulsion was abruptly intensified by the publication of the novel Im Krebsgang [Crabwalk]
by Günter Grass in 2002. The novel deals with the sinking of the
Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship filled with refugees, by Soviet torpedoes
in the Baltic Sea in January 1945. Norbert Frei, ed., Transnation­
ale Vergangenheitspolitik. Der Umgang mit deutschen Kriegsver­
brechern in Europa nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg (Göttingen, 2006).
The controversial campaign in favor of a “Center against Expulsions” to commemorate the fate of expellees in Germany and Europe is covered and put into perspective in Claudia Kraft, “Deutschpolnische Erinnnerungsgräben und der Konflikt um das ‘Zentrum
gegen Vertreibungen,’” in Sabrow, ed., Der Streit um die Erinnerung,
97–117. Also cf. Jürgen Danyel and Philipp Ther, eds., “Flucht und
Vertreibung in europäischer Perspektive,” in Zeitschrift für Ge­
schichtswissenschaft 51 (2003), no. 1; Bernd Faulenbach, “Die Vertreibung der Deutschen aus den Gebieten jenseits von Oder und
Neiße,” in Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte B51–52 (2002), 44–54.
Naimark, The Russians in Germany. There has been a lively debate and no consensus about the causes and the meanings of this reintensification of public remembrance of German suffering, a public remembrance that had been strong in the early years after 1945.
Cf. Robert G. Moeller, War Stories: The Search for a Usable Past in
the FRG (Berkeley, 2001); concerned about the apologetic implications: Frei, 1945 und wir, 16–18; a good and balanced interpretation:
Assmann, Der lange Schatten, 183–204. Cf. Dagmar Barnouw, The
War in the Empty Air: Victims, Perpetrators, and Postwar Germans
(Bloomington, Ind., 2005).
40. This was a central issue in the so-called historians’ debate of
the mid-1980s. Cf. n. 18 above. However, Ernst Nolte’s misleading
provocation was not his comparison between the Nazi genocide
and other genocides per se, nor his attempt to put the history of the
Holocaust in a broader transnational framework, but his overemphasis of the similarities of Bolshevist and fascist terror, and particularly his thesis that the latter reacted to the former. This was a
statement on “causal nexus” that has not stood up against empiri-
Kocka_Book.indb 150
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Notes to Pages 95–97
cal examination and that grants more historical understanding and
meaning to the Holocaust than is justifiable.
41. Very much in this tradition: Klaus Rainer Röhl, Verbotene
Trauer. Ende der deutschen Tabus (Munich, 2002). I do not see Jörg
Friedrich’s Der Brand in this tradition. But, unfortunately, the author’s choice of language puts him into this intellectual neighborhood. See the quotes in Assmann, Der lange Schatten, 188.
42. One can doubt whether this remarkable upsurge of historical memory, remembrance, and commemoration—with particular emphasis on victims and victimization—has only productive
effects on our present identities, cultures, and abilities to shape
our future. But there can be no doubt that the need for historical
memory with emphasis on victims and victimhood is a defining
element of the present time, more than of previous decades and
centuries. Memory has replaced progress as a reference point for
collective orientation and identity formation, at least in Germany.
This is discussed in Sabrow, “‘Erinnerung’ als Pathosformel der
Gegenwart,” 15–21. Also cf. Avishai Margalit, The Ethics of Mem­
ory (Cambridge, Mass., 2002). Christian Meier, Vierzig Jahre nach
Auschwitz. Deutsche Geschichtserinnerungen heute (Munich,
1987); Benjamin Z. Kedar, “Massada: The Myth and the Complex,”
Jerusalem Quarterly 24 (1982), 57–63.
43. The relation between historical memories, both private and
public, and history as a scholarly discipline is full of tensions. Cf.
Assmann, Der lange Schatten, 119–132; Sabrow, “‘Erinnerung’ als
Pathosformel der Gegenwart,” 21ff.; Sabrow and Jarausch, eds.,
Verletztes Gedächtnis; Jürgen Kocka, “Vom Umgang mit Dikta­
turerfahrungen,” Merkur 63 (2009), 610–616.
44. Cf. Bernd Faulenbach, “Konkurrenz der Vergangenheiten?
Die Aufarbeitung des SED-Systems im Kontext der Debatte über
die jüngere deutsche Geschichte,” in Annegret Stephan, ed.,
1945 bis 2000. Ansichten zur deutschen Geschichte (Magdeburg,
2002), 17–32; idem, “Konkurrierende Vergangenheiten? Zu aktuellen Auseinandersetzungen um die deutsche Erinnerungskultur,”
Deutschland Archiv 37 (2004), 648–659; Jean-Michel Chaumont,
La concurrence des victimes. Genocide, identité, reconnaissance
(Paris, 1997).
45. Cf. Großbölting and Hofmann, eds., Vergangenheit in der
Gegenwart; Rudolf von Thadden and Steffen Kaudelka, eds., Er­
Kocka_Book.indb 151
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Notes to Pages 99–102
innerung und Geschichte. 60 Jahre nach dem 8. Mai 1945 (Göttingen, 2006); Nathan Sznaider, Gedächtnisraum Europa. Die
Visionen des europäischen Kosmopolitismus. Eine jüdische Per­
spektive (Bielefeld, 2008).
V. Historians, Fashion, and Truth
1. Samuel Butler, Erewhon Revisited (1901) (New York, 1965),
126; Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (London, 1982), 22.
2. Cf. Georg G. Iggers and Q. Edward Wang with the assistance
of Supriya Mukherjee, eds., A Global History of Modern Histo­
riography (Harlow, 2008); Georg G. Iggers, Historiography in the
Twentieth Century: From Scientific Objectivity to the Postmodern
Challenge (Hanover, N.H., 2005); Lutz Raphael, Geschichtswissen­
schaft im Zeitalter der Extreme. Theorien, Methoden, Tendenzen
von 1900 bis zur Gegenwart (Munich, 2003); Donald R. Kelley,
Frontiers of History: Historical Enquiry in the Twentieth Century
(New Haven, 2006).
3. Georg Simmel, “Philosophie der Mode 2” (1905), in idem,
Gesamtausgabe, vol. 10 (Frankfurt/Main 1995), 7–38; idem, “Fashion” (1904), reprinted in American Journal of Sociology 62 (1957),
541–558; Silvia Bovenschen, ed., Die Listen der Mode (Frankfurt,
1986); Ulrich Lehmann, Tigersprung: Fashion in Modernity (Boston, 2000); Klaus Laermann, “Mode,” in Miloš Vec et al., eds., Der
Campus-Knigge. Von Abschreiben bis Zweitgutachten (Munich,
2008), 128–131.
4. There are of course different definitions of historical truth and
conflicting attitudes toward “truth” in history. My position: Jürgen Kocka, “Angemessenheitskriterien historischer Argumente,”
in Reinhart Koselleck et al., eds., Objektivität und Parteilichkeit
in der Geschichtswissenschaft (Munich, 1977), 469–475. I sympathize with positions like those of Eric Hobsbawm, On History
(New York, 1997), VIII, 5–9, 124–140; Richard J. Evans, In Defense
of History (London, 1997), 75–128, 224–253. Cf. Mary Fulbrook,
Historical Theory: Ways of Imagining the Past (London, 2003).
5. Cf. Jürgen Kocka, “Geschichte als Wissenschaft,” in Gunil­la
Budde et al., eds., Geschichte. Studium—Wissenschaft—Beruf
(Berlin, 2008), 12–30; Jörn Rüsen, “History: Overview,” in Interna­
Kocka_Book.indb 152
3/17/10 10:37:38 AM
Notes to Pages 102–103
tional Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, vol. 10
(London, 2001), 6857–6864; François Hartog, Régime d’historicité.
Présentisme et expériences du temps (Paris, 2003), 113–162; Geoff
Eley, A Crooked Line: From Cultural History to the History of So­
ciety (Ann Arbor, 2005).
6. Cf. Gerhard Hirschfeld et al., eds., Enzyklopädie Erster Welt­
krieg (Paderborn, 2003); Sven O. Müller, “The Never Ending Story:
The Unbroken Fascination of the History of the First World War,”
in German Historical Institute, London, Bulletin 25, no. 1, May
2003, 22–54; Jürgen Kocka, “Der große Europäische Krieg—90
Jahre danach,” in Helmut Bleiber and Wolfgang Küttler, eds., Rev­
olution und Reform in Deutschland im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert
(Berlin, 2005), 179–190.
7. Cf. Der große Krieg in Einzeldarstellungen, unter Benut­
zung amtlicher Quellen, hg. im Auftrag des Generalstabes des
Feldheeres, 14 Bde. (Oldenburg, 1918–1919); Schlachten des Welt­
kriegs. In Einzeldarstellungen bearbeitet und herausgegeben im
Auftrag des Reichsarchivs, 36 Bde. (Oldenburg, 1921–1930); Der
Weltkrieg 1914–1918, bearbeitet im Reichsarchiv, 14 Bde., 2 Sonderbde. (Berlin, 1925–1944, 1956); Die große Politik der Europäis­
chen Kabinette 1871–1914. Sammlung der Diplomatischen Akten
des Auswärtigen Amtes, im Auftrag des Auswärtigen Amtes ed.
by J. Lepsius u.a., 40 Bde. (Berlin, 1922–1927); Markus Pöhlmann,
Kriegsgeschichte und Geschichtspolitik: Der Erste Weltkrieg. Die
amtliche deutsche Militärgeschichtsschreibung 1914–1956 (Paderborn, 2002); Ulrich Heinemann, Die verdrängte Niederlage. Poli­
tische Öffentlichkeit und Kriegsschuldfrage in der Weimarer Re­
publik (Göttingen, 1983); Gerd Krumeich, “Vergleichende Aspekte
der ‘Kriegsschulddebatte’ nach dem Ersten Weltkrieg,” in Wolfgang Michalka, ed., Der Erste Weltkrieg (Munich. 1994), 913–928;
Luigi Albertini, The Origins of the War of 1914, 3 vols. (London,
1952–1957); Ludwig Dehio, Deutschland und die Weltpolitik im
20. Jahr­hundert (Munich, 1955).
8. Cf. John A. Moses, The Politics of Illusion: The Fischer Con­
troversy in German Historiography (New York, 1975); Volker R.
Berghahn, “Die Fischer-Kontroverse,” Geschichte und Gesellschaft
6 (1980), 403–419; Wolfgang Jäger, Historische Forschung und poli­
tische Kultur in Deutschland. Die Debatte 1914–1980 über den
Ausbruch des Ersten Weltkriegs (Göttingen, 1984).
Kocka_Book.indb 153
3/17/10 10:37:38 AM
Notes to Pages 104–106
9. Cf. Gerald D. Feldman, Army, Industry, and Labour in Ger­
many, 1914–1918 (Princeton, 1966); Jürgen Kocka, Facing Total
War: German Society, 1914–1918 (Leamington Spa/Cambridge,
Mass., 1984); Udo Bermbach, Vorformen parlamentarischer Kabi­
nettsbildung in Deutschland. Der Interfraktionelle Ausschuß
1917/1918 und die Parlamentarisierung der Reichsregierung (Cologne, 1967); Wilhelm Deist, Militär und Innenpolitik im Welt­
krieg 1914–1918, 2 Bde. (Düsseldorf, 1970); Martin Kitchen, The
Silent Dictatorship: The Politics of the German High Command
under Hindenburg and Ludendorff, 1916–1918 (New York, 1976).
As to East German historiography: Fritz Klein, “Die Weltkriegsforschung der DDR,” in Hirschfeld et al., eds., Enzyklopädie, 316–
319. Eric J. Hobsbawm, “From Social History to the History of Society,” Daedalus 100 (1971), 20–45.
10. Ursula von Gersdorff, Frauen im Kriegsdienst 1914–1945
(Stuttgart, 1969); Stefan Bajohr, Die Hälfte der Fabrik. Geschichte
der Frauenarbeit in Deutschland 1914–1945 (Marburg, 1979); Ute
Daniel, Arbeiterfrauen in der Kriegsgesellschaft: Beruf, Familie
und Politik im Ersten Weltkrieg (Göttingen, 1989). Anne Roerkohl,
Hungerblockade und Heimatfront. Die kommunale Lebensmit­
telversorgung in Westfalen während des Ersten Weltkrieges (Stuttgart, 1991). Alf Lüdtke, Alltagsgeschichte (Frankfurt/Main/New
York, 1989).
11. As to the relation between social history and everyday history: F. J. Brüggemeier and J. Kocka, “Geschichte von unten—
Geschichte von innen.” Kontroversen um die Alltagsgeschichte
(Fernuniversität–Gesamthochschule Hagen, 1985). Jürgen Kocka,
Social History in Germany, Tijdschrift voor Sociale Geschiedenis
23 (1997), 137–146.
12. Cf. for example Bernd Hüppauf, ed., Ansichten vom Krieg.
Vergleichende Studien zum Ersten Weltkrieg in Literatur und Ge­
sellschaft (Königstein, 1984); Scott D. Denham, Visions of War:
Ideologies and Images of War in German Literature before and
after the Great War (Bern, 1992); George L. Mosse, Gefallen für das
Vaterland (Stuttgart, 1993); Gerhard Hirschfeld et al., eds., “Keiner
fühlt sich hier mehr als Mensch. . . .” Erlebnis und Wirkung des Er­
sten Weltkriegs (Essen, 1993); Rainer Rother, ed., Die letzten Tage
der Menschheit. Bilder des Ersten Weltkriegs (Berlin, 1994); Reinhart Koselleck and Michael Jeismann, eds., Der politische Toten­
Kocka_Book.indb 154
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Notes to Pages 106–107
kult. Kriegerdenkmäler in der Moderne (Berlin, 1994); Wolfgang
Mommsen, ed., Kultur und Krieg. Die Rolle der Intellektuellen,
Künstler und Schriftsteller im Ersten Weltkrieg (Munich, 1996);
Bernd Ulrich, Die Augenzeugen. Deutsche Feldpostbriefe in Krieg
und Nachkriegszeit 1914–1933 (Essen, 1997); Christoph Jahr,
Gewöhnliche Soldaten. Desertion und Deserteure im deutschen
und britischen Heer 1914–1918 (Göttingen, 1998); Jeffrey Verhey,
Der “Geist von 1914” und die Erfindung der Volksgemeinschaft
(Hamburg, 2000); Anna Lipp, Meinungslenkung im Krieg. Kriegser­
fahrungen deutscher Soldaten und ihre Deutung 1914–1918 (Göttingen, 2003).
13. Bernd Ulrich and Benjamin Ziemann, eds., Krieg im Frieden.
Die umkämpfte Erinnerung an den Ersten Weltkrieg (Frankfurt/M.,
1997); Jost Dülffer and Gerd Krumeich, eds., Der verlorene Frieden.
Politik und Kriegskultur nach 1918 (Essen, 2002); Jay M. Winter,
ed., War and Remembrance in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge,
2000); idem and Antoine Prost, The Great War in History: Debates
and Controversies, 1914 to the Present (Cambridge, 2006); Oliver
Janz, Das symbolische Kapital der Trauer: Nation, Religion und
Familie im italienischen Gefallenenkult des Ersten Weltkriegs
(Tübingen, 2009); Arnd Bauerkämper, Elise Julien, and Jakob Vogel,
eds., Europa im Ersten Weltkrieg. Neue Fragen und Perspektiven
(Göttingen, 2009).
14. Cf. for example Michael Adas, “Contested Hegemony:
The Great War and the Afro-Asian Assault on the Civilizing Mission Ideology,” in Praesenjit Duara, ed., Decolonization: Per­
spectives from Now and Then (London, 2004), 78–100; Sebastian
Conrad, Globalisierung und Nation im Deutschen Kaiserreich
(Munich, 2006); Martin Thomas, Crises of Empire: Decolonization
and Europe’s Imperial Nation States, 1918–1975 (London, 2008);
Jürgen Osterhammel and Niels P. Petersson, Geschichte der Glo­
balisierung. Dimensionen, Prozesse, Epochen (Munich, 2006),
63–83; Hanna Schissler, “Weltgeschichte als Geschichte der sich
globalisierenden Welt,” Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte 1 (2005),
15. Cf. Hans-Ulrich Wehler, Deutsche Gesellschaftsgeschichte
im 19. Jahrhundert, Bd. 4: Vom Beginn des Ersten Weltkrieg bis
zur Gründung der beiden deutschen Staaten 1914–1949 (Munich,
2003), 222: the author stresses that the “long nineteenth century,”
Kocka_Book.indb 155
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Notes to Pages 108–113
which had begun 1789, ended 1914. Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of
Extremes: A History of the World, 1914–1991 (New York, 1994),
24: “In short, 1914 opens the age of massacre.” Michael Howard, “A Thirty Years War? The Two World Wars in Historical Perspective,” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 6 (1993),
171–184. Comparing the two world wars: Bruno Thoß and HansErich Volkmann, eds., Erster Weltkrieg—Zweiter Weltkrieg: Ein
Vergleich. Krieg, Kriegserlebnis Kriegserfahrung in Deutschland
1914–1945 (Paderborn, 2002).
16. Cf. n. 2 above. Rolf Torstendahl, ed., An Assessment of
Twentieth-Century Historiography (Stockholm, 2000); Q. Edward Wang and Georg Iggers, eds., Turning Points in Historiogra­
phy: A Cross-cultural Perspective (Worcester, 2002); Stefan Berger
and Chris Lorenz, eds., Writing the Nation, vol. 3: The Contested
Nation—Ethnicity, Class, Religion and Gernder in National His­
tories (Houndmills, 2008); Benedikt Stuchtey and Peter Wende,
eds., British and German Historiography, 1750–1950 (Oxford,
2000); Peter Burke, The French Historical Revolution: The An­
nales School, 1929–1989 (Cambridge, 1990); Jacques Revel and
Lynn Hunt, eds., Histories: French Constructions of the Past (New
York, 1995); Michael Bentley, Modernizing England’s Past: English
Historiography in the Age of Modernism (Cambridge, 2005); Geoff
Eley, A Crooked Line: From Cultural History to the History of So­
ciety (Ann Arbor, Mich., 2005); Lynn A. Hunt, ed., The New Cul­
tural History (Berkeley, 1989); Gabrielle Spiegel, ed., Practicing
History: New Directions in Historical Writing after the Linguistic
Turn (New York, 2005); William H. Sewell, Jr., Logics of History:
Social Theory and Social Transformation (Chicago, 2005).
17. “Mode,” in Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon, 6th
ed., vol. 14 (Leipzig, 1909), 11–12; see the reference to Simmel and
Laermann in n. 3 above.
18. Anthony Grafton, The Footnote: A Curious History (Cambridge, 1999).
19. Cf. Max Weber, “Die “Objektivität” sozialwissenschaftlicher und sozialpolitischer Erkenntnis” (1904), in idem, Gesam­
melte Aufsätze zur Wissenschaftslehre, 3rd ed. (Tübingen, 1968),
149–185; Fritz Ringer, Max Weber’s Methodology: The Unification
of the Cultural and Social Sciences (London/Cambridge, 1997);
Kocka_Book.indb 156
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Notes to Pages 113–115
Stephen Kalberg, Max Weber’s Comparative Historical Sociology:
An Interpretation and Critique (Chicago, 1994).
20. Jörn Rüsen, ed., Meaning and Representation in History
(New York, 2006).
21. Walter Benjamin, Illuminations: Essays and Reflections, ed.
and with an introd. by Hannah Arendt (London, 1999/1st ed. 1969),
253. “Die Mode hat die Witterung für das Aktuelle, wo immer es
sich im Dickicht des Einst bewegt. Sie ist der Tigersprung ins Vergangene.” Benjamin, “Über den Begriff der Geschichte,” in idem,
Gesammelte Schriften, ed. Rolf Tiedemann and Hermann Schweppenhäuser (Frankfurt/Main 1992/1st ed. 1974), 691–704, 701.
22. Cf. Jürgen Kocka, “Losses, Gains, and Opportunities: Social
History Today,” Journal of Social History 37 (2003), 21–28.
23. Cf. Iggers and Wang, A Global History of Modern Histori­
ography, 270–281; Callum G. Brown, Postmodernism for Histori­
ans (Harlow, 2005); Peter Burke, What Is Cultural History? (Cambridge, 2004).
24. Iggers and Wang, A Global History of Modern Historiogra­
phy, 363–401; Benedikt Stuchtey and Eckhardt Fuchs, eds., Writ­
ing World History, 1800–2000 (Oxford, 2003); Patrick Manning,
Navigating World History: Historians Create a Global Past (New
York, 2003); Solvi Sogner, ed., Making Sense of Global History: The
Nineteenth International Congress of the Historical Sciences, Oslo
2000 Commemorative Volume (Oslo, 2001); Sebastian Conrad et
al., eds., Globalgeschichte. Theorien, Ansätze, Themen (Frankfurt/
New York, 2007); Jürgen Osterhammel, Die Verwandlung der Welt.
Eine Geschichte des 19. Jahrhunderts (Munich, 2009), 13–21.
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Adenauer, Konrad, 75–76
amnesia/denial, 75, 78, 85, 91
antisemitism, 24, 27
aristocracy. See nobility
Benedict XVI, 90
Benjamin, Walter, 113
Bismarck, Otto von, 26
bourgeois/Bürger, 4–5, 9–10, 31,
bourgeoisie/Bürgertum, 4–5,
9–31, 124n23; Bildungs­
bürgertum (educated
bourgeoisie), 11, 23, 49; and
civil society, 10, 17, 22–
31; culture of, 13–15, 23;
defined, 9, 10–15, 21, 24, 31;
and family, 14, 16, 21, 30;
in the Federal Republic of
Germany, 29–30; and gender,
11, 21, 30; in the German
Democratic Republic, 29–30,
44–45; history of concept,
10–15; in Imperial Germany,
22–28; and nationalism, 24–
26; and National Socialism,
29; and nobility, 12–13, 23–
24; Wirtschaftsbürgertum
(economic bourgeoisie),10, 23;
and working class, 13, 24, 30
Butler, Samuel, 101
Kocka_Book.indb 159
capitalism, 17–18, 22, 25, 64
Catholic Church, 23, 77
citizen/Bürger, 4, 9, 17, 21, 31
civil society/bürgerliche
Gesellschaft, 4–6, 9–31, 120–
21n11; and bourgeoisie, 10,
17, 22–31; and capitalism,
17–18, 22, 25; and collective
memory, 5, 96; defined,
9, 19–20; in the Federal
Republic of Germany, 29–
30, 63, 77; and gender, 11,
21–22, 27–28; in the German
Democratic Republic, 30, 64;
history of concept, 15–19;
industrialization and, 22–24,
collective memory, 76–81,
86; and civil society, 5, 96;
diversification of, 92–97;
in the Federal Republic of
Germany, 76, 78–81, 86; and
the German Democratic
Republic, 59, 76, 79–81, 92–
93; and the Holocaust, 92;
institutionalization of, 90–92;
and the Nazi dictatorship, 59,
76, 78, 79–81; pluralization
of, 95; and Stalinism, 88, 93,
96; transnationalization of,
97, 106–9; and unification,
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82–87; and World War II,
57, 70, 89, 94–95. See also
commemoration, 91–92, 96;
of the German Democratic
Republic, 82, 85, 87; of Nazi
past, 80–82
comparative history/comparison,
4–5, 10, 39, 56–57, 59–65, 69,
83, 86–87, 93, 96–97, 106–7,
cultural history, 105, 110, 114
Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic,
29, 58, 86, 94
denazification, 70–73, 75
dictatorship, 3–6, 37–38, 40;
and bourgeoisie, 29; and
civil society, 18, 29; and
collective memory, 88, 93,
97; comparing the German
Democratic Republic and
Nazi Germany, 5, 56–61, 69,
82–88, 92–93, 95, 97; and
democracy, 3–6; German
Democratic Republic as,
5, 35, 37–65, 82–88, 93, 97;
Nazi dictatorship, 73–76, 81;
totalitarian dictatorship, 37
Droysen, Johann Gustav, 35, 38,
East Germany. See German
Democratic Republic
economic history, 103, 109, 114
education/Bildung, 11, 14, 21, 23,
25, 27
Eichmann, Adolf, trial of, 77
elites: and bourgeoisie, 13, 24,
27, 53; and civil society, 26–
27; in the Federal Republic of
Germany, 75; in the German
Democratic Republic, 45–47,
74, 83–84; in Nazi Germany,
73, 84
Kocka_Book.indb 160
entangled history/ histoire
geschichte, 39, 61, 63, 96, 107,
110, 115
family, 14, 16, 21, 30, 51
fashion, 6, 101–2, 111–15
Federal Republic of Germany:
civil society in, 29–30, 63, 77;
and collective memory, 76–81,
86; compared to the German
Democratic Republic, 36–39,
53, 59–65, 69–71, 74, 85–86;
elites in, 74; immigration to,
44, 60; and unification, 36,
82–84; youth in, 77–78
Frankfurt Auschwitz trial, 77
Frei, Norbert, 90
Freie Deutsche Jugend, 50
Fritz Fischer debate, 103
Fulbrook, Mary, 41
Garve, Christian, 9
Gauck, Joachim, 85
gender, 11, 21, 29–30, 104
German Democratic Republic
(GDR), 5, 35–65; anti-fascism
in, 72, 74; bureaucracy
in, 42–44; censorship and
controlling information in,
42–43, 50–51; collectivization
and land reform in, 45–46,
84; compared to the Federal
Republic of Germany,
39, 59–65, 69–71, 74, 85–
86; compared to the Nazi
dictatorship, 5, 35, 37–65, 82–
88, 93, 97; compared to other
state socialist countries, 39,
62–65; delegitimization of,
36, 65, 83–84; elites in, 45–48,
74, 83; emigration from, 44,
60; family and gender in, 51,
57; limits on control, 48–54;
Marxism–Leninism in, 40, 63,
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69, 74; Protestant church in,
46, 48–49; relationship with
Federal Republic of Germany,
63; social inequality in, 45–
46; social mobility in, 46–
47, 53–54; Soviet influence
on, 45, 57–58, 63–64, 97; and
unification, 30, 36–38, 58, 84;
welfare state in, 40, 47–48,
60–61; working class in, 44,
46, 53; workplace in, 51–52;
young generations in, 47, 50,
54–55. See also collective
memory; dictatorship
global history, 106–7, 110,
globalization, 64, 106–7, 110, 114
Grass, Günter, 90
Gurion, Ben, 75
Henrich, Rolf, 48
Heym, Stefan, 37
Hirschman, Albert O., 44
historians’ debate/
Historikerstreit, 81,
historical methods, 61, 111–15
history, changes in the discipline,
Hitler, Adolf, 57, 76, 82, 90;
assassination attempt on, 76
Hobsbawm, Eric, 37, 104
Holocaust, 80, 88–95
Hungary, 29, 58, 62–63
Imperial Germany/Kaiserreich,
industrialization, 17, 22, 28, 62
Jarausch, Konrad, 48
Jews, 21, 76, 80–81, 89, 93
Korn, Salomon, 93
Kornai, Janós, 52
Kundera, Milan, 101
Kocka_Book.indb 161
Lübbe, Hermann, 75
memory. See collective memory;
middle class. See bourgeoisie/
narrative history, 104–5, 109, 114
nationalism, 24–27, 107
National Socialism, 35, 70–73,
75, 78–81, 88–89, 91–93, 95.
See also collective memory;
commemoration; dictatorship
nobility, 12, 13, 23, 30
Nuremberg Trials, 72
Oettinger, Günther, 90
Party of Democratic Socialism
(PDS), 83
Poland, 29, 58, 62–63, 86, 94
political history, 4, 39, 109
Protestant church, 46, 48–49,
71, 77
Secret Service (Stasi), 41–42, 85
Simmel, Georg, 101, 111
social history, 4, 11, 51, 54, 103–
5, 109, 114
Socialist Unity Party (SED), 40,
Sonderweg, 61, 123n16
Soviet occupation, 45, 54–55, 82,
87, 94, 95
Stalinism, 40, 54, 82, 88, 92–93,
totalitarianism, 56–57, 82–83, 86
total war, 70, 95
transnationalism, 110, 115
trials, 72, 77, 143–44n12
truth in history, 3, 6, 96, 102,
unification, 30, 36–38, 82–87
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victims, 74–75, 89–90, 94;
collective memory and, 96–
97, 151n42; Germans as, 71,
94, 150n39; organizations of,
90–92, 94; and perpetrators,
80, 89
Weber, Max, 42, 113
Weizsäcker, Richard von, 80
West Germany. See Federal
Republic of Germany
working class(es), 13, 23–24, 30,
44, 46, 53
World War I: memory of, 63, 106;
historiography of, 102–10
World War II, 70, 88. See also
collective memory
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