HIST 1000 - Modern Germany
Germany has stood at the center of world events throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; its crises have profoundly impacted Europe and the United States for the past 150 years. German unification in 1871 profoundly upset the balance of power in Europe. Germans helped plunge Europe into World War I, were responsible for the Second World War, and perpetrated the Holocaust. After 1945, West Germany, a NATO member, developed into one of the strongest economies in the world, while East Germany, part of the Warsaw Pact, became one of the most repressive regimes in Europe. Today, Germany’s stability is at the heart of a new post-Cold War Europe and the driving force behind the European Union.
The unifying theme of this course will be the search for a stable national identity in times of great upheaval. As we explore the creation of modern Germany out of a hodgepodge of states in which people often spoke mutually unintelligible dialects, we will ask what it meant to be German and what Germans chose to remember and forget about their history. Beginning with the transformation of 19th century Germany into an industrial world power with a thriving, liberal middle-class, we will examine Germans’ role on the European stage up to 1914, in World War One, the Weimar Republic, during National Socialism, the Holocaust, and the European Union. We will pay particular attention to the “catastrophe” that was German history from 1914-1945, asking whether Germany developed along a special path (Sonderweg), what made possible the rise of Hitler, yet remaining open to the possibilities of the Weimar Republic. We will then explore the division of communist East and capitalist West Germany and the fall of the Iron Curtain, and ask how Germans successfully transitioned from autocracy to democracy after 1945.
Anticipated Terms Offered: varies