Instructor: Dr. Emmanuel Hogg

This course explores the extraordinary political, social, economic, intellectual, and cultural change that occurred in Germany during the ‘short’ twentieth Century, c. 1918-1990 .  It will explore the fall of the Wilhelmine Empire during and after the First World War; the establishment of a Weimar Republic from 1919-1933; the seizure of power by the Nazi regime and the subsequent attempt at building a ‘Third Reich’ in 1933 to its collapse during the Second World War; the re-building of Germany following the war into two, divided states, the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in the East and the German Federal Republic (FRG) in the West; and the re-unification of the two Germanies into the so-called ‘Berlin Republic’ following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.  The course will introduce the following themes of relevance to German history: German society at the end of the First World War; Modernity and Modernism; the rise of the extreme right; German communism; “Fake news” and the “Lügenpresse; Hitler as historical figure and myth; Nazi racial politics and every-day practices; the Second World War as ‘Total War’ and ‘War of Extermination’; the Holocaust; Germans as perpetrators and victims; living in divided a Germany; migration to and from Germany; the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall; History and Memory in Germany today.

Over the course of the term, students will become familiar with important themes, events, and periods in Germany’s contemporary history.  In addition, students will be expected to engage with the various ways history has been used and abused by a variety of individuals and institutions.  Other than gaining knowledge of major historical events that shaped Germany, and subsequently Europe and the world, students will be encouraged to think critically about the ways the political instability that comes with so many regime changes over a relatively short period of time affected how the past may have been conceived.  Germany in the 20th Century, therefore, will serve as a lens through which we will engage with issues and themes of fundamental importance to historical practice, introducing students to different methodologies, theories, and applications of history.

Students will be asked to read secondary literature, but will also be asked to engage with non-textual sources, such as films, documentaries, memorials, museums, exhibits, images, that have played an important role in the ways that German history has been presented, constructed, negotiated, debated, and represented. The course does not necessitate any knowledge of the German language: all of our readings will be in English and other media, such as films and documentaries, will be subtitled. Nevertheless, it is hoped that some important German terms, along with a greater appreciation for German culture, will be picked up along the way. That the majority of our readings will come from non-German scholars, German expatriates, or Germans who have made the conscious decision to publish in English rather than exclusively in German should serve to remind students to think about two main questions that will resonate throughout the course:  What is German history?