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Civil Society and Dictatorship in Modern German History

Juergen Kocka

Publication Year: 2010

In this rich and thought-provoking work, Juergen Kocka focuses his analytic lens on Germany's long twentieth century, from the empire to the present. He begins by establishing the semantic problematic in the German term Buergertum and presenting an analytical survey of German civil society over the past 120 years. He then offers a fascinating social history of the GDR, along with a comparative analysis of the East German dictatorship and that of the Third Reich. He further compares Germany's "two dictatorships" in regard to historical memory, post-regime justice, and historiography before and after reunification. Kocka concludes with a wonderfully expansive view of historical interpretation and even argues for the place of trendiness and fashion in the profession.

Published by: Brandeis University Press

Series: Menahem Stern Jerusalem Lectures


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pp. c-c

Front Matter

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-xii

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...

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1 | Introduction

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pp. 1-6

The 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...

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2 | Bourgeois Culture and Civil Society: The German Case in a European Context

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pp. 7-32

It 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...

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3 | Comparing Dictatorships: Toward a Social History of the German Democratic Republic

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pp. 33-66

Johann 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...

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4 | Dealing with Difficult Pasts: Collective Memories and Politics in Germany after 1945 and 1990

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pp. 67-98

The 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...

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5 | Historians, Fashion, and Truth: The Last Fifty Years

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pp. 99-116

In 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...


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pp. 117-158


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pp. 159-164

E-ISBN-13: 9781584659105
E-ISBN-10: 1584659106
Print-ISBN-13: 9781584658658

Page Count: 176
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Menahem Stern Jerusalem Lectures
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OCLC Number: 741507460
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Civil Society and Dictatorship in Modern German History

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Civil society -- Germany -- History -- 20th century.
  • Dictatorship -- Germany -- History -- 20th century.
  • Germany -- History -- 20th century.
  • Germany -- Social conditions -- 20th century.
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