Civil Society and Dictatorship in Modern German History
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: Brandeis University Press
Series: Menahem Stern Jerusalem Lectures
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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...
1 | Introduction
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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...
2 | Bourgeois Culture and Civil Society: The German Case in a European Context
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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...
3 | Comparing Dictatorships: Toward a Social History of the German Democratic Republic
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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...
4 | Dealing with Difficult Pasts: Collective Memories and Politics in Germany after 1945 and 1990
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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...
5 | Historians, Fashion, and Truth: The Last Fifty Years
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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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Page Count: 176
Publication Year: 2010
Series Title: Menahem Stern Jerusalem Lectures