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Area and Ethnic Studies > German Studies

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Ordinary Germans in Extraordinary Times Cover

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Ordinary Germans in Extraordinary Times

The Nazi Revolution in Hildesheim

Andrew Stuart Bergerson

Hildesheim is a mid-sized provincial town in northwest Germany. Ordinary Germans in Extraordinary Times is a carefully drawn account of how townspeople went about their lives and reacted to events during the Nazi era. Andrew Stuart Bergerson argues that ordinary Germans did in fact make Germany and Europe more fascist, more racist, and more modern during the 1930s, but they disguised their involvement behind a pre-existing veil of normalcy.

Bergerson details a way of being, believing, and behaving by which "ordinary Germans" imagined their powerlessness and absence of responsibility even as they collaborated in the Nazi revolution. He builds his story on research that includes anecdotes of everyday life collected systematically from newspapers, literature, photography, personal documents, public records, and especially extensive interviews with a representative sample of residents born between 1900 and 1930.

The book considers the actual customs and experiences of friendship and neighborliness in a German town before, during, and after the Third Reich. By analyzing the customs of conviviality in interwar Hildesheim, and the culture of normalcy these customs invoked, Bergerson aims to help us better understand how ordinary Germans transformed "neighbors" into "Jews" or "Aryans."

The Origins of Christian Democracy Cover

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The Origins of Christian Democracy

Politics and Confession in Modern Germany

Maria Mitchell

This book is a pioneering contribution to the history of the founding of the West German political system after the Second World War. The political cooperation between Catholics and Protestants that resulted in the formation of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in occupied and early West Germany represented a significant change from a long history of hostility in confessional relations. Given that the CDU went on to dominate politics in West Germany well into the 1960s, Maria D. Mitchell argues that an understanding of what made this interconfessional party possible is crucial to an exploration of German history in the postwar period. She examines the political history of party formation as well as the religious beliefs and motivations that shaped the party's philosophy and positions. She provides an authoritative guide to the complex processes of maneuvering and negotiation that produced the CDU during 1945-46. The full range of political possibilities is discussed, including the suppressed alternatives to the Adenauer/Erhard axis that eventually defined the party's trajectory during the 1950s and the abortive Christian Socialism associated with Jacob Kaiser.

Other Germans Cover

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Other Germans

Black Germans and the Politics of Race, Gender, and Memory in the Third Reich

Tina M. Campt

It's hard to imagine an issue or image more riveting than Black Germans during the Third Reich. Yet accounts of their lives are virtually nonexistent, despite the fact that they lived through a regime dedicated to racial purity. Tina Campt's Other Germans tells the story of this largely forgotten group of individuals, with important distinctions from other accounts. Most strikingly, Campt centers her arguments on race, rather than anti-semitism. She also provides oral history as background for her study, interviewing two Black Germans for the book. In the end, the author comes face to face with an inevitable question: Is there a relationship between the history of Black Germans and those of other black communities? The answers to Campt's questions make Other Germans essential reading in the emerging study of what it meant to be black and German in the context of a society that looked at anyone with non-German blood as racially impure at best.

The People's Own Landscape Cover

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The People's Own Landscape

Nature, Tourism, and Dictatorship in East Germany

Scott Moranda

East Germany’s Socialist Unity Party aimed to placate a public well aware of the higher standards of living enjoyed elsewhere by encouraging them to participate in outdoor activities and take vacations in the countryside. Scott Moranda considers East Germany’s rural landscapes from the perspective of both technical experts (landscape architects, biologists, and physicians) who hoped to dictate how vacationers interacted with nature, and the vacationers themselves, whose outdoor experience shaped their understanding of environmental change. As authorities eliminated traditional tourist and nature conservation organizations, dissident conservationists demanded better protection of natural spaces. At the same time, many East Germans shared their government’s expectations for economic development that had real consequences for the land. By the 1980s, environmentalists saw themselves as outsiders struggling against the state and a public that had embraced mainstream ideas about limitless economic growth and material pleasures.

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Politics of Ethnic Survival

Germans in Prague, 1861-1914

by Gary Cohen

This book examines how one of Imperial Austria's principal ethnic conflicts, that between Czechs and Germans, developed in one of the major cities during the era of industrialization and urban growth. It shows how the inhabitants of Prague, the capital of Bohemia, constructed and articulated ethnic group loyalties and social solidarities over the course of the nineteenth century. The German-speaking inhabitants of the Bohemian capital developed a group identification and defined themselves as a minority as they dealt with growing Czech political and economic strength in the city and with their own sharp numerical decline: in the 1910 census only seven percent of the metropolitan population claimed that they spoke primarily German.

Prelude to Blitzkrieg Cover

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Prelude to Blitzkrieg

The 1916 Austro-German Campaign in Romania

Michael B. Barrett

In contrast to the trench-war deadlock on the Western Front, combat in Romania and Transylvania in 1916 foreshadowed the lightning warfare of WWII. When Romania joined the Allies and invaded Transylvania without warning, the Germans responded by unleashing a campaign of bold, rapid infantry movements, with cavalry providing cover or pursuing the crushed foe. Hitting where least expected and advancing before the Romanians could react—even bombing their capital from a Zeppelin soon after war was declared—the Germans and Austrians poured over the formidable Transylvanian Alps onto the plains of Walachia, rolling up the Romanian army from west to east, and driving the shattered remnants into Russia. Prelude to Blitzkrieg tells the story of this largely ignored campaign to determine why it did not devolve into the mud and misery of trench warfare, so ubiquitous elsewhere.

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Princely Brothers and Sisters

The Sibling Bond in German Politics, 1100-1250

by Jonathan R. Lyon

In Princely Brothers and Sisters, Jonathan R. Lyon takes a fresh look at sibling networks and the role they played in shaping the practice of politics in the Middle Ages. Focusing on nine of the most prominent aristocratic families in the German kingdom during the Staufen period (1138-1250), Lyon finds that noblemen-and to a lesser extent, noblewomen-relied on the cooperation and support of their siblings as they sought to maintain or expand their power and influence within a competitive political environment. Consequently, sibling relationships proved crucial at key moments in shaping the political and territorial interests of many lords of the kingdom.

Family historians have largely overlooked brothers and sisters in the political life of medieval societies. As Lyon points out, however, siblings are the contemporaries whose lives normally overlap the longest. More so than parents and children, husbands and wives, or lords and vassals, brothers and sisters have the potential to develop relationships that span entire lifetimes. The longevity of some sibling bonds therefore created opportunities for noble brothers and sisters to collaborate in especially potent ways. As Lyon shows, cohesive networks of brothers and sisters proved remarkably effective at counterbalancing the authority of the Staufen kings and emperors. Well written and impeccably researched, Princely Brothers and Sisters is an important book not only for medieval German historians but also for the field of family history.

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Printing and Prophecy

Prognostication and Media Change 1450-1550

Jonathan Green

Printing and Prophecy: Prognostication and Media Change 1450-1550 examines prognostic traditions and late medieval prophetic texts in the first century of printing and their effect on the new medium of print. The many prophetic and prognostic works that followed Europe's earliest known printed book---not the Gutenberg Bible, but the Sibyl's Prophecy, printed by Gutenberg two years earlier and known today only from a single page---over the next century were perennial best sellers for many printers, and they provide the modern observer with a unique way to study the history and inner workings of the print medium. The very popularity of these works, often published as affordable booklets, raised fears of social unrest. Printers therefore had to meet customer demand while at the same time channeling readers' reactions along approved paths. Authors were packaged---and packaged themselves---in word and image to respond to the tension, while leading figures of early modern culture such as Paracelsus, Martin Luther, and Sebastian Brant used printed prophecies for their own purposes in a rapidly changing society. Based on a wide reading of many sources, Printing and Prophecy contributes to the study of early modern literature, including how print changed the relationship among authors, readers, and texts. The prophetic and astrological texts the book examines document changes in early modern society that are particularly relevant to German studies and are key texts for understanding the development of science, religion, and popular culture in the early modern period. By combining the methods of cultural studies and book history, this volume brings a new perspective to the study of Gutenberg and later printers.

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Prosaic Conditions

Heinrich Heine and the Spaces of Zionist Literature

Na'ama Rokem

In her penetrating new study, Na’ama Rokem observes that prose writing—more than poetry, drama, or other genres—came to signify a historic rift that resulted in loss and disenchantment. In Prosaic Conditions, Rokem treats prose as a signifying practice—that is, a practice that creates meaning. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, prose emerges in competition with other existing practices, specifically, the practice of performance. Using Zionist literature as a test case, Rokem examines the ways in which Zionist authors put prose to use, both as a concept and as a literary mode. Writing prose enables these authors to grapple with historical, political, and spatial transformations and to understand the interrelatedness of all of these changes.

Re-mapping Polish-German Historical Memory Cover

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Re-mapping Polish-German Historical Memory

Physical, Political, and Literary Spaces since World War II

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