History | Contemporary Germany
J300 | 14913 | Roos
A portion of the above class reserved for majors
Above class COLL intensive writing section
Above class open to undergraduates only
In this course, we will explore major problems and themes in German
history between 1945 and the present. At the end of the Second World
War, German cities lay in ruins and the full extent of Nazism’s
genocidal crimes shocked the world. It was hard to imagine how
Germans could ever emerge from the dark shadow of the Holocaust and
rebuild a civilized society. Soon thereafter, the Cold War seemed to
cement forever Germany’s division into two separate states. And yet,
West Germany evolved into a stable democratic regime, while its East
German neighbor barely survived its fiftieth anniversary. The
contested path towards rebuilding democracy in the Federal Republic
of Germany is one major focus: How did West Germans after the war
come to terms with their own involvement in Nazi crimes? What were
the special features of West German democracy in the 1950s and
1960s, and how did the subsequent emergence of the student, women’s,
and ecological movements change West German politics and society? We
will also look at East German state socialism and its internal
tensions and contradictions. The factors leading to German
reunification in 1989/90 are another major focal point of the class.
Last but not least, we will take a look at current issues in present-
day Germany. Readings will combine a textbook (Mary Fulbrook, "The
Divided Nation"), fiction (Heinrich Böll, "The Lost Honor of
Katarina Blum"), and scholarly books and articles.
Requirements: History J300 courses require a substantial amount of
writing. Students will write three 5-6 page essays on assigned
readings, as well as one 12-15 page paper on a topic of their own
choice from the field of German history between 1945 and the present.
Grade components: Participation: twenty percent; short essays: ten
percent each; long essay: 50 percent.