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Changing the World, Changing Oneself

Changing the World, Changing Oneself: Political Protest and Collective Identities in West Germany and the U.S. in the 1960s and 1970s

Belinda Davis
Wilfried Mausbach
Martin Klimke
Carla MacDougall
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 356
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  • Book Info
    Changing the World, Changing Oneself
    Book Description:

    A captivating time, the 60s and 70s now draw more attention than ever. The first substantial work by historians has appeared only in the last few years, and this volume offers an important contribution. These meticulously researched essays offer new perspectives on the Cold War and global relations in the 1960s and 70s through the perspective of the youth movements that shook the U.S., Western Europe, and beyond. These movements led to the transformation of diplomatic relations and domestic political cultures, as well as ideas about democracy and who best understood and promoted it. Bringing together scholars of several countries and many disciplines, this volume also uniquely features the reflections of former activists.

    eISBN: 978-1-84545-808-9
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xxii)
    Belinda Davis, Wilfried Mausbach, Martin Klimke and Carla MacDougall

    The keyword “1968”—and the longer period it signifies—automatically evokes thoughts of global action and transnational relations. These relations took place at the “highest” and “lowest” levels, including at the level of the self-image of contemporary activists. The observation of Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a leading activist in Paris and then in Frankfurt, is a typical product of this cosmopolitan panopticon: “Paris, Berlin, Frankfurt, New York, Berkeley, Rome, Prague, Rio, Mexico City, Warsaw—those were the sites of a revolt that traveled around the globe and that conquered the hearts and dreams of an entire generation. The year 1968 was, in...

  5. Part I. Atlantic Crossings:: From Germany to America and Back

    • Chapter 1 Intellectual Transfer: Theodor W. Adorno’s American Experience
      (pp. 3-12)
      Detlev Claussen

      By the late 1960s Theodor W. Adorno had already become a kind of institution in Germany. Adorno himself, appalled, was among the first to realize this. But at that point no one gave much thought to the fact that Adorno had also become a transatlantic institution. In 1967, when I was attending my first advanced seminar in philosophy, Angela Davis presented a paper and Irving Wohlfarth and Sam Weber were among the participants. All three played important roles in translating, introducing, and “mediating” Adorno and Walter Benjamin’s relation to a larger world. In 1969 Martin Jay came to Frankfurt. His...

    • Chapter 2 The Limits of Praxis: The Social-Psychological Foundations of Theodor Adorno’s and Herbert Marcuse’s Interpretations of the 1960s Protest Movements
      (pp. 13-38)
      John Abromeit

      There has been much research, documentation, and discussion of Theodor Adorno’s and Herbert Marcuse’s relationships to the protest movements of the 1960s, but the general understanding of their attitudes and involvement is still largely dominated by myth. In its most common form, the myth can be described as follows. Adorno was an aloof mandarin who refused to translate his radical theoretical positions into concrete political practice. The repressive consequences of Adorno’s political quietism were demonstrated most clearly by his response to the occupation of the Institute for Social Research in January 1969 by a group of students from the Socialist...

  6. Part II. Spaces and Identities

    • Chapter 3 America’s Vietnam in Germany—Germany in America’s Vietnam: On the Relocation of Spaces and the Appropriation of History
      (pp. 41-64)
      Wilfried Mausbach

      Germany—America—Vietnam. Even the well-disposed reader might be forgiven for fearing that I am pretty much doing the splits here. Yet, in starting out with this chapter, I will not flinch from adding yet another region to the roster. Recently, the German parliament debated a resolution concerning the massacres of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1917. Filed in February 2005 by Germany’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), the resolution declares that Turkey’s ongoing denial to recognize the crimes of its predecessor was inconsistent with the idea of reconciliation as a guiding principle of the European Union, to...

    • Chapter 4 Topographies of Memory: The 1960s Student Movement in Germany and the US. Representations in Contemporary German Literature
      (pp. 65-82)
      Susanne Rinner

      This chapter explores the representation of the 1960s student movement in contemporary German literature. The theoretical frame for my analysis is informed by the discourse on remembering and forgetting, storytelling and silence. While my research is part of a larger project,¹ in this essay I am focusing on the representation of the United States and the American-German relationship within the literary representations of 1968.²

      Told from the point of view of first-person narrators who participated in the events of 1968, the novels I am reading—Frühstück mit Maxby Ulrike Kolb (2000),Der Vorleserby Bernhard Schlink (1995), andEduards...

    • Chapter 5 “We too are Berliners”: Protest, Symbolism, and the City in Cold War Germany
      (pp. 83-102)
      Carla MacDougall

      On 11 June 1982, US President Ronald Reagan visited West Berlin after a summit meeting of the NATO Council in Bonn one day before. To the embarrassment of the political elite, hundreds of thousands of peace and anti-nuclear demonstrators came out on the streets of Bonn and West Berlin to protest against Reagan’s foreign and defense policies concerning rearmament, and against NATO’s security strategies.¹ The belligerent tone of the new Reagan administration, demonstrated by the president’s explicit commitment to the military buildup already begun under President Jimmy Carter, and the implementation of NATO’s 1979 double-track decision to deploy intermediate-range nuclear...

  7. Part III. Protest and Power

    • Chapter 6 A Growing Problem for US Foreign Policy: The West German Student Movement and the Western Alliance
      (pp. 105-132)
      Martin Klimke

      On 21 May 1968, George McGhee departed from his post as US ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany to take on the job of ambassador-at-large in Washington.¹ Throughout his diplomatic career, McGhee had shown a substantial interest in the situation of international youth. When the Department of State formed a “Student Unrest Study Group” in mid 1968 to come to terms with the international implications of the events of the “French May” for US foreign policy, McGhee seemed like the natural candidate for the chairmanship. In his report to the president, McGhee wrote that internationally, students had “toppled prime...

    • Chapter 7 Ostpolitik as Domestic Containment: The Cultural Contradictions of the Cold War and the West German State Response
      (pp. 133-152)
      Jeremi Suri

      The history of the Cold War in the 1960s is a history of disillusionment and unintended consequences. Writing in the aftermath of this turbulent decade, sociologist Daniel Bell observed that the promises of liberal capitalism in the twentieth century—individual enterprise, extensive wealth creation, and technological progress—had produced their own internal detractors. Many of the young beneficiaries of capitalist enterprise, wealth, and technology in the most prosperous Western societies no longer wished to support this system of relations. Raised in privilege, Bell’s students at Harvard and other universities felt free to reject dominant political and economic institutions in search...

  8. Part IV. Power and Resistance

    • Chapter 8 Transformation by Subversion? The New Left and the Question of Violence
      (pp. 155-170)
      Ingrid Gilcher-Holtey

      “Take 2/3 part gasoline, 1/3 part sand and detergent.” This was the recipe to produce “Le cocktail Dany (inefficace),” published in March 1968 in the report of the “Student and Workers Struggle” committee of the 22 March Movement at the University of Nanterre.¹ Designed as a joke to comment ironically on the installation of iron doors at the administrative building of the university—a measure designed to protect the university against further occupation by students, as had taken place in March—it was to lead to unexpected effects. Leading student activist Daniel Cohn-Bendit was arrested on the charge of having...

    • Chapter 9 “From Protest to Resistance”: Ulrike Meinhof and the Transatlantic Movement of Ideas
      (pp. 171-188)
      Karin Bauer

      With her characteristic talent for combining the poetic and the programmatic, Ulrike Meinhof introduced the German left to a slogan that had long circulated in the United States in her April 1968 column entitled “From Protest to Resistance.” Although Meinhof attributed the phrase to an anonymous African-American speaker of the Black Power movement at the 1968 Vietnam Congress, the slogan can be traced back, according to a May 1967 article in theNew York Times, to Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) leader Carl Davidson.¹ The slogan still circulates widely today amongst anti-globalization, postcolonial environmental, feminist, anti-war, and various other...

  9. Part V. (En)counter-Culture

    • Chapter 10 White Negroes: The Fascination of the Authentic in the West German Counterculture of the 1960s
      (pp. 191-214)
      Detlef Siegfried

      In 1972, Helmut Salzinger commented on the revolutionary potential of long hair among young men by quoting a lengthy passage from Jerry Rubin’s manifesto “Do it!”, which had recently appeared in German. In it, the American hippie revolutionary describes how he tried to explain the meaning of his hairstyle to his Aunt Sadie, who, as a communist, was the black sheep of the family: “Aunt Sadie, Long hair is a commie plot! Long hair gets people uptight—more uptight than ideology, cause long hair is communication. We are a new minority group, a nationwide community of longhairs, a new identity,...

    • Chapter 11 The Black Panther Solidarity Committee and the Trial of the Ramstein 2
      (pp. 215-240)
      Maria Höhn

      At the end of the tumultuous 1960s, a most unusual political alliance emerged, made up of German student radicals and African-American GIs serving tours of duty in Germany.¹ In the larger narrative of 1968 their collaboration has been mostly overlooked, even though such alliances flourished in all German cities that were home both to US military bases and German universities. The foremost center of this activity, however, was the greater Frankfurt area, where KD Wolff , the former head of the German SDS, connected the local anti–Vietnam War struggle of student radicals with a Black Panther Solidarity campaign that...

    • Chapter 12 Between Ballots and Bullets
      (pp. 241-254)
      Georgy Katsiaficas

      Social movements in the 1960s provide astonishing evidence of the capacity of ordinary people to create participatory forms of popular power that contest the established system. In May 1968 in France, the entire country convulsed in near-revolution as organs of dual power sprang up everywhere. Two years later in the US, four million students and half a million faculty embarked upon a nationwide strike in May 1970 in response to the killings at Kent and Jackson State, the invasion of Cambodia, and repression of the Black Panther Party. No central organization brought together this strike—the largest in US history....

    • Chapter 13 A Whole World Opening Up: Transcultural Contact, Difference, and the Politicization of “New Left” Activists
      (pp. 255-274)
      Belinda Davis

      In the first postwar decades, West Germans were on the move. As a function of influences as diverse as forced migration, economic fortunes, American culture, and a growing Europeanism, residents of the new Federal Republic moved around physically as no Germans had before, within the country and outside the country.¹ The broader world moved around them, too, in small towns as well as in big cities. For younger West Germans, this mobility engendered a challenge to shared assumptions, and even a seeking out of difference, a fascination for the idea of how things could be different. While not all who...

  10. Part VI. A Retrospective

    • Chapter 14 “We didn’t know how it was going to turn out”: Contemporary Activists Discuss Their Experiences of the 1960s and 1970s
      (pp. 277-302)

      NB: This chapter draws on several public discussions with contemporaries, which accompanied the conference from which this volume originated.¹ It is not an exact transcript of these discussions but rather a compilation that blends excerpts from different discussions and has undergone modest editing in transferring oral speech into written language, where we have nevertheless attempted to preserve both the flavor of the spoken word and the stimulating atmosphere of the encounters. The following pages have been authorized by all those whose voices are recorded here. For their active and illuminating participation in the conference as a whole we extend our...

  11. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 303-306)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 307-326)
  13. Index
    (pp. 327-334)