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United Germany

United Germany: Debating Processes and Prospects

Edited by Konrad H. Jarausch
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 300
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  • Book Info
    United Germany
    Book Description:

    Since the attempt to unite two parts of a country divided for four decades yielded contradictory results, this volume provides a balance sheet of the successes and failures of German unification during the first quarter century after the fall of the Wall. Five themes, ranging from the transfer of political institutions to the economic crisis, from the social upheaval for women's movements to the cultural efforts at interpretation and the changes in foreign policy have been chosen to illustrate the complexity of the process. The contributors represent a broad interdisciplinary mix of political scientists, historians, and literary scholars. Because personal experiences tend to color scholarly judgments, they are drawn from West Germany, East Germany, and the United States. This collection is the most up-to-date and comprehensive assessment of the political, social, and intellectual consequences of the efforts to regain German unity.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-973-2
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
    Konrad H. Jarausch
  4. Introduction Growing Together? Processes and Problems of German Unification
    (pp. 1-22)
    Konrad H. Jarausch

    In contrast to the accolades given to the “peaceful revolution” in 2009, the subsequent celebrations of the twentieth anniversary of German unification remained curiously muted. No doubt the political class was pleased with its achievement of reuniting the two hostile parts of the country in a peaceful fashion: “Never in its history has Germany been so democratic, law-abiding and social.”¹ But in private conversations an introspective mood prevailed. Especially in the new-old capital of Berlin, colleagues were telling each other their complicated life stories in order to illustrate the gains or losses of the transformation after 1990. At the same...

  5. Part I. Political Processes

    • Chapter One Two Decades of Unity: Continuity and Change in Political Institutions
      (pp. 25-43)
      Gero Neugebauer

      The historical and political conditions that governed the transformation of the GDR into a democracy differ on essential points from those generally involved in the collapse of the socialist camp in Europe. Most of the former Warsaw Pact states embedded the transformation of their political and economic systems into a concept of reconstructing their nation. In contrast, the conditions in Germany were determined by the situation of a divided country on whose soil two states existed. The one, the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), belonged to the Western Alliance under the leadership of the United States, and the other, the...

    • Chapter Two United, Yet Separate: A View from the East
      (pp. 44-63)
      Heinrich Bortfeldt

      At the last meeting of the People’s Chamber on 2 October 1990, its vice-president, Reinhard Höppner (SPD), expressed his anticipation of the coming day of German unification in the following words: “Tomorrow we celebrate a wedding. Everyone knows it will only become a good marriage if both sides change, grow together, and regarding joint property, do not constantly discuss thereafter who brought what into the marriage.”¹ Two decades later, for the twentieth anniversary of the first free election of the GDR People’s Chamber on 18 March 2010, Parliament President Norbert Lammert complained that the public television stations had refused, despite...

    • Chapter Three Debates and Perceptions about German Unification: The Centrality of Discourse
      (pp. 64-80)
      Helga A. Welsh

      Nation-building efforts are crucial when hitherto disparate entities merge or territories secede to establish independent statehood. The last two centuries have been rife with such processes. In Europe, the end of the Cold War triggered secessions in the name of self-determination, often accompanied by conflict. Heated and at times violent struggles led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, while the two parts of Czechoslovakia, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic, divorced amicably. Germany countered the trend: self-determination by peaceful means led the two states to merge after a forty-year division. The fall of communism provided new...

  6. Part II. Economic Problems

    • Chapter Four Institutional Coping: The Treuhandanstalt and the Collapse of the East German Economy, 1989–1990
      (pp. 83-103)
      Wolfgang Seibel

      The brief economic history of the final phase of the GDR was characterized by dramatic decay and the quest for institutional stability. One part of the remedies that emerged out of the various attempts to restabilize both the economic and the political situation was the so-called Treuhandanstalt. Founded on 1 March 1990, it was designed to be the institutional backbone of state ownership of industrial assets. Its purpose was to prevent the people-owned assets from being sold out in what was then a gold-rush atmosphere for Western investors. At the same time, keeping the “public property” (Volkseigenes Vermögen) under preliminary...

    • Chapter Five East Germany 1989–2010: A Fragmented Development
      (pp. 104-118)
      Rainer Land

      According to Wolfgang Seibel, the East Germans were not victims of a colonization or anAnschluss,but rather they have gotten what they themselves chose between the autumn of 1989 and early 1990: removal of the SED dictatorship, introduction of the D-Mark, economic and currency union, conversion of wages and salaries as well as a substantial part of the savings deposits at an exchange rate of 1:1, the social security system of the Federal Republic, and national unification with West Germany. The course was set in principle through the decision to enact a rapid currency and economic union, the 1:1...

    • Chapter Six Getting Even: East German Economic Underperformance after Unification
      (pp. 119-132)
      Jonathan R. Zatlin

      In 1970, communist party leader Walter Ulbricht promised that East Germany would overtake West Germany without catching up to it (überholen ohne einzuholen). More than twenty years after it gave up on communism and adopted capitalism, however, East Germany has yet to catch up with, much less overtake, West Germany. Although many believed that rapid unification with West Germany would lead to “flourishing landscapes,” in the infamous words of West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, economic growth in the regions comprising the former GDR has been mired in stagnation since 1996.¹ In fact, the region continues to struggle with high levels...

  7. Part III. Social Upheaval

    • Chapter Seven 1989 and the Crisis of Feminist Politics
      (pp. 135-153)
      Ute Gerhard

      In summarizing the consequences of unification for feminist politics and the women’s movement based on West German experiences, I cannot help but make a few personal preliminary observations. In his 1967 essay “On the Difficulties of Being An Insider,” Hans Magnus Enzensberger reflects on the problems of accepting a German national identity. He lists the wearisome prejudices, the outrage, and the everyday skeptical expectations (often unspoken) that Germans generally experience from those of other nations and describes how helpless and how incapable of finding an adequate reaction he feels. ¹ Precisely because the members of the 1968 generation struggled so...

    • Chapter Eight Women’s Movements in East Germany: Are We in Europe Yet?
      (pp. 154-170)
      Ingrid Miethe

      Twenty years after reunification, we don’t hear much about the women’s movement in East Germany. The bitter disputes that dominated the period after 1989 seem to be history. Does that mean there are no differences anymore? Have conditions converged to the point that unified German sisterhood is a reality? Or has the East German side simply accepted that it “lost,” and learned to keep quiet about its “deviation” from the generally established West German norm? The answer, as I will show in this chapter, is somewhere in between. The dominance of the West German side in a merger process as...

    • Chapter Nine Feminist Encounters: Germany, the EU, and Beyond
      (pp. 171-180)
      Myra Marx Ferree

      While all the postunification reflections in this volume need contextualization in German history, European politics, and Western culture, the encounters among women and women’s movements in and after unification demand an even wider framework, that of global feminist politics and gender change. Everywhere in the world—not only in Germany, Europe, or even that nebulous space, Western society—the status and consciousness of women has been undergoing transformation. Political interventions into gender relations by social movements, transnational advocacy networks, and states are ubiquitous. Both nation-states and supranational bodies have increasingly recognized women as individual citizens with legitimate aspirations to personal...

  8. Part IV. Cultural Conflict

    • Chapter Ten GDR Literature Beyond the GDR?
      (pp. 183-204)
      Klaus R. Scherpe

      In October 1989, a few weeks before the fall of the Wall, the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu gave a lecture in East Berlin about the changing roles of public intellectuals.¹ He presented the assembled comrades from the Academy of Sciences in the SED’s Central Committee with his “reflexive sociology.”² Bourdieu urged intellectuals to abandon their “positions from above or outside” and to apply their knowledge about how societies functioned to their own positions. The habitus and roles of a future-oriented avant-garde had not protected them from complicity with ruling political and economic powers, something Julien Benda had already asserted in...

    • Chapter Eleven Unity and Difference: Some Reflections on a Disparate Field
      (pp. 205-212)
      Frank Hörnigk

      At the outset I must admit a certain reluctance to reflect anew on what has been an extremely unique and conflicted process of “culturally working through German unification,” especially as these reflections come affer more than twenty years and are being made in a public forum at that.¹ The reasons for this hesitation are complex, in that they relate both to past and present personal hopes and/or disappointments as well as cultural and political developments after 1990. The following remarks will focus largely on these concerns and, in so doing, consider the fundamental difficulties associated with arriving at a balanced...

    • Chapter Twelve The Painful Exit from the Cold War: East German Writers and the Demise of the Reading Culture
      (pp. 213-228)
      Frank Trommler

      Among literary scholars it has become a standard argument that the status of literature as part of high culture has precipitously declined in the late twentieth century. Scholarly discussions do not dwell much on this fact anymore. The relentless growth of electronic media as means of public and private communication provides ample evidence of it. Instead debates have moved toward the analysis of specific political and social transformations as likely contributors to this development, in particular the upheavals of 1989/91 that led to the collapse of the Soviet Empire and the end of the Cold War. As German writers both...

  9. Part V. International Normalization

    • Chapter Thirteen The “Normalization” of Humanitarian and Military Missions Abroad
      (pp. 231-251)
      Beate Neuss

      On 2 August 1990 Iraq invaded Kuwait. When the United Nations asked to restore the country’s sovereignty with military force and thirty-four countries, under the leadership of the United States, prepared to liberate Kuwait, in some windows in Germany white flags appeared. Protesters on the streets shouted: “No blood for oil.” Today, more than twenty years later, nearly 7,000 German troops are engaged in missions worldwide. They have been participating in UN, NATO, and European military actions in regions like Afghanistan, the Balkans, and Africa, as well as off the coast of Somalia and Lebanon.

      Shortly after the unification of...

    • Chapter Fourteen German Foreign Policy after 1990: Some Critical Remarks
      (pp. 252-266)
      Erhard Crome

      The foreign policy of united Germany has a more than twenty-year history by now. Twice in the twentieth century Germans tried to conquer the continent or at least to control it. During the criminal Hitler regime no atrocity was too extreme for this goal. To thwart this, the efforts of nearly all other states and nations were required; what tipped the scales were the “outlying powers”—the Soviet Union and the U.S. After their victory against the German attempt at domination, they became entangled in a Cold War against each other, whose inner logic led to the dissipation of ever-greater...

    • Chapter Fifteen “To Deploy or Not to Deploy”: The Erratic Evolution of German Foreign Policy since Unification
      (pp. 267-277)
      Andrew I. Port

      “Germany has entered a new era of ambivalence and nationalist calculation,” Roger Cohen, the former bureau chief of theNew York Timesin Berlin, fumed in an op-ed piece prompted by Germany’s controversial decision in March 2011 to abstain from a United Nations Security Council vote to impose a no-fly zone over Libya.¹ Besides being unduly harsh and hyperbolic, his censure revealed a remarkably short memory, even for a journalist. After all, the press had leveled similar criticism at Germany less than a decade earlier following Gerhard Schröder’s calculated unwillingness to participate in the “Coalition of the Willing’s” 2003 invasion...

  10. Note on Contributors
    (pp. 278-281)
  11. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 282-284)
  12. Index
    (pp. 285-290)