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A History of Modern Germany: 1871 to Present / Edition 6

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Overview

Offering one of the most current and detailed historical accounts of modern Germany in a concise, narrative format, this popular book starts off in late nineteenth century imperial Germany and goes on to provide a balanced general survey of the country's political division in 1945 and reunification in the present. Chronologically organizes chapters into clearly delineated time periods, with thorough coverage of the country's foreign policy as well as political, economic, and social developments. Presents a central theme of the problem of asymmetrical modernization in Germany's history and establishes clear links of continuity between its troubled past and stable present state. Discusses all major developments up to the year 2001, with thought-provoking discussions on the dynamics in German society that led to both the volatility and unpredictability in the country's domestic policies and foreign relations; the long-standing traditions of political, cultural, and economic liberalism; Prusso-German authoritarianism; the Nazi dictatorship; military aggression, and much more. Includes a series of biographical vignettes of major German personalities, and adds significant visual support with custom maps, contemporary cartoons and posters. For readers seeking a complete and current history of Germany.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780136154006
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall
  • Publication date: 7/28/2007
  • Series: MySearchLab Series 15% off Series
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 6
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 7.10 (w) x 8.96 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Meet the Author

Dietrich Orlow taught at Boston University from 1971 to 2002 and was also a visiting professor at the Universities of Hamburg in Germany and Amsterdam in The Netherlands. He is the author of several books on the history of modern Germany. They include A History of the Nazi Party (1969, 1973) [2 volumes], Weimar Prussia, 1918-1933 (1986, 1991) [2 volumes], and Common Destiny: A Comparative History of the Dutch, French, and German Social Democratic Parties, 1945-1969 (1999). Orlow has also written numerous articles for American, German and Dutch journals.
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Read an Excerpt

Much of the history covered in this work seems to contradict the title of this book. For almost all of the second half of the twentieth century, Germany had been not one country, but two: West Germany, formally the Federal Republic of Germany, and East Germany, the German Democratic Republic. At first glance they seemed to have little in common. West Germany was (and is) a liberal democracy representing values of political and cultural pluralism and modified free enterprise. East Germany was a Communist state whose leaders attempted to create a society founded on the principles of Marxism-Leninism. The two nations were integrated into opposing power blocs. West Germany is a friend of the United States and a member of the NATO alliance; East Germany was the Soviet Union's most important European ally and a member of the now-defunct Warsaw Pact. Relations between the two Germanies were strained, to put it mildly.

Yet, as if to illustrate that nothing in history is permanent, as this fifth edition of A History of Modern Germany goes to press, Germany has been reunited for more than a decade. When the text first appeared, fourteen years ago, there seemed little likelihood that East and West Germany would be reunited. But the dramatic events of 1989 led to the swift and unexpected collapse of the GDR. In a few short months, the East German Communist regime fell from power, the hated Berlin Wall crumbled, and the East German people in a genuinely free election voted for reunification with the West.

Ironically, as a divided nation the two German states achieved much of what the German people sought in vain when they were last a united country: a long period ofpolitical stability, economic prosperity, and peace with their neighbors. Equally paradoxical, despite the existence of two German states, interest in the two countries' joint history seemed to increase. The reason is easy to see: The division of the country was the result of the course of German history in the years from 1871 to the end of World War II in 1945. For almost three-quarters of a century, German history was synonymous with "the German problem," a shorthand way of indicating that Germany was an unstable and unpredictable factor in modern European history. A revolution, several coup attempts, and four constitutions gave the country political systems that ranged from monarchical authoritarianism to liberal democracy and Nazi totalitarianism, but no lasting stability. Closely related to political and social upheavals, the German economy experienced alternate periods of boom and bust. Twice in modern times the country reached the brink of economic and fiscal collapse.

Domestic upheavals in turn were related to repeated attempts by Germany's leaders to change the balance of power in Europe and the rest of the world. Having achieved national unity by victorious wars, the German leaders repeatedly attempted to use international aggression to provide the nation with domestic stability, economic prosperity, and respect abroad. The pattern culminated with Adolf Hitler's deliberate unleashing of World War II to realize his vast ambitions. At the end of that conflict, bombed cities, millions of dead, wounded, homeless, and a divided nation subject to the whims of the victors represented the consequences of hubris.

Yet modern German history is more than Prusso-German authoritarianism, the Nazi dictatorship, military aggression, and the Holocaust. This account of the country's path from national unification in 1871 to political division in 1945 and reunification in our own day attempts to present the alternative aspects as well. Long-standing, if often submerged, traditions of political, cultural, and economic liberalism as well as left-wing radicalism existed side by side with authoritarian and regressive strains. Their surprisingly swift and strong establishment as societal values after World War II happened in large part because for many years these components in the German societal makeup, although not dominant, had been struggling for viability and recognition.

This is not a narrative history in the traditional sense. Many events have been omitted in order to keep the text "problem-oriented." I have tried to retain the central focus on the dynamics in German society that led to both the volatility and unpredictability in the country's domestic policies and foreign relations, and to its impressive achievements.

The "Im Mittelpunkt" ("In the Spotlight") pieces, a new feature of this edition, provide biographical capsules for a variety of prominent Germans from all walks of life.

It is a pleasant duty to acknowledge the help that this book has received from a number of colleagues and friends. Werner T. Ankress, Jeffrey Diefendorf, Werner Jochmann, Jean Leventhal, David Morgan, Arnold Offner, Norman Naimark, and Catherine Epstein all took the trouble to read portions of the manuscript. I would like to thank them for their valuable comments and suggestions. I am grateful to Eliza McClennen of the Boston University Geography Department for drawing all of the maps except for the one showing Germany since 1990. That one is reproduced courtesy of the periodical Deutschland Magazine.

A heartfelt thanks to the reviewers: Dan S. White, State University of New York at Albany; Nathan M. Brooks, New Mexico State University; and Martin Berger, Youngstown State University; and to the reviewers of earlier editions: William Combs, Western Illinois University; David A. Meyer, Dickinson State University; Loyd Lee, State University of New York at New Paltz; Narasingha Sil, Western Oregon State College; Rudy Koshar, University of Southern California; Richard Breitman, American University in Chevy Chase, MD; and David A. Hackett, University of Texas at El Paso. This fifth edition has also benefited from the comments of several colleagues who used the first four editions in their courses and were kind enough to point out some factual errors and unclear interpretations in the earlier work.

As always, my wife, Maria, was an active collaborator and constructive critic in bringing out this fifth edition. Any shortcomings that remain are, of course, my own responsibility.

Dietrich Orlow
Aussee, Austria
Wassenaar, The Netherlands

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Table of Contents

Maps.
Preface.
1. The Founders Generation, 1871-1890.
2. Wilhelminian Germany, 1890-1914.
3. The First World War, 1914-1918.
4. Revolution, Inflation, and Putsches: The Search for a New Consensus, 1918-1923.
5. Fools Gold: The Weimar Republic, 1924-1930.
6. From Authoritarianism to Totalitarianism, 1930-1938.
7. Conquest, Death, and Defeat, 1938-1945.
8. "Condominium for the Allied Powers," 1945-1949.
9. The Federal Republic of Germany, 1949-1990.
10. The German Democratic Republic, 1949-1990.
11. Germany Since Reunification: Euphoria and Disillusionment, 1990-Present.
12. Conclusion.
Suggestions for Further Reading.
Index.
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Preface

Much of the history covered in this work seems to contradict the title of this book. For almost all of the second half of the twentieth century, Germany had been not one country, but two: West Germany, formally the Federal Republic of Germany, and East Germany, the German Democratic Republic. At first glance they seemed to have little in common. West Germany was (and is) a liberal democracy representing values of political and cultural pluralism and modified free enterprise. East Germany was a Communist state whose leaders attempted to create a society founded on the principles of Marxism-Leninism. The two nations were integrated into opposing power blocs. West Germany is a friend of the United States and a member of the NATO alliance; East Germany was the Soviet Union's most important European ally and a member of the now-defunct Warsaw Pact. Relations between the two Germanies were strained, to put it mildly.

Yet, as if to illustrate that nothing in history is permanent, as this fifth edition of A History of Modern Germany goes to press, Germany has been reunited for more than a decade. When the text first appeared, fourteen years ago, there seemed little likelihood that East and West Germany would be reunited. But the dramatic events of 1989 led to the swift and unexpected collapse of the GDR. In a few short months, the East German Communist regime fell from power, the hated Berlin Wall crumbled, and the East German people in a genuinely free election voted for reunification with the West.

Ironically, as a divided nation the two German states achieved much of what the German people sought in vain when they were last a united country: a long period of politicalstability, economic prosperity, and peace with their neighbors. Equally paradoxical, despite the existence of two German states, interest in the two countries' joint history seemed to increase. The reason is easy to see: The division of the country was the result of the course of German history in the years from 1871 to the end of World War II in 1945. For almost three-quarters of a century, German history was synonymous with "the German problem," a shorthand way of indicating that Germany was an unstable and unpredictable factor in modern European history. A revolution, several coup attempts, and four constitutions gave the country political systems that ranged from monarchical authoritarianism to liberal democracy and Nazi totalitarianism, but no lasting stability. Closely related to political and social upheavals, the German economy experienced alternate periods of boom and bust. Twice in modern times the country reached the brink of economic and fiscal collapse.

Domestic upheavals in turn were related to repeated attempts by Germany's leaders to change the balance of power in Europe and the rest of the world. Having achieved national unity by victorious wars, the German leaders repeatedly attempted to use international aggression to provide the nation with domestic stability, economic prosperity, and respect abroad. The pattern culminated with Adolf Hitler's deliberate unleashing of World War II to realize his vast ambitions. At the end of that conflict, bombed cities, millions of dead, wounded, homeless, and a divided nation subject to the whims of the victors represented the consequences of hubris.

Yet modern German history is more than Prusso-German authoritarianism, the Nazi dictatorship, military aggression, and the Holocaust. This account of the country's path from national unification in 1871 to political division in 1945 and reunification in our own day attempts to present the alternative aspects as well. Long-standing, if often submerged, traditions of political, cultural, and economic liberalism as well as left-wing radicalism existed side by side with authoritarian and regressive strains. Their surprisingly swift and strong establishment as societal values after World War II happened in large part because for many years these components in the German societal makeup, although not dominant, had been struggling for viability and recognition.

This is not a narrative history in the traditional sense. Many events have been omitted in order to keep the text "problem-oriented." I have tried to retain the central focus on the dynamics in German society that led to both the volatility and unpredictability in the country's domestic policies and foreign relations, and to its impressive achievements.

The "Im Mittelpunkt" ("In the Spotlight") pieces, a new feature of this edition, provide biographical capsules for a variety of prominent Germans from all walks of life.

It is a pleasant duty to acknowledge the help that this book has received from a number of colleagues and friends. Werner T. Ankress, Jeffrey Diefendorf, Werner Jochmann, Jean Leventhal, David Morgan, Arnold Offner, Norman Naimark, and Catherine Epstein all took the trouble to read portions of the manuscript. I would like to thank them for their valuable comments and suggestions. I am grateful to Eliza McClennen of the Boston University Geography Department for drawing all of the maps except for the one showing Germany since 1990. That one is reproduced courtesy of the periodical Deutschland Magazine.

A heartfelt thanks to the reviewers: Dan S. White, State University of New York at Albany; Nathan M. Brooks, New Mexico State University; and Martin Berger, Youngstown State University; and to the reviewers of earlier editions: William Combs, Western Illinois University; David A. Meyer, Dickinson State University; Loyd Lee, State University of New York at New Paltz; Narasingha Sil, Western Oregon State College; Rudy Koshar, University of Southern California; Richard Breitman, American University in Chevy Chase, MD; and David A. Hackett, University of Texas at El Paso. This fifth edition has also benefited from the comments of several colleagues who used the first four editions in their courses and were kind enough to point out some factual errors and unclear interpretations in the earlier work.

As always, my wife, Maria, was an active collaborator and constructive critic in bringing out this fifth edition. Any shortcomings that remain are, of course, my own responsibility.

Dietrich Orlow
Aussee, Austria
Wassenaar, The Netherlands

Read More Show Less

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