Civil Society and Dictatorship in Modern German History

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In this rich and thought-provoking work, Jürgen Kocka focuses his analytic lens on Germany’s long twentieth century, from the empire to the present. He begins by establishing the semantic problematic in the German term Bürgertum and presenting an analytical survey of German civil society over the past 120 years. He then offers a fascinating social history of the GDR, along with a comparative analysis of the East German dictatorship and that of the Third Reich. He further compares Germany’s “two dictatorships” in regard to historical memory, post-regime justice, and historiography before and after reunification. Kocka concludes with a wonderfully expansive view of historical interpretation and even argues for the place of trendiness and fashion in the profession.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“[A]s the author refects on his work, on that of his contemporaries, and on the ways in which historians think about the past as they confront the present, he creates a valuable and interesting addition to our discipline’s efforts at self-understanding.” —Journal of Interdisciplinary History

“By provoking such interesting questions, Kocka has presented a magisterial volume. It is a daunting record of scholarly achievement that only occasionally alludes to the fierceness of the controversies from which it has sprung. As summary of the central issues of earlier debates and as entry point into the development of German scholarship it should therefore become essential reading, especially for Anglo-American graduate students. The fundamental values that have inspired Kocka’s methodological approaches and interpretative arguments as well as his lifelong involvement in academic and public discussions, are firmly grounded in the liberal Enlightenment heritage. In this way, these essays are also an exemplar of the intellectual Westernization and democratization of postwar Germany which continue to animate the Federal Republic.”—H-German

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781584658658
  • Publisher: Brandeis University Press
  • Publication date: 7/13/2010
  • Series: The Menahem Stern Jerusalem Lectures
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

JÜRGEN KOCKA was president of the Social Science Research Center in Berlin until 2007 and professor of modern history at the Free University of Berlin until 2009. He has published numerous books, including Industrial Culture and Bourgeois Society.
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Table of Contents

Foreword Shulamit Volkov vii

I Introduction 1

II Bourgeois Culture and Civil Society: The German Case in a European Context 7

The Opportunities of Semantic Ambivalence 9

Bürgertum: Bourgeoisie Defined by Its Opponents and Its Culture 10

Civil Society: The History and Definition of a Concept 15

Universal Claims versus Exclusive Realities in the Nineteenth Century 20

Bourgeoisie and Civil Society during the Kaiserreich 22

A Short View on the Twentieth Century 28

III Comparing Dictatorships: Toward a Social History of the German Democratic Republic 33

Why a History of the GDR? 35

The Political Construction of a New Society 40

Social Blockades and the Limits of Political Control 48

1949-1989: Four Periods of GDR History 54

The GDR in Comparative Perspectives 56

IV Dealing with Difficult Pasts: Collective Memories and Politics in Germany after 1945 and 1990 67

How West Germans and East Germans Dealt with Their Nazi Past, 1945-1990 70

Remembering the GDR after Unification: Different Layers, Controversial Debates 82

Memories Compete and Reinforce One Another 88

V Historians, Fashion, and Truth: The Last Fifty Years 99

History: A Changeable Discipline 101

An Example: Changing Views of World War I 103

Five Major Trends 108

The Productivity of Fashion and the Attainability of Truth: History as a Profession 111

Notes 117

Index 159

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