The fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989 signalled the beginning of the end of a divided Germany. More than any other event, it also symbolised the end of the so-called postwar era. The period in which not just European but global politics had been framed by the Cold War and the East-West divide was consigned to the past, to be replaced by an era whose contours have not yet clearly formed. The essays collected here offer a sober, informed, and stimulating reassessment of Germany and its past by internationally recognised scholars working from within and outside the new Germany. They all proceed from the recognition that the perspective from which the German past is viewed has changed irrevocably. Unification meant that the German Democratic Republic became history and its history, historiography, and its collapse are re-evaluated. The essays examine the possibility of history being used, and possibly abused, in the service of the creation of a new national identity and question the legitimacy of the notion of Germany having followed a "special path" of development?one that could hardly be viewed positively in the wake of the Third Reich?but which suggested that Germany had claims to being a "normal nation." They then go on to consider some of the radical changes to the institutional circumstances within which history is practiced in the united Germany.
Publisher: Australian Humanities Press
David Lindenfeld, German Studies Review wrote:
This volume takes as its theme ‘the implications of the dramatic events of 1989-90 for the writing of German history’. It has its origins in a conference organized by the editors in 1993, although some contributions were secured subsequently and a couple (those by Lutz Niethammer and Hermann Kurthen) have appeared in a different form elsewhere. The resulting collection is a timely publication of work by a very distinguished group of scholars from Germany, Britain, the United States and Australia.
The continuing fractures in German society make it likely that identity will remain questionable, that historiography will be laden with political agendas, and that volumes like this one will continue to appear. Let us hope that they hold to the same standards.