A History of the German-Speaking Peoples 1860-2000                     Alexander Maxwell

This course provides basic cultural literacy in German history by exploring the modern political history of German-speaking peoples in
Germany and Austria (though not Switzerland). It focuses specifically on the desire to found a state that expressed German nationalism, the destructive effects of German nationalism on the European Balance of Power once this state was founded, and the contemporary submersion of German nationalism in European Unity.

Course Structure

This course meets three days a week. Students have three lectures on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and one discussion section. The discussion sections will discuss the course readings.

Texbooks               Gordon Craig Germany 1866-1945; Henry Turner Germany: From Partition to Reunification; Alan Bullock Hitler: A Study in Tyranny; Course reader

Grading System

 10%        map quiz
15%        Midterm 1 

15%        Midterm 2            
30%        Final exam
20%        Research paper
10%        Discussion

The midterms check that students have mastered the basic facts of German history.  The final includes, in essence, both a third midterm covering the last third of the class, and a review exam. All include paragraph-long “ID” questions and in-class essays.


Discussion sections are graded on attendance.  To receive credit for attending class, students must (1) be present, and (2) have completed the response paper on the weekly readings printed in bold letters. The response paper is not graded for content, though I will give feedback on it. It may not be handed in late. It encourages students to have done the reading, but should also teach students read secondary sources critically, which is in turn important for the research paper.

The research paper must examine primary sources in the light of historiographical debate.  Students must describe a debate, referring to at least three secondary sources, and then analyze at least two primary sources in terms of that debate.  The bibliography must have at least ten printed sources (i.e. no webpages.) Students will receive a list of sample topics, or may select their own with instructor approval.

 Optional Movie Program

For students interested in visual culture, this course includes a series of 14 films related to themes discussed in the course.  Students present at 11 of the 14 films may write a paper and receive extra course credit.

Week 1:  Introduction

M    Introduction to course. Problems of German history: National history vs. state history.
W    Lands inhabited by German-speakers in 1848. Empires, Principalities,
City States.
F    The Monarchical Principle, the German “nation.” Grossdeutch vs. Kleindeutch. Jahn: popular nationalism and the problem of Jews.

Discussion András Rónai Atlas of Central Europe 1989 (1945), pp 100-101; 114-15; David Hargreaves Bismarck and German Unification 6-9, 10-12 


Week 2:  The struggle for Political Unity                                         Film Der Hauptmann von Köpenick

M    The Austro-Prussian war. Austria’s expulsion from the German Confederation.
W    Habsburg retrenchment: the Ausgleich. German-Czech tensions in
Bohemia. Austro-German nationalism after Sadowa.
Bismarck and the Franco-Prussian war. Sedan and Versailles. Map Quiz 1
Readings:             Craig: 1-60 (“Unification, Institutional structure”) Robin Okey The Habsburg Monarchy 193-227; David Hargreaves Bismarck and German Unification 106-110


Week 3:  The Happy Empires                                                             Film Der blaue Engel (The Blue Angel)

M    The Gründerzeit. Optimism, Industrialization, Technological Progress. Nietzche.
W    Turn of the century art and society. Freud, Mahler, Schiele, Klimt.
F    Modernism and its discontents: Socialism, Anti-Semitism, Hyper-Nationalism

Readings:               Craig: 186-213 (on Education, 27 p); George Mosse The Crisis of German Ideology “The Jew” 126-145; Schorske Fin-de-siecle Vienna “Politics in a new Key” 116-146 (Optional: read to 175)


Week 4: The “Great War”                                                                   Film Radetzkymarsch (Radetzky March)

M    Kaiserreich Jingoism. The Boer war and Naval Armarment. Germany’s African Empire. The Alliance system.
W    Austrian interests in the Balkans:
Bosnia, Macedonian reform, railways, Sarajevo.
F    August: The Von Schlieffen Plan. Quagmire and trench warfare in the West.   
Readings               Craig: 302-342; Ernst Jünger Storm of Steel “Guillemont, Somme Retreat, Against Indians” (39 p.)


Week 5:  Victory and Defeat                                                              Film All Quiet on the W. Front

M    The Eastern Front: The Occupation of Serbia. Tannenburg, the Brusilov offensive, Brest Litovsk.
W    Somme, Verdun, Jutland. Submarine warfare, American Intervention. Mutiny and defeat.
F    The R
äterepublik, the Kapp Putsch. Socialism, the Freikorps, Weimar Republic.
:              Craig. 396-433 (Kiel mutiny to Kapp putsch)  Liulevicius. War Land on the Eastern Front. “The ‘Kultur’ Program” 113-144.

Week 6: The Weimar Republic                                                          Film: Cabaret

M    The Paris Peace Conference, border revisions.
W    Germany’s first liberal democracy. Social freedom, political extremism. Modern art, architecture, theater. “Decadence.”
F    French occupation of the Saar. Hyperinflation. The Great Depression.
Readings               Kaes, Weimar Republic Sourcebook, 40-51 (KPD Manifesto, Weimar Constitution)
Craig 470-495 (“Weimar Culture”); Martin Kitchen The Coming of Austrian Fascism “Economic Problems of the Austrian Republic,” 75-95.


Week 7: The Question of Hitler                                                         Film: Triumph of the Will

M     MIDTERM 1 – 10 “ID” questions, choose one of three essays.
W     Hitler’s biography to 1930. Hitler’s initial supporters. Hitler’s view of Jews.
F     The fateful year, 1933. Hindenburg, von Papen, Schleicher. The Reichstag fire, Erm
ächtigungsgesetz. “Who voted for Hitler?”
Readings:              Bullock: “Formative Years, Months of Opportunity.” 187-250; Kaes, Weimar Sourcebook, 133-141 (Breeding, Antisemitism, Hitler’s speech)


Week 8:  National Socialism in Austria and Germany                    Film Metropolis                   

M    Economic Stabilization. The social policy of the National Socialists (KdF, Hitlerjugend)
W    Seipel, Dollfuss, Schuschnigg.  Austrian Nazis and Germany.
F     Germans in Eastern Europe: Sudetenland, Banat, Transylvania.
Readings:              Craig, 618-663 (Social and cultural developments) Barbora Jelavich Austrian History 173-224.


Week 9: World War Two                                                                    Film: Der Blechtrommel (Tin Drum)

M     Rearmament, Rhine Occupation. The Anschluss. The Munich pact. Hitler-Stalin pact.
W    Invasion of Poland. German victory in France and Yugoslavia. Barbarossa.
F    The political structure of Nazi-occupied Europe
Readings:              Bullock, 442-553  (“From Vienna to Prague, Hitler’s War”); Craig, 697-713
Discussion            Propaganda from the Second World War

Week 10: The Holocaust                                                                    Film: Bittere Ernte (Angry Harvest)

M     Social Darwinism, Anti-Semitism.
W    History of the Camp System. Intentionalism vs. structuralism. Numbers.
F     The perpetrators: Sonderkommando. Non-German perpetrators. Eichmann.
Discussion    Goldhagen Hitler’s Willing Executioners “Exploring the popl.’s actions” 379-406
; Browning Ordinary Men ‘Conclusion’ 159-189


Week 11:  Defeat and Destruction                                                    Film: Das Boot (The Boat)

M     Stalingrad, Kursk. German and Soviet weapons programs.
W    Air War, Speer. The Normandy invasion. Defeat. Hitler’s suicide.
F     Stunde Null.”  Expulsions. Occupation, border changes.
Readings:              Craig, 740-762. Fritz Stern. Dreams and Delusions. “Einstein’s Germany,” 25-50.

Week 12: The Re-division of Germany                                             Film: One, Two Three

M    MIDTERM 2 – 10 ID questions, one of three essays.
W    The Cold War alliance system. Austrian Neutrality. The Bundesrepublik and its parties.
F    The EEC. Wirtschaftswunder and the Deutschmark. The Franco-German alliance.
Readings:              Turner, 1-103  (including pages with pictures)  de Zayas The German Expellees, 85-121

Week 13:  Cold War Germanies                                                         Film: Die Verlorene Ehe Katarina Blum

M    The Soviet Sector to DDR. 1953. The Berlin Airlift, the Berlin Wall.
W    Ghosts of the Past: Willi Brandt and Kurt Waldheim. Verfassungspatriotismus.
F    Social Change in the Federal Republic: Student movement, Turkish immigration.
Reading:                Turner, 148-190;
Miller Narratives of Guilt and Compliance in Unified Germany “If only I had known”  66-85.


Week 14:  The End of Socialism                                                        Film: Meier

M    Bader-Meinhoff: German Terrorism. The Autonomen. West Berlin and its culture.
W    The Stasi. Fluchtversuche. Economic stagnation, 1968 and the end of Socialism. 
Gorbachev and the Sinatra Doctrine. 1989: “Refolutions.”
Reading                 Turner 190-255;  Bohrer “Why we are not a nation” in James, When the Wall Came Down. 60-70


Week 15: Unified Germany and Unified Europe?                            Film: Goodbye Lenin

M    German reunification. The end of the Warsaw Pact. Austria in United Europe and Austria’s response.
W    The D-Mark and the Euro. “The wall in the head”
Ossi-Wessi tensions. Ausländerfeindlichkeit: Haider, Skinheads.
F     Review for Exam
Reading                 J
. Habermas The Past as Future “The Normative Defects of Unification,” 33-54.               


Final exam: 20 ID questions, two essays.