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Tag: German History

Book Review: GDR and Consumption

I recently reviewed an interesting anthropological study by Milena Veenis entitled Material Fantasies: Expectations of the Western Consumer World among East Germans (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press in cooperation with the Foundation for the History of Technology, 2012) for the Dutch Tijdschrift voor Sociale en Economische Geschiedenis (Journal of Social and Economic History). The two-page review is in English and is openly available on the web at https://www.tseg.nl/articles/abstract/10.18352/tseg.301/.

Reflections after Class

One of those questions came up in class tonight with a group of MA students discussing Peter Fritzsche’s Life and Death in the Third Reich (Cambridge, MA, 2008), a question where I grow perhaps too animated, maybe conveying impatience, even arrogance, or, if I’m lucky, simply passion. What was the difference between communism under Stalin and nazism under Hitler? The differences are stark, but there’s that pesky word “socialism” and the collectivist rhetoric that is so easily conflated or confused with “collectivization,” never mind the existence of economic plans, mass… Read more Reflections after Class

Who Should Groener’s Schlieffen Plan Matter To?

As I try to write an article about Groener’s understanding of war, which led him to write about Schlieffen’s supposed “recipe for victory,”, I have to keep asking myself, so what? I don’t mean this is in a negative way. I haven’t tired of this topic. But I’m not always sure why it should matter to other people. If I look at the Schlieffen Plan debate carried out mainly in the pages of War in History, it is clear that Groener’s perspective has something to offer that audience, because the… Read more Who Should Groener’s Schlieffen Plan Matter To?

Refuting Straw Men and Explaining What Happened

In a recent German History forum, Paul Lerner offers an interesting aside: “I used the medical Sonderweg as more or less a straw man in my 2003 book on German psychiatry, but I found that even as I refuted it, the need to explain the unique path of German medicine kept arising.”1 These words speak to me, because I used Groener’s biography to refute the rather untenable interpretation of a “feudalized” bourgeoisie in the Kaiserreich, even in the officer corps, but taking down that straw man hasn’t offered a satisfying… Read more Refuting Straw Men and Explaining What Happened

Germany and the United States on the Eve of the Cold War

Almost anyone who has lived in Germany over the past sixty years will find the following video very strange indeed. It appeared in the early days of the occupation, when the Cold War was still only on the horizon and a strict anti-fraternization policy made sense to the U.S. military leadership. By the way, if you are a Dr. Suess fan, listen to the language. I’ve read many of his stories to my son, and I can hear the hand he had in this film. If that film appears ridiculous,… Read more Germany and the United States on the Eve of the Cold War