After Hitler: Society, Culture and The Politics of The Nazi Past in The Two Germanies, 1945-1990

Module code: HS3771

In the years after 1945, Germans faced the task of rebuilding their society, and crafting a political model repudiating the recent Nazi dictatorship, in a context of defeat, disgrace and hardship. This process was further complicated by the division of the German nation into two ideologically opposed and politically polarised states: the liberal democracy of the Federal Republic of Germany, and the German Democratic Republic’s Communist dictatorship. After examining the immediate postwar years of occupation and ‘denazification’ at the hands of the victorious Allies, this module will consider the history of the two Germanies up until their reunification in 1990. Combining political, social and cultural history, and via the study of a diverse range of primary sources, we will examine key themes and events in both societies, with a specific focus on the often linked debates around multiculturalism, political extremism, consumerism, gender roles, Germany’s place on the international stage, and the meaning and commemoration of the Nazi years. The role of the media in shaping popular opinion will be a key focus in relation to both societies as we examine the limitations, as well as the reach, of propaganda and the mass media in the building of societal consensus. We will conclude by looking at some of the problems Germany has faced postreunification, a difficult and on-going process that has served to renew and intensify many of these controversies.