The Politics of Postwar Germany

The Politics of Postwar Germany

The Politics of Postwar Germany

The Politics of Postwar Germany

Excerpt

The lifetime of the Federal Republic of Germany already exceeds in length the lifetime of the past Third Reich. While Hitler's reign ended after twelve years and three months, the new Germany has now entered her fourteenth year. History rejoices in this irony: What was once in Nazi hubris proclaimed--and often is still mockingly referred to--as the Thousand Year Reich proved considerably less lasting than the Bonn republic which at its inception was considered a provisional, transitory establishment.

Although this new Germany has been remarkably stable so far, something of the initial caution toward her durability seems to survive in most present-day assessments of her nature and strength. In contrast to the shortlived Nazi Germany whose image in contemporary eyes appears clear-cut, though often simplified and sometimes distorted, the image of today's Germany tends to be veiled by doubts, uncertainties, an aura of wait- and-see among most observers. This seems rather strange in light of the fact that her open society should be easier to explore and evaluate than the previous totalitarian order with its closely kept secrets cleverly hidden behind deceptive facades.

The authors of this volume--renowned journalists, historians, sociologists --take stock of today's German political realities as they have evolved in thirteen years of democratic government. Walter Stahl, the compiler of this volume, went to great lengths to avoid one-sidedness of sources, contents, and outlook. Under his intelligent and knowledgeable editorial direction, a considerable number of researches and writers were marshalled to contribute their findings and conclusions. Varying though their backgrounds, qualifications, and viewpoints are, they have in common an intensive firsthand acquaintanceship with their fields of concentration.

Their collective inventory accounts particularly for those facets which--in the shadow of the recent past--attract our main interest. Significantly, major parts of their presentation are concerned with the question of whether this past has finally been overcome, or whether its return is possible, if not probable. After the central stress which yesterday's dictator . . .

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