H-Diplo Roundtable XXI-22 on History after Hitler. A Transatlantic Enterprise

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H-Diplo Roundtable XXI-22

Philipp Stelzel. History after Hitler. A Transatlantic Enterprise.  Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018. ISBN: 9780812250657 (cloth, $69.95/£60.00).

10 January 2020 | https://hdiplo.org/to/RT21-22
Roundtable Editors: Cindy Ewing and Diane Labrosse | Production Editor: George Fujii




Introduction by Donna Harsch, Carnegie Mellon University

History after Hitler, Philipp Stelzel’s accomplished first book, is a study of continuity and, above all, change in the writing of German history by West German and American historians. The opening chapters offer a succinct, useful, and absorbing overview of the historical orientation of the (almost all) men who shaped the field of German history on both sides of the Atlantic from the late 1940s through the 1980s, while the second half of the book focuses on the “Bielefeld school” as it established itself in the 1960s and 1970s in West German academia and the public sphere. Stelzel is particularly interested in two associated, but not necessarily causally related, shifts in the German-based scholarship: a methodological turn away from political and diplomatic history toward “historical social science” (8) and a perspective reversal from a positive, even glorifying, view of Prussia, Otto von Bismarck, national unification, and Imperial Germany toward a strongly critical interpretation of all of the above.

The book investigates how each national historiography influenced the other’s approach to historical research on Germany. Defining transatlantic exchange expansively, Stelzel searches creatively for sources of mutual influence within all sorts of intellectual, academic, and personal exposures to and interactions with the other ‘side.’ He effectively draws on evidence from private papers, interviews, institutional records, and published scholarship to reconstruct biographies and trace professional networks, interpretive trends, and social relationships among German and American colleagues as well as teachers and students. He offers a nuanced discussion of the influence of émigré historians on the American interpretation of modern Germany. He evaluates the impact on the scholarly and political orientation of young West German historians-to-be of extended stays in the United States, trips that involved not only study but also leisure travel and pick-up jobs. When considering American influences on Hans Ulrich Wehler, Terence Renaud points out, Stelzel evocatively depicts Wehler’s readiness to encounter American society in all its contradictions during “formative experiences” in 1952 and 1962. Frank Biess, too, is impressed by the book’s brief, riveting biographical portraits that add up to “a collective biography of the transatlantic German-American historical community after 1945.” He regrets only that Stelzel does not tell us more about the personal stories of U.S.-based historians and how they “might have shaped their views of German history.”

Transatlantic exchange, Stelzel concludes, certainly contributed to the methodological anti-traditionalism of the Bielefeld school and to the condemnation of authoritarianism and support for parliamentary democracy by the Bielefeld school and, over time, the vast majority of German historians of all methodological orientations. He argues, however, that the process was not simple or linear but convoluted. For one thing, the German émigré historians were a diverse lot whose heterogeneity Stelzel captures well, according to Biess, with profiles of the “two most important yet also contrasting figures of Hans Rosenberg and Hans Rothfels.” For another, German historians were shaped, not surprisingly, by their generational experience of Nazism as well as by the context of accelerating social and cultural change in the Federal Republic from the late 1950s onward. Born between the early 1930s and early 1940s, the men who founded the Bielefeld school rejected reactionary parochialism and, in Biess’s words, fashioned themselves as “modern” and “internationalist” in a West Germany that prized such attributes. American historians, in Stelzel’s words, were “attentive observers” (17, 172) who supported West German critical historians in their conflicts with German traditionalists but who neither invented the contested interpretations nor always accepted them. Far from wholesale adoption of a non-existent “American” paradigm, liberal historians such as Hans-Ulrich Wehler and Jürgen Kocka, founders of the Bielefeld school, engaged in “selective appropriation” and followed “non-synchronous trajectories” (165) in response to their studies, intellectual relationships, and social experiences in America. Their adamant defense of liberal ideals in history and in politics no doubt reflected a positive and, indeed, romanticized interpretation of American constitutionalism, individual rights, and pluralism. It is not clear from Stelzel’s account where they got this idealized view of the ‘West.’ What Stelzel does make clear, in a very interesting section of the book, is that they did not take up the cultural explanation of the roots of Germany’s authoritarian ‘special path’ that liberal émigré historians developed. Instead, they developed a critical approach to Germany’s alleged Sonderweg that focused on political, economic, and societal structures and applied social scientific and comparative methods to the analysis of these structures.

These methods and approach, Stelzel argues, did not reflect the influence of American historiography of Germany (or any other country). From where then did they come? As Peter. Caldwell notes, Stelzel does not offer a systematic discussion of the origins and implications of the very significant turn to social science and comparative history. Caldwell references historical investigations that contend that the rise of “comparative politics” within American political science was driven by the influx of German émigrés trained in comparative legal studies and political theory. I wonder if this group of non-historian émigrés, including Franz Neumann, Ernst Fraenkel, and Hannah Arendt, influenced the Bielefeld school’s comparative and theoretical bent, even if Wehler et al. rejected the specific foci and interpretations of these towering political thinkers as they grappled with Nazism, Fascism, and Communism. Renaud reminds us, instead, of the clear influence of Karl Marx and Max Weber on the Bielefeld school. Either way, all of these possible sources of influence were German, not American. Or were they? With Biess and Caldwell, I wish that Stelzel had addressed more explicitly the question of whether the émigrés represented an American or, as Caldwell suggests, an oppositional German perspective.


Philipp Stelzel is Assistant Professor of History at Duquesne University. History after Hitler. A Transatlantic Enterprise (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019) is his first book. His current book project, Oppressing the Majority, focuses on the development of populism in Germany since the 1960s.

Donna Harsch is Professor of History at Carnegie Mellon University. She has written books on Weimar Social Democracy and on women/gender in the German Democratic Republic. Her current research project is a comparative study of the fight against infant mortality in East and West Germany.

Frank Biess is a professor of history at the University of California-San Diego. He has recently completed a history of fear and anxiety in post-1945 West Germany. (Republik der Angst. Eine andere Geschichte der Bundesrepublik, Reinbek: Rowohlt, 2019). A revised and modified English version, German Angst. Fear and Democracy in the Federal Republic of Germany, is due to be published by Oxford University Press in 2020. He also co-edited (with Astrid M. Eckert) a special issue of Central European History 52:1 (2019) and co-wrote the introduction (with Astrid M. Eckert) “Why Do We Need New Narratives for the History of the Federal Republic?” Central European History 52:1 (2019): 1-18.

Peter C. Caldwell is Samuel G. McCann Professor of History at Rice University. He is a Humboldt Fellow, and has received grants from the DAAD and the Humboldt Foundation, as well as a residential fellowship at the Center for German and European Studies at Georgetown University. His scholarly work has focused on the meanings of democracy in Germany, including democratic constitutionalism in Germany's first republic, the economics and law of planning in the German Democratic Republic, revolution and democracy in Ludwig Feuerbach, and most recently Democracy, Capitalism, and the Welfare State: Debating Social Order in Postwar West Germany, which appeared in 2019 with Oxford University Press.

Terence Renaud is a lecturer in humanities and history at Yale University. He works on German intellectual history and transnational social movements. The manuscript of his first book, New Lefts: A History of Radical Antifascism and Anti-Authoritarianism in Europe, 1920-1970, is currently under revision.


Review by Frank Biess, University of California, San Diego

History after Hitler offers a comprehensive and sophisticated history of the transatlantic relationship between German and American historians of Germany from 1945 to the 1980s. The author provides a nuanced assessment of the role of American historians in the transformation of the West German historical profession, arguing that a “revisionist impulse” (141) in the U.S. that was skeptical of German historians’ unabashedly apologetic view of the past in the early postwar period eventually moved across the Atlantic and drove the transformation of the West German historical profession since the 1960s. In particular, Stelzel offers a cogent analysis of the historiographical emergence of the Bielefeld school and the role of American historians within this process. Contrary to earlier accounts and, for that matter, the self-fashioning of the Bielefeld historians as ‘modern’ and ‘internationalist,’ the project of a ‘historical social science’ (Historische Sozialwissenschaft) did not emerge with development aid of supposedly more innovative and advanced U.S. historians but was rather a product of internal West German dynamics. American historians were more “attentive observers” rather than “active participants” (17). Stelzel also traces the numerous challenges to what observers described as the ‘new orthodoxy’ in the 1980s, both from within the West German historical profession (gender history and the history of daily life) as well as from American and British historians who, for different reasons, remained skeptical regarding one of the Bielefelders’ central assumption, namely the idea of German special path’ (Sonderweg) to modernity.[1]

The book also offers a plethora of specific insights regarding the biographies and academic trajectories of individual historians. One learns a lot about towering figures of the West German historical profession of the early Federal Republic such as Gerhard Ritter or Friedrich Meinecke as well as lesser known though still influential historians such as the archconservative Walter Hubatsch. Stelzel also provides a good sense of the very heterogenous group of German émigré historians with the two most important yet also contrasting figures of Hans Rosenberg and Hans Rothfels. Whereas the former eventually taught at Berkeley and became very influential with younger West German historians in the 1960s and 1970s, the latter returned to Tübingen and shaped early West German contemporary history. Stelzel’s analysis of the encounter of German historians with the United States is not limited to their academic projects but also brings into view their personal experiences. Based on the painstaking reconstruction of the many individual biographical snippets, the book eventually amounts to a collective biography of the transatlantic German-American historical community after 1945.

The book is also an excellent example of transnational history precisely because it provides a nuanced assessment of the significance of transatlantic links. Because of their excitement about finding transnational connections, historians too quickly attribute causative force to these links at the expense of other modes of explanation – national, regional, local – that might actually be more important. The author, by contrast, also highlights moments of thwarted transnationalism when these connections failed to materialize. For example, Stelzel offers an excellent discussion of the reasons why an earlier analysis of a German special path to modernity by American intellectual and cultural historians like George Mosse, Fritz Stern or Fritz Ringer[2] did not inform the later Sonderweg argument of the Bielefeld historians. This non-reception, he argued, was caused less by West German historians’ attempt to avoid questions of individual responsibility and agency than by the growing popularity of the social sciences that made West German historians more likely to embrace structuralist approaches. Another case of at least muted transnationalism manifested itself in the skepticism of leading American historians vis-à-vis the Bielefeld school. The Bielefelders liked to advertise their international connections and portrayed themselves as being on the vanguard of a transatlantic community of historians. Yet American historians like Gordon Craig rejected the Sonderweg argument while younger historians like Gerald Feldman and Charles Maier remained skeptical regarding concepts such as “organized capitalism”.[3] American historians’ actual role in the establishment of the Bielefeld school was therefore less important than West German protagonists liked to claim.

This does not mean that the West German historical profession remained immune to external influences. In the early postwar period, American historians of Germany and German emigres supported critical historiographical approaches and defended, for example, the Hamburg historian Fritz Fischer against the attacks of more conservative German colleagues who sought to undermine a lecture tour in the U.S. in 1964.[4] Later, some of the challenges to the new orthodoxy of the Bielefeld school also came from American and British historians. And U.S. historians were also influenced by German historiographical innovations, such as the development of Alltagsgeschichte.[5] Ultimately, the book concludes with an optimistic assessment of the transatlantic community of historians of Germany which, Stelzel argues, is more stable than the broader transatlantic relationship. Historians on both sides of the Atlantic, he argues, also pay more attention to each other than appears to be the case in neighboring fields such as German literature ( Germanistik)

There is much to praise in this book, not the least its very readable and accessible style. Yet the analysis also leaves me with some questions. To begin with my last point: in the absence of robust statistical evidence, I am somewhat skeptical regarding the author’s rather optimistic portrayal of transatlantic historical community. It is certainly true that mutual awareness between American and German historians has improved over time. But both communities also continue to operate rather separately, with their own citation-communities and often with very little awareness of books and publications on the other side of the Atlantic. This seems true especially for historians in Germany, many of whom tend to pay attention only to the most prominent American scholars and are rarely aware of the vast output of scholarship that is on display each year at the conference of the German Studies Association. At the least, rather than celebrating the alleged success of the German-American transatlantic community, it would be important to study more closely the patterns of ‘selective appropriation’ that define the profession to this day.

In this context, it would also have been interesting to extend the analysis from the 1980s into the 1990s and 2000s when German historians (with the support of some of their American colleagues) also waged a defensive battle against what was then labeled ‘postmodernism,’ which had become increasingly associated with certain segments of American academia. Here it was not just thwarted transnationalism but a deliberate rejection of transnational exchange that manifested itself in explicit assertions not to emulate the perceived Foucaultian inspired follies of academics in the United States. At that point, the Atlantic separating at least some historians from each other had gotten wider again (just like the actual relationship between the U.S. and Germany).

While Stelzel is very good in unearthing the biographic backgrounds and intellectual trajectories of West German historians, American historians come alive a little bit less in his account. It would have been interesting to know more about the individual backgrounds of these historians—émigré and non-émigré alike—and how these might have shaped their views of German history. After all, this was a period of dramatic societal transformations in the U.S., including the civil rights revolution and the Vietnam War. American historians’ attitudes toward these contemporary conflicts are likely to have influenced their view of German history as well. Precisely because of the often “non-synchronous development” (164) of both professions, their motivations might have differed from those of their German counterparts. Conversely, the encounter with segregation and racism did not seem to undermine German historians’ relatively positive view of the US. Even if the perception of the U.S. became more critical, as in Hans-Ulrich Wehler’s case[6], it did not prevent him from adopting a rather idealized version of the ‘West’ as foil for the German Sonderweg. What explains this cognitive dissonance? In some cases, research stays at private elite universities like Harvard, Stanford, or Princeton might have provided a rather limited and distorted picture of the United States. But some German historian like Jürgen Kocka and Volker Berghahn also directly experienced racism and segregation. George Iggers even actively participated in the civil rights movement. How and why these experiences did or did not shape these historians’ historiographical perspective is a question that is not fully explored.

Stelzel also prominently employs the concept of ‘generation,’ mainly with respect to Germany, where generational change also coincided with shifting interpretive and methodological perspectives. But his concept of ‘generation’ is a more traditional one that is based on birth cohorts and shared experiences. He explains, for example, the methodological disagreements among Wehler’s generation with the fact that they had more diverse experiences than the previous generation of historians who had lived through World War II. Yet this explanation does not take into consideration more recent approaches that stress more strongly the deliberate self-fashioning of groups as ‘generations.’ Precisely such a dynamic seemed to have been at work in the case of the Bielefelders, who liked to stylize themselves as innovative and internationalist younger generation challenging an allegedly provincial and old fashioned older generation.

This issue of performative self-fashioning as ‘generation’ also point to another analytic dimension that is not fully developed in Stelzel’s account: gender and masculinity. As the author makes clear, the transatlantic community of historians was almost exclusively male. In fact, as he reports, the share of women among American historians actually declined in the 1950s compared to the period between 1920 and 1940. It would have been interesting to analyze how a male sociability shaped the self-understanding and perhaps also the historical perspectives of historians of Germany on both sides of the Atlantic. Certainly, Jürgen Kocka’s response to the appearance of women and gender history (he notoriously compared the exclusion of male historians from a meeting of women historians to the exclusion of the Jews in Nazi Germany) points to the importance of a shared masculinity for historical practice well into the 1980s (158).[7]

Precisely because transatlantic connections cannot fully explain historiographical transformations such as the Bielefeld school, Stelzel resorts to other explanations such as the notion of nationally specific academic cultures as developed by John Galtung.[8] A specific ‘teutonic’ academic culture thus might explain the peculiar political and methodological polarization that defined the West German historical profession into the 1980s and perhaps beyond. It would have been interesting to know more about how this academic culture actually operated and how exactly it differed from Anglo-Saxon academic culture. While Stelzel is correct that specific methodologies do not line up with political orientations by definition, it appears that a close link between historiographical approaches and political orientation might have constituted a peculiarity of the West German historical profession. Jürgen Kocka, for example, professed his surprise in encountering American historians who were politically conservative yet methodologically innovative.

That said, one cannot help but feel that the concept of national academic cultures re-introduces an essentialist argument that the author convincingly refutes at other places of his study. I therefore wonder if it would have been more useful to operate with the idea of (transatlantic) and “thought collectives” and “thinking styles” as developed by Ludwik Fleck[9] that included historians from both sides of the Atlantic. This would also do justice to increasing transatlantic migration (mostly from Germany to the U.S. but occasionally also in the other direction) that yielded increasingly hybrid identities. For example, if I am allowed to draw on my own experience: after having taught in the U.S. for almost twenty years and acquired American citizenship, I am not sure if I write my ‘own’ or someone else’s history or, for that matter, if my historiographical perspective is a ‘German’ or an ‘American’ one. Instead, I tend to associate with historians on both sides of the Atlantic whose perspective I find most thought provoking and innovative.

Stelzel provides abundant evidence that the transatlantic historiographical dialogue, notwithstanding its selective appropriations or, at times, mutual ignorance or even rejection, certainly intensified over the postwar period. His study is an excellent example of transnational intellectual history that provides a very nuanced assessment of the status of the “transnational” in historical explanation.  It also offers a composite collective biography of German and American historians of Germany during the postwar period, and it provides a cogent explanation of key historiographical transformations during this period. As such, the book represents a major milestone in writing the history of postwar historiography as well as an excellent example of how to write transnational history.



Review by Peter C. Caldwell, Rice University

The aim of this book is to describe the development after 1945 of “a German-American community of historians” (2) in which both sides read, commented on, and participated in essential debates about the course of German history. The National Socialist dictatorship and World War Two were not surprisingly at the center of this discussion. The development of such a community is indeed remarkable, especially if one takes into account the often insular and nationalistic nature of the historians’ guild in the Atlantic world before World War One. Today most major institutions of higher education in the United States have a historian who teaches German history in some form and is conversant with the major historiographical debates. Philipp Stelzel describes, in short, an important change directly related to the experience of World War Two, and to the globalization of U.S. power as well as German society during and after that war.

One can approach the theme in a variety of ways. One might, for example, discuss how the interaction of American and German (both émigré and non-émigré) historians transformed the methodology of historical scholarship, as Gerhard Loewenberg and, more recently, Udi Greenberg, to name just two examples, did for political science.[10]  Or one might delve into the big debate on turning points in German history, to see how the controversies worked out across the ocean: the discussions about Prussian statesman and reformer Freiherr vom Stein’s plans for local democracy, for example, or the Revolutions of 1848, or the Bismarckian unification of 1871 and the contradictory political world of the later German Empire, or the effects of World War One on Germany’s first democracy and the most important causes of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s ascension to power. Either a careful focus on methodology or on the different readings of historical turning points, however, would run up against the sheer volume of work on these topics, and would show how complex such a story would have to be. As Stelzel notes, simple notions of a “transatlantic scholarly community do not do justice to its complications” (164), to “nonsynchronous trajectories,” or to the “selective appropriation of ideas” (165) on both sides.

Stelzel does not provide either of these kinds of accounts. Instead he describes briefly the careers and concerns of several dozen historians, delving a bit more deeply into the scholarly lives of about 15 of them: their big claims, their institutional place, their connections to the German and the American scholarly worlds. The positive side of this approach lies in the way it reveals the institutional reach of this transnationalization. The approach is less useful for readers not already acquainted with the methodological or interpretive implications of certain statements (why, for example, does it matter that scholars founded a historical institute influenced by Catholic traditions, and how do historians in Germany and the United States who are influenced by those traditions alter their methods and their readings of history?). If one does not already know why Hans-Ulrich Wehler’s description of Bismarck’s “social imperialism” matters for his later interpretation of German history, one would be hard pressed to find out from this book.[11] One book cannot do all things, of course.

Stelzel does provide several useful narratives. First, he shows how both German and American historians (and political scientists if they are working in a historical way) connected or reconnected with each other after 1945, and how they understood each other but also how they failed to understand each other. Leaders of the field in Germany like the military historian Gerhard Richter and the intellectual and political historian Friedrich Meinecke did not, on his account, seem to grasp the enormity of what had just happened and how German history had become a matter of interest for intellectual communities beyond the historical profession itself. Ritter’s distrust of foreigners (including German émigrés in the United States?) who ostensibly could not understand German history from within reads like a defensive reaction to external criticism, even while Ritter himself was a conservative opponent of Hitler; it also stands in some tension with his own implicitly transnational account of how Germany’s Hitler problem had its ultimate source in the French Revolution of 1789, i.e. in too much democracy.[12] Friedrich Meinecke’s idealist account of the dangers of Machiavellism, distributed across the United States in a paperback translation, seems paltry compared with the concrete, critical accounts of Friedrich Neumann, Ernst Fraenkel, and Hannah Arendt.[13] An interesting question that the author could have developed further has to do with how one classifies these counter-voices who had been forced out of Germany and indeed were not professors of history: were Germans encountering American thinkers in those works, or were they uncovering an intellectual world that had been expelled by Nazism? At any rate, Neumann, Fraenkel, and Arendt are still on the reading list today for advanced students in both Germany and the United States seeking to understand fascism; Ritter and Meinecke are not. That is partly due to the critical encounters among Germans from Germany, German émigrés, Americans in America, and Americans who left America to encounter Germany.

Second, Stelzel gives the most attention to the so-called Bielefeld School of social-structural history, which ended up at the center of historians’ debates, both in Germany and abroad. Based on the author’s account, it seems that a coherent “Bielefeld School” did not exist, but was asserted as a way to make political points within the discipline. The book reduces the “school” largely to one person, Hans-Ulrich Wehler, whose specific methodological imperatives are only vaguely articulated. The quotations from Wehler that Stelzel provides reveal an irascible critic. One problem with a focus on individual trajectories rather than methodologies or controversies is the personalization of historical problems. Stelzel documents well Wehler’s visits to the United States in 1952-1953 and 1962-1963, his engagement with American historians, and his encounter with the diplomatic historian William Appleman Williams, which influenced his own work on U.S. imperialism. The experience of being in another country certainly affected Wehler. But what was the precise methodological influence on him—especially if, as Stelzel suggests, Wehler’s use of the sociologist Max Weber was related to a German discussion and not Weber’s U.S. reception? What were the debates from the U.S. that engaged him, and vice versa, beyond the notion of normal and abnormal paths of ‘modernization’? The notions of modernity and modernization could have been articulated in a deeper and more systematic fashion.

The most important take-away from the book lies in another area: Stelzel shows the turn away from the national history that had been the focal point of the historians of the immediate post-war era such as Ritter and Meinecke and the turn toward global and transnational phenomena. The Bielefeld School, for example, by asking the question about different paths of modernization in the first place, required even its harsh critics to think beyond Germany itself.

Stelzel’s book provokes a host of further questions about how to ‘do’ transnational history.

First, as Stelzel writes, this is a story of “German history not belonging to German historians” (7). It is not the story of a national community of historians. There is a deeper issue here of motivation: Why should a student in the United States be interested in German history, or vice versa? In some cases, the story might reaffirm a scholar in his or her own national prejudices: the story of a bad society. In other cases, it might bring home a counter-example to one’s own society. Or studying somewhere else might serve to denaturalize both countries’ narratives, to bring them into dialogue, to show points where “internal” narratives of a nation are anything but internal. The motives for undertaking transnational histories, or even merely of histories not of one’s own place, are complicated and deserve to be untangled.

Second, the discussion of how Wehler read Weber opens up the question of whether there is a distinctly “German” or “American” approach to method, and how methodological questions develop. With Weber in particular, it is hard to say. Wehler was, of course in Bielefeld, where the systems theorist Niklas Luhmann was taking Weber down surprising paths, illuminating the problems of complexity and modernity in a new way.[14] But Luhmann was using Weber as Talcott Parsons had translated him, as a theorist of systems. Is there a clear distinction between the German and American discussion? Or had Weber himself become ‘internationalized’ in the postwar world? Similarly, the political philosopher Jürgen Habermas’s theoretical and methodological approach to democracy, capitalism, and reason has German roots, which Stelzel indicates in his book. When his Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere of 1962 was translated into English (American translation 1989), that text became one of the handful of postwar German works of non-fiction to affect all fields of the humanities and social sciences.[15] But what happens when a set of ideas developed in one political-cultural-historical context is ‘translated’ into another? What is left out, and what is added?

Third, to move beyond the parameters of Stelzel’s study itself: did the integration of German history into the U.S. historical profession have any effect on the writing of American history itself? In other words, did the transatlantic relationship alter U.S. history-writing, too, except for the occasional work like Daniel Rodgers’s account of the exchange of ideas about social reform between Germany and the United States?[16] Or was this not in fact a one-way street? I suspect that the social sciences are in this respect out in front of the historical discipline: they have received and worked through European impulses from the start. It is impossible to think about the origins of U.S. political science, for example, without Woodrow Wilson, whose The State (1889) owes so much to the German literature, and whose later critique of Germany in defense of intervention in World War One likewise involved a confrontation with German scholarship.[17] The connections existed before 1933, émigrés played a major role in political thought after the war, and research projects continue to be intermingled. Can the same be said of the influence of American-German dialogue on American practitioners of the history of the United States?

Fourth, I do wonder—to return to an issue brought up above—how one classifies émigrés in the United States or American students who seek another country as a way to escape their notion of what the United States is. Was the historian of German foreign policy Hans Gatzke a German or an American, for example? Would he count as an émigré? He certainly was born and educated in Germany; he just as certainly left Germany during the early years of National Socialism, around the time he was 20, and made his career with works quite at odds with those that are produced in the historical profession in Germany.

The last question in particular points out the limits to Stelzel’s approach. His book cannot answer the kinds of questions that I pose here. But his book certainly can, and does, open the way for these different questions.



Review by Terence Renaud, Yale University

The German-American Historical Complex

At risk of breaking the taboo on including oneself in a review, I could not help but reflect on my own graduate training in modern German history as I read Philipp Stelzel’s new book, History after Hitler. Especially the seminars that I took with Margaret L. Anderson at the University of California, Berkeley, stand out as unforgettable trials in Streitkultur: the German academic culture of debate that subjects every argument, no matter who states it, to exacting scrutiny. Both she and her partner James J. Sheehan, who worked at the rival Stanford University, are American scholars deeply influenced by the Bielefeld school. A younger German product of Bielefeld, Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann, joined the Berkeley history department in 2012. While I was there, the ghost of Gerald Feldman still haunted Dwinelle Hall, just as the works of Carl E. Schorske still populated reading lists. Established by the West German government in 1987 to promote transatlantic scholarship, the German Historical Institute (GHI) recently opened its new West Coast branch at Berkeley. All of these people and institutions feature in Stelzel’s history, and every historian of Germany who reads this book, regardless of where they trained, will almost certainly identify with its main subject: the multigenerational network of German and American scholars that formed in the second half of the twentieth century and continues to define our field.

By examining this transatlantic community of historians, Stelzel hopes to synthesize studies that typically focus on just one side of an entangled history: either German refugee scholars in the United States, or the supposed Americanization of (West) German intellectual life in the decades following World War II. For the first time, he writes, “German history did not exclusively belong to German historians” (7). Several generations of scholars across the Atlantic undertook the modernization of German historiography, which unfolded in a contested and uneven process.

The West German university system expanded rapidly in the 1950s. New “reform universities” such as Bielefeld popped up alongside many new research institutes and journals. Conservative historians, including some who had supported the Nazis, deradicalized by “accepting liberal democracy and a pluralistic society” (3-4). In conscious reaction to the politicization of the profession under National Socialism, Gerhard Ritter and other postwar reconstructors made academic freedom their guiding ethos. At the same time, Ritter and his allies in the Association of German Historians (VHD) sought to redeem German nationalism from its supposed corruption by Nazi ideology. Thus the field remained under conservative or avowedly Christian Democratic hegemony for quite some time. Through a growing transatlantic network, however, challengers to that hegemony began to emerge in the 1960s. The chief vehicle of their opposition to the rarefied political, military, and diplomatic history favored by the old guard was a new method of social history known as historical social science.

Partly inspired by Marxist sociology, historical social science placed great emphasis on economic processes, class formation, and international comparison. The new method’s home in the 1960s and ’70s was the University of Bielefeld. Accordingly the book’s most important and interesting figure is the Bielefeld historian Hans-Ulrich Wehler. Stelzel does a wonderful job of describing Wehler’s two formative experiences in the United States, first as a Fulbright scholar in the mid-1950s and again as a postdoc in the early 1960s. While studying abroad at Ohio University, he immersed himself in American culture and actually got a job “driving brand-new cars from the factory in Detroit to the West Coast, before hitchhiking his way back to the Midwest each time” (92). He was enchanted by California in particular, taking on work as a welder in North Hollywood, where he was “the only white employee among African Americans and Mexicans” (92). Academically, Wehler found much to admire in the hard-working ethos of U.S. graduate students. But his experiences at Stanford and Berkeley left him rather cold to the Americans’ “tedious positivism and their beloved ‘facts’” (97). He even turned down a job offer from Berkeley, whose history department at the time included the greats Schorske and Hans Rosenberg.

Perhaps more important than his personal impressions, Wehler conducted research in the U.S. for his habilitation project on American empire. Stelzel skillfully reconstructs Wehler’s emerging theory of imperialism, which rejected American exceptionalism by comparing the country’s imperialist history to European imperialisms. This work of comparative and structuralist history paved the way for his most famous monograph, The German Empire (originally 1973),[18] which signaled the arrival of a new generation of West German historians: those who had been born between the late 1920s and early ’40s and whose training involved close relationships with American institutions. Wehler, Jürgen Kocka, and other Bielefeld historians helped overturn the old German historicism by synthesizing Marxist historical materialism and Weberian sociology.[19] The founding of the journal Geschichte und Gesellschaft in 1974-1975 marked the establishment of historical social science as a legitimate method, as it had previously been derided by traditionalists as a fringe phenomenon. The new journal had “a clear antiestablishment bent” (133), and it readily published work by American scholars as well as some articles in English.

Meanwhile in the U.S., the networking process occurred via the careers of two generations of German refugee historians. Hajo Holborn at Yale University and Rosenberg at Berkeley had deep ties on both sides of the Atlantic. They facilitated student exchanges and in the 1950s helped establish modern German history as a regular subfield at American universities. A second generation of refugee historians including George L. Mosse, Fritz Stern, and Peter Gay further pioneered methods of intellectual and cultural history that had a great impact on American scholarship[20]—even if Germans were slower to engage with their work. Stelzel seeks to disprove a prejudice harbored by older West German historians, namely, that “émigré resentment” accounted for the often critical and anti-nationalist histories published by these German-American transplants. That the younger West Germans of the Bielefeld school wrote similarly critical histories, albeit with different methods, suggested that the emerging transatlantic network played a more important role than the personal backgrounds of the émigrés.

Stelzel has written a metahistory: a history of historiography in the spirit of Georg G. Iggers, whose books on the subject the author frequently cites.[21] In line with recent studies by Udi Greenberg, Noah B. Strote, Daniel Bessner, and others, this book also belongs to a new genre of intellectual history that pays special attention to the role of institutional networks in the formation of ideas.[22] One reads about faculty exchange programs, fellowships such as the Fulbright, journals such as Central European History, professional associations such as the German Studies Association, and government-sponsored organizations such as the GHI. Together these institutions formed the matrix through which historians conducted disputes and pioneered new methods.

An insistence that the methodological is the political pervades Stelzel’s study. By the 1980s, the Bielefelders’ claim to represent the new guard with their antiestablishment historical social science itself faced a challenge. New approaches such as the history of everyday life and women’s history arose in conjunction with the politics of the new social movements.[23] If most Bielefelders were Social Democrats, then the newest generation sympathized with the Greens. Stelzel sees “conspicuous analogies between politics and historiography” (143) and writes that “the transition from historiographical challenger to historiographical establishment could take place rather quickly” (137). With the somewhat diminished stature of historical social science, there emerged “a three-cornered contest” (143) between the Bielefelders, the conservative nationalists, and the new alternative historians.

This realignment of the field occurred against the background of a crisis of history that unfolded over the course of the 1970s. History seemed to lose its place as the “guiding discipline” (Leitwissenschaft) in West German public discourse. More quantitative disciplines like sociology, political science, and economics threatened to dethrone history as the public’s most reliable academic interlocutor. As Stelzel demonstrates, historians such as Reinhart Koselleck and Wolfgang Mommsen called for the fusion of social science methods and traditional historical scholarship.[24] In the wake of the late-1960s student revolts, reformers also wanted to weaken the institutional power of chair-holders (Ordinarien) and find ways to democratize the university system. Historical social science thus developed as both a substantive critique of German historiography and a political critique of the way history was organized and practiced.

Parts of Stelzel’s narrative sound similar to present debates about the alleged “decline in historical thinking” as a result of the cultural turn away from traditional diplomatic, military, and political history.[25] Then as now, politics and public controversy often revolved around particular methods of historical scholarship. In 1971, when the federal president Gustav Heinemann called for changes to the school history textbooks in order to highlight the experiences of German history’s “losers,” conservative historians such as Theodor Schieder warned against “the invocation of revolutionary traditions” which “might easily endanger the democratic state” (qtd. on 122). Thus conservatives opposed the method of social history (bottom-up, everyday life, materialist) because they associated it with leftist politics in the present. During the infamous Historikerstreit and in reaction to the opening of both the Haus der Geschichte in Bonn and the German Historical Museum in Berlin, left-liberal historians in turn denounced “conservative politicians’ calls for a national identity bolstered by identifiable historiographies” (123).

Evidently politics is inseparable from historiography, so much so that Stelzel sees a pattern in Germanist historiographical debates that seems to mimic processes of political sectarianism: “Representatives of the historical profession’s establishments routinely dismissed proponents of new approaches as ‘fashionable,’ whereas the accused in return leveled the charge of ‘traditionalism’ against their critics” (167). And that cycle repeated itself.

Does the new-vs.-old or insider-vs.-outsider dynamic still hold true for the present crisis of history and the humanities? Unlike the 1970s and ’80s, which are the focus of this book, today it seems less true that the transatlantic community of Germanists is facing a methodological crisis of the same magnitude as, say, the revolt of historical social science. Discontent and anxiety within the profession may now have a specific structural cause that has nothing to do with what kind of history we practice: the neoliberal transformation of higher education, the casualization of academic labor, and the resulting jobs crisis that threatens the future survival of our discipline (or at least, the survival of egalitarian and diverse forms of the discipline).[26] Past examples suggest that such an existential crisis for the field as a whole may provide grounds for political solidarity, even where there may be little methodological agreement.

One aspect of this book that might upset some readers is its lack of any single, overarching argument. The book’s strength lies rather in its recontextualization of German-American historiography within a transatlantic institutional network. Moreover, the book presents the new method of historical social science developed at Bielefeld in the 1960s and ’70s as a unique product of this German-American scholarly exchange. The book ends rather abruptly, not elaborating on the more recent history of German studies, especially with regard to the jobs crisis. That criticism could be easily brushed aside if Stelzel had not described his narrative on several occasions as “a success story” (163, 169). The transatlantic community of Germanists certainly continues to thrive, but the ecosystem that supports it—associations, journals, research funding, secure employment—is more endangered than ever.




Author’s Response by Philipp Stelzel, Duquesne University

I am grateful to Cindy Ewing for organizing this forum, to Donna Harsch for her introduction, and for the opportunity to respond to three very nuanced and thoughtful reviews. In many respects, Frank Biess, Peter Caldwell, and Terence Renaud reacted to my book the way I was hoping my readers would. Before I offer my thoughts on their reviews, I will briefly explain why I wrote History after Hitler and what I attempted to do in it.

Years ago, I was delving into the transatlantic dimension of the notorious Fischer-Kontroverse and read a number of letters American historians had written on Fritz Fischer’s behalf to protest the cancellation of Fischer’s lecture tour to the United States. Surprised by the reservations about Fischer’s claims that were evident in many of those letters, I realized that my previous understanding of the role American historians had played in the postwar reconsideration of German history (supporting the few critical Germans against the majority of their apologist colleagues) was too simplistic. Since this view also constituted the historiographical consensus, an analysis of the entire postwar transatlantic community appeared to be a worthwhile undertaking.[27]

History after Hitler discusses how this transatlantic scholarly community emerged, and how German and American scholars tackled the inescapable question of the origins of National Socialism. I suggest a conceptualization of this community of historians that emphasized nonsynchronous trajectories on the two sides of the Atlantic: immediately after World War II, and well into the 1960s, American historians were likely to believe in a German Sonderweg, or special path. For some, this Sonderweg manifested itself in German militarism and the negative influence of military elites on political developments, as Gordon Craig argued in the 1950s.[28] Other historians, such as Leonard Krieger, Fritz Stern, and George Mosse, ventured into the realm of ideas and attributed the “special path” to a “German mind” or a “Germanic ideology.”[29] Yet by the late 1960s, this revisionist impulse, initially much stronger on the American side, took shape within the West German historical profession. An American observer labeled the Fischer-Kontroverse a “declaration of independence” for younger German historians—and he was certainly correct: by the late 1960s, a new generation had declared their independence from their conservative predecessors.[30] Yet the ‘revolutionary war’ would continue for several years.  By contrast, American historians regarded the controversy as a sign that West German historians had finally achieved the long overdue pluralization of their profession.

Consequently, American historians of modern Germany were attentive observers rather than active participants during the West German historiographical transformations of the late 1960s and 1970s. When younger German historians during those years attempted to modernize the West German historical profession, they tended to be less in tune with their American colleagues than they claimed. Ultimately, the German-American community of scholars of modern Germany resembles other loose transatlantic collectives, characterized to varying degrees by “perception, misperception, translation, transformation, co-optation, preemption, and contestation,” as Daniel Rodgers put it with regard to social politics[31]

Some of the reviewers’ comments point to my book’s omissions. It is undeniable that from the vantage point of 2019 the picture of the transatlantic scholarly community has changed. Yet I doubt that extending the analysis beyond 1989 would have made this a more convincing book. I could of course have included the historiographical debates of the 1990s, as Frank Biess suggests. Apart from the heated controversy about postmodernism (to which I allude to in the fifth chapter), the German Democratic Republic (GDR) emerged as an important topic of study for historians on both sides of the Atlantic. And as the “vanishing point of German history” (Helmut Walser Smith) shifted from 1933 to 1941, the Holocaust received increased scrutiny.[32] These issues are just as worthy of analysis as the ones in my book, but they would not have added to my argument about the transatlantic community’s postwar transformation. Similarly, Terence Renaud suggests that I should have extended the analysis to include more recent developments, including the current job crisis and its repercussions for German history in the United States, as this would have altered my “success story” argument. It is certainly likely that the current trend in the discipline for departments to hire historians of modern Europe who happen to specialize in one particular country will continue, except at a few elite institutions. This undoubtedly will affect the study of Germany as much as that of other European countries. Yet the “success story” argument applies to the period analyzed in my book, roughly four decades after World War II. My goal was to provide an account of this specific postwar transformation, guided in many ways by the vanishing point of 1933, not to cover the transatlantic community’s overall trajectory from the mid-1940s to the present.

A second set of concerns relates to my approach to historians’ methodologies: Peter Caldwell writes that I “reduce the Bielefeld school largely to one person, Hans-Ulrich Wehler, whose specific methodological imperatives are only vaguely articulated.” History after Hitler offers a discussion of the school’s intellectual genesis, emphasizing the roles of a number of historians including Hans Rosenberg, Gerhard A. Ritter, Jürgen Kocka, Hans-Jürgen Puhle, and others. Likewise, the account of the Bielefelders’ institutional establishment details the role of several other historians. Wehler does figure most prominently, which I consider justified not only because of his methodological contributions to this brand of social history, but also because of his leading involvement in countless projects associated with the “school,” most notably the journal Geschichte und Gesellschaft and the book series Kritische Studien zur Geschichtswissenschaft. (both published by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht). Caldwell’s criticism of the insufficient detail given to methodologies stems, I believe, from the difference between how an intellectual historian (Caldwell) and a historian halfway between intellectual and political history (Stelzel) would tackle this topic. To provide one example: for my purposes, it was sufficient to determine that Wehler and other German social historians encountered Max Weber as students, through their German teachers, which underscored my argument that the theoretical and methodological roots of the Bielefelder were mostly German, and that their “school” therefore was much less Americanized than they claimed. A detailed reconstruction of the post-World War II transatlantic Max Weber reception, including Talcott Parsons’ significance in this context, which Caldwell references, would not have added much to my analysis.

On a different note, Caldwell believes that my “focus on individual trajectories rather than methodologies or controversies” ultimately leads to “the personalization of historical problems.” While History after Hitler does discuss several important controversies (the Conze-Bracher debate about Heinrich Brüning’s chancellorship, the Fischer-Kontroverse, the Sonderweg debate, and the Historikerstreit, to name but a few), my interest in the historians’ methodologies is a different one than Caldwell’s. Apart from a methodology’s origin and development, I was concerned with its function in historians’ debates, its argumentative employment against allegedly old-fashioned colleagues, rather its ex-post-facto assessment.

Some comments also concern my own methodology: I agree with Biess that I could and should have developed the dimensions of gender and masculinity further, yet I am not convinced by his assertion that my reference of national academic cultures re-introduces an essentialist argument. I argue that specific academic cultures were discernible in the decades under review—they were noticed by American historians in Germany, by German scholars in the United States, and even by American students working with émigrés. However, I do not ascribe the overriding importance to those cultures in the way postwar nationalist German historians did when they claimed that both American-born and émigré colleagues lacked a true Verständnis (understanding) of German history. Finally, I concur with Biess’s insistence that any use of the concept of generation needs to be aware of the deliberate self-fashioning of groups as “generation.” And as Biess suggests, casting themselves as an innovative and younger generation was indeed part of the Bielefelders’ promotional strategy. It manifested itself, to mention only two examples discussed in the book, in the invitation of two younger Americans, Gerald Feldman and Charles Maier, to participate in the “Organized Capitalism” panel at the 1972 Historikertag (where they turned out to be critics of that very concept favored by the Bielefelder), or in the selection of mostly younger contributors to the multi-volume series Deutsche Historiker, edited by Wehler and published by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

A transnational account of how modern German history was written perhaps runs the risk of paying more attention to the German than the American personal dimension, which two of my reviewers point out. Biess states that American historians come alive a little bit less in his account, and he is correct that the German experience in the United States is more developed than the American experience in Germany. Similarly, Caldwell wonders if the integration of German history into the American historical profession had any effect on the writing of the history of the United States itself. While I did not delve into this particular question in my book, I believe such an effect to have been minimal at best, in light of the prevalent exceptionalism among U.S. scholars of American history, which made them unlikely to be influenced by debates or insights among historians of other countries. To be sure, exceptions existed, such as the parallels between the writings of the Columbia University colleagues Fritz Stern and Richard Hofstadter in the 1960s, which were the result of a mutually beneficial friendship.[33]

Has my portrayal of the transatlantic academic community turned out to be too rosy? Frank Biess suggests this, as he believes that “both communities also continue to operate rather separately.” I agree that insufficient reception of the work produced on the other side of the Atlantic remains a problem, and in contrast to Biess, I think that the problem of separate citation-communities with little awareness of the scholarship on the other side cuts both ways. My use of the label “success story” does not amount to a teleological celebration of German historians’ arrival in the “West,” which Biess and Astrid Eckert have recently criticized in terms of the histories of the Federal Republic in general.[34]  But I do maintain that in the roughly four decades under consideration the mutual awareness has increased considerably, and that the emerging transatlantic academic community has contributed in myriad ways to more nuanced views on German history.

To return to History after Hitler as a whole: Terence Renaud remarks that the “lack of any boldly transformative argument” might be seen as a weakness of the book. Whether or not my overarching claim about the postwar transatlantic scholarly community amounts to such is of course not for me to decide. What History after Hitler does is revisit previous assessments of crucial aspects of this community. In contrast to the postwar nationalist German notion of ‘émigré resentment’ clouding those scholars’ writings on Germany, I insist on the existence of diverse and multifaceted émigré interpretations of German history. And while I defend the German social historians against the critique of Steven Aschheim that their structuralist approaches suffered from apologetic undertones,[35] I also argue that the close methodological and interpretive connections to American colleagues that the Bielefelder claimed for themselves did not exist, but instead were mostly a “promotional strategy” (140) to sell their new approach within the West German discipline.

Ultimately, however, the nuanced critiques of my book by Biess, Caldwell, and Renaud serve as a reminder of the mechanism of scholarly inquiry which Hans-Ulrich Wehler invoked (in reference, unsurprisingly, to Max Weber) in his final lecture at the University of Bielefeld: “Arbeiten, um überholt zu werden”—to work in order to be revised.[36]


[1] First formulated in Hans-Ulrich Wehler, Das deutsche Kaiserreich (Göttinge: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1973) and re-articulated, in a revised version, in idem., Deutsche Gesellschaftsgeschichte. Band 3: Von der „Deutschen Doppelrevolution“ bis zum Beginn des Ersten Weltkrieges 1849–1914 (Munich: C.H. Beck, 1995).

[2] Fritz Stern, The Politics of Cultural Despair. A Study in the Rise of the Gerrmanic Ideology (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1961); George L. Mosse, The Crisis of German Ideology. Intellectual Origins of the Third Reich (New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1964); Fritz Ringer, The Decline of the German Mandarins: The German Academic Community, 1890–1933 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1969).

[3] Gordon A. Craig, Germany, 1866-1945 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980)

[4] Fritz Fischer, Griff nach der Weltmacht. Die Kriegszielpolitik des kaiserlichen Deutschlands, 1914/18 (Düsseldorf: Droste, 1981).

[5] Alfed Lüdtke, The History of Everyday Life. Reconstructing Historical Experiences and Ways of Life (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995).

[6] See above, footnote 1.

[7] Jürgen Kocka, letter to M. Oubaid, Geschäftsstelle Frauenforschung, Universität Bielefeld, 27 April 1981, in Frauengeschichte: Dokumentation des 3. Historikerinnentreffens in Bielefeld, April ’81 (Munich, 1981), 123.

[8] Johan Galtung, “Structure, Culture, and Intellectual Style: An Essay Comparing Saxonic, Teutonic, Gallic, and Nipponic Approaches,” Social Science Information 20 (1981): 817-856.

[9] Ludwik Fleck, Entstehung und Entwicklung einer wissenschaftlichen Tatsache. Einführung in die Lehre vom Denkstil und Denkkollektiv (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1980 [1935]).

[10] Gerhard Loewenberg, “The Influence of German Émigré Scholars on Comparative Politics, 1925-1965,” American Political Science Review 100 (2006): 597-604; Udi Greenberg, The Weimar Century: Germany Émigrés and the Ideological Foundations of the Cold War (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014).

[11] Hans-Ulrich Wehler, Bismarck und der Imperialismus (Cologne: Kiepenheuer und Witsch, 1969).

[12] Gerhard Ritter, “Revolution in the West: The Principle of the Total Nation-State,” in Ritter, The German Problem (Columbus: The Ohio State University Press, 1965): 41-53.

[13] Friedrich Meinecke, The German Catastrophe, trans. Sidney B. Fay (Boston: Beacon, 1950); Franz Neumann, Behemoth: The Theory and Practice of National Socialism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1944); Ernst Fraenkel, The Dual State: A Contribution to the Theory of Dictatorship (London: Oxford University Press, 1941); Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (New York: Schocken, 1951).

[14] See esp. Niklas Luhmann, Social Systems, tr., John Bednarz, Jr. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1995).

[15] Jürgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, trans. by Thomas Burger and Frederick Lawrence (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1991).

[16] Daniel Rodgers, Atlantic Crossings: Social Politics in a Progressive Age (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998).

[17] Woodrow Wilson, The State: Elements of Historical and Practical Politics, revised ed. (Boston: Heath, 1889), and the collection of Wilson’s speeches and translations of German scholarship in the polemical work by James Brown Scott, A Survey of International Relations between the United States and Germany, August 1, 1914-April 6, 1917, Based on Original Documents (New York: Oxford University Press, 1917).

[18] Hans-Ulrich Wehler, The German Empire, 1871-1918, trans. Kim Traynor (Providence and Oxford: Berg, 1985).

[19] For example, see Hans-Ulrich Wehler, Deutsche Gesellschaftsgeschichte, 5 vols. (Munich: C.H. Beck, 1987-2008); Jürgen Kocka, Industrial Culture and Bourgeois Society: Business, Labor, and Bureaucracy in Modern Germany (New York: Berghahn, 1999); Kocka, Capitalism: A Short History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016); and Reinhart Koselleck, Futures Past: On the Semantics of Historical Time [1979], trans. Keith Tribe (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004).

[20] For example, see George L. Mosse, The Crisis of German Ideology: Intellectual Origins of the Third Reich (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1964); Fritz Stern, The Politics of Cultural Despair: A Study in the Rise of the Germanic Ideology (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1961); and Peter Gay, Weimar Culture: The Outsider as Insider (New York: Harper & Row, 1968).

[21] For example, see Georg G. Iggers, The German Conception of History: The National Tradition of Historical Thought from Herder to the Present (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 1968).

[22] See Udi Greenberg, The Weimar Century: German Émigrés and the Ideological Foundations of the Cold War (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015); Noah B. Strote, Lions and Lambs: Conflict in Weimar and the Creation of Post-Nazi Germany (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017); and Daniel Bessner, Democracy in Exile: Hans Speier and the Rise of the Defense Intellectual (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2018). See also the review essay by Terence Renaud, “Insider Intellectuals and the Crisis of Democracy,” German History 37:3 (2019): 392-404.

[23] For example, see Detlev Peukert, Inside Nazi Germany: Conformity, Opposition, and Racism in Everyday Life [1982] (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985), and Gerda Lerner, The Majority Finds Its Past: Placing Women in History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979).

[24] See Reinhart Koselleck, “Wozu noch Historie?,” Historische Zeitschrift 212:1 (1971): 1-18, and Wolfgang J. Mommsen, Die Geschichtswissenschaft jenseits des Historismus (Düsseldorf: Droste, 1971).

[25] See Fredrik Logevall and Kenneth Osgood, “Why Did We Stop Teaching Political History?,” New York Times, 29 August 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/29/opinion/why-did-we-stop-teaching-political-history.html; Hal Brands and Francis J. Gavin, “The Historical Profession is Committing Slow-Motion Suicide,” War on the Rocks, 10 December 2018, https://warontherocks.com/2018/12/the-historical-profession-is-committing-slow-motion-suicide/; and Max Boot, “Americans’ Ignorance of History is a National Scandal,” Washington Post, 20 February 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/americans-ignorance-of-history-is-a-national-scandal/2019/02/20/b8be683c-352d-11e9-854a-7a14d7fec96a_story.html. See also Eric Alterman, “The Decline of Historical Thinking,” The New Yorker, 4 February 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-decline-of-historical-thinking.

[26] See Daniel Bessner and Michael Brenes, “The AHA’s Mission Needs to Change,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, 3 May 2019, https://www.chronicle.com/article/The-AHA-s-Mission-Needs-to/246243.

[27] Ernst Schulin, “German and American Historiography in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries,” in Hartmut Lehmann and James J. Sheehan, eds., An Interrupted Past: German-Speaking Refugee Historians in the United States after 1933 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 31; Wolfgang J. Mommsen, The Return to the Western Tradition: German Historiography since 1945 (Washington, D.C.: German Historical Institute, 1991); Georg Iggers, “Introduction”, in Georg Iggers, The Social History of Politics: Critical Perspectives in West German Historical Writing Since 1945 (Leamington Spa: Berg, 1985), 1-45; Andreas Daum, “German Historiography in Transatlantic Perspective: Interview with Hans-Ulrich Wehler,” Bulletin of the German Historical Institute, Washington, D.C. 26 (2001): 121-122; Jürgen Kocka, Sozialgeschichte: Begriff—Entwicklung—Probleme (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1977), 40.

[28] Gordon Craig, The Politics of the Prussian Army, 1640-1945 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1955).

[29] Leonard Krieger, The German Idea of Freedom: History of a Political Tradition (Boston: Beacon Press, 1957) Fritz Stern, The Politics of Cultural Despair: A Study in the Rise of the Germanic Ideology (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1961); George L. Mosse, The Crisis of German Ideology: Intellectual Origins of the Third Reich (New York: Howard Fertig, 1964).

[30] Theodore Hamerow, “Guilt, Redemption, and Writing German History,” American Historical Review 88 (1983): 53-72, quote on 66.

[31] Daniel T. Rodgers, “An Age of Social Politics,” in Thomas Bender, ed., Rethinking American History in a Global Age (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2002), 260.

[32] Helmut Walser Smith, “The Vanishing Point of German History: An Essay on Perspective,” History and Memory 17 (2005): 269-295.

[33] David S. Brown, Richard Hofstadter: An Intellectual Biography (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006), 163-165, 170-171; Fritz Stern, Five Germanies I Have Known (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006), 192-193, 246.

[34] Frank Biess and Astrid M. Eckert, “Why Do We Need New Narratives for the Federal Republic?,” Central European History 52:1 (2019): 1-18.

[35] Steven Aschheim, “The Tensions of Historical Wissenschaft: The Émigré Historians and the Making of German Cultural History,” in Aschheim, Beyond the Border: The German-Jewish Legacy Abroad (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007): 45-80.

[36] Hans-Ulrich Wehler, “Rückblick und Ausblick – oder: arbeiten, um überholt zu werden,” in Paul Nolte et al., eds., Perspektiven der Gesellschaftsgeschichte (Munich: C.H. Beck, 2000): 159-168.

Categories: Roundtable, H-DiploPub