Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Germany Between Dictatorship and Democracy, 1929-89 (HI9xx - Withdrawn)

This module has now been permanently withdrawn and is no longer taught in the Warwick History Department.

Context of Module

This module, taught in either the Autumn or Spring terms, is open to students on the MA in Culture, Class and Power, the MA in History, and to taught Master's students from outside the History department.

Module Aims

Germany experienced two dictatorships in the twentieth century, one brown, one red. It also produced one of the model democracies of the postwar period, in which even Greens entered power. This module will consider the roots of authoritarianism and anti-authoritarianism in contempory German history, focusing on the issue of power as a relationship between state and society. Was Hitler a Weberian charismatic dictator, reliant on popular support? Totalitarian theory suggests that 'ordinary Germans' internalised the ideologies propagated from the top; early Marxian social histories emphasised class resistance; while bottom-up 'everyday histories' reveal a more complex negotiation of power at the grass roots, in which individuals can become both perpetrators and victims. Students will have an opportunity to compare and contrast the workings of the fascist and communist welfare systems and security apparatuses, as well as the anti-authoritarian activism of the students' movement in West Germany in 1967-68 and the citizens' movement in East Germany in 1989. The module encourages the use of a wide range of sources, from secret police reports, to diaries, oral histories, novels and films.

Intended Learning Outcomes

a) An understanding of the theoretical and empirical findings on the workings of power, from both political science and social and cultural history.

b) An appreciation of 'everyday history' (Alltagsgeschichte), and the sources and methodologies necessary for recovering it.

c) To communicate ideas in seminars to peers and tutors, summarising the state of past and current scholarship and making use of appropriate handouts and audio-visual aids.

d) To develop, research and write a 5,000-word essay related to one or more of the weeks' topics, demonstrating critical engagement with recent scholarship and effective use of primary sources where appropriate, including proper referencing in footnotes and bibliography as laid out in the Postgraduate Handbook.

e) Where appropriate, to build on approaches introduced in the seminars to frame a dissertation topic later in the MA.

Outline Syllabus
  1. Theorising Power from Above and Below
  2. Being Hitler: The Fascination of Total Power
  3. The 'People's Community': Acclamation, Denunciation and Dissent in Nazi Germany
  4. Powerless: Being Jewish in the Third Reich - A Case-Study of the Klemperer Diaries
  5. The Power of the Past: Amnesia and Commemoration in Film, Fiction and Public Monuments
  6. Students, Baader-Meinhof, Greens: Anti-Authoritarianism in West Germany since the Sixties
  7. The 'Workers' and Peasants' Power': Conformity, Flight and Surveillance in East Germany
  8. 1989: People Power and the Fall of the Wall
Illustrative Bibliography
  • Arendt, Hanna, The Origins of Totalitarianism (New York, 1951)
  • Burns, Rob and Wilfried van der Will, Protest and Democracy in West Germany: Exta-Parliamentary Opposition and the Democratic Agenda (Houndmills, 1988)
  • Fulbrook, Mary, Anatomy of a Dictatorship: Inside the GDR 1949-1989 (Oxford, 1995)
  • Gellately, Robert, Backing Hitler: Consent and Coercion in Nazi Germany (Oxford, 2001)
  • Kershaw, Ian, Hitler, 2 vols.: 1889-1936: Hubris; 1936-1945: Nemesis (Harmondsworth, 1998/2000)
  • Klemperer, Victor, The Klemperer Diaries, 1933-1945 (London, 2000)
  • Peukert, Detlev, Inside Nazi Germany: Conformity, Opposition and Racism in Everyday Life (London, 1989)
  • Maier, Charles, Dissolution: The Crisis of Communism and the End of East Germany (Princeton, 1997)
  • Major, Patrick and Jonathan Osmond (eds.), The Workers' and Peasants' State: Communism and Society in East Germany under Ulbricht, 1945-71 (Manchester, 2002)
  • Niven, Bill, Facing the Nazi Past (London, 2001)
Other Information

The module is taught in eight weekly seminars of two hours each.

Taught elements are entirely in English, including reading for the 5,000-word essay. For those considering writing their final 20,000-word dissertation on a German topic, a reading knowledge of German will be an enormous asset, and essential for those considering further doctoral research.

Intensive and refresher courses are available from the Language Centre.