Spring 2021 - HIST 332 D100

Politics and Culture in Modern Germany (4)

Class Number: 5636

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 9:30 AM – 12:20 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units, including six units of lower division history.



An examination of major themes in German history from the establishment of a united German Empire in 1871 to the reunification of Germany in 1990. Emphasis will be placed on issues related to the formation of German national identity and the problems associated with modernization and militarism. Attention will be given to the difficulties of Weimar democracy, the nature of the Third Reich, and contrasting developments in East and West Germany after 1949.


What constitutes the story of unified Germany? How can we understand the evolution of Germany, one of the strongest economic powers in the world and currently the strongest in Europe, from its starting point in 1871, through world war, economic upheaval, dictatorship, genocide, division, and reunification? What does it mean to be German after 1871, or 1918, or 1948, or 1990? Finally, can German history after 1871 be told without focusing on the 1933-1945 period?

This course examines German history from national unification in 1871 to the country’s position as the most powerful nation in the EU in the 21st century. We will investigate diverse topics and themes within the dual framework of continuity and change, including the idea of a German “special path” of development; German imperialism between unification and the end of WWII; the legacy of Nazism in the post-45 period; the experience of a divided nation during the cold war; concerns about immigration and national identity; the challenge of overcoming political and social division after 1989; Germany’s position as an EU and global leader into the 21st century; and the more recent resurgence of far-right nationalism and antisemitism.

Please note: this course follows a somewhat blended model, in that we will hold weekly live (synchronous) meetings via Zoom, attendance of which is mandatory. Students should expect these live meetings to last about two hours and focus primarily on discussion of assigned readings, with an optional third hour some weeks for Q&A with the prof and informal conversation. Weekly lectures will be delivered asynchronously via Canvas. Students are expected to view the lectures prior to each week’s Zoom meeting. Note that academic honesty and integrity remain as important to the quality of your education and your degree at this time as at any other.


  • Primary Document Close Reading (5% each) 15%
  • Online Attendance and Participation 20%
  • Primary Text Assessment (15% each) 30%
  • Final Research Project 35%



  • Christopher R. Browning, Ordinary Men (2017)
  • Peter Schneider, The Wall Jumper (any edition)
  • Bernhard Schlink, Guilt About the Past (2009)
  • ONE of the following (any edition):
    • Ernst Jünger, Storm of Steel
    • Joseph Roth, What I Saw: Reports from Berlin
    • Anonymous, A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City (A Diary)
    • Monika Maron, Pavel’s Letters
Plus various short readings made available via Canvas

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).