Fall 2024 - HIST 332 D100

Politics and Culture in Modern Germany (4)

Class Number: 5803

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 4 – Dec 3, 2024: Wed, 9:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

  • 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.


  • Primary Document Close Reading (5% each) 15%
  • Attendance and Participation (includes in-tutorial assignments) 20%
  • Primary Text Assessment 30%
  • Final Research Project 35%



  • Martin Kitchen and Lauren Faulkner Rossi, A History of Modern Germany: 1800 to the Present, 3rd edition (2023)
  • Bernhard Schlink, Guilt About the Past (2009)
  • ONE of the following (any edition or format):
    • 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)*
    • Victor Klemperer, I Shall Bear Witness (also called: I Will Bear Witness – abridged or unabridged are both acceptable)
    • Gitta Sereny, Into That Darkness: An Examination of Conscience
    • Monika Maron, Pavel’s Letters*

* Denotes books that can be read in their original German if the student is interested.

Plus various short readings made available via Canvas.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the term are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.