Fall 2016 - HIST 332 D100

Politics and Culture in Modern Germany (4)

Class Number: 4761

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 9:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    AQ 5008, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units including nine 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 two world wars, economic upheaval, dictatorship and genocide, division and a “cold” war, and reunification? What does it mean to be German after 1871, or 1918, or 1948, or 1990? How has Germany evolved politically and culturally? 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 reunification of the two Germanys in 1991. We will investigate diverse topics focusing on politics and culture, including the role of Bismarck and the founding of the Second Reich, the emergence of Germany as a Great Power in Europe, World War I and the legacy of defeat, the quest for political legitimacy and social change during the Weimar era, the impact of the Great Depression and the National Socialist “revolution,” Nazi racial policy, total war and genocide, conflict and accommodation in East Germany, economic recovery and social change in West Germany, and reunification. Breaks and continuities in German history will be highlighted, such as the idea of a German Sonderweg, or “special path” of development, the failure of liberal democracy prior to 1933, the legacy of National Socialism in the post-45 period, and the experience of a divided nation during the cold war.


  • Attendance and Participation 15%
  • Primary Documents Analysis 25%
  • In-class presentation + book reviews 30%
  • Final Paper 30%



Martin Kitchen, A History of Modern Germany, 1800-2000 (2nd edition)

Roger Chickering, Imperial Germany and the Great War, 1914-1918 (3rd edition)

Christopher R. Browning, Ordinary Men

Joseph Roth, What I Saw: Reports from Berlin

Bernhard Schlink, Guilt About the Past

Registrar Notes:

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