Deja Vu: Exploring Germany’s Responses to Recurring Racism Abstract

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Chris Brunner 6/8/15

Deja Vu: Exploring Germany’s Responses to Recurring Racism


The purpose of this paper is to explore how governments respond to recurring problems. Historic precedent is traditionally used as a template to solve problems that have plagued the same country or people for years. However, the only way to really solve an evolving problem is to change the solution. Over the past 100 years in Germany, the country has faced three separate xenophobic episodes. In each case, their solution was influenced both by history and the current climate of society. In order to get a fully understand the responses of the government, the reasons for the tensions in the first place must be explored. Immediately following World War II, racism was quelled using an array of written policy, whereas after reunifying, the government utilized a combination of social forces to again ease tensions. The challenge now is for the current government to balance the teachings of history with the conditions of the present day society to find a lasting solution.


We look at the recurring problems in the history of the world and use those successes and failures to sculpt our current solutions. One such recurring theme is xenophobia, or the fear of people from other countries. Throughout history, humans have disliked other humans, in fact, racism is probably older than most religions. Germany, one of the countries most associated with racism and xenophobia, provides and interesting case in handling racism because they have faced and beaten two movements already and are now embattled with the third. Many political regimes ascribe the principle that the historic precedent is the best solution, but this thinking only puts the problem on hold until the next instance. Conversely, Germany has shown that combining both historical elements with modern sympathies is a much more effective solution.

The focus of the research in this paper concerns the racism in Germany itself. First, we will discuss the German Third Reich and what the Nazi party did to foster nationalism and instill hatred. Next, we will see how the reunification of East and West Germany led to hatred between German counterparts and toward immigrants. And finally, we will look at the situation in today’s Germany in which a new sense of German pride is clashing with a rising Muslim population.

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