History 3335. 001 Modern Germany fall 2014 tt 12: 30-1: 45 mesa 4250 Prof. Roland Spickermann

Download 58.03 Kb.
Size58.03 Kb.

History 3335.001 - Modern Germany

FALL 2014

TT 12:30-1:45 - MESA 4250
Prof. Roland Spickermann

Office: MESA 4108

Office Hrs: TBA

Telephone: 432-552-2318
E-mail: spickermann_r@utpb.edu

Wilkommen! Few countries in modern Europe have so often experienced so many changes in governments, cultures, and society as quickly or as convulsively as Germany. A German born in 1910 in Berlin by 1990 could have experienced two world wars and two revolutions, an empire, a failed republic, a Nazi dictatorship, military occupation, and Communism before finally settling into a stable democracy. Potentially, his or her parents might have been born before Germany even existed yet as a country! Because of so many changes, modern German history challenges everything we think we know about how Western societies have developed.

This course focuses as much on how and why things happened as they did as much as on what happened. You will learn a lot about processes and relationships. To do well in this course, you will have to consider how what you are reading relates to previous readings: spot trends, analyze patterns. Do not merely memorize events. Reciting historical data without comprehension is as useful as memorizing a poem in a language you do not speak.

This is a writing-intensive course, and one which will also involve a bit of research. I will assign two papers, each worth 20% of the grade, of five pages each. These are to be turned in (via Blackboard, as an attachment) BEFORE class starts on their due dates; I will deduct for lateness. Submissions must be either in .rtf, .docx, or .pages format. I will have to return documents in other formats back to you, and you will have to reformat them acceptably so that I can read them, and then I will have to mark you down for lateness.

In addition to the above writing assignments, each student will be expected to do work on an “avatar” - a hypothetical person, born in 1910. This avatar will be assigned to you during the first weeks of school. Your job will be, over the course of the 20th century in this course, to fill out what that person’s life might be like, based on research of that person’s town of origin, gender, social background, and religious denomination. This summary of your avatar’s experiences will be due on Thursday before class each week, and your inferences about what happens to that person during the events of the period studied that week *must* be documented from credible resources, either found in our library, through JSTOR, or from credible online resources. You’ll note that the reading materials for this course heavily stress autobiography, as a way to give you a better “feel” for how the grand themes of German history that we will examine affected people across the 20th century. I will grade mainly on the creativity of your research, and on your ability to show how that would be a plausible outcome for your person, and what choices your person would be making to adapt to Germany’s changes. (I reserve the right to throw in a ringer every now and then, too.) At the end of the semester, you will write this up as a semi-fictional biography (with all of your sources in the footnotes), ideally with some reflections about German history generally.

I do not usually grade on attendance, but reserve the right to. (But if you think you know German history so well that you can skip class, you really should take another course, hm?) I also reserve the right to give pop quizzes. Skip a class, take a risk.

ASK QUESTIONS. IF YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND SOMETHING, SAY SO. CALL OR E-MAIL ME. (Why else do I put my number and my e-mail in the syllabus?) Your instructor is a course-resource as much as a text or a Web Site is.

I will give EXTRA CREDIT if you read a novel by a German author, or an additional text on German history, and write a paper comparing its content with the information you are learning in the course. Conditions: you need to confer with me first about the text, so that I may advise you. The amount of extra credit will depend on the quality of the paper and the length of the extra reading attempted.
I will also give EXTRA CREDIT to students who watch the long Docudrama “Heimat”, and apply the experiences of its characters to your avatar’s experiences.

ADA Information:

Students with disabilities are responsible for registering with the Office of Student Disabilities Services in order to receive special accommodations and services. Please notify me during the first week of classes if a reasonable accommodation for a disability is needed for this course. A letter from the UTPB/ADA office, located in the Pass Office (telephone 432-552-2630) must accompany this request. Thereafter, I will make every effort to ensure special accommodations.

Acceptable Student Behavior:

Classroom behavior should not interfere with the instructor’s ability to conduct the class or the ability of other students to learn from the instructional program (Code of Student Life). Unacceptable or disruptive behavior will not be tolerated. Students engaging in unacceptable behavior may be instructed to leave the classroom. Inappropriate behavior may result in disciplinary action or referral to the University’s Behavioral Intervention Team. This prohibition applies to all instructional forums, including electronic, classroom, labs, discussion groups, field trips, etc.


Plagiarism on papers will constitute grounds for a negative score on an assignment, and possibly for failure for the course. I define plagiarism as the use of someone else's work without attribution, thus claiming the work as one's own. (Massive paraphrasing - using someone else's essay but changing one word in each sentence, for example - still constitutes plagiarism.)


WEEKLY AVATAR ASSIGNMENTS: Each Thursday before class.

PAPER 1 DUE: October 9

PAPER 2 DUE: December 4


William Hagen - German History in Modern Times (this will be our core text)

Sebastian Haffner - Defying Hitler

Alfons Heck - A Child of Hitler: German in the Days When God Wore a Swastika

Richard Bessel - Germany 1945: From War to Peace

Jana Hensel - After the Wall: Confessions from an East German Childhood
While I have not required it, I strongly recommend that you buy and use Strunk's and White's The Elements of Style,, Turabian's Manual of Style, and Adler's How to Read a Book. Few books will help you with writing and reading as much as these will. Any decent bookstore or online book service will carry them.


Much of the discussion in Part One will address how the German-speaking areas of Europe, which were mostly rural and monarchical, struggled with the “Dual Revolution“ :
* the introduction of new political ideas through the French Revolution (liberalism, socialism, and especially nationalism), and
* the transformation of society through urbanization and industrialization (new social classes, new concentrations of economic and political power, new conflicts, and new cultures).

1. August 26 and 28
LOG ON TO BLACKBOARD (http://online.utpb.edu). Leave a message for me, and post a self-introduction in the ”discussion” part of the website.
Hagen 1: “Historiographie: Interpreting German History”

2. September 2 and 4 - Early Modern Germanies (plural)
Begin basic research on your town and region, and give me some idea of how it reflects the larger trends mentioned in Hagen.
Hagen 2: “Herrschaft: Lordship and Power in the Germanies”

Hagen 3: “Alltag: Contours of Daily Life in the 17th and 18th Centuries”

Hagen 4: “Power States (Machtstaaten): The Prussian and Austria’s Military-Bureaucratic Monarchies”

Hagen 5: “Aufklärung: The German Enlightenment and Other Spirits of the Age”


Germany did unify in 1871, but the achievement had its costs. The country overturned the European balance of power, and was becoming an industrial power -- yet all the while remaining semi-authoritarian politically. Was Germany developing “normally“, or was this combination of "modern economy-traditional state" an aberration, which created even more social tensions than it resolved?

3. September 9 and 11 - 19th Century German Society, part 1
Show how your region was affected by the larger trends mentioned in Hagen.

Hagen 6: “Liberté? Facing the French Revolution, 1789-1815”

Hagen 7: “‘Land of Poets and Thinkers’: From Enlightenment Universalism to German National Culture”

Hagen 8: “Freedom and Voice, ‘Iron and Blood’: Liberalism and Nationalism, 1815-1914

4. September 16 and 18 - 19th Century German Society, part 2
Use Hagen as a start, and then do other research on your avatar’s family’s profession(s) and their status in your area. Are they “bourgeois”, otherwise elite, or lower class? Decide on how big your parents’ family is, and justify this as a plausible choice. How many brothers and sisters, for example, and of what ages?
Hagen 9: “Sozialdemokratie: Workers and Politics in the Age of Industrialization”

Hagen 10: “Frauen: Women, Family, Feminism, 1789-1914”

Hagen 12: “‘German Citizens of Jewish Faith’: Jews, Germans, German Jews, 1789-1914”

Astonishingly, the Weimar Republic lasted only 14 years, and the Third Reich lasted only 12. Yet these 26 years are among the most studied of any country in any period. A republic committed suicide, leading to one of the most horrific regimes in the 20th century (and it had a lot of competition on the horror-scale). Could it happen again somewhere else? Not a small issue.

Historians have begun to argue about their legacies, too. The Third Reich was not a black hole, and though Auschwitz was its greatest legacy, it was not its only one. How much did German life change as a result of Nazism?

Think about these questions as you read these sections.

5. September 23 and 25 - The Weimar Republic
Your avatar is experiencing World War I and the Weimar Republic as a child and teen. What is happening to him/her, and the family? Why? Again, use Hagen and your own research.

Hagen 13: “Krieg: The Prussian-German Monarchy’s Sudden Death in War and Revolution 1914-1920”

Hagen 14: “Weimarer Republik: Democracy’s Bitter Fruits, 1918-1933”

6. September 30 and October 2 - Roots of Nazi Germany
Your avatar in 1933 is 19 years old. What is his/her status as a young adult? What trade or college, for example? What political disposition, and receptiveness to party organizations?
Hagen 15: “A People without a State? Middle-Class Discontent and Popular Utopia”

Haffner 1: “Prologue”

Haffner 2: “The Revolution”

7. October 7 and 9 - Nazi Germany
Your avatar is in his/her mid-1920s. Married? To whom? How many children and when? How are you and your family benefiting or not benefiting from Third Reich policies? Why?
Hagen 16: “Volksgemeinschaft: The ‘People’s Community’ at Hitler’s Command, 1933-1945”

Haffner 3: “The Leave-Taking”

Heck 1 (through 1938)

8. October 14 and 16 - World War II, part 1
What is the war doing to your family? How are your avatar’s sentiments about the Third Reich changing? Why?
Hagen 17: “Lebensraum: War for Empire in Eastern Europe”

Heck 2 (1938-1939 - Nürnberg, Kristallnacht, War with Poland)

Heck 3 (1939-1940)

Heck 4 (1941-1942)

Heck 5 (1943)

Heck 6 (January 1944 - October 1944)

Heck 7 (October 1944 - December 1944)

9. October 21 and 23 - The Holocaust
How is the Holocaust affecting your avatar? None of your avatars are Jewish - but nonetheless, there were other effects that the Holocaust had on other Germans.
Hagen 18: “Shoah - Banned from Nation and Earth: German Jews after 1914, National Socialist ”Jewish Policy”, and the Holocaust

10. October 28 and 30 - World War II, part 2
What is happening to your avatar, and the avatar’s family? Use Bessel, and your own resources?
Heck 8 (late 1944)

Heck 9 (December 1944-early 1945)

Bessel 1: Introduction: To Hell and Back

Bessel 2: A World in Flames

Bessel 3: Murder and Mayhem

11. November 4 and 6 - The Last Days of the Reich
What is happening to your avatar, and the avatar’s family? Use Bessel, and your resources.
Bessel 4: Fleeing for Their Lives

Bessel 5: The Last Days of the Reich

Bessel 6: Revenge

Heck 10 (March 1945)

Heck Epilogue


After World War II, a devastated, hungry, and much-truncated Germany, having lost millions of citizens, a third of its territory, most of its industry, and (for decades) the trust of the world, suddenly produced two success-stories where Weimar had produced nothing: a highly stable and successful democracy in the West, and a Communist state in the East arguably more successful than the Soviet Union itself. How could these happen, almost overnight? Was it a new beginning, a “zero hour“?

12. November11 and 13 - The First Days of Postwar Peace and Partition
What is happening to your avatar, and the avatar’s family? Use Bessel, and your resources.
Bessel 7: The Beginning of Occupation

Bessel 8: The Loss of the East

Bessel 9: Societies of the Uprooted

Bessel 10: Visions of a New World

13. November 18 and 20 - The Federal Republic
In 1945, your avatar is 31 years old. What future does (s)he see for him/herself and for family? What beliefs does he/she have? Think about what happens to your avatar and your avatar’s family between 1945 and 1961 here.
Hagen 19:”Beyond ‘Zero Hour’: Defeated Germany and the West German Federal Republic, 1945-1989

Bessel 11: The Great Disorder

Bessel 12: Paying for War and Peace

Bessel 13: Conclusion: Life after Death

14. November 25 - The German Democratic Republic
In 1961, your avatar is 47 years old. What future does (s)he see for him/herself and for family? What beliefs does he/she have? Think about what happens to your avatar and your avatar’s family between 1961 and 1989 here.
Hagen 20: “Real Existing Socialism”: Soviet-Occupied Germany and the German Democratic Republic, 1945-1990”

Hensel 1: “That War Fuzzy Feeling of Togetherness: On Growing Up in the GDR”

Hensel 2: “Gateway to Nowhere: On Searching for Home”

Hensel 3: “The Ugly Years: On Our Battles with Bad Taste”

Hensel 5: “Give Us This Day Our Daily Pledge: On Our Education”

Hensel 6: “The World Is Our Oyster: On Love and Friendship”

Hensel 7: “The Most Important Thing is To Win: On Phys Ed and Sports”


Unification occurred in 1990, but one should not consider this the end of the story -- West and East had developed (or, shall we say, "modernized") too differently for there not to be any post-unification conflicts. How do you reunite two portions of a country which had developed along such divergent paths for 45 years?

In 1989, your avatar is 75 years old, possibly with children and even grandchildren. What is happening after unification? How does it affect you and your family? How are you likely to see the new, reunified Germany? How about Europe, immigration?
15. December 2 and 4 - Reunification, and What Followed
Hagen 21: “Mauerfall - The Fall of the Wall: The Post-Unification Scene in West and East”

Hensel 4: “Role Reversals: On Dealing with Our Parents”

Hensel 8: “Go West, Young Man: On Our Future”

(readings on German immigration to be announced)

Final Exam: .Paper Due on December 6.

Download 58.03 Kb.

Share with your friends:

The database is protected by copyright ©essaydocs.org 2022
send message

    Main page