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Interviews with Scholars of Germany about their New Books

New Books in German Studies Marshall Poe

    • Gesellschaft und Kultur
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Interviews with Scholars of Germany about their New Books

    Roman Deininger, "Markus Söder: The Shadow Chancellor" (Droemer Knauer, 2020)

    Roman Deininger, "Markus Söder: The Shadow Chancellor" (Droemer Knauer, 2020)

    Next year, Germany goes to the polls. For the first time in 15 years, Angela Merkel will not be a candidate for chancellor.
    Although a leadership election is underway inside Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, all eyes are on the CDU’s Bavarian sister party and its leader Markus Söder as her likely successor.
    A “shameless” self-publicist and political chameleon, Söder first rose to national prominence in 2015-17 as a conservative opponent of Merkel’s refugee policy. Yet, three years on, he has redefined himself as a Green-friendly moderate whose national popularity has soared in response to his sound pandemic management.
    Who is the 53-year-old Bavarian first minister and, if he does succeed Merkel next year, what should Germany’s geopolitical partners expect? In Markus Söder: The Shadow Chancellor (Droemer Knauer, 2020) Roman Deininger explains.
    Few people know better than Deininger, a longtime political reporter for Süddeutsche Zeitung in Munich who has been stalking this wily politician for two decades.
    Tim Gwynn Jones is an economic and political-risk analyst at Medley Global Advisors.
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    • 40 Min.
    Justin Q. Olmstead, "The United States' Entry into the First World War: The Role of British and German Diplomacy" (Boydell Press, 2019)

    Justin Q. Olmstead, "The United States' Entry into the First World War: The Role of British and German Diplomacy" (Boydell Press, 2019)

    The complicated situation which led to the American entry into the First World War in 1917 is often explained from the perspective of public opinion, US domestic politics, or financial and economic opportunity. In this new book, The United States' Entry into the First World War: The Role of British and German Diplomacy (Boydell Press, 2019), by Associate Professor of History at the University of Central Oklahoma, Justin Quinn Olmstead, however, reasserts the importance of diplomats and diplomacy. Based on original research, the book provides a look at British, German, and American diplomacy in the period 1914-17. It argues that British and German diplomacy in this period followed the same patterns as had been established in the preceding decades. It goes on to consider key issues which concerned diplomats, including the international legality of Britain's economic blockade of Germany, Germany's use of unrestricted submarine warfare, peace initiatives, and Germany's attempt to manipulate in its favour the long history of distrust in Mexican-American relations. Overall, the book demonstrates that diplomats and diplomacy played a key role, thereby providing a fresh and original approach to this crucially important subject. To top it off, the author finishes the text with a truly splendid bibliographic essay on the historical literature dealing with this ultra-important subject.
    Charles Coutinho Ph. D. of the Royal Historical Society, received his doctorate from New York University. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written recently for Chatham House’s International Affairs.
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    • 41 Min.
    Julia Sneeringer, "A Social History of Early Rock ‘n’ Roll in Germany: Hamburg from Burlesque to The Beatles, 1956-69" (Bloomsbury, 2018)

    Julia Sneeringer, "A Social History of Early Rock ‘n’ Roll in Germany: Hamburg from Burlesque to The Beatles, 1956-69" (Bloomsbury, 2018)

    The Beatles’ sojourn in the St. Pauli district of Hamburg during the early 1960s is part of music legend. As Julia Sneeringer reveals in A Social History of Early Rock ‘n’ Roll in Germany: Hamburg from Burlesque to The Beatles, 1956-69 (Bloomsbury, 2018), though, this was just the most famous episode in the neighborhood’s momentous engagement with rock ‘n’ roll during that period, one of importance not just to music history but to the history of modern Germany. Located as it was outside the walls of the medieval city, St. Pauli was known for centuries as the entertainment quarter of Hamburg. The neighborhood had only recently recovered from the hardships of the postwar era when German club owners began booking English bands to play the new style of music that had just been introduced in Europe. The performances quickly proved a hit among teenage Germans, who flocked to out-of-the-way venues to watch the acts perform. As Sneeringer details, the encounters changed everyone involved, giving the musicians the chance to hone their skills and develop their style while through their participation the young men and women in the audience pushed against the conservative social boundaries imposed on them by their families and their society.
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    • 1 Std. 11 Min.
    Despina Stratigakos, "Hitler’s Northern Utopia: Building the New Order in Occupied Norway" (Princeton UP, 2020)

    Despina Stratigakos, "Hitler’s Northern Utopia: Building the New Order in Occupied Norway" (Princeton UP, 2020)

    In her new book Hitler’s Northern Utopia: Building the New Order in Occupied Norway (Princeton University Press, 2020), Despina Stratigakos investigates the Nazi occupation of Norway. Between 1940 and 1945, German occupiers transformed Norway into a vast construction zone. This remarkable building campaign, largely unknown today, was designed to extend the Greater German Reich beyond the Arctic Circle and turn the Scandinavian country into a racial utopia. From ideal new cities to a scenic superhighway stretching from Berlin to northern Norway, plans to remake the country into a model “Aryan” society fired the imaginations of Hitler, his architect Albert Speer, and other Nazi leaders. In Hitler’s Northern Utopia, Despina Stratigakos provides the first major history of Nazi efforts to build a Nordic empire—one that they believed would improve their genetic stock and confirm their destiny as a new order of Vikings.
    Drawing on extraordinary unpublished diaries, photographs, and maps, as well as newspapers from the period, Hitler’s Northern Utopia tells the story of a broad range of completed and unrealized architectural and infrastructure projects far beyond the well-known German military defenses built on Norway’s Atlantic coast. These ventures included maternity centers, cultural and recreational facilities for German soldiers, and a plan to create quintessential National Socialist communities out of twenty-three towns damaged in the German invasion, an overhaul Norwegian architects were expected to lead. The most ambitious scheme—a German cultural capital and naval base—remained a closely guarded secret for fear of provoking Norwegian resistance.
    A gripping account of the rise of a Nazi landscape in occupied Norway, Hitler’s Northern Utopia reveals a haunting vision of what might have been—a world colonized under the swastika.
    Despina Stratigakos is vice provost and professor of architecture at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York.
    Craig Sorvillo is a PhD candidate in modern European history at the University of Florida. He specializes in Nazi Germany, and the Holocaust. He can be reached at craig.sorvillo@gmail.com or on twitter @craig_sorvillo.
     
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    • 57 Min.
    T. P. Kaplan and W. Gruner, "Resisting Persecution: Jews and Their Petitions during the Holocaust" (Berghahn, 2020)

    T. P. Kaplan and W. Gruner, "Resisting Persecution: Jews and Their Petitions during the Holocaust" (Berghahn, 2020)

    In 20 years of studying the Holocaust, it didn’t occurr to me that German officials might, when petitioned by German Jews or by Germans advocating for German Jews, change their minds. But it turns out that, sometimes, they did. And even when they didn’t, petitioning local, regional or national officials (often all at the same time) could delay deportations or punishments or even function as a form of resistance.
    Resisting Persecution: Jews and Their Petitions during the Holocaust (Berghahn Books) looks at these petitions from a variety of perspectives. As editors Thomas Kaplan and Wolf Gruner argue, this is a topic that is surprisingly undercovered. And it’s a topic rich in insight and importance. The book shows clearly that petitioning was a common practice. It shows clearly that petitions were sometimes granted. It shows clearly that petitions sometimes led to unexpected and unusual outcomes. And it shows us that studying petitions sometimes opens our eyes to new ways of understanding old topics.
    The book isn’t the last word on petitions, nor does it pretend to be. Rather, Kaplan and Gruner open up a new avenue of investigation, one that offers researchers topics to work on for many years to come.
    Thomas Pegelow Kaplan is the Leon Levine Distinguished Professor and Director of the Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies at Appalachian State University.
    Wolf Gruner is the Shapell-Guerin Chair in Jewish Studies, Professor of History and Founding Director of the USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research at the University of Southern California.
    Kelly McFall is Professor of History and Director of the Honors Program at Newman University. He’s the author of four modules in the Reacting to the Past series, including The Needs of Others: Human Rights, International Organizations and Intervention in Rwanda, 1994, published by W. W. Norton Press.
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    • 1 Std. 5 Min.
    Helmut Walser Smith, "Germany: A Nation in its Time" (Liveright, 2020)

    Helmut Walser Smith, "Germany: A Nation in its Time" (Liveright, 2020)

    In his groundbreaking 500-year history entitled Germany: A Nation in its Time (Liveright, 2020), Helmut Walser Smith challenges traditional perceptions of Germany’s conflicted past, revealing a nation far more thematically complicated than many twentieth-century historians have imagined. Smith’s dramatic narrative begins with the earliest glimmers of a nation in the 1500s, when visionary mapmakers and adventuresome travelers struggled to delineate and define this embryonic nation. Contrary to widespread perception, the people who first described Germany were largely pacific in temperament, and the pernicious ideology of German nationalism would only enter into the nation’s history centuries later. Tracing the significant tension between the idea of the nation and the ideology of its nationalism, Smith shows a nation constantly reinventing itself and explains how radical nationalism ultimately turned Germany into a genocidal nation. Richly illustrated, with original maps created by the author, the book is a sweeping account that does nothing less than redefine our understanding of Germany from the age of the Reformation to the Berlin Republic.
    Michael E. O’Sullivan is Professor of History at Marist College where he teaches courses about Modern Europe. He published Disruptive Power: Catholic Women, Miracles, and Politics in Modern Germany, 1918-1965 with University of Toronto Press in 2018. It was recently awarded the Waterloo Centre for German Studies Book Prize for 2018.
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    • 1 Std. 9 Min.

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