Units of Study

Here follows a daily schedule of our class meetings, discussion topics, and readings. Please note that this material is subject to change. Our course is organized into the following six parts. 

  • I. The Romantic Age
  • II. The Realist Age
  • III. Neoclassical Façade, Modernist Revolt
  • IV. The Competition for Modernity
  • V. Abstract Expressionism and Socialist Realism
  • VI. The Contemporary World

Students are not expected to read documents in German; English translations are provided for each item listed here. 

Part I: The Romantic Age

A. The Setting 


  • To prepare for our first class meeting, please review our syllabus and course website carefully.
  • Read: Martin Kitchen, A History of Modern Germany, 1800-2000, 2nd ed. (Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012); read the introduction. 
  • Read: Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, "Hansel and Gretel," in The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales, ed. Maria Tatar (New York: W. W. Norton, 2002). 
  • Read: Jules R. Benjamin, A Student's Guide to History, 12th ed. (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2013); read ch. 1 and ch. 2, "The Subject of History and How to Use It" and "Succeeding in Your History Class." 

B. The Germans Under Napoléon


  • Read: Kitchen, A History of Modern Germany; read ch. 1, “Germany Under Napoléon.” 
  • Read: Johann Gottlieb Fichte, excerpts from “Address to the German Nation” [1807-08], in Gesamtausgabe Werkeband, vol. 10, trans. George Armstrong Kelly (Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: F. Frommann, 1988ff), pp. 183-212. 

C. The Nineteenth Century: An Overview

  • Read: Kitchen, A History of Modern Germany; read ch. 2, “German Society in Transition, 1800-70.”

D. Restoration, Reform, and the Age of Romanticism 


  • Read: Kitchen, A History of Modern Germany; read ch. 3, “Restoration and Reform, 1815-40.”  
  • Read: Excerpts from the Karlsbad Decrees (20 September 1819), in Readings in European History, vol. 2, ed. James Harvey Robinson (Boston: Ginn, 1906), 547-48.
  • Read: Heinrich von Kleist, “The Beggarwoman of Locarno”; translation of “Das Bettelweib von Locarno” in Berliner Abendblätter (1810).
  • Optional: E. T. A. Hoffmann, “The Sandman”; translation of “Der Sandmann” in Die Nachtstückte (1816). 

E. The Revolutions of 1848 


  • Read: Kitchen, A History of Modern Germany; read ch. 4, “The Revolutions of 1848.”
  • Optional: Dieter Langewiesche, “The Nature of German Liberalism,” in Modern Germany Reconsidered, ed. Gordon Martel (London: Routledge, 1992), 96-116. 

Part II: The Realist Age

F. The Age of Realism 


G. The Struggle for Mastery 


  • Read: Kitchen, A History of Modern Germany; read ch. 5, “The Struggle for Mastery, 1850-66.” 

H. The Unification of Germany 


  • Read: Kitchen, A History of Modern Germany; read ch. 6, “The Unification of Germany, 1866-71.” 
  • Read: Thomas Nast, The Fight at Dame Europa's School: Showing How the German Boy Thrashed the French Boy and How the English Boy Looked On (New York: Francis B. Felt, 1871). 

I. The Age of Bismarck: Consolidation of the Empire, 1871-90 


  • Read: Kitchen, A History of Modern Germany; read ch. 7, “Bismarck’s Germany.”
  • Read: Excerpts from the Statistisches Jahrbuch für das Deutsche Reich, in Sozialgeschichtliches Arbeitsbuch II, 2nd ed., ed. Gerd Hohorst, Jürgen Kocka, and Gerhard A. Ritter (Munich: Beck, 1978), 52.
  • Read: Elard von Oldenburg-Januschau, excerpts from Erinnerungen (Leipzig: Koehler und Amelang, 1936), 43ff.  

J. The Age of Bismarck: Germany and Europe, 1871-90 


  • Read: Kitchen, A History of Modern Germany; read ch. 8, “Germany and Europe, 1871-90.”
  • Read: Henry A. Kissinger, “The White Revolutionary: Reflections on Bismarck,” Daedalus 97, no. 3 (1968): 888-924. 

Part III: Neoclassical Façade, Modernist Revolt

K. The Twentieth Century: An Overview 

  • Read: "How Vienna Produced Ideas that Shaped the West," The Economist, 24 December 2016. 

L. Wilhelmine Germany, 1890-1914 


  • Read: Kitchen, A History of Modern Germany; read ch. 9, “Wilhelmine Germany, 1890-1914.”
  • Read: John C. G. Röhl, Kaiser Wilhelm II: A Concise Life (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014). Read the book in full.
  • Read: Address of Wilhelm II, 27 July 1900, in Die Reden Kaiser Wilhelms II., ed. Johannes Prenzler, trans. Thomas Dunlap (Leipzig: Reclam, 1897ff).
  • Read: Heinrich Claß [Daniel Freymann], excerpts from Wenn ich der Kaiser wär: Politische Wahrheiten und Notwendigkeiten, trans. Thomas Dunlap (Leipzig: Dieterich, 1912).
  • Optional: Isabel V. Hull, Absolute Destruction: Military Culture and the Practices of War in Imperial Germany (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2005); read pp. 320-33. 

M. Germany's Bid for World Supremacy: The Great War, 1914-18 


  • Read: Kitchen, A History of Modern Germany; read ch. 10, “The First World War.”
  • Read: Ladislaus Count von Szögyény-Marich to Leopold Count von Berchtold (July 5, 1914), in Österreich-Ungarns Außenpolitik von der Bosnischen Krise 1908 bis zum Kriegsausbruch 1914: Diplomatische Aktenstückte des österreichisch-ungarischen Ministeriums des Äussern, vol. 8, ed. Ludwig Bittner, et al. (Vienna: Österreichischer Bundesverlag für Unterricht, Wissenschaft und Kunst, 1930), no. 10,058.
  • Read: Alfred von Tirpitz, excerpts from Erinnerungen, trans. Adam Blauhut (Leipzig: K. F. Koehler, 1920), 93-100. 

Part IV: The Competition for Modernity

N. The Weimar Republic, 1919-33 


  • Read: Kitchen, A History of Modern Germany; read ch. 11, “The Weimar Republic, 1919-33.”
  • Read: Excerpts from the Conditions of the Armistice with Germany (11 November 1918), in Sir Frederick Maurice, The Armistices of 1918 (London: Oxford University Press, 1943), pp. 93-100.
  • Read: Rosa Luxemburg, excerpts from “Rede zum Programm,” in Politische Reden III, 1914-1945, ed. Peter Wende, trans. Dick Howard (Frankfurt am Main: Deutscher Klassiker Verlag, 1994), pp. 145-75.
  • Read: Ludwig Meidner, excerpts from “An alle Künstler, Dichter, Musiker,” in German Expressionism: Documents from the End of the Wilhelmine Empire to the Rise of National Socialism, ed. Rose-Carol Washton Long (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1993), pp. 175-76.
  • Read: Rudolf Kayser, “Amerikanismus,” Vossische Zeitung, no. 458 (27 September 1925), in The Weimar Republic Sourcebook, ed. Anton Kaes, Martin Jay, and Edward Dimendberg (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1994), pp. 395-97.
  • Read: George Grosz, “Unter anderem ein Wort für die deutsche Tradition,” Das Kunstblatt 15, no. 3 (1931), pp. 79-84. 

O. The Nazi Dictatorship: The Instruments of Power 


  • Read: Kitchen, A History of Modern Germany; read ch. 12, “The Nazi Dictatorship.”
  • Read: Law to Remove the Distress of the People and the Reich, in National Socialism: Basic Principles, Their Application by the Nazi Party’s Foreign Organizations, and the Use of Germans Abroad for Nazi Aims, ed. U.S. Department of State, Division of European Affairs (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1943), Appendix, doc. 11, pp. 217-18.
  • Read: SS Marriage Order (31 December 1931), in Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, vol. 4, ed. United States Chief Counsel for the Prosecution of Axis Criminality (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1946), doc. 2284-PS.
  • Read: Excerpts from the Correspondence between Wilhelm Furtwängler and Joseph Goebbels (April 1933), in Nazism, 1919-1945, vol. 2, State, Economy, and Society, 1933-1939, ed. Jeremy Noakes and Geoffrey Pridham (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2000), pp. 213-15.
  • Read: Reichsministerium für Wissenschaft, Erziehung und Volksbildung, “Erziehung und Unterricht in der Höheren Schule” (1938), in ibid., p. 244. 

P. The Nazi Revolution: Germans into Nazis 


  • Read: Peter Fritzsche, Germans into Nazis (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998). Read the book in full.
  • Read: Paul von Hindenburg, excerpts from testimony before a parliamentary investigatory committee (18 November 1919), in Stenographischer Bericht über die öffentlichen Verhandlungen des 15. Untersuchungsausschusses der verfassungsgebenden Nationalversammlung, vol. 2; in The Weimar Republic Sourcebook, pp. 15-16. 
  • Read: George Orwell, Review of Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler [March 1940], in The Collected Essays, Journalism, and Letters of George Orwell, vol. 2, ed. Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus (New York: Hacourt and Brace, 1968). 

Q. Hitler and Europe: Diplomacy, Coercion, and Warfare 


  • Read: Kitchen, A History of Modern Germany; read ch. 13, “Nazi Germany, 1933-45.”
  • Read: Letter from Adolf Hitler to Col. Walther von Reichenau, 4 December 1932, in Nazism, 1919-1945, vol. 3, Foreign Policy, War and Racial Extermination, ed. Jeremy Noakes and Geoffrey Pridham (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2001), pp. 11-15.
  • Read: Heinrich Himmler, excerpts from an address to the SS-Gruppenführer at Posen (4 October 1943), in Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, vol. 4, doc. 1919-PS, pp. 558-59 and 570-72. 

R. The Holocaust 


  • Read: Christopher R. Browning, Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland (New York: Harper Perennial, 1998). Read the book in full.
  • Read: Victor Klemperer, I Shall Bear Witness: The Diaries of Victor Klemperer, 1933-1941, trans. Martin Chalmers (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1998), excerpts.
  • Read: Reich Citizenship Law (15 September 1935) and the First Regulation to the Reich Citizenship Law (14 November 1935), in Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, vol. 4, doc. 1416-PS and 1417-PS, pp. 7-10.
  • Read: Document no. NG-2586 [Protocol of the Wannsee Conference, 20 January 1942], Office of the Chief Counsel of War Crimes; in The Holocaust: Selected Documents in Eighteen Volumes, vol. 11, ed. John Mendelsohn (New York: Garland, 1982), pp. 18-32. 

Screening: Conspiracy


View: Conspiracy, directed by Frank Pierson (2001). The film runs 96 minutes. 

On 20 January 1942, just as the tide of war was turning decisively against Hitler's Germany, fifteen officials of the Nazi Party, the SS, and the government ministries convened at the lakeside villa on the Wannsee to reach a "final solution" to the so-called "Jewish question." Conspiracy offers a dramatic interpretation of that conference based on the few surviving documents and traces available. I encourage all students to view the IMDB page for specific certifications and content advisories.   

Read: Gerd Gemünden, “How to View a Film,” in A User’s Guide to German Cultural Studies, ed. Scott Denham, Irene Kacandes, and Jonathan Petropoulos (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997). 


Part V: Abstract Expressionism and Socialist Realism

S. Defeat, Occupation, and Division, 1945-49 


  • Read: Kitchen, A History of Modern Germany; read ch. 14, “The Adenauer Era, 1945-63.”
  • Read: G. W. Harmssen, excerpted map from Reparationen, Sozialprodukt, Lebensstandard, appendix 7, in Christoph Kleßmann, Die doppelte Staatsgründung: Deutsche Geschichte, 1945-1955 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1986), 354. 

Screening: Der Untergang

Film, Downfall.jpg

View: Der Untergang, directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel (2004). The film runs 156 minutes.

Der Untergang, which won many awards in Germany and around the world, chronicles the final days of Hitler’s Germany, based upon the memoir of Traudl Junge, Hitler’s private secretary who stayed with him until his death. The film sparked an important debate in Germany about Vergangenheitsbewältigung (“coming to terms with the past”), which continues today. In the U.S., the film is rated R, and I encourage all students to view the IMDB page for specific certifications and content advisories.

T. Consolidation and Crystallization, 1949-61 


  • Read: Bundesarchiv P, DO 1/11/18, Bl. 25-26/44-51, in Die DDR vor dem Mauerbau: Dokumente zur Geschichte des anderen deutschen Staates, 1949-1961, ed. Dierk Hoffmann, Karl-Heinz Schmidt, and Peter Skyba (Munich: Piper, 1993), pp. 384-89.
  • Read: Jahresbericht 1946: Gesundheitsamt der Stadt Düsseldorf, HSTA/Bestand NW 6/205, in Frauen in der Nachkriegszeit, 1945-63, ed. Klaus-Jörg Ruhl (Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1988), pp. 19-21.
  • Read: Uta G. Poiger, “Rock ‘n’ Roll, Female Sexuality, and the Cold War Battle over German Identities,” Journal of Modern History 68, no. 3 (September 1996): 577-616.
  • Optional: Elizabeth Heineman, “The Hour of the Woman: Memories of Germany’s ‘Crisis Years’ and West German National Identity,” in The Miracle Years: A Cultural History of West Germany, 1949-1968, ed. Hanna Schissler (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001), pp. 21-56.
  • Optional: Dorothee Wierling, “Mission to Happiness: The Cohort of 1949 and the Making of East and West Germans,” in Schissler, The Miracle Years, pp. 110-25. 
  • Optional: "Berlin Crisis Timeline," in The Berlin Wall Crisis: Perspectives on Cold War Alliances, ed. John P. S. Gearson and Kori Schake (New York: Palgrave, 2002), xv-xxi. 

U. Two States of Cold War 


  • Read: Kitchen, A History of Modern Germany; read ch. 15, “Two Germanys, 1963-82.”
  • Read: Bernhard Schweif, “Warum sagen unsere Eltern nicht die Wahrheit,” Twen, no. 2, trans. Thomas Dunlap (August 1959), p. 51.
  • Read: Willy Brandt, address before the Bundestag, Deutscher Bundestag, 6. Wahlperiode, 5. Sitzung (28 October 1969), 20.
  • Read: “Skizze einer Grenzanlage in Berlin,” Presse- und Informationsamt des Senats von Berlin, 1984. 
  • Read: Kristina Spohr, The Global Chancellor: Helmut Schmidt and the Reshaping of the International Order (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016); read ch. 2, "The Strategist of Balance," pp. 33-59.

V. Everyday Life in the German Democratic Republic 


  • Read: Timothy Garton Ash, The File: A Personal History (New York: Vintage, 1998). Read the book in full. 
  • Read: Die Frau von heute 30 (1950), p. 20; in Und du, Frau an der Werkbank: Die DDR in den fünfziger Jahren (Berlin: Elefanten Press, 1990), p. 150.
  • Read: DDR-Schießbefehl (c. 1962), in Lesebuch zur deutschen Geschichte, vol. 3,Von deutschen Reich bis zur Gegenwart, ed. Bernhard Pollmann (Dortmund: Chronik Verlag, 1984), pp. 245-46.
  • Read: "Alle wollen an die Ostsee reisen," Tagesspiegel, 23 May 1963. 

W. Confronting the Past in the Two Germanys 


  • Read: Günter Zehm, “Auf der Suche nach Preußen,” Die Welt, 21 October 1978.
  • Read: Robert G. Moeller, “War Stories: The Search for a Usable Past in the Federal Republic of Germany,” American Historical Review 101, no. 4 (October 1996): 1008-48. 

X. Unification 


  • Read: Kitchen, A History of Modern Germany; read ch. 16, “The Reunification of Germany.”
  • View: “The Fall of the Berlin Wall: the Cold War’s Last Days” (discussion by Robert D. Blackwill, Vitaly Churkin, and Frank Elbe), Council on Foreign Relations, 4 November 2014.
  • Optional: Helga Haftendorn, “The Unification of Germany, 1985-1991,” in The Cambridge History of the Cold War, vol. III, Endings, ed. Melvyn P. Leffler and Odd Arne Westad (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 333-355. 

Screening: Good Bye, Lenin! 


View: Good Bye Lenin!, directed by Wolfgang Becker (2004). The film runs 121 minutes.

Good Bye Lenin! has become one of the most beloved in the German film canon. It tells the story of a young man hoping to spare his mother the shock of learning that the East German republic has collapsed. The story is frequently cited as an example of German Ostalgie—nostalgia for life and culture under the GDR régime. (Ostalgie is a fusion of the German words Ost, meaning “east,” and Nostalgie, meaning “nostalgia.”) In the U.S., the film is rated R, and I encourage all students to view the IMDB page for specific certifications and content advisories.

Review: Gemünden, “How to View a Film.”  

Part VI: The Contemporary World

Y. Germany since 1990 


  • Read: Marc Young, “Germany Flies the Flag,” Der Spiegel, 14 June 2006.
  • Read: “World Cup Identity: Trying to be German as the World Watches,” in ibid.
  • Read: Datenreport 1992: Zahlen und Fakten über die Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Bonn: Statistisches Bundesamt, 1992), pp. 60-61.