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The Oxford History of Historical WritingVolume 5: Historical Writing Since 1945$
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Axel Schneider and Daniel Woolf

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199225996

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199225996.001.0001

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From the Search for Normality to the Search for Normality: German Historical Writing

From the Search for Normality to the Search for Normality: German Historical Writing

(p.220) Chapter 11 From the Search for Normality to the Search for Normality: German Historical Writing
The Oxford History of Historical Writing

Stefan Berger

Oxford University Press

This chapter demonstrates the overwhelming dominance of a Marxist, Soviet-inspired agenda, and the supremacy of social and especially economic history. During the Cold War, only the historians in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) followed the Western path. Their counterparts in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) adhered to the Marxist-Leninist framework of history-writing prescribed by the ruling Socialist Unity Party (SED). The divided world of the Cold War ensured that history-writing in the FRG and GDR became highly polarized. Anti-communism remained the underlying rationale of much historical writing in the FRG during the 1950s, and anti-imperialism and anti-capitalism comprised the ideological backbone of the GDR’s historical profession. Ultimately, the Cold War was crucial in incorporating West and East German historians into different transnational networks. After 1945, the two Germanies were attempting to regain some kind of national as well as historiographical ‘normality’ following major political and historiographical caesuras.

Keywords:   Cold War, Federal Republic of Germany, German Democratic Republic, Marxist-Leninist framework, German history-writing, Socialist Unity Party, anti-communism, anti-imperialism, anti-capitalism, historiographical normality

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