Post war German history: 1961 to reunification and beyond

Course Dates: 05/05/23 - 07/07/23
Time: 14:45 - 16:45
Location: Keeley Street
This course offers a broad survey of German history from the sealing of the country’s division by the Berlin Wall to its unforeseen reunification in 1989-90 and its aftermath.
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Full fee £219.00 Senior fee £175.00 Concession £110.00

Course Code: HEH48

Fri, day, 05 May - 07 Jul '23

Duration: 10 sessions (over 10 weeks)

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What is the course about?

With the construction of the Berlin Wall the separation of the two German states appeared complete,& their ever-deeper integration into opposing economic & geopolitical blocs was set to drive them further apart. Hermetically closed-off, the GDR was able to consolidate & to allow a degree of internal liberalisation while, after the end of the Adenauer era, West Germany experienced what many contemporaries regarded as a cultural revolution. When Willy Brandt became chancellor in 1969 his social democrat-led government embarked on an ambitious domestic reform agenda & a policy of accommodation with the countries of Eastern Europe, including the normalisation of relations with East Germany. Decades of post-war growth came to an end with the oil price shocks & the challenge of left-wing terrorism, while Détente came to an end with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In a climate of rising East-West tensions, with Germany the potential battlefield in a nuclear confrontation, a powerful peace movement arose in the West opposing the deployment of US missiles, linked to which the Green Party emerged as a new political force. In East Germany ecological concerns peace advocacy resulted in small independent groups beginning to challenge the monopoly of the state-sponsored mass organisations. When the politically hard-line & economically hard-pressed GDR leadership found itself in conflict with the reform¬-minded Soviet leader Gorbachev while increasing numbers of East Germans were seeking to escape the country,grew in strength which eventually brought the Berlin Wall down. Civil rights activism was, however, soon overtaken by a desire to share in the prosperity of the West,& after complex intra-German & international negotiations re-unification came to pass. The economic, social & mental legacies of forty years’ separation took much longer to overcome,& some remain even as United Germany faces new challenges with the approaching end of the long age of Merkel.

What will we cover?

Life behind the Wall: The GDR 1960-1971
2. The Sixties in West Germany
3. Domestic Reform and Ostpolitik under the Brandt Government
4. The Normalisation of intra-German Relations
5. Economic Challenges and the Terror Threat of the 1970s
6. The Two German States in the Second Cold War
7. Gorbachev and the Disintegration of the GDR
8. 1989-90: The Road to Reunification
9. Overcoming the Legacies of Division
10. The Age of Merkel.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

• Identify the main features, leading personalities and key stages in the development of both East and West Germany;
• Express an informed view about the underlying fragility of the GDR;
• Explain the relative stability of West Germany through serious economic and political challenges.
• Understand the national and international complexities of the reunification process;
• Engage with ongoing arguments and controversies concerning the legacies of division.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

The course is aimed at interested students of all backgrounds. No knowledge of German or any other special skills set is required, but you will need to have access to a computer with wifi connection.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

Tutor presentation, group discussion, tutor-guided analysis of documents, images and video clips. You will be given a short reading list in case you would like to do some additional reading, but this is not necessary to participation in class discussion.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

There are no other costs, and students need not bring anything to class apart from an open mind and a readiness to learn.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Other courses in European or World history. Please see the City Lit website.

Rudolf Muhs

Dr. Rudolf Muhs, Emeritus Reader in Modern European History at Royal Holloway, University of London, studied at the universities of Freiburg and Edinburgh and has been teaching German history in England since 1987.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.