History After Hitler
A Transatlantic EnterpriseUniversity of Pennsylvania Press Intellectual History of the Modern Age
248 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
- Published: July 2018
- Published: June 2018
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The decades following the end of World War II witnessed the establishment of a large and diverse German-American scholarly community studying modern German history. As West Germany's formerly deeply nationalist academic establishment began to reconcile itself with postwar liberalism, American historians played a crucial role, both assisting and learning from their German counterparts' efforts to make sense of the Nazi past—and to reconstruct how German society viewed it.
In History After Hitler, Philipp Stelzel puts this story center stage for the first time, positioning the dialogue between German and American historians as a key part of the intellectual history of the Federal Republic and of Cold War transatlantic relations. Making extensive use of previously inaccessible or unexplored personal papers and institutional files in German and American archives, Stelzel demonstrates that several factors fostered the growth of this transatlantic scholarly community. As a result of both National Socialism and the Cold War, American interest in Germany grew remarkably. In addition, a small but increasingly influential cohort of German émigré historians working in the United States served as transatlantic intermediaries. Finally, the strong appeal of American academia to West German historians of different generations led many of them to form and maintain close ties with their American colleagues.
History After Hitler explores how these historians participated as public intellectuals in debates about how to cope with the Nazi past, believing that the historical awareness of West German citizens would bolster the Federal Republic's democratization. Stelzel also corrects simplistic arguments regarding the supposed "Westernization" of the Federal Republic, emphasizing that American scholars, too, benefited from the transatlantic conversation. History After Hitler makes the case that, together, German and American historians contributed to the development of postwar German culture, intellectual life, and national self-understanding.
Chapter 1. German History in the Federal Republic
Chapter 2. German History in the United States
Chapter 3. Encountering America
Chapter 4. Transforming the West German Historical Profession
Chapter 5. In Defense of Intellectual Hegemony
"[A] fine study . . . History after Hitler is an erudite story of two entwined processes: how Americans after 1945 gradually found a voice in the field of German history and, more significantly, how West Germans were exposed to what they often saw as the more open academic culture of the United States."—Central European History
"Philipp Stelzel has written an immensely useful book . . . a rich compendium of some of the main figures and key issues at stake in writing the history of modern Germany after Nazism . . . It is exceptionally well structured and eminently readable, and it will be required reading in many classes on modern German historiography, especially at English-speaking universities. Quite a few historians featured in this book acted as transatlantic mediators; the same may now also be said of the author himself."—American Historical Review
"With knowledge and insight, Philipp Stelzel brings together two stories that are usually told separately-the writing of German history in the United States and in the Federal Republic of Germany-and shows their deep interconnections in the postwar years. In History After Hitler we come to see the emergence of a genuine transatlantic community of scholars and its powerful impact on the writing of history."—Helmut Walser Smith, Vanderbilt University
"Making use of hitherto untapped archival materials, History After Hitler presents an intriguing perspective on the transformation of 'German history' as a field after 1945, examining the personal and intellectual connections of German historians with America. This is a substantial, thoughtful, and well-balanced contribution to the history of historiography."—Andreas Daum, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York