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HIS2241 : The History of Modern Germany, 1806 until today

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Daniel Siemens
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This course provides a survey of German history in the nineteenth and twentieth century, from the end of the ‘Holy Roman Empire’ in 1806 to the so-called ‘Berlin Republic’ of today. It is at the same time a political, social and cultural history of German speaking central Europe that takes the multiple identities of many parts of the region into account.
The course aims at enabling students to understand the turning points in Germany's history (1806, 1815, 1848, 1870/71, 1918-19, 1933, 1945-49, 1989-90) and to connect the different periods between them. Students will likewise be introduced to the complexity of historical structures and events in their political, social and economic aspects and foundations. Furthermore, exemplary controversies of the historiography on Germany will be discussed.
Focusing on specific themes will allow you to make comparisons over time and to understand how and why modern German history was so often complicated, painful and unstable.
The module thus aims:
• To encourage students to examine modern German history from a variety of different perspectives
• To explore primary sources and to integrate them into one’s argument
• To encourage students to think about the contingency of history and in an interdisciplinary way
• To advise students to think comparatively and to draw parallels to the history of other European empires and nations states
• To question some of our societal understandings of important concepts such as that of identity and national belonging
• To provide an opportunity to acquire a sound general knowledge of the subject, reading widely and critically in the primary and secondary literature associated with it and to develop the capacity for independent study. It is not the least aim of the course to encourage students to think critically and to develop their own research questions

Outline Of Syllabus

Many students who choose this course are probably interested in the Nazi period, and in particular in the Holocaust. Of course, we will look at the reasons for the destruction of democracy, the appeal of Nazism, and its ultimate reign of terror and genocide. However, Germany in the last two centuries was far more than the Nazi dictatorship. Therefore, this course will to a large extent deal with Germany prior to the Nazis as well as with the two German successor states that emerged from the ruins of World War II, the capitalist Federal Republic of Germany (FDR) and the socialist German Democratic Republic (GDR). While respecting the chronology of historical events and processes, the course is developed around a number of recurring themes such as religion, democracy, mass culture, migration and mobility, and class. We will furthermore elaborate the importance of a critical analysis of the existing secondary literature and explore how the ‘shattered past’ is used in Germany’s society, culture and politics.

Teaching Methods

Module leaders are revising this content in light of the Covid 19 restrictions.
Revised and approved detail information will be available by 17 August.

Assessment Methods

Module leaders are revising this content in light of the Covid 19 restrictions.
Revised and approved detail information will be available by 17 August.

Reading Lists