Film series: Power and authority in Germany, 1871-1991

Germany 1871-1945: Introduction

By Dr Colin Storer, published 30th March 2023

Power and authority in Germany, 1871-1991

The rise and fall of Germany in the 20th Century is one of the major political arcs of the modern period, and one that many feel familiar with – from the unification of the Germanic states, the defeat of the Kaiser in 1918, revolution, a weak Weimar Republic all the way through to a racially driven Fascist Party whose expansionist policies plunge the world into conflict. However, that familiarity may lead us to overlook the details and the most recent historical research and analysis in favour of outmoded narratives.

This new series of films brings together some of the UK’s leading historians on modern Germany to address the different ways its actions, history and impact can be explored, evaluated and interpreted. They bring together some of the freshest ideas of the historiography of Germany and how its people, culture, leadership and contradictions have had such a significant impact on modern history for all.

These films also explore the 1945–1991 period of a divided Germany where once again Germany plays a pivotal role in European and global affairs, despite its defeat in 1945. The films address how the nation’s citizens and leaders create a new vision of Germany that has a modern role to fill, while fitting into a modern post-war order.

These films feature Dr Colin Storer, Professor Tim Grady, Professor Matthew Stibbe, Dr Victoria Taylor and Professor Anna Saunders, and were made with the support of the German History Society.

In this introduction Dr Colin Storer explores some of the themes of Identity and Authority that affected the new country of Germany as it tried to establish itself following unification. He challenges some of the previous ways of looking at the Imperial, Weimar and Nazi periods to explore how each stage was affected by the people below as well as the people above.

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