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After the Nazi Racial State

After the Nazi Racial State: Difference and Democracy in Germany and Europe

Chin Rita
Heide Fehrenbach
Geoff Eley
Atina Grossmann
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    After the Nazi Racial State
    Book Description:

    "After the Nazi Racial Stateoffers a comprehensive, persuasive, and ambitious argument in favor of making 'race' a more central analytical category for the writing of post-1945 history. This is an extremely important project, and the volume indeed has the potential to reshape the field of post-1945 German history."---Frank Biess, University of California, San Diego

    What happened to "race," race thinking, and racial distinctions in Germany, and Europe more broadly, after the demise of the Nazi racial state? This book investigates the afterlife of "race" since 1945 and challenges the long-dominant assumption among historians that it disappeared from public discourse and policy-making with the defeat of the Third Reich and its genocidal European empire. Drawing on case studies of Afro-Germans, Jews, and Turks---arguably the three most important minority communities in postwar Germany---the authors detail continuities and change across the 1945 divide and offer the beginnings of a history of race and racialization after Hitler. A final chapter moves beyond the German context to consider the postwar engagement with "race" in France, Britain, Sweden, and the Netherlands, where waves of postwar, postcolonial, and labor migration troubled nativist notions of national and European identity.

    After the Nazi Racial Stateposes interpretative questions for the historical understanding of postwar societies and democratic transformation, both in Germany and throughout Europe. It elucidates key analytical categories, historicizes current discourse, and demonstrates how contemporary debates about immigration and integration---and about just how much "difference" a democracy can accommodate---are implicated in a longer history of "race." This book explores why the concept of "race" became taboo as a tool for understanding German society after 1945. Most crucially, it suggests the social and epistemic consequences of this determined retreat from "race" for Germany and Europe as a whole.

    Rita Chin is Associate Professor of History at the University of Michigan.

    Heide Fehrenbach is Presidential Research Professor at Northern Illinois University.

    Geoff Eley is Karl Pohrt Distinguished University Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Michigan.

    Atina Grossmann is Professor of History at Cooper Union.

    Cover illustration: Human eye, ©

    eISBN: 978-0-472-02578-7
    Subjects: History, Sociology
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Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Introduction: What’s Race Got to Do With It? Postwar German History in Context
    (pp. 1-29)
    Chin Rita and Heide Fehrenbach

    In June 2006, just prior to the start of the World Cup in Germany, theNew York Timesran a front-page story on a “surge in racist mood” among Germans attending soccer events and anxious officials’ efforts to discourage public displays of racism before a global audience. The article led with the recent experience of Nigerian forward Adebowale Ogungbure, who, after playing a match in the eastern German city of Halle, was “spat upon, jeered with racial remarks, and mocked with monkey noises” as he tried to exit the field. “In rebuke, he placed two fingers under his nose to...

  4. Chapter 1 Black Occupation Children and the Devolution of the Nazi Racial State
    (pp. 30-54)
    Heide Fehrenbach

    Prior to 1945, children were a primary target in the Nazi regime’s murderous quest to build a new order based upon fantastical notions of racial purity. In a determined drive to craft an Aryan superstate and realize a racialized empire in Europe, the Nazi regime enacted social policies ranging from sterilization to “euthanasia” and, ultimately, mechanized mass murder targeted at those deemed eugenically or racially undesirable. Children were not incidental victims of this fight for posterity. In demographic terms, they numbered among the Third Reich’s earliest and most consistent casualties. Beginning in the 1930s, hundreds of Afro-German adolescents were sterilized,...

  5. Chapter 2 From Victims to “Homeless Foreigners”: Jewish Survivors in Postwar Germany
    (pp. 55-79)
    Atina Grossmann

    In 1933, at the beginning of the National Socialist regime, Germany counted approximately 500,000 Jews. In 1946–47, three years after Germany had been declaredjudenrein, some quarter of a million Jews—the numbers are rough and some recent estimates top 300,000—resided in Germany, albeit on occupied and defeated territory, mostly in the American zone.¹ Only about 15,000 of them were German Jews, of whom almost half were in Berlin. Some had endured in hiding or disguised as “Aryans.” Others had survived forced labor, as well as death, and concentration camps (especially elderly survivors from Theresienstadt). Most had managed...

  6. Chapter 3 Guest Worker Migration and the Unexpected Return of Race
    (pp. 80-101)
    Chin Rita

    In an attempt to head off a major labor shortage precipitated by the postwar economic boom, the Federal Republic of Germany signed a worker recruitment treaty with Italy in December 1955. The agreement inaugurated an eighteen-year period of foreign labor recruitment that targeted guest workers from many southern Mediterranean countries, including Muslim Turkey. It also marked the beginning of a massive labor migration, bringing two million foreigners to West Germany by the early 1970s. This effort to obtain manpower during theWirtschaftswunderproduced a number of unintended consequences, most notably a radically transformed demographic, social, and cultural landscape. What began...

  7. Chapter 4 German Democracy and the Question of Difference, 1945–1995
    (pp. 102-136)
    Chin Rita and Heide Fehrenbach

    With the collapse of the Third Reich, democratization became one of the most urgent political and ideological tasks facing West Germans. The ideal of democracy (liberty, equality, popular representation) as well as its concrete institutions (a constitution and popularly elected representative bodies) promised to protect the new state against repeating the barbarity of the Nazi dictatorship and the political tradition of German authoritarianism. By the mid-1980s, as the Federal Republic marked the fortieth anniversary of the war’s end, many Germans—first and foremost, Chancellor Helmut Kohl—believed that the process of democratization was largely complete. West Germany, they argued, had...

  8. Chapter 5 The Trouble with “Race”: Migrancy, Cultural Difference, and the Remaking of Europe
    (pp. 137-182)
    Geoff Eley

    In what follows I want to develop some general thoughts about the acute discomforts experienced by western European politicians, social commentators, and cultural critics whenever “race” enters the agenda of political debate or erupts violently into the main territories of public life. These thoughts might be keyed to any number of major happenings of the past few years but were prompted most immediately by a continuing series of flash points occurring across Europe’s sociocultural and political landscapes in the aftermath of the Iraq War. Such eruptions vary widely in form and severity. Some are prompted by security concerns associated with...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 183-242)
  10. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 243-252)
  11. Index
    (pp. 253-263)