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The Sins of the FathersGermany, Memory, Method$
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Jeffrey K. Olick

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226386492

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226386522.001.0001

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The Normal Nation

The Normal Nation

Chapter:
(p.389) Chapter 17 The Normal Nation
Source:
The Sins of the Fathers
Author(s):

Jeffrey K. Olick

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226386522.003.0017

In this chapter, Olick outlines the general political trends of the postwar period in West Germany. He begins by tracing the successes of the Social Democrats’ Ostpolitik in the 1970s and the turn toward neoconservatism in the Seventies and Eighties. Olick then examines Helmut Schmidt’s pragmatic claims that the Federal Republic was a “normal” state, facing the same problems in the same ways as other states, and how Schmidt’s government ultimately gave way to Kohl’s conservative government in the context of the Euromissile debates. Olick asserts that Schmidt’s tenure and the subsequent election of Karl Carstens as president mark a first state of the “normal nation”, and he identifies Kohl’s emphasis on importance of tradition and sense of German history as important to this transition. According to Olick, the Nazi past grew to be viewed as a distant historical past rather than a pressing issue. He concludes with a discussion of the idea of normalization, which Olick argues failed in some ways but aided the Federal Republic in others.

Keywords:   West Germany, politics, Ostpolitik, neoconservatism, Federal Republic, normalization

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