Inheriting Horror: Historical Memory in French Socialists’ and German Social Democrats’ Fight for European Democracy, 1945–1958
Shaev explores how historical memory shaped the political culture of post-war German social democracy (SPD) and French socialism (SFIO). SPD and SFIO narratives of the rise of inter-war fascism, assessments of Gaullism and Konrad Adenauer’s Christian democracy in the 1940–1950s, and fears about the trajectory of post-war West German and French democracy shared a great deal in common. The parties also made frequent reference to the histories of their neighbours when interpreting politics in their own country. At crucial moments when their post-war democracies appeared threatened, party leaders interpreted their politics in a wider European context. Taken together, these commonalities demonstrate that is worthwhile to analyse these politicians as a single transnational generation in the history of European social democracy.