Nationalism in the Second German Unification

  • Mary Fulbrook
Part of the New Perspectives in German Studies book series (NPG)


When the Berlin Wall fell on the night of 9 November 1989, the spontaneous delight of Berliners (and indeed of people watching on television screens across the world) was tempered, in some quarters, by fears of a resurgent German nationalism. The prospect of a strong, united Germany capable once again of dominating European affairs aroused emotions and evoked memories among some observers that had been dormant through the years of frozen stability in Cold War division and détente. Yet, as I shall argue below, nationalism was not a driving force in the second German unification. Indeed, for a long period nationalism was remarkably absent from the historical stage. When it was re-appropriated (to the surprise of some observers) as an acceptable political idiom, it was generally restrained, surrounded by sensitivities, and in its most radical form restricted only to small if active minorities. This essay follows the template of ‘anticipations’, ‘processes’ and ‘responses’ outlined in the introduction to this volume. Thus it explores the role (or lack of it) of nationalism prior to 1989; the role of nationalism (or lack of it) in the processes of regime collapse in the summer and autumn of 1989; and finally the emergence and role of variants of nationalism in the course of the period of transition from November 1989 to October 1990.


German Nation German Unification Active Minority Popular Nationa Lism Popular Sentiment 
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  1. 1.
    J. Breuilly, Nationalism in the First German Unification (2nd edn., Manchester 1993). See also the essay by Breuilly in this volume.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See the wider discussion in Mary Fulbrook, Historical Theonj (London 2002).Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    See R. Augstein (ed.), Historikerstreit. Die Dokumentation der Kontroverse um die Einzigartigkeit der nationalsozialistischen Judenvernichtung (Miinchen 1987).Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    See for example P. Grieder, The East German Leadership 1946–1973. Conflict and Crisis (Manchester 1999).Google Scholar
  5. 9.
    For the classic discussion of these terms, see A.O. Hirschman, Exit, Voice and Loyalhj: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations and States (Harvard 1970).Google Scholar
  6. 10.
    See for example H. Zwahr, Ende ether Selbstzerstorung (Gottingen 1993); Neues Forum Leipzig, Jetzt oder nie — Dernokratie (Munchen 1990); D. Pollack, ‘Der Zusammenbruch der DDR als Verkettung getrennter Handlungslinieri, in K. Jarausch and M. Sabrow (eds), Weg in den Untergang. Der innere Zerfall der DDR (Gbttingen 1999).Google Scholar
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    I have developed this analysis at greater length in M. Fulbrook, Anatomy of a Dictatorship: Inside the GDR (Oxford 1995), and A Histonj of Gennany 1918–2000: The Divided Nation (2nd edn., Oxford 2002).Google Scholar
  8. 15.
    Willy Brandt, quoted in V. Gransow and K. Jarausch (eds), Die deutsche Vereinigung. Dokumente zur Bilrgerbewegung, Anna/wrung und Beitritt (Koln 1991), P. 96.Google Scholar
  9. 16.
    Ibid., p. 96.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary Fulbrook

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