Issue 4/2015

Content Overview: English Titles and Abstracts:

  • Heinrich August Winkler: From the German to the European Question. Thoughts on a Centennial Problem.
  • Alexander Wolz: The German Foreign Office and the German Decision to Remilitarise the Rhineland.
  • Yfaat Weiss: From Prague to Jerusalem. Jewish Cultural Assets and the Creation of the Israeli State.
  • Viola Balz und Ulrike Klöppel: A Turn Inwards. Social Psychiatry, Health Policy and Psychiatric Medication in the German Democratic Republic, 1960–1989.
  • Paul Köppen: That Which Must Not Be, Cannot Be. On the Refusal to Engage in a Source-Based Discussion about Heinrich Brüning's Austerity Policy.
  • Johannes Hürter und Matthias Uhl: Hitler in Vinnica. A New Document on the Crisis in September 1942.

Abstracts

Heinrich August Winkler: From the German to the European Question. Thoughts on a Centennial Problem

 

For almost two hundred years, from the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806 to the reunification of Germany, Europe repeatedly had to deal with the “German Question”. It was only solved by the accession of the GDR to the Federal Republic of Germany on 3 October 1990. Germany was reunified within the borders of 1945 “in peace and freedom”; its membership in NATO answered the German Question regarding European security. In the mean time, however, there is talk of a “New German Question”, which supposedly results from the alleged hegemonic position of the Federal Republic within the European Union. Thus, the German Question has actually re-emerged in a new format – or is it not rather the European Question which is still open to the same extent as it was in 1991 at the conclusion of the Maastricht Treaty?

 


Alexander Wolz: The German Foreign Office and the German Decision to Remilitarise the Rhineland

 

The reoccupation of the demilitarised zone in the Rhineland on 7 March 1936 was an important turning point in the prehistory of the Second World War. The coup strengthened the National Socialist regime both internally and externally, so that after this point it became impossible to suppress Hitler’s will to war and to put the German Reich in its place without the necessity of a war. The exact circumstances of the Rhineland crisis, however, have hitherto remained unclear. Only an analysis of the draft plans, which the German Foreign Office outlined for the Locarno Treaty, reveals the chain of motives which lay at the heart of the crisis. After 1933 the diplomats were at first ready to stick with the Locarno Treaty. But after the German withdrawal from the League of Nations and rumours that England and France had concluded a military alliance, doubts grew whether the Locarno Treaty was still in force legally and politically. When the German attempt to get the other powers to commit to a modification of Locarno failed, the German Foreign Office saw no alternative other than the cancellation of the treaty. While the diplomats were planning a political step, Hitler decided to connect the termination of Locarno with a military operation, and thus turned it into the sort of violent coup which was to become characteristic for National Socialist foreign policy.

 


Yfaat Weiss: From Prague to Jerusalem. Jewish Cultural Assets and the Creation of the Israeli State

 

Against the background of two court cases in Israel in 2012, this article investigates the nature of the claims raised and their supporting arguments regarding Jewish cultural treasures transferred to Jerusalem after the Second World War and the Holocaust: The Max Brod estate case at the Tel Aviv Family Court, which drew considerable public attention, and the less well-known case at the Jerusalem District Court involving the records of the Community Archive of the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde zu Wien [Vienna Jewish Community], which were moved to Israel after the War. The article links these cases to the transfer of Nazi-plundered German-Jewish cultural treasures found in Czechoslovakia after the War. It was through these claims that the young Jewish State of Israel asserted its collectivity.

 


Viola Balz/Ulrike Klöppel: A Turn Inwards. Social Psychiatry, Health Policy and Psychiatric Medication in the German Democratic Republic, 1960–1989

 

The article focuses on the efforts to reform the psychiatric system of the GDR over the time period from 1960 to 1989. Based on up to now un-evaluated archival material of the Ministry of Health and psychiatric publications we have reconstructed how the state and psychiatrists struggled to transform the psychiatric services. Whereas in the 1960s a number of reform-oriented clinicians were granted some influence on the planning of psychiatric services their options were restricted from 1970 onwards in favour of a handful of psychiatrist who were loyal to the party. In order to develop the psychiatric system further towards rehabilitative forms of care the reformers promoted psychotropic drugs with the intention to mobilize the patients. However, it turned out that they were mainly used for sedative purposes. Another means to purge psychiatric services was health education. With this the risk to develop or perpetuate mental health problems was relegated to the self-responsibility of the citizens.

 


Paul Köppen: That Which Must Not Be, Cannot Be. On the Refusal to Engage in a Source-Based Discussion about Heinrich Brüning's Austerity Policy

 

In spite of indicative archival material and in clear opposition to the current state of research, the highly influential economic historian Knut Borchardt claims in 2015’s spring issue of the VfZ that there never were any serious French loan offers to Germany in 1930. By doing so, Borchardt adheres to his by now rather traditional interpretation of Heinrich Brüning’s chancellorship as a period of “predicaments” in which the policy of austerity was ultimately the only possible alternative. Yet it is, most notably, Brüning’s personal statements in contemporary sources and in his later comments which do offer quite different interpretations. Finally, Borchardt has to accept that other historians are willing to take those accounts seriously.

 


Johannes Hürter/Matthias Uhl: Hitler in Vinnica. A New Document on the Crisis in September 1942

 

September 1942 was a culmination of the Second World War. In this month, the second German Eastern Campaign failed at decisively weakening the Soviet Union and at capturing the Caucasus oil fields needed for the successful continuation of the War. How the German Reich was supposed to face a globalised war now became an insoluble enigma. The disappointment about this operative as well as strategic development resulted in a vehement conflict between Hitler and his generals, who he blamed for the failures. A meeting protocol newly discovered in the archives of the Russian Defence Ministry presents Hitler’s attitude directly for the first time. The document reveals a dictator who was running out of strategic concepts, but who simultaneously asserted his universal power of command and thereby created the prerequisites for the Wehrmacht to follow their “Führer-Commander” into total defeat.

 


 




© Institut für Zeitgeschichte