The Weimar Century
German Emigrants and the Ideological Foundation of the Cold War
Princeton University Press 2015
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in European StudiesNew Books in German StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Intellectual HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network March 9, 2015 Christine M. Lamberson
American policymakers and scholars alike have looked to the rapid transformation of Germany, specifically West Germany, from a defeated Nazi state into a thriving democracy as one of the most successful postwar reconstructions of the twentieth century. Scholars have variously credited an influential U.S. occupation or Germans’ own revulsion at their Nazi past as the cause of the success. Udi Greenberg, Assistant Professor of History at Dartmouth College, pushes scholars to rethink these common explanations for the transformation in his new book The Weimar Century: German Emigres and the Ideological Foundation of the Cold War (Princeton University Press, 2015), Greenberg shows how a small group of German emigres, who came of age during Germany’s Weimar Republic, provided the intellectual leadership for West Germany’s postwar reconstruction as a democratic republic. The book focuses on five individuals, Protestant political thinker Carl J. Friedrich, Socialist theoretician Ernst Fraenkel, Catholic journalist Waldemar Gurian, liberal lawyer Karl Loewenstein, and international relations expert Hans Morgenthau. Each of these emigres became important leaders in the intellectual transformation of Germany and were key figures in facilitating a collaboration between American occupiers and Germany citizens.
Beyond their role in the democratization of West Germany, Greenberg also shows that these emigres were key architects of the Cold War order. These emigres saw democracy and anti-communism as closely linked, an interpretation they brought not only to the reconstruction of Germany, but also to Cold War projects across the globe. These men became key players in U.S. Cold War policymaking in Korea, Latin America, and beyond. In doing so, they gained influential roles in at the center of American power and helped shape the early Cold War for better and worse.