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The German Problem Then and Now. From the Threat of a 'German Europe' to the Edification of a European Germany

The German Problem Then and Now. From the Threat of a 'German Europe' to the Edification of a European Germany

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Published by Emanuel Copilaș

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Published by: Emanuel Copilaș on Oct 06, 2010
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04/20/2013

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ROMANIAN REVIEW OF INTERNATIONAL STUDIES, I, 2, 2009
T
HE
‘G
ERMAN
P
ROBLEM
 
T
HEN AND
N
OW
:
FROM THE
T
HREAT OF A
G
ERMAN
E
UROPE TO THE
E
DIFICATION OF A
E
UROPEAN
G
ERMANY
Emanuel Copilaș
*
 Abstract
 As Thomas Mann argued about postwar Germany, its future depended on its power to return to its European cultural, economical and political sources. Thedesideratum of a German Europe was eradicated from political and militaryagendas of its new leaders, but especially from the minds of the ordinary Germans.
The core and also the stake of the Cold War, the ‘German Problem’ was offered a
sustained European and international response which eventually transformed the former unstable and aggressive power into the stability center of the European project. The new German identity can be understood only in the broader context of the European Union as an enlarged form of a cultural and political community,
both containing the ‘German Problem’ and also ensuring and enriching itsdevelopment. Starting with Bismarck’s Germany and ending with the post
-ColdWar Germany, this study proposes an analysis of the metamorphosis the Germanidentity was subjected to as a corollary of the German behavior within theinternational context.The source of change trough which the Germans perceived themselves andthe others was, on its turn, internationally induced: as socio- constructivisttheorists argues, states, as communities, extract their identities trough a
* Emanuel
Copilaş, teaching assistant, West University of Timiş
oara, email:copilasemanuel@ yahoo.com. The documentation for this article was partially facilitated byan AMPOSDRU scholarship, obtained trough the following grant: Investe
ș
te în oameni!
FONDUL SOCIAL EUROPEAN, Programul Operaţional Sectorial pentru Dezvoltarea
Resurselor Umane 2007-
2013, proiectul „STUDIILE DOCTORALE FACTOR MAJOR DE
DEZVOLTARE AL CERCET
ĂRILOR SOCIO
-UMANE S
I UMANISTE‛
.
 
Emanuel Copilaş
 
24
 peremptory interaction with the international environment. The process is ongoingand entails gradual transformations both for international actors and their milieu,which proves that identities are not given, objective, fixed, but permanentlysubjected to changes coming from a multitude of directions. The German identityexperienced this kind of change most intensely after the end of the Second WorldWar, when it renounced its Prussian legacy in favor of its European one.
Key words:
‘German Problem’, national identity, Cold War, civilian
power, European Germany
 Introduction
From the second half of the 19
th
century, when it was unified byOtto von Bismarck, and until the end of the Second World War, when theAllied forces crushed the Third Reich and freed Europe from the Nazireign, Germany represented the central issue of European security.Conducting an aggressive diplomatic behavior towards its neighbors andchallenging the great powers of the continent (like France or Great Britain),this state was responsible for the two greatest conflagrations the lastcentury had witnessed. No wonder that after 1945 its territory was divided between the four winners of the war, the United States, France, GreatBritain and the Soviet Union. Only the unexpected emergence of the ColdWar led to the building of two German states, placed within antagonisticideological ca
mps; in the absence of this unusual confrontation, Germany’s
future as a political entity would have been rather uncertain.
Germany’s bellicose behavior was triggered by its authoritarian
political leadership, but the larger social layers were not at all hostile to it.
1
 After 1945, this disposition will know a radical change. The FederalRepublic of Germany made possible an economic miracle and a sustainabledemocracy which impressed not only the West, but also devotedcommunists from East Germany.
2
However, this success would not have been possible without a reconfiguration of the German national identity. Tothe sense of duty and the sedulousness, the Germans added democracy, a
1
Christian conte von Krockow,
Germanii în secolul lor (1890-1990)
 , București: All, 1999, pp.
33-42.
2
Bernard Brigouleix,
Zidul Berlinului, 1961-1989
 , București: Lucman, 2005
.
 
The ‘German Problem’ Then and Now: from the Threat of <
25
peaceful behavior towards other peoples and the belief that every nationcan pursue its interest and achieve its security only within internationalcommunities united by similar values and objectives and permanentlyinteracting and maintaining friendly relationships with other similarcommunities.Using a socio-constructivist methodology, I intend to prove thatpostwar Germany became a respected member of international securityand economical-political organizations such as NATO or the EC (EU) onlyafter it redefined its identity by embedding it the larger European one andrenouncing the
Sonderweg
 , namely the idea that Germany must becomemodern using its own, unique path, different from the common directionused by the rest of the European countries. This process started andadvanced trough permanent interactions with other states and cultures, because every state, constructivists argue, extracts its identity from therelations it has with the international environment. Furthermore, political,social and cultural identities are not fixed; they redefine themselves byinteracting with the international environment which, on its turn, changesfor the same reason.
3
 
Following this argument, Bismarck’s, Wilhelm II’ andeven Hitler’s Germany were influenced in a great extent by the
international environment, but a consistent change in the way Germansperceive themselves and the others occurred only after the Second World
War. This represented the main premise of the Federal’s Republic and thanof reunited Germany’s firm adhesion to European institutions, norm and
values and to a broaden sense community in general.
Challenging the European order: the Prussian Germany
When writing about
the ‘German Problem’, John Ieuan
underlinesthree major factors that should be taken into account in the attempt tounderstand it. The first consists in the cou
ntry’s ‘geographical location in
3
 
Michael Barnett, ‘Social Constructivism’, in John Baylis; Steve Smith, Patricia Owens,
TheGlobalization of World Politics. An introduction to international relations
 , New York: OxfordUniversity Press, 2008, pp. 160-173; Christian Reus-
Smit, ‘Constructivism’, in
Scott Burchill;Richard Devetak; Andrew Linklater; Matthew Paterson; Christian Reus-Smit; Jacqui True,
Theories of International Relations
 , New York: Palgrave, 2001, pp. 209-230.

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