Unequal Re-education Schooling and Democracy in West Germany, 1945-1955
Lecture | March 6 | 11 a.m.-12 p.m. | 201 Moses Hall
Phillip Wagner, University of Halle
Stefan-Ludwig Hoffmann, UC Berkeley
It is not only since the global rise of populism that the German public debates whether democracy needs to be more inclusive. Whereas some policy-makers and intellectuals argue for more programs to empower long marginalized communities, others argue that liberal democracies have to accept social injustice. Going back to the attempts of Allied and German policy-makers and educators to re-educate youth against the backdrop of National Socialism, this talk attempts to chart the longer history of the controversy around the thorny question of democratic inclusiveness in West Germany. This lecture engages with a new wave of historiography that studies how post-war education schemes contributed to widely disseminate notions of democratic citizenship throughout West German youth. This talk seeks to demonstrate that many of these post-war citizenship education programs were not only fueled by a promise of democratic equality but also, at least indirectly, excluded lower-class and female students. In that regard, these citizenship training schemes contributed to consolidating West Germany’s stratified democracy in the 1950s.
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