Turning Points in Modern Times: Essays on German and European History

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Harvard University Press, 1995 - History - 338 pages
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Turning Points in Modern Times focuses on events after 1917: the rise of Nazism on the Right and authoritarianism on the Left. Bracher provides an incisive framework for understanding the great ideological confrontation of this century--democracy versus totalitarianism in the forms of fascism, Nazism, and communism. His analysis of the outcomes underscores the significance and power of democratic values and governments.

The doyen of German political history, Karl Dietrich Bracher extends the argument against dictatorship that runs through his life's work, offers a blueprint for dealing with the recent past of the communist East German State (DDR), looks at the true facts of the Stasi collaboration, and challenges misperceptions of Hitler, Stalin, and others. He demonstrates the kinship between fascism and communism, considers Weimar and liberalism, assesses the legacy of Nazism, and outlines the ethos of democracy. In all this Bracher exposes the twentieth-century threats to the democratic state so that they can never again subvert representative government.

A founder of the new history of Germany, which considers the larger context for Hitler and illuminates events through the theories of social science and the values of liberalism and democracy, Bracher writes in the tradition of Acton, Burckhardt, Croce, and Dahrendorf. This is a vital history lesson for our turbulent times, when once more democracy is on the march after a twilight century.


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The Ideas and the Failure of Socialism
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The Dissolution of the First German Democracy
Liberalism in the Century of Ideologies
The Legacy of National Socialism
Totalitarianism as Concept and Reality
The Dual Challenge of the Postwar Period 193
Democracy in Transition
Problems of Orientation in Germanys Liberal Democracy
The Germans and Their Constitutions and Institutions
Historical Changes
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The German Experience
The Place of World War II in History

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About the author (1995)

Karl Dietrich Bracher was born in Stuttgart, Germany on March 13, 1922. He was educated at the Eberhard-Ludwigs-Gymnasium in Stuttgart. During World War II, he fought with the German army. He was captured by American soldiers while serving in the Wehrmacht's Afrika Korps in Tunisia and held as a prisoner of war in Kansas. Returning to Germany after the war, he received a doctorate from the University of Tübingen in 1948 and studied at Harvard University from 1949 to 1950. He taught at the Free University of Berlin before joining the faculty at the University of Bonn, where he taught politics and contemporary history from 1959 to 1987. As a historian, he argued that the German people had to take responsibility for the rise of Nazism because of their embrace of Hitler and his racist agenda. He wrote several books including The German Dictatorship: The Origins, Structure and Effects of National Socialism and The Age of Ideologies: A History of Political Thought in the Twentieth Century. He died on September 19, 2016 at the age of 94.

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