The Weimar Century reveals the origins of two dramatic events: Germany’s post–World War II transformation from a racist dictatorship to a liberal democracy, and the ideological genesis of the Cold War. Blending intellectual, political, and international histories, Udi Greenberg shows that the foundations of Germany’s reconstruction lay in the country’s first democratic experiment, the Weimar Republic (1918–33). He traces the paths of five crucial German émigrés who participated in Weimar’s intense political debates, spent the Nazi era in the United States, and then rebuilt Europe after a devastating war. Examining the unexpected stories of these diverse individuals—Protestant political thinker Carl J. Friedrich, Socialist theorist Ernst Fraenkel, Catholic publicist Waldemar Gurian, liberal lawyer Karl Loewenstein, and international relations theorist Hans Morgenthau—Greenberg uncovers the intellectual and political forces that forged Germany’s democracy after dictatorship, war, and occupation.
In restructuring German thought and politics, these émigrés also shaped the currents of the early Cold War. Having borne witness to Weimar’s political clashes and violent upheavals, they called on democratic regimes to permanently mobilize their citizens and resources in global struggle against their Communist enemies. In the process, they gained entry to the highest levels of American power, serving as top-level advisors to American occupation authorities in Germany and Korea, consultants for the State Department in Latin America, and leaders in universities and philanthropic foundations across Europe and the United States. Their ideas became integral to American global hegemony.
From interwar Germany to the dawn of the American century, The Weimar Century sheds light on the crucial ideas, individuals, and politics that made the trans-Atlantic postwar order.
Udi Greenberg is assistant professor of history at Dartmouth College.
"This remarkable book describes how a group of German intellectuals who were persecuted by Hitler helped defeat Fascism and redefined the postwar world. Drawing on groundbreaking research and bringing key figures to life, Udi Greenberg shows how these individuals created a Cold War community in the West that defeated Communism and set the stage for our contemporary era. This is one of the most important books written on the history of our times."--Jeremi Suri, author of Liberty's Surest Guardian
"Although postwar Germans often protested that 'Bonn is not Weimar,' Udi Greenberg allows us to see the extent to which they erred, but in a surprising way. Examining the critical role five émigrés played in establishing the democratic culture of West Germany, Greenberg shows that their experiences before being forced by the Nazis to leave the country still informed their thinking after they returned. Greenberg demonstrates how the constructive lessons of their Weimar past, refracted through exile in America, enabled the political miracle of the Federal Republic."--Martin Jay, University of California, Berkeley
"An extraordinary and highly original study of two historical fronts: the fate of German political theorists exiled by Hitler, and the shaping of American Cold War ideology by those same Weimar intellectuals. With his remarkable archival discoveries and brilliant interpretations, Udi Greenberg has written a dramatic book that will reshape scholarship."--Susannah Heschel, author of The Aryan Jesus