Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hans Kundnani about Germany's left after the war

The flag ship of the New Books Network is of course the podcast New Books in History. Marshall Poe interviews authors of newly published, interesting, history books (feed). He has been doing it for three years and there is a wonderful wealth of subjects to choose from. One of them is the modern history of Germany.

A very particular and not often described (at least not in English) part of the history of Germany is the kind of intellectual struggle with the Nazi past that took place in West-Germany. Especially the more left-leaning generation after the war had an intense confrontation with its parents' and teachers' past. On NBiH Marshall Poe interviews journalist Hans Kundnani about his book Utopia or Auschwitz: Germany’s 1968 Generation and the Holocaust (Columbia UP, 2010).

Kundnani (who grew up in Britain and is the son of a Dutch woman and an Indian man) investigated the new left in West-Germany - he calls it the Federal Republic. He describes how they began to view almost the entire previous generation as 'fascists' and therefore politically bankrupt and began to heavily theorize about right politics. Many of them seriously radicalized, but not all of them ended up as RAF (Rote Armee Faktion) terrorists. Notably Joschka Fischer made it to German foreign minister, for the Green Party. Kundnani is a very captive guest on the show and wonderfully effectively explains the intricacies of the leftist intellectual landscape of West-Germany in the sixties and seventies.

More New Books in History:
Ottoman Age of Exploration
The mysteries of whites and of mass,
A Soviet Memoir,
This I accomplish,
Not your idea of World War II.

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