Populism, History, and Identity in German Politics and Foreign Policy

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Populism, History, and Identity in German Politics and Foreign Policy

On March 2, 2017, the Transatlantic Academy published a policy brief by Bosch Public Policy Fellow Anna Sauerbrey, entitled "Populism, History, and Identity in German Politics and Foreign Policy."

Germany’s dominant historical narrative is undergoing rapid change, driven by several factors. First, as the last contemporary witnesses of the Holocaust pass, the narrative of German guilt is losing its emotional power. Second, in a rapidly changing world order, the imperatives of German foreign policy which are derived from the country’s history are increasingly under attack. Both the imperatives of nonviolence and humility stand challenged as Germany is pushed toward a more active, more self-confident, and more engaged position in the world. The country needs a new national narrative — and ironically, the rise of populists both within and outside Germany could prove as a catalyst in redefining German identity. As a country that has once been liberated and once has liberated itself from authoritarianism in the 20th century, Germany could define its new role as a defender of the ideas of the liberal West.

Slider photo credit: Dragan Jovanovic / Shutterstock, Inc.

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