Christian Democracy, Social Democracy, and the Foundation of the West German State

Date: 12/02/2012
Time: 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Location: National Humanities Center

Speaker(s): Noah Strote, North Carolina State University


When asked for historical examples of success in Western-sponsored nation-building projects, advocates invariably cite the occupation and supervision of post-Nazi Germany. They point to the removal of its non-democratic political elements, the stabilization of its currency, the integration of its big business into an international free-trade system, and the incorporation of its armed forces into military alliance under Western leadership. However, such an emphasis on police power and economic development has obscured a vital component of how nation-building actually worked in Germany during its transition to stable democracy over the long mid-century. This paper and presentation will point to the creation of consensus among social groups in a long-divided population focusing particularly on the ideological reconciliation of Christian democrats and social democrats in response to their common persecution after 1933.


Noah Strote is Assistant Professor of History at North Carolina State University. He is currently working on his book, tentatively entitled Late Nation-Building: Persecution and the Origins of Consensus in Germany, 1933-1968.


(In conjunction with the Triangle Intellectual History Seminar, Triangle Seminar for Jewish Studies, North Carolina German Studies Seminar, and the Departments of History at Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill)