Konrad H. Jarausch: Contemporary History as Transatlantic Project. The German Problem 1960-2010
On the occasion of Konrad H. Jarausch’s 70th birthday, this supplement of Historical Social Research presents a retrospective of the work produced by this German American historian.
His introductory reflections review an unusual transatlantic career, beginning with a German Abitur, continuing to American training, leading to an endowed chair at the University of North Carolina, but returning to Germany with the directorship of the Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung in Potsdam. The autobiography recounts an amazing trajectory of topical and methodological development from the political history of the Fischer-controversy, via social history of students and professions as well as exploration of quantitative methods, to cultural reflections on methodology and historiography and the writing on unification as well as the GDR, widening to transnational and European concerns. The core of this oeuvre revolves around questions of complicity with the Nazi and SED dictatorships and explanations of the recovery of democracy. What is special about this scholarly life-history is the degree to which it exemplifies the cooperation between American and German scholars which contributed to the emergence and solidification of a critical approach to the German past.
A selection of thirteen out of his more than 250 articles and chapters illustrates the progression of Jarausch’s work over five decades. These texts are in part monographic studies, but in part also essayistic reflections on major issues confronting contemporary historians. These examples are intended to document the chief stages of his intellectual development, but they also consist of pieces which achieved some notoriety in the field and thereby hope to inspire an interest in the rest of his work.