Contemporary history

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The contemporary history or contemporary history (of French. Histoire contemporaine ) is in the German language that era of the Late Modern Times , "which at least some of the contemporaries who lived through consciously, in the strict sense, the scientific investigation and presentation of this period by the historians."

So it is not about a closed or permanently definable epoch, but a dynamic one that changes over time. The term found dissemination in Germany through the Institute for Contemporary History (Munich) founded in 1950, at which time the prehistory of the First World War should also be examined as contemporary history.

The monograph published in 1955 on the Theresienstadt ghetto by HG Adler Theresienstadt 1941–1945, The Face of a Compulsory Community, is considered a pioneering and standard work in contemporary scientific history .

Older definition after WWII

In the German-speaking world, contemporary history was initially understood to be the epoch since the end of the First World War or since the October Revolution in Russia from 1917 , the end of the long 19th and the beginning of the “ short 20th century ”. There are several reasons for a turning point in 1917:

  • The epoch since 1917 is a time in which the old monarchies , in which the princes in most European states still had the ultimate power to govern, had to give way to new social schemes; the dynasties of the Romanovs , Habsburgs , Hohenzollerns and Ottomans are archetypal for this . Before the implementation of republican-democratic structures, contemporary history was also shaped by dictatorships .
  • The October Revolution in Russia laid the foundation for the later division of the world into two blocs and the Cold War phase that followed World War II and which would last until the fall of the USSR around 1990. The Cold War between the “capitalist” systems of the West, led by the superpower USA, and the “communist”, “real socialist” called systems of the Eastern Bloc , led by the superpower USSR , was the ideological, political, economic, military and technological competition the USA and the USSR.
  • With its entry into the First World War, the USA made a break in its previous, isolationist foreign policy towards Europe (which, however, it resumed between 1921 and 1941). This is also an important turning point in view of the later division of the world. In addition, the USA intervened in Europe for the first time and not the other way around.

Newer definition

At the end of the 20th century, however, contemporary history is increasingly understood to mean the epoch since the end of the Second World War , as only a few contemporary witnesses from the time of the Second World War are still alive. This is especially true for those who were already adults at the time or were even in a position of responsibility.

  • For most Europeans and North Americans, the epoch since 1945 is a time of non-violent coexistence, both internally and externally, which is not characterized by any major military conflicts.
  • After 1945, with the gradual onset of decolonization processes, the supremacy of European powers ended ( France and Great Britain were allied with the USA as part of NATO , Germany and Italy had lost their great power status and their colonies as a result of the war defeats). A post-colonial look at the former "Third World" countries begins; a relationship of the "one world" increasingly shaped by dialogue has its origin here.
  • In Western Europe, the process of European unification began with the establishment of democracy in most states (only Spain , Portugal and Greece lived through a period of unrest and dictatorship) .

The 1970s are discussed as the future boundary of the epoch. In “ After the Boom ”, the two contemporary historians Anselm Doering-Manteuffel and Lutz Raphael put forward the much-noticed thesis that after 1970 the stable post-war order disintegrated, which was not the rule but an exception in development. With the end of the Bretton Woods financial regime , the limits of growth and the first oil price shock , growth rates declined and economic fluctuations increased, unemployment became a mass phenomenon and an entire generation experienced new economic uncertainties. The upheaval in Eastern and Central Eastern Europe is then interpreted as a “side effect of the transition, not as its cause”. The associated “ structural break ” has “brought about social change of revolutionary quality ”.

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Contemporary history  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Contemporary history. In: Microsoft Encarta 2007.
  2. Kurt Schilde: Review of: HG Adler: “Theresienstadt 1941-1945. The face of a coercive community. ”Göttingen 2005 and Heinz L. Arnold (ed.):“ HG Adler. ”Munich 2004. In: H-Soz-Kult. University of Siegen, Faculty 2, July 28, 2006, accessed on February 6, 2018 .
  3. Hans Günter Hockerts: Anselm Doering-Manteuffel / Lutz Raphael: After the boom . In: sehepunkte, Edition 9, No. 5 (2009)
  4. DFG Leibniz Research Group “After the Boom” . University of Trier, Research Center Europe
  5. Anselm Doering-Manteuffel, Lutz Raphael: After the boom . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 2008, ISBN 978-3-525-30013-8 , p. 8
  6. Anselm Doering-Manteuffel, Lutz Raphael: After the boom . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 2008, ISBN 978-3-525-30013-8 , p. 10, emphasis in the original