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Germany – West German Student Movement, 1966-69

2. Confronting the Nazi Past

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In this module, we think about the impact of Germany's Nazi past on the development of the student movement, focusing in particular on: (i) the lack of any open debate on the Nazi past in the decade following the end of the Second World War; (ii) the growth of public awareness following the Eichmann Trial (1961) and the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials (1963); (iii) the generational tensions in millions of ordinary households across Germany; (iv) the protests against the implementation of Emergency Acts in 1968, and the reason why these acts were so politically sensitive; and (v) the association among the student counterculture of political conservatism with traditional living arrangements, i.e. the small middle-class family, and the attempt to create radical new ways of living in political communes, e.g. Kommune 1.


In this course, Dr Hanno Balz (University of Cambridge) explores the West German student movement between 1966-69. In the first module, we think about the growth of protest movements in Germany in the 1960s, especially following the formation in 1966 of the 'grand coalition' between the SPD and CDU. In the second module, we think about the impact of Germany's Nazi past on the German stuent movement, before turning in the third module to consider the international context – the Cuban Revolution (1953-59), the Algerian War of Independence (1954-62), the Vietnam War (1955-75), and so on. In the fourth module, we trace the escalation and radicalisation of the student movement through two shootings – that of Benno Ohnesorg in June 1967 and that of Rudi Dutschke in April 1968 – before turning in the fifth and final module to consider the growth of the women's liberation movement out of the German student movement, and the fragmentation of the movement from the late 1960s onwards


Dr Hanno Balz is DAAD Lecturer in Modern German and European History at the University of Cambridge. He has published extensively on the history of the "Red Army Faction" West-German militant group and the legal, intellectual, and political reverberations in West German society that came along with challenging the state. He works more broadly on European social movements from the 1960s to the 1980s as well as on the history of Nazi rule and the Shoah.

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APA style

Balz, H. (2021, March 03). Germany – West German Student Movement, 1966-69 - Confronting the Nazi Past [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Balz, H. "Germany – West German Student Movement, 1966-69 – Confronting the Nazi Past." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 03 Mar 2021,

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