Germany's Foreign Policy of Reconciliation: From Enmity to Amity (The New International Relations of Europe)

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9780742526129: Germany's Foreign Policy of Reconciliation: From Enmity to Amity (The New International Relations of Europe)

Since World War II, Germany has confronted its own history to earn acceptance in the family of nations. Lily Gardner Feldman draws on the literature of religion, philosophy, social psychology, law and political science, and history to understand Germany's foreign policy with its moral and pragmatic motivations and to develop the concept of international reconciliation. Germany's Foreign Policy of Reconciliation traces Germany's path from enmity to amity by focusing on the behavior of individual leaders, governments, and non-governmental actors. The book demonstrates that, at least in the cases of France, Israel, Poland, and Czechoslovakia/the Czech Republic, Germany has gone far beyond banishing war with its former enemies; it has institutionalized active friendship. The German experience is now a model of its own, offering lessons for other cases of international reconciliation. Gardner Feldman concludes with an initial application of German reconciliation insights to the other principal post–World War II pariah, as Japan expands its relations with China and South Korea.

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About the Author:

Lily Gardner Feldman is Harry & Helen Gray Senior Fellow in Residence and director of the Society, Culture, and Politics Program at the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies at Johns Hopkins University.


Readers may ask why the topic of reconciliation is not accorded greater attention within international relations. Feldman examines German postwar foreign policy and correctly identifies reconciliation as its guiding principle. Examining Germany's evolving postwar relations with Israel, France, Poland, and the Czech Republic, the author brings a distinctly historical perspective to a question that she nevertheless couches in political terms, namely, what factors have been key to Germany's approach. The book weaves together four factors—how history is leveraged, the role of national leaders, the centrality of government and non-government institutions, and finally the overall international context—and presents an in-depth analysis based upon a wealth of secondary sources. Eschewing the generation of a rigorous causal model, the book still succeeds in distilling which elements were necessary for reconciliation to occur. The highly contextualized findings render the book particularly valuable from a historical perspective, yet Feldman also cleverly seeks to extend its insights to comparable unresolved situations in East Asia; indeed, the book could also offer important lessons for internal conflicts involving ethnic violence and civil war. Summing Up: Recommended. All readership levels. (CHOICE)

Even if it is difficult to transfer the different cultural, social, and political conditions of Europe to the Pacific, the author gives advice to learn from the German example because—consciously or unconsciously—reconciliation policy also serves the power of a to stabilize the state on the international arena and to increase—which in turn makes an active policy of reconciliation attractive for all States. (

In this magisterial volume, Lily Gardner Feldman traces the development of German reconciliation policy in relation to France, Israel, Poland, and Czechoslovakia. . . . [The author] casts her net very wide in her explanation and draws some important comparative explanations. She rightly assigns central importance to the role of history, leadership, non-governmental institutions and governmental institutions, although these factors play out very differently in different contexts. One of the great strengths of this impressive study is the way in which the four-cases approach allows the author to track subtle changes over the decades. (International Affairs)

A comprehensive account detailing the formulation and development of a central tenet of the Federal Republic of Germany's foreign policy. . . . It will be an essential reference for all students of postwar and postunification Germany, international relations, foreign policy, and conflict resolution. (German Politics & Society)

In this well-researched and fascinating book . . . Lily Gardner Feldman argues that political reconciliation represented 'the cornerstone, perhaps the very definition of German foreign policy after World War II.' [It] is inspired by several bodies of literature, and bridges the gap between the literature focusing on the foreign relations of the Federal Republic and the theological, philosophical, legal, social-psychological, and political and historical approaches to the study of reconciliation. . . . Feldman’s discussion of the foreign policy of the Federal Republic between 1949 and 2009 is clear and persuasive, and the overall message of the book optimistic and inspiring. Feldman stresses the pivotal role of political leadership—highlighting the role played by 'friendship relations'—and of a 'shared vision' between the leaders of the two countries, often in the face of skeptical, if not openly hostile, public opinion. And while acknowledging the reticence often displayed by a large part of the German public, Feldman also stresses the significance of the role played by societal actors in promoting international reconciliation—an innovative and very interesting aspect of the author's study of German foreign policy. . . . An interesting and highly informative work, which raises important questions about the course of German foreign relations in the post-World War II era. (German History)

In her well-informed and wide-ranging study Lily Gardner Feldman explores [the] correlation of the pragmatic and moral driving forces of the German foreign policy of reconciliation from 1949 to 2009. . . .Feldman's study offers a new framework for a consistent interpretation of the history of German foreign policy. (European History Quarterly)

Lily Gardner Feldman has written a major new study that focuses on the role of reconciliation in West German and, after 1990, unified Germany’s relations with France, Israel, Poland, and Czechoslovakia (later the Czech Republic). . . . This is an important book on a topic with implications for other parts of the globe. Its underlying message is that reconciliation is a project that requires constant commitment and attention from the participants. (Central European History)

This is not only the most comprehensive account of Germany's postwar policy of reconciliation, it is also an impressive scholarly demonstration of the crucial importance of reconciliation as a precondition for Germany to assume its unprecedented leadership role in contemporary Europe. Gardner Feldman's conclusions, based on the experience of Franco-German reconciliation, are essential: Whatever may have been achieved 'must be honed, hardened, and transformed into new networks and new leadership' because 'the center of the European Union may not hold without that generational commitment.' (Gunther Hellmann, Goethe University Frankfurt)

This scholarly achievement explains in acute and accurate detail how the improbable—many thought impossible—friendship between Israel and Germany matured from inevitable wariness after the Holocaust into a durable and mutually dependent relationship. Through perceptive, critical, but also sympathetic analysis, Gardner Feldman makes the relationship comprehensible for us in the context of other bilateral relations that manifest Germany’s commitment to reconciliation (Shimon Stein, former Israeli ambassador to Germany)

Germany's Foreign Policy of Reconciliation is an outstanding contribution that examines how Germany and other countries reconciled with each other after World War II in the absence of peace treaties. It is a unique guide to the various ways, contexts, and topographies in which they faced up to the burden of war that Germany had unleashed. (Jan Sechter, Czech ambassador to Poland)

A careful and thorough examination of German foreign policy between 1945–2009, focusing on the nuances of German approaches to reconciliation with Czechoslovakia, France, Israel, and Poland. Lily Gardner Feldman's trenchant analysis reveals both critical national differences and the common themes that can benefit other countries as they work to build ties after devastating conflicts. An important book for students of both ethics and politics. (Kristen Renwick Monroe, University of California, Irvine)

Germany's Foreign Policy of Reconciliation examines the Federal Republic's external relations with four former enemies—France, Israel (the Jewish people), Poland, and Czechoslovakia/the Czech Republic—as it achieved international rehabilitation after the Holocaust. The book develops the concept of international reconciliation while illustrating its manifestation in practice, blending and balancing moral imperatives with pragmatic interests. Germany emerges as a model for how the bitterest of former international enemies can reconcile.

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