Thursday, Apr 23, 2015, 7 PM

Bernd Greiner

Professor of History, University Hamburg; Hamburg Institute for Social Research

The Second Founding of the United States, 1937-1947

Introduction: Prof. Dr. Susan Neiman, Potsdam

Within just ten years, the country changed almost beyond recognition. In 1938 Congress narrowly voted down the proposed Ludlow Amendment, which would have required the US government to seek a national referendum for any Congressional declaration of war. With the 1947 National Security Act, a law was passed that effectively undermined Congressional control over war and peace. In the late 1930s, arms manufacturers and their political allies were decried as »merchants of death.« A few years later, a grand coalition of labor leaders, corporations and small businesses, municipalities and civil rights groups fought to save arms factories. In the late 1930s, Socialists and Communists were an unpopular but tolerated part of the political landscape. One decade sufficed for them to be regarded as a mortal threat to national security. The examples in this list could continue at great length. Taken together they illustrate a fundamental transformation that still throws up questions. By all appearances, any discussion of the causes restricted to parties, presidents and parliaments comes up short. What is needed is a perspective informed by the history of emotions – first and foremost a discussion of fears and the »merchants of fear« in civil society.

Bernd Greiner is Researcher at the Hamburg Institute for Social Research, Professor of Contemporary History at Hamburg University and Director of the Berlin Center for Cold War Studies. His most recent book publication are: 9/11. Der Tag, die Angst, die Folgen (2011); Die Kuba-Krise. Die Welt an der Schwelle zum Atomkrieg (2010) and Krieg ohne Fronten. Die USA in Vietnam (2007).

The event will be held in English