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How did European societies experience the Cold War? Politics of Security focuses on a number of peace movements in Britain and West Germany from the end of Second World War in 1945 to the early 1970s to answer this question. Britons and West Germans had been fierce enemies in the Second World War. After 1945, however, many activists in both countries imagined themselves to be part of a common movement against nuclear armaments.
Combining comparative and transnational histories, Politics of Security stresses how these movements were deeply embedded in their own societies, but also transcended them. In particular, it highlights the centrality of the memories of the Second World War as a prism through which people made sense of the threat of nuclear war. By placing British and West German experiences side by side, Holger Nehring illuminates the general patterns and specific features of these debates, arguing that the key characteristic of these discussions was the countries' concerns with different notions of security. The volume highlights how these ideas changed over time, how they reflected more general political, social, and cultural trends, and how they challenged mainstream assumptions of politics and government.
This volume is the first to capture in a transnational fashion what activists did on marches against nuclear warfare, and what it meant to them and to others. It highlights the ways in which people became activists, and how they were transformed by these experiences. Nehring examines how these two societies with very different experiences and memories of the cruelties and atrocities of the Second World War drew on very similar arguments when they came to understand the Cold War through the prism of the previous world war.