While fear and anxiety have historically been associated with authoritarian regimes, Frank Biess demonstrates the ambivalent role of these emotions in the democratization of West Germany, where fears and anxieties about the country's catastrophic past and uncertain future both undermined democracy and stabilized the emerging Federal Republic.
- Provides a counterweight and corrective to the existing historiography of the Federal Republic, offering a new interpretive synthesis
- Casts new light on some familiar themes and topics in postwar German history by applying the theoretical and methodological insights of the history of emotions
- Analyses the relationship between fear and democracy, challenging the assumption that only authoritarian systems produce fear
About the Author(s)
Frank Biess, Professor of History, Co-Director of European, German, and Italian Studies, University of California, San Diego
Frank Biess is Professor of History at the University of California-San Diego. He started his academic career at the Universities of Marburg and Tübingen in Germany. He earned two M.A. degrees at Washington University in St. Louis, and he received his PhD from Brown University in 2000. He has published extensively on the history of 20th-century Germany, with a focus on the post-1945 period. In 2021, he published Homecomings: Returning POWs and the Legacies of Defeat in Postwar
Germany with Princeton University Press. He is currently working on a set of projects relating to the global history of the interwar Weimar Republic.
"Winner of the 2021 Norris and Carol Hundley Award of the Pacifc Coast Branch of the American Historical Association"
"A historical book that hits the nerve of our present. . .Biess casts new light on the history of the Federal Republic. . .and gives back to the Federal Republic its emotional drama." - Alexander Camman, Die Zeit
"A fresh view of the history of the Federal Republic. . .and a critical corrective to the existing historiography." - Eckart Conze, University of Marburg
"Republik der Angst offers a compelling alternative narrative of West German democratization as a project that succeeded not because its participants were rational liberal subjects, but because they were in touch with their subjective fears. While chronic fear certainly had the potential to cause paralysis, fear also functioned as a warning system for the risks of modernization." - Lauren Stokes, German History
"Biess has written an excellent book, which is a welcome addition to the historiography of postwar Germany.
" - Lak, Martijn, Historische Zeitschrift
"German Angst is ambitious in its scope and its methodology. In the first half, it does what good history should do-it challenges us to reapproach familiar narratives from a different perspective. And in the second half, it offers a stimulating interpretation of the new social movements and our contemporary moment. . .In any case, there can be no doubt that Frank Biess returns contingency and previously sidelined “irrational” forces to the historical narrative as well as offering us a narrative of democracy's fragility befitting the current moment." - Karrin Hanshew, Journal of Social History