Prussians, Nazis and Peaceniks

Changing images of Germany in International Relations

Edited by Jens Steffek and Leonie Holthaus

Prussians, Nazis and Peaceniks


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Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-3571-1
  • Pages: 256
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: March 2020
  • BIC Category: Society & social sciences / Geopolitics, Germany, Society & social sciences / International relations, International Relations, International relations, POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / Diplomacy, POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General, HISTORY / Europe / Germany


Germany looms large in international politics, far larger than its size and population would suggest. From images of Prussian militarism, to the Holocaust, the Nuremberg trials, and the fall of the Berlin Wall, changing perceptions of Germany in the twentieth century not only determined how Germans were seen and treated, but they influenced the concepts that scholars and practitioners used to theorise international relations in the English-speaking world. Today, 'civil power' Germany, an economic giant but a military dwarf, is seen as a puzzling aberration from normal state behaviour.

Situated at the intersection of International Relations and international history, Prussians, Nazis and Peaceniks examines external perceptions of Germany and their implications for international theory. At crucial moments in the development of these disciplines, scholars cited Germany in debates on the nature and mechanisms of international politics: liberal internationalists contrasted cooperative foreign policies with an inherently aggressive 'Prussianism,' early realists looked to German revisionism and its fight against the Treaty of Versailles, and in the United States, German émigré scholars translated historical experiences into social-scientific vocabularies.

The changing images of Germany in debates in International Relations demonstrate that it is not just the nation-state we often perceive it to be. Rather, Germany continues to be a contestable concept: a political construct that is both contingent and in constant flux.


'An outstanding study of the ways in which German political and legal thought has helped shape the field of IR. This is a must-read.'
Oliver Jütersonke, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva

'Prussians, Nazis, Peaceniks engages with the remarkable shift in Germany's global image by examining the sociopolitical significance of Germany for international politics and IR theory. It offers a refreshingly different way to engage with IR theory, putting theoretical claims into the context of their production and dissemination. Read this book: you'll find you didn't know the half of it.'
Maja Zehfuss, Professor of International Politics, University of Manchester

'Challenging much received wisdom about the Anglo-Saxon dominance of Western IR theory, this volume collects an impressive and diverse set of in-depth studies about the interplay between radically shifting German roles and images in Europe and the world since the mid-nineteenth century.'
Gunther Hellmann, Professor of Political Science, Goethe-University, Frankfurt


Preface - Roland Bleiker
1 Introduction: changing images of Germany - Jens Steffek and Leonie Holthaus
2 Power as a German problem: a historical survey - Andreas Osiander
3The liberal internationalist self and the construction of an undemocratic German other at the beginning of the twentieth century - Leonie Holthaus
4 From emulation to enmity: the changing view of Germany in Anglo-American Geopolitics - Lucian M. Ashworth
5 Federalism versus sovereignty: the Weimar Republic in the eyes of American political science - Paul Petzschmann
6 Germany's fight against Versailles and the rise of American realism: Edwin Borchard between New Haven and Berlin - Jens Steffek and Tobias Heinze
7 The tale of the 'two Germanies': twentieth-century Germany in the debates of Anglo-American international lawyers and transitional justice experts - Annette Weinke
8 The silent presence: Germany in American postwar International Relations - Felix Rösch
9 Deutschtum and Americanism: memory and identity in Cold War America - Brian C. Etheridge
10 'Civilian Power' seen from abroad: the external image of Germany's foreign policy - Siegfried Schieder
11 Conclusion: International Relations theory and Germany - Richard Ned Lebow
Select Bibliography


Jens Steffek is Professor of Transnational Governance at Technische Universität Darmstadt

Leonie Holthaus is a Senior Research Fellow at Technische Universität Darmstadt

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