German History Intersections is a source-based digital project that examines three broad topics – migration, knowledge and education, and Germanness – from 1500 to the present. By charting these topics across centuries, the project offers an alternative to traditional histories that focus on discrete historical periods.
MigrationDrawing on the personal stories of individuals and the collective experiences of migrant groups, this module examines the movement of people across and within the shifting borders of Central Europe from the Early Modern period to the present.
Knowledge and EducationEducation, ideas, and the history of knowledge are the focus of this module, which explores the construction, negotiation, circulation, and organization of various types of “expert” and popular knowledge in Germany over five centuries, from the Reformation to the Digital Age.
GermannessThis module describes the complex and ever-changing meaning of Germanness from the Holy Roman Empire to present-day Europe. One central theme is the intersection of Germanness with other markers of identity, such as gender, ethnicity, religion, and social class.
My first time hearing Alexandra’s “Erstes Morgenrot” was during a late-night gathering of history doctoral students in Warsaw in 2001. We were anticipating the dawn that she sings about, but I don’t believe any of us actually knew anything about Alexandra’s expellee background and how that related to this piece. Only many years later, after listening more closely to the lyrics, did I realize that this song was somehow connected to the “lost German East.” I chose this source as well as Heinz Rudolf Kunze’s “Vertriebener” because they exemplify how the expellee experience found cultural expression in West Germany, and they reveal subtly but effectively the interplay of Heimat and Germanness.
Winson Chu, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, member of the “Germanness” working group