A Project of the Hamburg Institute for Social Research in Cooperation with the Einstein Forum, Potsdam

Berliner Colloquien zur Zeitgeschichte

Berliner Colloquienzur Zeitgeschichte

The Second Founding of the United States, 1937-1947Hosted by Bernd Greiner and Susan Neiman

24 and 25 April 2015

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 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.  

Conference language was English.    



Interview with Bernd Greiner

Bernd Greiner live at the Einstein Forum

Bernd Greiner and Volker Depkat in Mittelweg 36 (in German)