1968: Die Kinder der Diktatur
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The Hysterical Century (German: Die Kinder der Diktatur) is a 2011 book by Albrecht Behmel about the ideological roots of the protest movements in Germany during the late sixties and the early seventies.
Contrary to mainstream perception, Behmel considers the student protests of 1968 as the end of what he calls the “Hysterical Century” in Germany rather than a starting point of a new era.
The students, unlike their American or French counterparts used style and motifs of the radicals of the German interwar-years to maximize the shock effect. In a society that sought nothing more than low-profile normalcy, Behmel argues, this emulation of early Nazi and communist protest-forms, riots, vocabulary and anti-bourgeois habits simply worked best. Therefore, the author concludes, the protests were fundamentally not progressive but regressive.
Only in retrospect, twenty years later, when the so-called “Achtundsechziger” (68’ers) (like Joschka Fischer and Gerhard Schröder) were the dominant generation in society, the myth of 1968 as the beginning of a modern, democratic open society was forged. Behmel’s analysis deconstructs this myth and traces modern German liberal achievements like free press, freedom of speech, back to earlier decades, independent of what the radical students demanded.
Behmel provides further claims that the activists had to ignore the Holocaust when they accused the German establishment of fascist tendencies at the same time revering dictators like Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin. It is argued that equal rights in education were not a main goal; that a significant part of the movement was anti-Semitic and pro-terrorist. Behmel provides claims that the activists were influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche and Richard Wagner (an activist of the 1848 revolution).
The years of 1870–1968
When the German Reich was founded in 1870/1871, a century of extremes began in Germany during which traditional cultural beliefs and political certainties, especially of the conservative groups were systematically demolished or lost.
After World War II the German establishment sought reconstruction and reconciliation with the western powers, especially France and the US. The ghosts of social unrest still haunted the older generation (born in the years of 1900), therefore, the protesting students (born after World War II) simply had to revert to the same or similar anti-capitalist, anti-US slogans that were used during the Weimar years in order to increase the shock potential of their movement.
- 1870 Prussian dominance in Germany
- 1914–1918 World War I
- 1919 Treaty of Versailles
- 1923 hyper inflation
- 1928 currency crisis
- 1933 Third Reich
- 1939–1945 World War II and end of the Reich
- 1948 currency reform; two states
- 1955 re-armament, NATO
- 1961 Berlin wall
- 1968 student revolt and terrorism
- Kommune 1
- Sozialistischer Deutscher Studentenbund
- Rudi Dutschke
- Short 20th century
- History of ideas
- Bude, Heinz (1987) Deutsche Karrieren, Frankfurt am Main
- Dutschke, Gretchen (1996). Wir hatten ein barbarisches, schönes Leben, Köln.
- Mannheim, Karl (1964) Das Problem der Generation, Neuwied
- Kraushaar, Wolfgang (2000). 1968 als Mythos. Chiffre und Zäsur, Hamburg
- Kunzelmann, Dieter (1998). Leisten Sie keinen Widerstand, Berlin.