If the 20th century is said to start in 1917 and end in 1990, then the conflict between capitalism and communism is declared to be the sign of the era. World War II, National Socialism and the Holocaust, as well as colonialism and decolonisation, are all defined by this contradiction and become secondary events. If the starting point is set around 1890 with the implementation of high industrialization, high imperialism and the culture of modernity, then the First World War and with it the emergence of the great ideological mass movements become the result of these decades of upheaval. The period up to the 1970s, when classical industrial society came to an end, is then understood as a unity. Does all this apply to Germany, does it characterize a structuring of European history in the 20th century as a whole or do national historical differences predominate here?
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The Gerda Henkel Visiting Professorship is a co-operation of the Department of International History at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), the Gerda Henkel Foundation, the German Historical Institute London (GHIL), and the Gerda Henkel Professor’s home university. Its purpose is to promote awareness in Britain of German research on the history of the German Federal Republic and the German Democratic Republic, and to stimulate comparative work on German history in a European context. The first professorship was awarded in 2009.