Germany's Foreign Policy of Reconciliation

From Enmity to Amity

By (author) Lily Gardner Feldman

Publication date:

02 August 2012

Length of book:

412 pages


Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

ISBN-13: 9780742526129

Since World War II, Germany has confronted its own history to earn acceptance in the family of nations. Lily Gardner Feldman draws on the literature of religion, philosophy, social psychology, law and political science, and history to understand Germany's foreign policy with its moral and pragmatic motivations and to develop the concept of international reconciliation. Germany's Foreign Policy of Reconciliation traces Germany's path from enmity to amity by focusing on the behavior of individual leaders, governments, and non-governmental actors. The book demonstrates that, at least in the cases of France, Israel, Poland, and Czechoslovakia/the Czech Republic, Germany has gone far beyond banishing war with its former enemies; it has institutionalized active friendship. The German experience is now a model of its own, offering lessons for other cases of international reconciliation. Gardner Feldman concludes with an initial application of German reconciliation insights to the other principal post–World War II pariah, as Japan expands its relations with China and South Korea.
Readers may ask why the topic of reconciliation is not accorded greater attention within international relations. Feldman examines German postwar foreign policy and correctly identifies reconciliation as its guiding principle. Examining Germany's evolving postwar relations with Israel, France, Poland, and the Czech Republic, the author brings a distinctly historical perspective to a question that she nevertheless couches in political terms, namely, what factors have been key to Germany's approach. The book weaves together four factors—how history is leveraged, the role of national leaders, the centrality of government and non-government institutions, and finally the overall international context—and presents an in-depth analysis based upon a wealth of secondary sources. Eschewing the generation of a rigorous causal model, the book still succeeds in distilling which elements were necessary for reconciliation to occur. The highly contextualized findings render the book particularly valuable from a historical perspective, yet Feldman also cleverly seeks to extend its insights to comparable unresolved situations in East Asia; indeed, the book could also offer important lessons for internal conflicts involving ethnic violence and civil war. Summing Up: Recommended. All readership levels.