Memory and the Euro-Crisis of Leadership: The Effects of Generational Change in Germany and the EU


Since 1945 Europeans have able to draw on shared memories of war and suffering to create the European Union. Recently, a new generation born after Europe’s age of total war has taken over leadership of the continent. Since 2010 this cadre has been unable to solve the problems underlying the Eurozone crisis. I argue that generational dynamics – which have been especially pronounced in Germany – help to explain the economic nationalism exhibited during the crisis. Following the methodology of the Frankfurt School, I offer an empirically grounded diagnosis of the situation and the pathologies revealed in the passing of the generations of memory. I then chart paths for future transformation by reflecting on the role that the past can continue play in the future. I focus on how Europe’s violent twentieth century can help bolster continental solidarity by becoming part of the broader European social imaginary. 

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Last updated on 08/27/2014