The German Question

​This book examines the domestic and international dynamics of the German question, one of the 20th century’s most interesting and complex phenomena since its 1919 inception. The German question is best described as the incompatibility of the territory of any German state with the extent of German cultural space and the diverse ways in which Germany and the relevant European and world powers have responded to the various problems arising from this incompatibility. The German question cannot be reduced merely to the issue of German reunification and sovereignty, as was often the case between 1945 and 1990. Rather, it has always involved other aspects, including the situation of German minorities in Europe, migration, the definition of a German national identity, and so on.

From this perspective, unification in 1990 only resolved one aspect of the German question, while others continue to exist and remain, with varying prominence, on the political agenda, at least in Europe. Still, contrary to previous decades, none of the remaining aspects of the German question today poses a serious threat to European and international security and stability. Wolff goes beyond the usual focus on this question and includes the post-war expulsions and migration of ethnic Germans from Central and Eastern Europe and their integration in the two German states, as well as the legacy of the complex German-Polish and German-Czech relations as they play out in the current negotiations of the two countries’ accession to the European Union.