The article starts with analyzing the inherent comparative frameworks influencing the way Europe is usually mapped with regard to historical regions. Such regions have been frequently devised in terms of dualistic spatial and temporal concepts contrasting central vs. peripheral and “progressive” vs. “backward” entities. Rejecting these concepts, the study advocates a reconsideration of the spatial dimension in terms of “entangled history”/history of transfers, becoming more sensitive to the complex interplay between different regions. At the same time, the author rejects the one-sided application of “entangled history” as it absolutizes the interaction and excludes the possibility of structural analyses of the differences between transmitting and recipient societies. Therefore, he pleads for a creative combination of the comparative method with the more recent methodological precepts stressing transnational interaction.
In recent debates about transnational and inter-cultural approaches in historiography, crossborder relations have usually assumed a positive connotation for mutually enriching the parties involved. However, research on bilateral relationships between Italian Fascism and German National Socialism and of fascist movements in other European states demonstrate that transnational exchange is normatively ambivalent, i.e. it can comply with our aims, wishes and expectations or not. This contribution will present evidence for the attractiveness of Italian Fascism and German Nazism throughout Europe in the 1920s and 1930s. Beyond high politics, cooperation between fascists extended to other areas, like recreation and public relations. Nevertheless, fascist movements and regimes appropriated foreign doctrines and policies selectively in order to avert the charge of copying foreign models. They also stressed their nationalist credentials. Yet hypernationalism was deeply ingrained in fascist ideology, too. Thus, cooperation between European fascists was continuously hampered by mutual antagonism. Altogether, fascist nationalism and transnationalism were interrelated rather than mutually exclusive. Nevertheless, cross-border cooperation between fascist movements should not be underestimated or reduced to wartime collaboration.
This article focuses on the evolution of social history in pre- 1989 West Germany and the GDR and, on the basis of this overview, identifies new, innovative historiographical trends on (re-)writing social history in unified Germany. It is argued that, for many decades, West German historiography had been characterized by sharp debates between the more established advocates of investigations into social structures and processes, on the one hand, and the grass-roots historians of everyday life, on the other. Since the early 1990s, however, this antagonism has considerably receded in favour of synthetic perspectives. At the same time, interest in the history of East European states and regions has considerably increased. This article highlights these new analytical trends in recent German historiography by taking as example studies of the social history of the GDR. In the unified Germany, the history of the GDR has received particular attention. Access to new sources has also enabled historians to link the histories of Eastern and Western Europe, either by employing comparative perspectives or investigating cross-border entanglements.