Germany was quick to claim the German-Turkish vaccine developers of Pfizer/BioNTech as proof of its open society. But their success is more an exception than a rule. Rather than congratulate itself, Germany needs to confront how it abandoned the migrants it once invited.
Philipp Ther (* 1967) is professor of Central European History at the University of Vienna, where he also guides the Research Cluster for the History of Transformations (RECET). Previously he was professor of comparative European history at the EUI in Florence. His book ‘Die neue Ordnung auf dem alten Kontinent. Eine Geschichte des neoliberalen Europa (Suhrkamp)’ was awarded with the non-fiction bookprize of the Leipzig bookfare in 2015. An English version titled Europe since 1989: A history was published by Princeton University Press. Before he published in English The Dark Side of Nation States: Ethnic Cleansing in Modern Europe, New York: Berghahn Press, 2014 (German 2011, Polish 2012, Czech 2017) and Center Stage: Operatic Culture and Nation Building in 19th Century Central Europe, West Lafayette: Purdue University Press, 2014 (Czech 2008).
He has co-edited twelve other books, his articles have been translated into fifteen European languages. His most recent books are a synthesis on the history of refugees in modern Europe Die Außenseiter. Flucht, Flüchtlinge und Integration im modernen Europa, Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2017 and Das andere Ende der Geschichte: Über die Große Transformation, Berlin: Suhrkamp 2019. An extended English version The Outsiders: Refugees in Europe since 1492 will be published by Princeton UP in the fall of 2019.
In 2019 he was awarded the Wittgenstein Prize of the Austrian Research Fund. This award is endowed with 1.5 million Euros and is the highest recognition for scientists in Austria. (source: iog.univie.ac.at)
Philipp Ther talks neoliberalism’s toll on the peripheries
After ’89, the ideology of ‘free’ markets prevailed not just in eastern Europe, but also in the West. The consequences were particularly evident in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and the 2010 euro crisis. What effect did the economic restructuring have on the European project and what are the key issues facing Europe today?
The transformation of Germany and east central Europe after 1989
The strength of the German economy is often attributed to the shock therapy of the 1990s. But in 1999, the reunited country was considered ‘the sick man of the euro’. Its failings were blamed on the socialist legacy, yet the economic crisis was the result of western decision-making in 1990. Comparison with the economies of Poland and Czech Republic suggests that shock therapy was not the key to Germany’s success.
Erzwungene Wege [“Forced journeys”] is the title of the newly opened exhibition at the German Historical Museum in Berlin on the history of forced migration in Europe. It has been organized by the German League of Expellees, which represents Germans forced to migrate after WWII, and is a step towards the League’s goal to set up a permanent exhibition in the German capital. The exhibition has been the source of ongoing diplomatic conflict between Germany and its eastern neighbours – above all Poland – since the League called on Poland to pay compensation to former German owners of Polish property and even opposed Poland’s accession to the EU. Philipp Ther outlines the background of the historical conflict between Germany and Poland, the reasons behind the paradigm shift from culprit to victim in the German view of its history, and the enduring and very different memory in Poland of the German occupation.