La mémoire collective et la politique étrangère de l'Allemagne lors de crises internationales : entre usages et effets inhérents de la mémoire (1989-1999) / par Martin Larose.
This thesis looks at the evolution of the collective memory and its influence on the behaviour of the federal government, the political elites and the public opinion in Germany between 1989 and 1999. The research is based on five case studies: the Gulf War, the independence of Croatia and Slovenia, the humanitarian crisis and civil war in Somalia, the conflict in Bosnia and the military intervention for Kosovo. Three primary sources were used: first, the speeches of the three main decision-makers in foreign policy (the Chancellor, the foreign minister and the defence minister); second, the proceedings of the debates in the Federal Parliament (the «Verhandlungen des Deutschen Bundestages»); and third, the public opinion surveys. Secondary sources and two national daily newspapers (the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and the Süddeutsche Zeitung) were also used to complete the analysis of the German reactions during those international crisis. The study shows that collective memory is something malleable that is constituted from different versions which often compete to influence the public discourse. Thus, those multiple versions of memory not only limit foreign policy choices but can also push for the implementation of a specific policy. In other words, the memory has inherent effects on the development of foreign policy. For sure, this doesn't exclude the fact that memory can be used or instrumentalized by politicians needing some legitimacy for domestic politics or for politicking. The thesis demonstrates that it was not the Constitution which, until 1995, made impossible any peacekeeping or peacemaking troop deployments for the FRG, even under the authority of the United Nations. It was much more the lesson drawn from the Second World War («Never war again!») which was conveyed by the dominant collective memory. It must also be stressed that the public opinion, at first pretty hesitant, rapidly became favourable to the broadening of the armed forces' mission in case of humanitarian crisis or genocide. It is thus the politicians, in particular those of the Left then in the opposition, which refused to accept an evolution of the collective memory and of its related principle regarding the use of force. The 1990s would see the efforts made by parts of the parliamentary Left (which joined the Right) and the end of the Cold War provoke the evolution of the dominant version of the German collective memory. From now on, the lesson «Never Auschwitz again!» would constitute a moral obligation to act militarily to reestablish or to maintain peace to prevent new genocides or humanitarian crisis. Finally, it seems that, as time went by, the role of the memory of the Second World War and the Holocaust declined while the one of the Cold War, of the Allied solidarity and of the Sonderweg (the special way) took more importance.
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