Over Sixty in the Sixties: The Older Generation and Youth Protest in West Germany

Lecture | April 11 | 5-6 p.m. | 201 Moses Hall

 Christina von Hodenberg, Director at German Historical Institute, London

 Institute of European Studies, GHI West - Pacific Regional Office of the German Historical Institute Washington DC, Center for German and European Studies

Recent works on the German and European sixties are all about youth. Educated middle-class students, artists and bohemians face off against equally educated professors, intellectuals and politicians. The ‘establishment’ of the aged and middle-aged population is a barely sketched-out backdrop to a story that unfolds from the perspective of young activists. Based on interviews with elderly people from the West German 1960s, I explore the role of the over-60s in sixties social change. What were their attitudes toward youth and consumerism? How did they relate to their children, and to what extent did the legacy of Nazism define their role in family and society?

Christina von Hodenberg is Director of the German Historical Institute London and Professor of History at Queen Mary University London. She specializes in the social and cultural history of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Europe. Her first two monographs explored nineteenth-century Prussian history, specifically the role of Prussian judges during the revolution of 1848-49 and Germany’s most famous working-class protest, the 1844 revolt of Silesian weavers. She then moved to the contemporary history of media and political protest. Her survey of post-1945 political journalism in West Germany asked how authoritarian traditions of political culture were overcome. A comparative study on the impact of German, British and American television on the Sixties cultural revolution followed. Most recently, her account of late sixties protest in West Germany (‘Das andere Achtundsechzig’) has generated much discussion in academia and beyond.