A Long Road of Reconciliation


Building a Smarter German-American Partnership

The European Union was awarded the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize is recognition of the progress made over the past sixty years on a continent once rife with war and conflict.  That former enemies were able to form new ties, institutionalize relations, and cede aspects of their sovereignty to a supranational organization is striking.  Throughout the Institute’s history, AGI has analyzed the process of European integration and Germany’s role in it. Its seminars, lectures, and publications continue to focus on the challenges that Europe faces and the successes it had.

Most recently, Dr. Lily Gardner Feldman’s analysis of the European continent’s transition “from enmity to amity” not only looks at how reconciliation in Europe developed, but also applies those lessons to other regions in conflict.  Germany’s foreign policy of reconciliation with its former victims—France, Israel, Poland, and the Czech Republic/Czechoslovakia—has allowed it to take on its leadership role in today’s European Union and the lessons it learned over the past sixty years continue to resonate in an EU now struggling to overcome internal economic division and strife.

Dr. Lily Gardner Feldman is an expert on reconciliation and has published widely in the U.S. and Europe on German foreign policy, German-Jewish relations, international reconciliation, non-state entities as foreign policy players, and the EU as an international actor. Her 2012 book, “Germany’s Foreign Policy of Reconciliation: From Enmity to Amity,” is essential reading to understand Germany’s evolution over the past sixty years.  Order your copy of Dr. Gardner Feldman’s upcoming book here.

AGI’s Society, Culture & Politics Program continues to examine Germany’s reconciliation with its European neighbors. It has also broadened the scope of this framework by comparing reconciliation in Europe with East Asia. The inability to accept the past by Japanese leaders stands in stark contrast to Germany’s clear acknowledgment of its responsibility for the Holocaust. The deep layers of reconciliation Germany developed with France, Poland, Israel, and the Czech Republic stand in contrast to Japan’s apologies to its neighbors, which have been thin, intermittent, and devoid of follow-up in bilateral policies toward China and South Korea that show a genuine desire to make amends. Germany’s experience—apologize, offer compensation, building new, multifaceted relationships between governments and between societies—can serve as a guideline for continuing reconciliation in East Asia.

Other recent analyses of European reconciliation and integration include:
A Trying Transformation, by Jack Janes
Constructive Power and Reconciliation: The Importance of German Societal Organizations, by Dr. Lily Gardner Feldman
October 3: Marking Milestones, Pursuing Processes, by Jack Janes
The Fall of the Wall at 20: Global Consequences Today, by Holger Wolf, J.D. Bindenagel, Klaus Larres, Manuel Lafont Rapnouil