Program Details

Deutschland, Deutschland: Germany from Bismarck to Merkel

Stephen Berk
History / Politics
Video Catch-up

Course Description

From being a backward agrarian country, German became a colossus. It challenged Europe and the world. Two world wars, the Holocaust, and a remarkable post-WWII transformation make Germany one of the most interesting countries on the planet.


  1. The Iron Chancellor, unified Germany and created an excellent alliance system. His successors squandered the inheritance.
  2. Hubris and fear combined to push Germany into the Great War. The result was a catastrophe exacerbated by a punitive peace.
  3. The 1920's started badly, but eventually, stability and prosperity returned only to disappear in the Great Depression. The times make the man. Adolf Hitler rose to power, and history turned.
  4. Once again, hubris led Germany into a war. However, this time, with the Cold War looming, Germany was soon able to take its place among the nations. Who would have thought that a German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, would be the outstanding statesperson of our time and that Germany would be Israel's second most important ally?

About the Instructor

  • Stephen Berk, Ph.D., is a professor of history at Union College in Schenectady, New York, where he holds the Henry and Sally Schaffer Chair in Holocaust and Jewish Studies. He is the author of "Year of Crisis, Year of Hope: Russian Jewry and the Pogroms of 1881-1882". Berk has written articles on Russian and Jewish history, anti-Semitism, and the Middle East. In 2010, he was designated an Israel Hero for his defense and advocacy of the State of Israel by JERNY, the Jewish Educational Resources of New York. In 2013, he was the recipient of the Citizen Laureate Award from the University of Albany Foundation.