In Between Yesterday and Tomorrow: German Visions of Europe, 1926-1950, published last month, author Christian Bailey seeks to understand how Germans became such “good Europeans” after 1945. Whereas many histories of European integration tend to largely focus on the diplomatic goings-on between elites, this book focuses on how support for a united Europe was cultivated in civil society. Below, the author and his colleague Benno Gammerl share a dialogue about Bailey’s recent volume.
Benno Gammerl: Your book convincingly challenges what one could call the negative founding myth of post-1945 European integration. According to this well-established narrative the European Union ultimately resulted from the wish to once and for all prevent falling back into the perils of fascism and total war. You highlight earlier visions of Europe instead that date back to the interwar period and that have at times commanded much wider popular support than the let-us-avoid-our-earlier-mistakes-rhetoric. Which positive aims and motivations sustained these European projects?