Histoire contemporaine du Luxembourg

How to Break Away from a ‘Science of the Enemy’

The discussion on the relationship with Eastern Europe constitutes a recurrent feature of German and Polish political cultures and has materialised in institutions, producing a public discourse on the issue. This expertise emerged in the context of the foundation of the modern German and Polish states and evolved against the backdrop of unstable relations of Germany and Poland with Eastern Europe between the First World War and the new Ostpolitik of Willy Brandt. What made this expertise distinctive was the powerful imaginings linked to that region and the terrible violence exerted there in the twentieth century, mirrored in the ‘science of the enemy’ that dominated the field until the 1960s. Linking the experts’ individual trajectories and their intellectual production allows us to confront their discourse on the East as the enemy with their experiences of Eastern Europe, often hidden and implicit in their publications, and sheds a new light on the processes of an individual and collective scale that led to the disuse of the enemy paradigm.

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