Transition and Transfer in Germany and South Korea
Edited By Eun-Jeung Lee and Hannes B. Mosler
Students as agents of democratization in German society: 1968 and the revival of the concept of Council Democracy
This essay, written from the perspective of participative observation, focuses on the German student movement at the end of the 1960s and how it played a crucial role in the development of post-war Germany. In doing so, the author addresses the role of institutions such as the Freie Universität Berlin, the Socialist German Students’ League, and Council Democracy.
Comparing the role of students in several countries during the upheavals of the 60s, there seems to be no doubt about their progressive role and their importance in movements of resistance against authoritarian rule. To determine whether this has always been the case in the broader historical perspective requires a closer look at specific conditions of student action at a given time and place. I should like to limit myself to the German case and try to answer the question why in Germany, at the end of the 1960s, students were able to play a leading and even decisive role in the post-World War II history of German democracy.
The German case needs a specific explanation in view of the history of German universities, and especially the students, during the Weimar republic. We have to recognize a preponderance of right-wing students long before the Nazis came to power. This was based in a particular form of student organization since the beginning of the 19th century: the German type of “Korporationen”(fraternities) which originally were “democratic” in their struggle for German unification, but became reactionary after...
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