Die Ängste der Deutschen (The fears of Germans)

Does fear influence policy?

Talks and debate, featuring

Cem Özdemir
© Harry Weber

Cem Özdemir

Politician, Alliance 90/the Green Party

© privat

Professor Dr. Ruth Wodak

Linguist, University of Vienna

© Stiftung Haus der Geschichte Bonn | Axel Thünker

Dr. Thorsten Smidt

Exhibitions Director of the Haus der Geschichte, Bonn

Professor Dr. Reinhold Mokrosch, Osnabrück University

“German angst” has been a term used for decades to characterize, both in a positive and negative sense, the German state of mind. The collective fear of revenge in the postwar period, of communism, nuclear war, forest dieback, the risk of BSE in food, avian flu, climate disaster, terrorism, inundation by migrants, poverty in old age, and the breakdown of society are supposedly “typically German.” But the Germans are not alone with these fears – they are shared by nearly all societies under the umbrella of the UN.
Could it be that fear is exploited for policymaking? Are there any criteria to politically differentiate between justified and unjustified anxieties? And which policies should be adopted to address fear as a state of mind? These questions were explored by the three panelists Cem Özdemir, Professor Dr. Ruth Wodak and Dr. Thorsten Smidt during a discussion hosted by Professor Dr. Reinhold Mokrosch.

Özdemir is a Green Party politician and the former Federal Chairman of his party. He also supports alliances such as Freiheit statt Angst gegen staatliche Überwachung (Freedom, not fear, against state surveillance). Wodak is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Vienna. Her book, entitled The Politics of Fear: What Right-Wing Populist Discourses Mean, was published in English in 2015. Smidt is an art historian and Exhibitions Director of the Haus der Geschichte in Bonn, where the exhibition Fear: A German State of Mind? was showcased from last October to May.

May 23, 2019, 7 pm, University Auditorium, Neuer Graben 29 / Schloss

Picture gallery

© Osnabrücker Friedensgespräche | Andreas Brockmeyer

Video recordings

Playlist: Die Ängste der Deutschen. Macht Angst Politik?
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