The history course offers the opportunity to deal intensively with the events of past epochs. Flair and intuition are just as important as the mastery of the topics and the scientific way of working.
Every time has its moods, its themes and its conflicts. Beginning historians should be aware of this fact and deal intensively with these framework conditions of their respective epochs; The European Middle Ages are incomprehensible, without elaborating on the theological conflicts and their interaction with political and economic power relations.
The creation of central sovereignty can not be explained without the consideration of the Thirty Years’ War and the Westphalian Peace, just as the formation of German identity without the perspective of Napoleonic foreign rule is incomprehensible.
The basic constant in the behavior of many people is hardly controversial: The search for security, for secure supply of food and goods, for protection against internal and external attacks. It was the very security that historically could only be guaranteed by a strong central authority. At the same time it was the security created by power, the expansion of which led to wars and thus periods of great insecurity.
History and historiography
Not only history, but also historiography follows certain trends. For example, in the German of the Wilhelminian period, the Germanic customs – known above all through the description of Tacitus to a larger, bourgeois audience – were a favorite object of historical research, especially since the positive attributes attributed to them could be used to build up their own German identity.
In the FRG and GDR, separate interpretations of history and historical personalities were created during the Cold War. Even today there are many ideological interpretations when it comes to constructing a European identity that meets the current interests of further economic integration. Students of history should understand the different points of view on historical events and learn to form their own image.