• Geopolitics;
  • civilian power;
  • grand strategy;
  • Germany;
  • Europe an integration


German geopolitical claims have changed from two phases of aggressive, military expansionism (Jackboots) at the beginning of the twentieth century to a civilianised foreign policy (Birkenstocks) at its end. This paper describes this transition during the second half of the twentieth century in light of a changing international system and the geopolitical constellations of the Cold War and European integration. As part of such historical experiences, external circumstances and internal preferences the civilian power concept became the foundation for the Berlin Republic's grand strategy of promoting civilianised structures in the international system. Unlike at the beginning of the twentieth century, German foreign policy after reunification in 1990 was not based on a deliberately pursued strategy of militaristic power politics to attain world power status. It reflected a foreign policy identity into which Germany ‘grew’ during the Cold War in a process of adapting and becoming part of European integration and American hegemony. Even though Germany did not completely abandon its power ambitions, their articulations and claims were radically transformed. A civilianised international system thereby became the objective and medium of German foreign policy. Such a system is characterised by multilateralism, supranational integration, strong international institutions, rule of law, free trade, human rights, good governance and restrictions of the use of force.