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Policing, Traffic Safety Education and Citizenship in post-1945 West Germany

Rossol, N (2016) 'Policing, Traffic Safety Education and Citizenship in post-1945 West Germany.' Journal of Contemporary History. ISSN 0022-0094

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Abstract

This article examines policing and traffic education as a key area of reconstructing democratic citizenship in post-1945 Germany. The rebuilding of a democratic German society in the aftermath of the Second World War was closely linked to orderly, law-abiding and considerate behaviour – traffic safety events were the testing ground for these values. They were designed to create a sense of order and civil responsibility in which citizens were urged to participate in order to contribute to the new democratic postwar society in West Germany. But while state and local authorities presented traffic policing and traffic safety as an opportunity to rebuild relations with the public and to foster the link between orderly behaviour and good citizenship, ordinary citizens felt little obliged to follow traffic rules or police orders. The Eigensinn (stubbornness) of the public, choosing to ignore traffic rules, despite better knowledge, was difficult to reconcile with the top down and patronizing pedagogical approach so obvious in traffic safety debates of the 1940s and 1950s. The fact that rights and liberties of a citizen could also mean making wrong decisions and dealing with the consequences of this behaviour clashed with the more authoritarian concepts of the state.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: citizenship, democracy, policing, post-1945 Germany, traffic education
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D839 Post-war History, 1945 on
D History General and Old World > DD Germany
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > History, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2016 19:01
Last Modified: 30 May 2019 14:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/17022

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