Foreign Front

Third World Politics in Sixties West Germany

Foreign Front

Radical Perspectives

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Book Pages: 320 Illustrations: 24 photographs Published: March 2012

Author: Quinn Slobodian

Activism, History > European History, Politics > Political Science

It is often asserted that West German New Leftists "discovered the Third World" in the pivotal decade of the 1960s. Quinn Slobodian upsets that storyline by beginning with individuals from the Third World themselves: students from Africa, Asia, and Latin America who arrived on West German campuses in large numbers in the early 1960s. They were the first to mobilize German youth in protest against acts of state violence and injustice perpetrated beyond Europe and North America. The activism of the foreign students served as a model for West German students, catalyzing social movements and influencing modes of opposition to the Vietnam War. In turn, the West Germans offered the international students solidarity and safe spaces for their dissident engagements. This collaboration helped the West German students to develop a more nuanced, empathetic understanding of the Third World, not just as a site of suffering, poverty, and violence, but also as the home of politicized individuals with the capacity and will to speak in their own names.


Foreign Front is an important contribution to our understanding of the place that the Third World occupied in the imagination of the West German student movement. In particular, Slobodian provides an excellent account of the role that students from Africa, Asia and Latin America played in the West German New Left in the 1960s as he discusses the complex relationship between intellectuals in the West and revolutionaries in the Third World.” — Hans Kundnani, TLS

“[T]his is an excellent addition to the ever-expanding canon of 1960s studies. Slobodian breathes life into the relationship between West German and Third World students as it existed not in the imagination, but on the ground. . . . He is able to recover Third World students, who have been written out of West German national history, and demonstrate the central role that they played in challenging the West German state.” — Zachary Scarlett, H-Diplo, H-Net Reviews

“Slobodian’s book is a welcome corrective to the traditional narratives of the West German student movement and West German history writ large, as well as a fascinating example of the importance of international events, ideologies, and texts, to national histories.” — Julia Sittmann, H-Soz-u-Kult, H-Net Reviews

“Slobodian’s original and path-breaking monograph is solidly based upon comprehensive and painstaking research in primary and secondary sources. . . . Anyone who wishes to understand 1960s student radicalism in West Germany from the inside out as well as within a worldwide historical context would be well advised to read Foreign Front.” — Bruce Garver, International Dialogue

"Slobodian’s work takes up an important desideratum of the transnational research on ‘1968.’ Through vivid examples and concise and coherent analysis, he proves the decisive role of migrants from the ‘Third World’ in the mobilization of the student movement. …Overall, Foreign Front makes clear that the development of student internationalism around West Germany’s ‘1968’ must be placed more strongly in a transnational context than it has been until now."  (translated from the German) — Dorothee Weitbrecht, H-Soz-u-Kult, H-Net Reviews

“To this body of scholarship [on the ‘Third World Politics’ of 1968 in Germany] Quinn Slobodian now adds an important contribution.” — Detlef Siegfried, American Historical Review

“This impressive and timely microhistory…is a work of signi?cant scholarship that moves a powerful and necessary discourse forward.” — Dominic Martin, Social Anthropology

“Quinn Slobodian’s Foreign Front is a welcome addition to recent research into the relationship between the 1960s West German student movement and its relationship to developing countries.” — Holger Briel, Journal of Contemporary European Studies

Foreign Front takes activists’ support for anticolonial struggles in the 'Third World' seriously and, in doing so, manages to refocus our attention on aspects of West Germany’s turbulent sixties that had been buried under subsequent interpretations. It is a beautifully written and timely addition to a thriving research field that deserves a wide readership.” — Anna von der Goltz, German Politics and Society

Foreign Front is a superb contribution to scholarship on the German sixties and highly recommended for any scholar of the global sixties or recent German history.” — Caroline Hoefferle, Journal for the Study of Radicalism

“Some of the freshest moments in Slobodian’s book point beyond the student movements themselves, highlighting the dangers of distant strife for Germany’s own civil peace...This is exemplary transnational history and essential reading for today’s graduate students.” — William Glenn Gray, Central European History

“Slobodian offers many new and interesting perspectives on the exchanges between the Third World and West Germany.” — Jacco Pekelder, German History

Foreign Front is a lucid, well-researched work that calls attention to an oft-ignored but critical component of the New Left in West Germany. In doing so, Slobodian adds an important dimension to our view of the student movement, making his book a significant contribution to our understanding of West Germany's 1968 and postwar history more generally." — Thomas W. Goldstein, International Social Science Review

"...Slobodian presents much that is new, clearly and analytically and, at times, brilliantly." (Translated from the German) — Florian Hannig, sehepunkte

“Foreign Front is a valuable contribution to existing 1960's student movement scholarship, not only in the context of West Germany, but globally, as it illuminates the importance of transnational ties, international partnerships, and collaborations.” — Romy Hübler, Hyperhizz: New Media Cultures

 "In this illuminating work, Quinn Slobodian adds dramatically to our understanding of 1960s protest movements in West Germany, while also adding an important dimension to the expanding literature on the ‘global sixties’." — James Chappel, Journal of Contemporary History

"The topic is fascinating; the core thesis is provocative; the research is stellar; and the writing is wonderful. This is a bold, exciting book that will get a lot of attention." — Jeremy Varon, author of Bringing the War Home

"This carefully researched and well written book convincingly brings the foreign students and international influence back into the story of the 1960s in Germany." — Peter C. Caldwell, author of Love, Death, and Revolution in Central Europe


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Quinn Slobodian is Assistant Professor of History at Wellesley College.

Table of Contents Back to Top
About the Series vii

Acknowledgments ix

Abbreviations xi

Introduction 1

1. Dissident Guests 17

2. Third-Worldism and Collaboration 51

3. The Rupture of Vietnam 78

4. The Missing Bodies of June 2 101

5. Corpse Polemics 135

6. The Cultural Revolution in West Germany 170

Conclusion 200

Notes 209

Works Cited 265

Index 287
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5184-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5170-2
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