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Publications [#356329] of James G. Chappel

Journal Articles

  1. Chappel, J, The God That Won: Eugen Kogon and the Origins of Cold War Liberalism, Journal of Contemporary History, vol. 55 no. 2 (April, 2020), pp. 339-363, SAGE Publications [doi]
    (last updated on 2023/12/09)

    Eugen Kogon (1903–87) was one of the most important German intellectuals of the late 1940s. His writings on the concentration camps and on the nature of fascism were crucial to West Germany’s fledgling transition from dictatorship to democracy. Previous scholars of Kogon have focused on his leftist Catholicism, which differentiated him from the mainstream. This article takes a different approach, asking instead how Kogon, a recovering fascist himself, came to have so much in common with his peers in West Germany and in the Cold War West. By 1948, he fluently spoke the new language of Cold War liberalism, pondering how human rights and liberal democracy could be saved from totalitarianism. He did not do so, the article argues, because he had decided to abandon his principles and embrace a militarized anti-Communist cause. Instead, he transitioned to Cold War liberalism because it provided a congenial home for a deeply Catholic thinker, committed to a carceral understanding of Europe’s fascist past and a federalist vision for its future. The analysis helps us to see how European Catholics made the Cold War their own – an important phenomenon, given that Christian Democrats held power almost everywhere on the continent that was not controlled by Communists. The analysis reveals a different portrait of Cold War liberalism than we usually see: less a smokescreen for American interests, and more a vessel for emancipatory projects and ideals that was strategically employed by diverse actors across the globe.

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