Dr Armin Grünbacher MA, PhD

Department of History
Lecturer in Modern History

Contact details

Arts Building
The University of Birmingham
Birmingham B15 2TT
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

My main interest lies in post war Germany, the political, social and economic reconstruction of the country (including Allied occupation policy) against the backdrop of the Cold War.


  • MA History & Philosophy, Universität Tübingen
  • PhD in Modern History, University of Birmingham


Dr Armin Grünbacher is lecturer in Modern History at the University of Birmingham. After gaining his Abitur (A-levels) at Night School Armin Grünbacher studied four semester Economics and Management Studies before doing a Joint MA in History and Philosophy at Tübingen University. He came to Birmingham in 1995 to study for a PhD in History which he received in 1999. After teaching appointments at Keele University and The University of Leicester he was appointed, in 2000, the first ‘Chinn Fellow’ in the Department of Modern History. In 2001 he joined the BP History Project, carrying out research for the last volume of the official BP company history while still working as a Teaching Fellow in the Department. In 2004 he was appointed Lecturer in Modern History.


First year

  • Practicing History: After Hitler: The early years of West Germany 1945-55

Second year

  • Optional Unit: ‘Hitler’s Social Revolution?’ German Society 1933-45
  • Dissertation Preparation: various topics concerning Germany in the 20th Century and on military history
  • A History of Modern Britain 1870-1990 (For ERASMUS and International Students)
  • Critical Analysis: Germany, Europe and the Marshall Plan
  • Group Research: The American Occupation of Germany, 1945-1949

Third year

  • Dissertation Supervision: various 20th Century topics including Military History
  • Special Subject: After Hitler: Politics and Society in the Adenauer Era
  • Optional Unit: From Division to Unification: A History of (West) Germany 1945-2000

Postgraduate supervision

I am happy to discuss supervision of postgraduate research in the areas of German post-war social, economic and political history. Possible topics in this wide field can include Allied occupation policy; attitudes and politics of German social networks or interest groups (such as industrialists or refugees); or topics investigating economic and business matters.


I am now working on German industrialists in the post war era. This research will focus on, and establish how, German (heavy) industrialists acted as a group towards political and economic challenges; how much (or how little?) they could influence political decisions, either as individuals or through their associations; and how they recruited and trained their top managers. An article on the last topic (‘The Americanisation that never was? – German top management training and the Baden-Badener Unternehmergespräche in the 1950s’) will be shortly published with Business History.

Past research

My doctoral thesis was on German reconstruction and the impact of the Cold War, focusing on the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau, a government controlled bank which handled most of Germany’s Marshall Plan counterpart funds and which became eventually the country’s development aid bank. A book based on the thesis has been published by Ashgate Publishers in 2004.

Based on my research as part of the BP History Team I have published an article on the British petrochemical industry during the crisis of the early 1980s.

Other activities

Member of the University Misconduct Committee

I have initiated the acquisition of the complete OMGUS Files (Office of the US Military Government in Germany, 1944-49) for the University Library and Special Collection, the first part of which should become available for research by the end of 2011.



  • The Making of German Democracy. West Germany during the Adenauer Era, 1945-1965, Manchester University Press 2010 (Documents on Modern History series).
  • Reconstruction and Cold War in Germany The Kreditanstalt fürWiederaufbau1948-1961, Ashgate Publishers 2004.


‘… this is an important contribution to the literature of the post-war German economy …’ Robin Pearson in Business History, vol. 48 (1)
An ‘…inspiring study …’ A. Nützenadel in Journal of Contemporary History vol. 42 (2)

Articles in journals

  • ‘Cold War Economics: The Use of Marshall Plan Counterpart Funds in Germany, 1948-1960’, in: Central European History, vol. 45 no. 4 (Dec 2012).
  • ‘The Americanisation that never was?: The first decade of the Baden-Badener Unternehmergespräche, 1954-64 and top management training in 1950s Germany’, in: Business History vol. 54 no. 2 (April 2012) 
  • ‘The Unremembered Blunder – Konrad Adenauer’s Foundation for Refugees and Expellees’, in: German Politics, vol. 13 no 3 (September 2004).
  • ‘The European Chemical Industry and the Crisis of 1979-83’, in: Journal for Industrial History (November 2003). 
  • ‘Sustaining the "Island" - Western Aid for 1950s (West) Berlin’, in: Cold War History, vol. 3 no 3, (May 2003).
  • ‘Profits And Cold War: Politically Motivated Export Finance in West Germany During the 1950s: Two Case Studies’, in: German Politics, vol. 10 no 3 (December 2001).
  • ‘The Early Years of a German Institution: The Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau in the 1950s’, in: Business History, vol. 43, no 4 (October 2001).

Papers and conferences

  • ‘Reconstruction and Cold War Economics After the Marshall Plan: Germany’s Use of Marshall Plan Counterpart Funds in the Adenauer Era’, delivered at the German Studies Association 34 Annual Conference, October 2010 at Oakland Cal.
  • ‘Profits, Politics, Paternalism, Patriotism: The Mentality of German Heavy Industry During WW I’, delivered at the Centre for First World War Studies at the University of Birmingham, October 2007.
  • ‘The Miracle Makers. German Industrialists in 1950s Politics and Society’ presented to the Association of Business Historians Annual Conference, June 2004 at Nottingham.
  • ‘The Guided Miracle: Government and “Public” Banking in 1950s West Germany paper given to the Association of Business Historians Annual Conference, May 2003 at Cambridge.
  • ‘American Foreign Aid and Fighting the Cold War in Germany’, delivered at the Conference “Containing Cultures – The USA in the 1950s”, at the University of Birmingham, November 1997.
  • ‘From Aid to Development Finance - The German Example of Marshall Fund Use’, paper given at the Conference “The Marshall Plan and its Consequences – A 50th Anniversary Conference”, at The University of Leeds, May 1997.