Dr Armin Grünbacher MA, PhD

Dr Armin Grünbacher

Department of History
Associate Professor 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 Senior 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 and promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2016.


First year

  • Practicing History: The Marshall Plan

Second year

  • Optional Unit: From Division to Unification: A History of (West) Germany 1945-2000
  • Dissertation Preparation: various topics concerning Germany in the 20th Century and on military history
  • 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


  • Economics of war

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 currently supervising a PhD investigating German Trade Unions and their involvement in Jean Monnet’s Action Committee for the United States of Europe and

a PhD investigating the politics and policies of aircraft procurement of the first Wilson government in 1964-66;
I'm also co-supervisor of a PhD into the Luftwaffe pilot training, 1933-1945.

A previous co-supervision into the Verein der deutschen Eisenbahnverwaltungen 1835-1914 (association of German railway administrations) was completed successfully in early 2020 with the award of a PhD..

Find out more - our PhD History  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


Having just completed my monograph (with Bloomsbury) on German industrialists in the post war era, I now have embarked on a new project, comparing British and German reactions and attitudes towards the 1980s western trade embargo against the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc under the CoCom regime. This research will compare how businesses, their association and the national governments dealt with what some companies saw as a sever interference with, and limitation of, their business practice during the last decade of the Cold War.

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.

My source reader on West Germany during the Adenauer Era is the first English language source reader on this crucial period of German history. Almost 180 commented sources, most of them previously not available in English highlight the key political events and social and economic developments in (West) Germany from the Potsdam Conference to Chancellor Adenauer’s resignation. Topics include Allied occupation policy, the impact of the Cold War on the creation of the FRG and the myths around the ‘economic miracle as well as Adenauer’s hap-hazard dealing with the Nazi past.

My monograph on German Industrialists during the ‘economic miracle’ period is a study in mentality. It focuses on how German (heavy) industrialists perceived themselves and how they 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.

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.

I developed the History with Year Abroad programme and act as Year Abroad tutor, co-ordinating both outgoing and incoming YA students.

During the 2016-17 academic year, I was senior exams officer.


Recent publications


Grunbacher, A 2017, West German industrialists and the making of the economic miracle: a history of mentality and recovery. 1st edn, Bloomsbury Academic. <https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/west-german-industrialists-and-the-making-of-the-economic-miracle-9781472510501/>


Grunbacher, A 2013, ''Honourable Men' – West German heavy industrialists and the role of honour and honour courts in the Adenauer Era', Contemporary European History, vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 232-252. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0960777313000064

Grunbacher, A 2012, 'Cold War economics: The use of Marshall Plan Counterpart funds in Germany, 1948-1960', Central European History, vol. 45, no. 4, pp. 679-716. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0008938912000659

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Grunbacher, A 2021, Forgotten institution: the role of the OEEC in European post-World War II reconstruction and integration. in I Trauschweizer (ed.), Temple of Peace: International Cooperation and Stability since 1945. Baker Series in Peace and Conflict Studies, Ohio University Press, Athens, Ohio, pp. 50-71. <https://www.ohioswallow.com/book/Temple+of+Peace>

Grunbacher, A 2017, When the Deutsch Mark was in short supply: reconstruction finance between currency reform and "economic miracle". in M Lindemann & J Poley (eds), Money in the German-Speaking Lands. Spektrum: Publications of the German Studies Association, vol. 17, Berghahn Books, pp. 268-282. <https://www.berghahnbooks.com/title/LindemannMoney/recommend>


Grunbacher, A 2023, West German Eastern Trade, CoCom and the 1982 West Siberian Pipeline Crisis. in R Smith & E Padaliu (eds), Energy Security and Diplomacy: Transatlantic Relations and Pipeline Politics during the Cold War and Beyond. Palgrave Macmillan.

Grunbacher, A 2021, Wirtschaft im "2. Kalten Krieg". Die Bundesrepublik und das CoCom Embargo in the 1980er Jahren. in Mitteilungen der Gemeinsamen Kommission für die Erforschung der jüngeren Geschichte der deutsch-russischen Beziehungen. Mitteilungen der Gemeinsamen Kommission für die Erforschung der jüngeren Geschichte der deutsch-russischen Beziehungen, De Gruyter.

Book/Film/Article review

Grunbacher, A 2020, 'Review of Johannes Bähr and Christoph Kopper, Industrie, Politik, Gesellschaft. Der BDI und seine Vorgänger 1919 – 1990. Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag. 2019', German History, vol. 38, no. 1.

Grunbacher, A 2019, 'Review of Till Florian Tömmel. “The German Question in Jakarta. Indonesia in West German foreign policy, 1955-1965” Cold War History, vol. 19/1', H-Diplo.

Grunbacher, A 2014, 'Review of Becker-Schaum, C., Gassert, P., Klimke, M., Mausbach, W., and Zepp, M. (eds.) (2012) “Entrüstet Euch!” Nuklearkrise, NATO-Doppelbeschluss und Friedensbewegung', English Historical Review, vol. 129, pp. 779-781.

Grunbacher, A 2014, 'Review of Maulucci, T.W. (2012) Adenauer’s Foreign Office. West German Diplomacy in the Shadow of the Third Reich', German History, vol. 32, no. 1.

Grunbacher, A 2013, 'Review of Buchheim, C. and Boldorf, M. (2012) Europäische Volkswirtschaften unter deutscher Hegemonie 1938-1945', The Economic History Review, vol. 66, no. 3.

Grunbacher, A 2013, 'Review of James, H. (2012) Krupp: a history of the legendary German firm', The Economic History Review, vol. 66, no. 2.

Grunbacher, A 2013, 'Review of McClenahan, W.M. and Becker, W.H. (2011) Eisenhower and the Cold War Economy', The Economic History Review, vol. 66, no. 3.

Grunbacher, A 2012, 'Review of Epstein, C. (2012) Model Nazi: Arthur Greiser and the Occupation of Western Poland', Patterns of Prejudice, vol. 46, no. 1.

View all publications in research portal



  • Post conflict/disaster reconstruction
  • State building
  • Conflict resolution
  • Democratisation
  • Industrial and economic policy
  • Embargo Policy