Dr Armin Grünbacher MA, PhD

Dr Armin Grünbacher

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

(as co-supervisor) research into the Verein der deutschen Eisenbahnverwaltungen 1835-1914 (association of German railway administrations).

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.




"This is a deeply researched study that skillfully combines economic, social, and political history. By revealing how business leaders after Nazism cast themselves as a new elite - one that embodied honor, loyalty, and the entrepreneurial spirit - Grünbacher offers a useful synthesis of current research trends, as well as an original focus on the mentalities of those who took credit for West Germany's "economic miracle." –  Jonathan Wiesen, Professor of History, Southern Illinois, USA'

"Who was responsible for the West German 'Economic Miracle' after the Second World War? German managers and industrialists at the time have take credit, and many scholars have agreed. But, as Armin Grünbacher demonstrates in this impressively researched book, their role in the 'Economic Miracle' was more complex, involving a mixture of opportunism; adaption to new realities in the international political economy; and stubborn resistance to them by adhering to long established traditions, practices and mentalities." –  Ray Stokes, Chair of Business History, University of Glasgow, UK

  • 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 für Wiederaufbau1948-1961, 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

  • ‘Economic Cold War: An Anglo-German Comparison of the CoCom Embargos against the Eastern Block 1948-54 and in the 1980s’ at theAssociation of Business Historians 23rd Annual Conference at Exeter Business School, July 2015
  • ‘Deutsche Konservative, Indien und die Hallstein Doktrin. Ein Dokument aus dem Kanzleramt’ at the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft Konferenz ’Das Moderne Indien in deutschen Archiven’, Berlin 30-31 Januar 2015 
  • ‘Renewal - Challenge - Continuity. The role of the Chambers of Industry and Commerce (IHK) in the immediate post-war years in Germany as defender of entrepreneurial independence and mentality’, at the      Association of Business Historians 22nd Annual Conference at Newcastle University Business School, 27-28 June 2014.
  • ‘Fostering social mobility and modernisation or supporting the restoration? The Bad Harzburger Akademie für Führungskräfte der Wirtschaft in the 1950s and 60s’ at the Association of Business Historians 21st Annual Conference at The University of Central Lancashire at Preston, 28-29 June 2013       
  • ‘The Baden-Badener Unternehmergespräche 1954-64’ at the Business History Group, London School of Economics and Political Science, 5 March 2012
  • ‘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.

View all publications in research portal



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