Nuclear Power in Germany and Beyond

Germany’s last nuclear power plant was closed in April 2023. I used the occasion to write a book-length study of the rise and fall of nuclear power in Germany. In the Spring of 2022, he book was published by Franz Steiner Verlag (Atomare Demokratie. Eine Geschichte der Kernenergie in Deutschland [Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 2022]). This book is an outgrowth of a long-standing interest in nuclear energy that I plan to pursue in various directions in upcoming years. In addition to several gaps in the German story, there is a notable lack of comparative studies. Much of the nuclear history literature is written in the comfortable silos of national histories.

It is rewarding to study nuclear power beyond the obvious interest in energy history. The trajectory of nuclear power in Germany is closely intertwined with the transformation of West Germany’s post-war democracy, and I have written my book as a contribution to the cross-disciplinary debate over the history and current crisis of democratic decision-making. Centered on Germany but with wider ambitions, the book sketches what one might call a "post-heroic" history of democracy. Looked upon closely, democracy is really complicated and multidimensional, and it needs to succeed in more than one respect – but you would not know that from quite a few books where it is clear from page one who the good guys are.

While much of my writing on nuclear power is in German, I have three articles and one video in English:

Proxy Wars. The Deutsches Museum and the Peaceful Atom, in: Technikgeschichte 89 (2022), S. 63-86.
Fukushima and the Lessons of History. Remarks on the Past and Future of Nuclear Power, in: Jens Kersten u.a. Europe After Fukushima. German Perspectives on the Future of Nuclear Power (RCC Perspectives 1 [2012], S. 9-31).
Fukushima, Europe, and the Authoritarian Nature of Nuclear Technology, in: Environmental History Jg. 17 Nr. 2 (April 2012), S. 277-284.

For a video that challenges the mythology of the nuclear disasters in Harrisburg, Chernobyl, and Fukushima, see here.