Armin Grunbacher


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

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..


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Personal profile


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.

Research interests

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.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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