Benjamin Ziemann

Benjamin Ziemann

Benjamin Ziemann is Professor of Modern German History at the University of Sheffield. He has published widely on all aspects of German history from the 1870s to the 1980s, and on the theory of history and the historiography of social history. One focus of Ziemann’s research is the Cold War, especially anti-nuclear peace movements during the Cold War.

Jointly with Matthew Grant, he has edited Understanding the Imaginary War: Culture, Thought and Nuclear Conflict, 1945-90 (Manchester: Manchester University Press 2016). This collection of essays develops the notion of an imaginary war to understand a conflict that had imaginations of nuclear devastation as one of its main battlegrounds. The chapters chart imaginations, intellectual reflections and cultural representations of nuclear war in a comparative perspective.

The book includes survey chapters and case studies on Western Europe, the USSR, Japan and the USA. Looking at various strands of intellectual debate and at different media, from documentary film to debates among physicians, the chapters demonstrate the difficulties of making the unthinkable and unimaginable – nuclear apocalypse – imaginable.

Benjamin Ziemann is currently working on the first fully researched biography of the Protestant pastor Martin Niemöller. From 1945 to his death in 1984, Niemöller stood at the heart of public controversies in Cold War Germany, ranging from conflicts over the prospect of a reunified Germany, over the legitimacy of nuclear armaments and over the role of the Protestant faith in the context of the Cold War.


  • German anti-nuclear movements, 1945-1990

  • Protestant thinking on the Cold War

  • Martin Niemöller during the Cold War

Relevant publications