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Sounds of the Apocalypse: Preserving Cold War Memories in Ulrich Horstmann's Radio Play Die Bunkermann-Kassette

Gerrit K. Roessler

This article examines Ulrich Horstmann's science fiction radio play Die Bunkermann-Kassette (The Bunker Man Cassette, 1979), in which the author frames fears and anxieties surrounding a potential nuclear conflict during the Cold War as apocalyptic self-annihilation of the human race. Radio, especially radio drama, had a unique role in capturing the historical imaginaries and traumatic experiences surrounding this non-event. Horstmann's radio drama and the titular cassette tape become sound artifacts that speak to the technological contexts of their time, while their acoustic content carries the past sounds into the present. In the world of the play, these artifacts are presented in a museum of the future, which uses the possibilities of science fictional imagination and speculation to create prosthetic memories of the Cold War. The article suggests that these memories are cyborg memories, because the listener is a fully integrated component of radio technology that makes these memories and recollections of imagined events possible in the first place.

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Troubling Territory: West Germany in the European Airwaves

Alexander Badenoch

Until recently, broadcasting in Europe has been seen by historians and broadcasters alike as intricately related to national territory. Starting immediately after the Second World War, when West German national territory was still uncertain, this article explores how the broadcasting space of the Federal Republic (FRG) shaped and was shaped by material, institutional, and discursive developments in European broadcasting spaces from the end of World War II until the early 1960s. In particular, it examines the border regimes defined by overlapping zones of circulation via broadcasting, including radio hardware, signals and cultural products such as music. It examines these spaces in part from the view of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the federation of (then) Western public service broadcasters in Europe. By reconstructing the history of broadcasting in the Federal Republic within the frame of attempts to regulate European broadcasting spaces, it aims to show how territorial spaces were transgressed, transformed, or reinforced by the emerging global conflict.

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Unforgotten Landscapes: Radio and the Reconstruction of Germany's European Mission in the East in the 1950s

Inge Marszolek

Using the example of the audio series Unforgotten Landscapes (Unvergessene Landschaften) aired on Radio Bremen in 1955, this article addresses the important role that radio played in the complex border-negotiation processes in Germany after World War II. For many years, the agency of radio as an interlocutor and discursive tool in the process of renationalization has been more or less neglected in historical research. Indeed, visual and auditory representation of the Eastern borders was a highly contaminated field in Western Germany until the 1970s. Even today, the relations between Poland and Germany are still affected by these issues. By using the German notion of Heimat as an umbrella concept, this article shows how these radio programs tried to shift the understanding of existing territorial borders, as having resulted from World War II and the atrocities of Nazi Germany to being a part of the imaginary construction of Germany as a Kulturnation. The audio series depicted the history of theses landscapes as German since medieval times, with no human beings living there in the present, but also claiming that the voices of death still can be heard. Thus, the territories could be lost, but by anchoring these landscapes in cultural memory, they would still be part of Germanness. Moreover, the programs reinforce West Germany's European mission to connect the east with the west beyond continuities with the völkisch “blood-and-soil ideology” underlying the concept of Heimat.

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West Germany's Cold War Radio: A Crucible of the Transatlantic Century

Yuliya Komska

“Mr. Radio (der Radio) is man’s greatest achievement,” a young Bavarian

named Maxl announced in the op-ed column of Der Rundfunkhörer, a journal

of the state’s listener advocacy association, in April 1954.1 His initial

enthusiasm, the letter made obvious, fizzled out fast. Elsewhere, Mr. Radio

may well have been a paragon of mobile greatness, road-ready thanks to

cars and portable following the introduction of transistors in 1953.2 Yet, his

country’s Mr. Radio, Maxl regretfully remarked, was deeply flawed, and

this circumstance had nothing to do with the advances of this “gentleman’s”

televisual competitor, which would need as many as six more years to reach

a quarter of all households.3 Rather, a slew of intrinsic shortcomings

plagued the imaginary character’s transmission, programming, and reception

in Maxl’s family residence—the home of the West German everyman.

The purposefully naïve wording of the boy’s letter, possibly penned by the

editor and association’s president Hans Gebhard, whose own frequent contributions

were nearly identical in tenor and substance, barely veiled a long

list of tongue-in-cheek complaints. The latter showed just how vulnerable

radio, this “hegemon of domestic leisure,” was during the first full decade of

the Cold War—the seminal overture to this special issue’s chronology.4

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Moving Forward: New Perspectives on German-Polish Relations in Contemporary Europe

Friederike Eigler

Since the end of the Cold War and the reconfiguration of the map of

Europe, scholars across the disciplines have looked anew at the geopolitical

and geocultural dimensions of East Central Europe. Although geographically

at the periphery of Eastern Europe, Germany and its changing discourses

on the East have also become a subject of this reassessment in

recent years. Within this larger context, this special issue explores the

fraught history of German-Polish border regions with a special focus on

contemporary literature and film.1 The contributions examine the representation

of border regions in recent Polish and German literature (Irene

Sywenky, Claudia Winkler), filmic accounts of historical German and Polish

legacies within contemporary European contexts (Randall Halle, Meghan

O’Dea), and the role of collective memory in contemporary German-Polish

relations (Karl Cordell). Bringing together scholars of Polish and German

literature and film, as well as political science, some of the contributions

also ponder the advantages of regional and transnational approaches to

issues that used to be discussed primarily within national parameters.

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Editor's Introduction

Despite decades of official denial, modern Germany has always been a

country of immigration. From Poles migrating to the Ruhr in the late nineteenth

century, to German refugees and expellees after World War II, to

Italians and Greeks in the 1950s, to ethnic Germans from the former

Soviet Union and refugees from Bosnia in the 1990s, the country has a

long history of attracting newcomers. In fact, according to the recently

released 2011 census data, approximately 19 percent of the Federal Republic’s

population of around 80 million has a “migration background.”1 Of

course, this national average masks substantial variation at the state or city

level—places like Hamburg, Berlin and Baden-Württemberg have shares of

residents with such a background of a quarter or more, whereas the eastern

Länder have proportions under 5 percent. This sizeable population is

also very different than a generation ago—increasingly rooted and diverse:

60 percent of this group has German citizenship and about half of this subgroup

was born in Germany. Regarding countries of origin or ancestry,

17.9 percent have origins in Turkey, 13.1 percent in Poland, and about 8.7

percent in both Russia and Kazakhstan.

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(Re)Considering the Last Fifty Years of Migration and Current Immigration Policies in Germany

Asiye Kaya

The year 2011 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the bilateral recruitment

agreement that the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) signed with

the Republic of Turkey in 1961. According to official figures, the immigrant

group with roots in Turkey and its offspring make the second largest

group currently after ethnic German emigrants (resettlers) in Germany.

Understanding this migration experience and the broader issues of immigration

in Germany is the motivation behind this special issue.

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