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Struggles in "the Stronghold of World Imperialism"

East German ''People's Friendship'' as Nontraditional Diplomacy in the United States, 1961–1989

Jason Johnson

This article centers on the League of People’s Friendship of the German Democratic Republic. The League, composed of a main organization in East Berlin and national partner societies scattered around the globe, served as a tool of nontraditional diplomacy for East Germany’s ruling communist party across much of the Cold War. This article sketches out the activities of the League’s partner organizations in the U.S.—the first analysis to do so—arguing first that given the variety of challenges and problems the League and its partner organizations faced, the limited success of these groups in the U.S. is, in the end, rather remarkable. Second, this essay argues that these organizations offer further evidence that East Germany was not exactly a puppet state.

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“Homosexual People Do Not Stand Outside of Socialist Society”

Eingaben and the History of Homosexuality in East Germany

Jason Johnson

Abstract

This article centers on four petitions (Eingaben) presented to the East German Central Committee in the 1970s and 1980s by men attracted to other men. The East German legal apparatus required that the state address all petitions. An analysis of these Eingaben written by non-activists demonstrates a growing boldness to use the available legal structures to claim one's rights. The petitioners used the Eingaben system to assert their legitimacy as gdr citizens, forcing officials to deal with them as any other citizen. This article moreover calls for the still young field of East German homosexual history to more fully incorporate the untold number of Eingaben written by homosexuals in the former gdr. This would help to develop a more comprehensive historical narrative as such documents provide an invaluable and unique window into everyday life under socialism.