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The Costs of German Division

A Research Report

Werner Pfennig, Vu Tien Dung and Alexander Pfennig

Germany, no more transit fees were paid to the still-existing German Democratic Republic ( gdr ), which meant savings of up to dm 915 million. The division of Germany lasted for 40 years and was not free of charge. So far, these expenses have not been

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Christopher Kopper

A new historiographic trend in Germany has emerged. Since 2009, scholarly publications in the formerly little-researched subfield of tourism history have proliferated on the German book market. This remarkable surge might not be surprising except for one fact: most of these publications cover the history of tourism in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), a communist state that dissolved in 1990, leaving few remnants in the unified Germany of today.

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Eric Brothers

The rise of neo-Nazism in the capital of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) was not inspired by a desire to recreate Hitler's Reich, but by youthful rebellion against the political and social culture of the GDR's Communist regime. This is detailed in Fuehrer-Ex: Memoirs of a Former Neo-Naxi by Ingo Hasselbach with Tom Reiss (Random House, New York, 1996). This movement, however, eventually worked towards returning Germany to its former 'glory' under the Third Reich under the guidance of 'professional' Nazis.

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Deutschland einig Vaterland?

East-West Cleavages in Germany Thirty Years After Reunification

Christian Schweiger

Thirty years on from the peaceful revolution in the former communist German Democratic Republic (GDR) Germany remains profoundly divided between the perspectives of Germans living in the eastern and the western parts of the country, which is becoming ever more obvious by the polarization of domestic politics. Hence, Germany today resembles a nation which is formally unified but deeply divided internally in cultural and political terms. This article examines the background to the growing cleavages between eastern and western regions, which have their roots in the mistakes that were made as part of the management of the domestic aspects of German reunification. From a historic-institutionalist perspective the merger of the pathways of the two German states has not taken place. Instead, unified Germany is characterized by the dominance of the institutional pathway of the former West German Federal Republic, which has substantially contributed to the self-perception of East Germans as dislocated, second-class citizens.

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Protest Voting in Eastern Germany

Continuity and Change Across Three Decades

David F. Patton

In 1989-1990, peaceful protests shook the German Democratic Republic (GDR), ushered in unification, and provided a powerful narrative of people power that would shape protest movements for decades to come. This article surveys eastern German protest across three decades, exploring the interplay of protest voting, demonstrations, and protest parties since the Wende. It finds that protest voting in the east has had a significant political impact, benefiting and shaping parties on both the left and the right of the party spectrum. To understand this potential, it examines how economic and political factors, although changing, have continued to provide favorable conditions for political protest in the east. At particular junctures, waves of protest occurred in each of the three decades after unification, shaping the party landscape in Germany.

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Daniel Hough

In the years since unification, Germany’s political parties have faced

a number of formidable challenges. They range from incorporating

the citizens of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) into the Federal

Republic’s political processes, reassessing Germany’s role in the

wider world, overcoming gridlock on many pressing policy questions

at home (perhaps best understood as the overcoming of the Reformstau),

to finding a way out of Germany’s much maligned economic

malaise.1 Such challenges have had a not inconsiderable effect on the

German party system, the end product of which has been that this

system, once a bastion of cast-iron stability, has become characterized

by diversity and genuine electoral competition in a way that it has

not been since the late 1950s. Therefore, the electoral position of the

much-vaunted Volksparteien, if perhaps not their control of the political

process, has slipped considerably.

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Johanna Granville

According to German historian Hermann Weber, 25 percent of all

published studies on the German Democratic Republic (GDR) have

focused on the early years of the regime of the Socialist Unity Party

(SED), 20 percent on the 1980s and collapse of the dictatorship, and

only 3 percent on the years in between.1 While the GDR itself may

not have become a mere footnote in history as novelist Stefan Heym

predicted, studies of East German history in the 1950s—before the

construction of the Berlin Wall, when the regime of Walter Ulbricht

was most vulnerable—are exceedingly rare.2 Archive-based studies of

Ulbricht’s response to the Hungarian revolution of 1956 are rarer

still.3 A recently edited volume of essays published in Germany

about responses to the Hungarian revolution, for example, included

the reactions of nearly every East European country, except those of

the GDR.

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Roger F. Cook

In the now almost fifteen years since the rush to German unity, East Germany's remembering of its lost cultural objects and social practices has already established a rich history of its own. The first product to become a prominent symbol of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) was the Trabant (Trabi). An unattractive, inefficient, obnoxiously loud car manufactured in the GDR, it went overnight from being an object for which many East Germans waited expectantly for several years to be able to purchase to an antiquated, undesired relic. The brunt of some of the first Ossie jokes, it also quickly became a symbol for East German resistance to an arrogant West German dismissal of all that was the GDR.

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What Stories Are Being Told?

Two Case Studies of (Grand) Narratives from and of the German Democratic Republic in Current Oberstufe Textbooks

Elizabeth Priester Steding

Much like history textbooks, literature textbooks produce a grand narrative, telling a nation's story via its literature. This article examines the presentation of literature of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in upper level secondary school (Oberstufe) textbooks published in Germany in 2009 and 2010. Twenty years after German unification, literature textbooks are largely divided into two groups in accordance with their handling of literature from the failed socialist state: some focus on ideological criticism of the GDR, and some choose to avoid politics as much as possible. Both options result in a simplistic, even reductionist (grand) narrative of GDR literature. Case studies on Christa Wolf and Günter Grass reveal a consistent, positive portrayal of West German literature and a polarized representation of GDR literature.

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Edward Larkey

Culture in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) is often characterized as isolated from that of the West, with artists locked behind the Iron Curtain, having no opportunities to interact directly with global trends. While this may be true to a great extent for the general population, we should not close our eyes to the actual cross-border movements of artists and art forms that did take place in that regime. Many producers of artistic texts interacted with the West—not just well-known writers and theater directors like Christa Wolf or Bruno Besson, but also rock bands. Indeed, a few privileged GDR bands, belonging to the group of Reisekader (travel functionaries) were granted permission to travel to the West. An analysis of their interactions with their domestic audiences and with audiences in the West gives a more nuanced view regarding the nature of cultural globalization that continues into the 21st century, and provides insights into the role of cultural industries in cultural and political change today. The story of these bands contributes to our knowledge on how GDR authorities were unable to perceive and manage cultural creativity in an era of networked, flexible, and relatively autonomous creators.