On 3 October 1990, the National People's Army (NVA) of the German Democratic Republic, in which about 2.5 million East German citizens served their country, was dissolved. Its personnel either was removed from military service, placed into early retirement, or integrated into the Bundeswehr after a two-year selection and examination process. Since then, the NVA has turned into an object of history with no immediate significance for contemporary German society—despite efforts of former NVA officers to change the official interpretation of 1989-1990. This article examines the processes of remembering and forgetting with regard to East Germany's military heritage since 1990, contrasting the Bundeswehr's politics of memory and “army of unity” ethos not only with the former NVA soldiers' vision of the past, but also with the East German population's general attitude towards their former armed forces.
A. James McAdams
The author ponders over the identity of the last self-identifying East German and wonders what he or she will say before leaving memories of the region behind. He distinguishes among three possible candidates for this honor: the ordinary citizen with little aspiration to political or social notoriety; the enthusiast with an interest in perpetuating the old regime's values; and the dissident activist dedicated to transforming that order. After identifying the likely last East German, the author speculates about the message our protagonist will have to share with the leaders of unified Germany. Finally, he provides reasons for why the Federal Republic can benefit from this advice.
Leander Haußmann (Sonnenallee), a theater and film director with East German roots, contributed the documentary Die Durchmacher to the television series Denk ich an Deutschland. In his documentary, Haußmann interviews some of his old friends who in the late 1970s formed a group in East Berlin and presents their stories about the time. This paper explores the image of the German Democratic Republic that is created by the memories of the participants and their presentation through Haußmann. An important element of the memories is the perspective from which they come: out of a subculture that tried to escape East German reality with only limited success. This article also examines how the ambiguity and unreliability of memories are presented in the film. The documentary is put into the context of a debate on the concept of "Ostalgia" (Ostalgie), arguing that this can still be a productive means to communicate East German experiences without idealizing them.
The article argues that the films Das kalte Herz (The Cold Heart, 1950) and Der Teufel von Mühlenberg (The Devil of Mill Mountain, 1955) functioned in two ways-as fairy tales and also as new Heimat or “homeland“ tale. Besides Wolfgang Staudte's The Story of Little Mook, these two films were the only two live action fairy tale films that appeared before East Germany's DEFA made its first Grimm feature adaptation in 1956, The Brave Little Tailor. Yet, unlike the Grimm-based films that take place in a generic “forest,“ these first two films take place explicitly in the Black Forest and the Harz Mountains, two locations synonymous with the beauty and timeless nature of past notions of German Heimat. The two films also engaged with the growing monetary and symbolic success of the West's postwar Heimatfilme or homeland films. The article focuses on how The Cold Heart and Mill Mountain contributed to the rearticulation of the emerging Heimat discourse in the early German Democratic Republic, with a particular focus on gender.
Who Were These Men and Why Did They Not Crush Mass Protest in 1989?
Uwe Krähnke, Anja Zschirpe, Philipp Reimann, and Scott Stock Gissendanner
The Ministry for State Security (Stasi), founded in 1950, was a central pillar of the German Democratic Republic’s ( gdr ) authoritarian system. 1 Its duties extended well beyond national intelligence and counterintelligence. It collected and
East German Tamizdat LPs
questions raised by recent scholarship on samizdat and tamizdat, the present article looks at five long-playing records ( lp s) recorded in the German Democratic Republic ( gdr ) that were released unofficially in the Federal Republic of Germany ( frg
Hilary Collier Sy-Quia
Elke P. Frederiksen and Martha Kaarsberg Wallach eds., Facing Fascism and Confronting the Past. German Women Writers from Weimar to the Present (Albany, 2000)
Lorna Martens, The Promised Land? Feminist Writing in the German Democratic Republic (Albany, 2001)
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
Felix Philipp Lutz
German political culture has been undergoing gradual but significant changes since unification. Military engagements in combat missions, the introduction of a professional army, and a remarkable loss of recent historical knowledge mostly within the younger generations are hallmarks of the new millennium. Extensive education about the Holocaust is still prevalent and there is a strong continuity of attitudes and orientations toward the Nazi era and the Holocaust reaching back to the 1980s. Nevertheless, a lack of knowledge about history-not only the World War II period, but also about East and West Germany-in the age group of people under thirty is staggering. The fading away of the generation of victims who are the last ones to tell the story of persecution during the Holocaust and a parallel rise of new actors and technologies, present challenges to the educational system and the current political culture of Germany.
This essay explores the history of young historians clubs in East Germany as they pursued antifascist projects from the early 1950s through the final years of communist rule. Using antifascism as an analytical tool, the author investigates students who not only accepted socialist values and prescribed historical interpretations in total or in part, but advanced them in their own right during their leisure time. Voluntary young historians clubs provided a previously unexplored window into the prevalence and relative depth of youth interest in the regime's favored heroes-communist resistance fighters. Youth interest in this theme dispels the pervading theory in some contemporary political circles that young people overwhelming rejected state-supported antifascism. The primary source base for this essay includes individual club reports, regional statistics, conference documents, and oral history interviews.