The National People's Army as an Object of (Non) Remembrance: The Place of East Germany's Military Heritage in Unified Germany

in German Politics and Society

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.

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