Eastern German News

Newsletter of the Eastern German Studies Group
#20 (October 1996)

One-line version of the October 1996 EGSG Newsletter

The print version of this newsletter was published in October 1996.

Table of Contents:


Membership Survey: Preliminary Results

In our last newsletter we enclosed a survey to explore our membership's desires and aspirations for the future of the EGSG. So far, 24 of our approximately 100 members have returned their surveys to Laurence McFalls at Universite de Montreal. This response rate is not overwhelming, but we can probably assume that those who did send in their completed questionnaire are representative of the most active part of the EGSG.

Some of the questions in the survey sought to find out more about the members themselves while others asked about your preferences for future activities. Still others asked about favorite books, unique experiences in eastern Germany, and research tips. If you submitted some of the latter, you can expect to be contacted soon to elaborate on these for future newsletters. In the current newsletter, we report on the
quantifiable findings of the survey.

The question on members' favorite books on the GDR elicited a wide range of responses, which we shall draw up as a members' bibliography. Only two books were mentioned twice: Meuschel's Legitimität und Parteiherrschaft and Mitte and Wolle's Untergang auf Raten. Among periodicals that members read, the most frequently cited were (in order): Deutschland Archiv, German Politics, German Politics and Society, and German Studies Review.

The questionnaire also asked members to evaluate nine potential activities that the EGSG could organize in the future. For each proposed activity, members were asked if they considered it: 1) not really necessary; 2) potentially interesting; 3) so worthwhile that they would participate in it; or 4) so essential that they would help organize the activity. Since the survey was not anonymous, members who checked 4) for one or more activities can expect to be contacted so that they can help organize.

The first proposed activity was the creation of a scholarship or prize committee to recognize and encourage outstanding research on Eastern Germany. 4 members considered the activity unnnecessary, 9 thought it potentially interesting, 9 would participate in such a committee, but no one volunteered to organize it. Perhaps this is an idea whose time has not yet come...

Interest in a membership directory was somewhat higher: 8 thought it a good idea, fifteen would participate, and one person said he would organize it. You'll hear more about this!

A more active electronic bulletin board also elicited greater interest: only one thought it unnecessary, 9 thought it a good idea, and 14 said they would participate. No one volunteered to organize it, but our web-site is already there. Therefore those 14 potential participants should get on line!

The idea of expanding the newsletter, however, did not meet with overwhelming enthusiasm: 4 thought its expansion unnecessary, 8 liked the idea but weren't ready to commit participation, 9 would participate, and one would help organize a longer newsletter including book reviews. The latter ten people know who you are, so don't hesitate to send in contributions to our editor Randy Bytwerk!

Several members had toyed around with the idea of starting some sort of Eastern German Studies journal. In the questionnaire we asked about interest in creating an electronic journal or a more traditional hard-copy journal. Neither idea received strong support. 17 members thought the idea of an electronic journal was interesting, but only 2 said they would particpate, and 4 considered such an innovation unnecessary. Although 4 people said they would help out creating a traditional hard-copy journal, only 5 others said they would participate, whereas 9 found the activity unnecessary in light of the proliferation of journals these days.

We also asked about interest in an annual conference or a biennial conference to supplant our current triennial scheduling of our scholarly conference. The idea of holding our conference every two years was about twice as popular as that of making our conference annual. Unfortunately we neglected to ask whether people prefered the triennial rhythm. If members out there have a strong preference for meeting more often, please don't hesitate to email Laurence McFalls In the meantime, we'd like to remind members of the annual eastern German studies conference at Conway, New Hampshire, every June. Look for the call for papers for the 1997 New Hampshire Symposium in this newsletter. Several EGSG members were present this year, and all found the conference to be of excellent quality and a good occasion to meet scholars from both sides of the Atlantic (and even from Australia!). In addition, several members expressed an interest in organizing and/or participating in EGSG-sponsored panels at other annual conferences. In fact, EGSG has the right to hold a panel at AAASS; members interested in putting together a 1997 panel for AAASS should contact Laurence McFalls sooner rather than later.

Finally, the questionnaire asked members about their interest in a "clearing-house" service to help scholars from Eastern Germany and North America to identify one another for research collaboration, housing swaps, and the like. This idea met with reserve: one member found it unnecessary, 13 thought it interesting but not more, and 9 were willing to participate while no one volunteered to organize it, alas.

We'll report further on the survey results in the next newsletter. In the meantime, please send yours in if you have not done so already, and please don't hesitate to contact Laurence McFalls or any other board member if you have any reactions to the results or any further suggestions.

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Conference Announcements and Reports

1997 Conway Conference Call for Papers

The 23rd New Hampshire Conference was available.

Kulturgeschichte "light" II Conference in Leipzig

A second conference on the theme Kulturgeschichte "light" will be held in Leipzig from 8-9 November 1996. Themes include:

For further information, contact:

Dr. Cordula Günter
Universität Leipzig
Postfach 0016
Augustusplatz 9-11
04019 Leipzig

41. Deutscher Historikertag Papers on the GDR

The conference will take place from 17-20 September 1996 in Munich. There is a list of only those papers relevant to the GDR, as well as the full conference program.

1996 AAAS Meeting Papers on the GDR

The following papers are listed in the preliminary program of the 1996 AAASS meetings, scheduled for Boston 14-17 November:

Several other EGSG members will be on the program as chairs and discussants.

42. International Short Film Festival

The conference, held in Oberhausen from 24-29 April 1996, gave considerable attention to showing GDR films. The conference program includes a 43-page section titled "DEFA-Dokumentarfilme, with accompanying essays and details on over 40 DEFA documentaries. One section deals with Stasi training films. Another section of the conference was considered newsreels in both the GDR and the BRD. For details, see the conference program.

22nd Conway Conference Report

The 22nd New Hampsire Symposium program is available. I did a hasty html translation--there are probably typoes. The symposium drew a record attendance this year. It is unclear at the moment whether selected papers from the conference will be published, as has been the practice in the past, or if they will be posted on the Web. The theme for next next is not yet firm, but details will be posted here as soon as they are available.

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Miscellaneous News

EGSG Housing Register Update: Berlin

W. Karin Hall: A Berlin friend of Karin's provides the following information on Mietwohzentralen in Berlin: "I don't have any experience with particular places, but people should expect to pay NO MORE than DM 600 a month. They will have to pay a fee to the agent, based on the monthly rent (ABSOLUTE max: 2 month's rent without Nebenkosten, but should be much less for a month or two!)."

Emily Kragness suggests a good source of housing leads is the Zweite Hand newspaper, which appears every Tuesday. She says she was able to find nice room with all the conveniences for DM 400 a month. There are numerous offerings in the DM 300-750 range.

This is a supplement to the full EGSG list of housing in Eastern Germany.

Housing in Washington

Ellen Anderson, a member of the EGSG executive committee, says she has plenty of room in her apartment, and that those needing a place to sleep while in Washington for research purposes should contact her.

News from the DEFA Film Library Project at UMass Amherst

In May, Barton Byg, director of the DEFA Film Library Project will meet with representatives of Progress Film-Verleih GmbH and those planning the formation of a DEFA-Stiftung with the purpose of formalizing the future cooperation among those three organizations. Progress is expected to be privatized in mid-1996 (very late in the Treuhand process), and in its new form is expected to manage the rights to DEFA films, which will supposedly reside with the DEFA-Stiftung.

By invitation of the Filmmuseum Potsdam, Barton Byg spoke at the Symposium to be held in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary of the founding of DEFA in Potsdam on 16 May 1996. On the 17th, the actual anniversary, a gala celebration for former associates of DEFA was held in the studios where work began in 1946, in Alt-Nowawes.

Jennifer Good, curatorial assistant of the DEFA Film Library, spoke on "Frauenbilder im ostdeutschen Film" at a workshop at the Friedrich Schiller Universität Jena on 11 May. The workshop, co-sponsored by the Humboldt Stiftung, had the title, "Aussenperspektiven: German Studies versus Germanistik in der theoretischen Diskussion."

On 28 - 31 March, The Centre for East German Studies at the University of Reading, UK, sponsored the first conference devoted entirely to DEFA. The conference showed evidence of a broad spectrum of interest in DEFA from a variety of perspectives. Participants came from the UK, the US, Ireland and Germany, and the Centre plans to publish the proceedings. At the conference, Barton Byg presented a paper on "DEFA and the Traditions of European Cinema."

The DEFA Film Library was visited in the past year by two Ph.D. candidates working on GDR cinema, Katelyn McKenna (Ohio University) and Caroline Elias (Sorbonne). Other visiting scholars are always welcome.

This summer, the Library moved into its own office facility in Herter Hall at the University. The donation of a used 35mm editing table is being sought from professionals in the film industry, who are increasingly turning to digital editing. Donations of films and documents related to DEFA are of course always encouraged.

To be added to the mailing list, please contact:

Barton Byg, Director or Jennifer Good, Curatorial Assistant
DEFA Film Library Project
German Studies, Herter Hall
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Amherst MA 01003

SAPMO Bibliotheksbriefe

The library at the Stiftung Archiv der Pareien und Massenorganisationen der DDR publishes a monthly list of holdings on particular topics. The latest issues are:

Video on "East German Women in a Changed World"

Simone Shoemaker has completed a 53-minute video titled My Second Life: East German Women in a Changed World. The format is VHS, and it is in English, with subtitled German interviews. She says:

My Second Life offers its audience a deeper insight into the very complex process of German reunification by letting East German women speak for themselves. As 16 women of all ages share their stories, the viewer will get a better understanding of life under the socialist system, as well as quite how tremendous an impact the reunification has had on people's lives.

Copies of My Second Life are available for $59 each. This price is for schools and libraries and includes public performance rights. Contact me at simone@cts.com regarding price for individuals (home use only). Include $4. for shipping and handling. FREE shipping on all pre-paid orders received by May 15, 1996. A full transcript of the program (including all German interviews) is available for an additional $5. There is a 20 % on orders received by May 10, 1996 ($47).

Please mail orders to:

Bronco Video
P.O.Box 343
San Marcos, CA 92079-0343

We also accept orders via e-mail at simone@cts.com. Please include purchase order number, if applicable.

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New Reading

Recent Publications

Oliver Lu announces his translation of Gustav Just'sWitness in His Own Cause. Just was the editor-in-chief of Sonntag during interesting times. The story recounts his political persecution and conviction during the 1950s, in connection with better-known figures such as Wolfgang Harich and Walter Janka. The book is published by the University Press of America. The retail price is $39.95. He'll mail copies to those interested for that price.

The East German Studies program at the University of Reading (England) has put together a volume of essays on East German Cinema (DEFA: East German Cinema 1946-1992, Berghahn Books, to appear in 1997), growing out of their March 1996 conference.

The Winter 1995 issue of German Politics and Society includes the following essays:

Roesler, Jörg, Wirtschaftliche Transformationsprozesse in der Ex-DDR und ihren östlichen Nachbarländern im Vergleich. Pankower Vorträge (Heft 3), 1995.

Special Issue of German Life and Letters

Volume XLIX, no. 2 (1996) of German Life and Letters is a special German-Jewish Issue containing fifteen articles on various aspects of German-Jewish writing from the Enlightenment to the present day. Among the English and German contributions are articles on the following topics:

For more information or to request a free sample copy, contact: E. Barham, ßBlackwell Publishers, 108 Cowley Road, Oxford, OX4. IJF, UK. Tel: +44 (0)1865 791100, Fax: +44 (0)1865 791347, E-mail: ebarham@blackwellpublishers. co.uk or visit our web site.

Recent Theses and Dissertations

None yet.

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Requests and Queries

Query on GDR/Hungarian Relations: Christian Ostermann is looking for information or citations regarding East German perceptions of/policy towards the Hungarian Crisis in 1956,

Query on DEFA
: Dagmar Schittly is working on a dissertation on the influence of the SED on DEFA in the former GDR. She's interested in contacting others working on GDR film.

Query on GDR Property: Ary Frenkiel writes: "My field of interest is the restitution of
properties seized either by the Nazis in 1933-1945 or by the communists in the 60's until the fall of
the wall. I am anxious to find out if there are lawyers specializing in this field or whether your members know of any legal/scholarly publication dealing with this topic.

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EGSG Officers for 1995-98


Laurence McFalls
Department de science politique
Université de Montreal
C.P. 6128
succursale Centre-ville
Montréal, Québec H3C 3J7

Email: mcfallsl@ere.umontreal.ca


Henry Krisch
Dept. of Political Science
University of Connecticut
341 Mansfield Road
Storrs, CT 06269-102

Phone: (860) 486-5334
Fax: (860) 486-3347
Email: henryk@uconnvm.uconn.edu


Scott Gissendanner
Department of Political Science
University of Georgia
104 Baldwin Hall
Athens, Georgia 30602

Email: sgissendan@uga.cc.uga.edu


Randall Bytwerk
CAS Department
Calvin College
3201 Burton SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Phone: (616) 957-6286
Fax: (616) 957-6601

Members- at-Large:

Joyce Marie Mushaben
3652 Pine Creek
Williamsburg, OH 45176

Christian F. Ostermann
The National Security Archive
701 Gelman Library
2130 H St., NW
Washington, D.C. 20037

Tel: (202 )994 7076
Fax: (202 )994 7005
Email: chrisost@gwis2.circ.gwu.edu

Ellen Anderson
Center for German and European Studies
School of Foreign Service
Georgetown University
Washington, DC 20057

Tel. 202-687-8073
Fax 202-687-8359
Email: 75103.371@compuserve.com

On-line version of the October 1996 EGSG Newsletter
Last updated 29 October 1996
Web Page by Randall Bytwerk
Calvin College
URL: <http://www.calvin.edu/cas/egsg/latest.htm>