Eastern German News
Newsletter of the Eastern German Studies Group
#21 (April 1997)
This is close to, but not identical with, the printed version of the newsletter, which was mailed in mid-April 1997.
We're happy to post either lists of your publications or useful bibliographies
on the EGSG web site. Email the editor
any useful information as well that would be of interest to EGSG members.
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The University of Massachusetts will hold the first North American conference on GDR film titled "The Cenema of the German Democratic Republic: The View from North America." The dates: 2-5 October 1997. For additional informatin, contact:
Barton Byg, Director
or Jennifer Good, Assistant Curator
DEFA Film Library
Dept. of Germanic Languages and Literatures
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Herter Hall, Box 33925
Amherst, MA 01003-3925
The Centre for East German Studies in co-operation with the Gesamteuropäisches Studienwerk Vlotho is organising a conference on 'Sprache und Sprachlosigkeit in der DDR' to be held at Vlotho 9-12 July 1997
We would welcome offers of papers under this theme and particularly in either of the following areas:
It is anticipated that participants will be mainly from Britain, but German scholars and writers will also be invited. Papers (maximum 40 minutes) will be given in German.
Please send offers of papers, with proposed titles, by 17 January 1997 and outline summaries (maximum 400 words) by 28 February 1997 to:
The cost of accommodation (full board and lodging) in Vlotho is expected be approximately DM 180 (as last year) for the four days (Wednesday-Sunday).
The Centre for East German Studies at the University of Reading, England, in conjunction with the Institute for German Studies at the University of Birmingham, is holding the following conference: The PDS in Germany. Modern Post-Communism or Nostalgic Populism? It will be held at The University of Reading, England on 12/13 September 1997.
Speakers to include: Oskar Niedermayer (FU, Berlin), Patrick Moreau (Munich), Henry Krisch (University of Connecticut), representatives from the PDS, SPD and B90/Greens
The conference will concentrate on the development of the PDS from 1989/90 to the present day, and include consideration of its electoral position, of its links with other post-communist parties in western and eastern Europe, of its membership and voters, of ideological positions within the PDS, and of its relationship to the Grundgesetz. Particular emphasis will be given to its relationship with other parties in the run-up to the 1998 elections.
Further details from:
The 23rd New Hampshire Conference call for papers is available. The dates are 20-27 June 1997.
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David Crawford reports that he Berlin-Brandenburg Bildungwerk EV (BBB) has announced that it has acquired the former GDR Central Press Archives which were once kept and maintained in the offices of the Neues Deutschland newspaper. Back in the days of Erich, 30 full-time staff provided access for a restricted user group to 21,000 loose-leaf notebooks filled with newspaper clippings dating from 1945 to 1992. The archive contains clippings from every newspaper and magazine in the GDR and to a lesser extent from the entire German-language community.
The archive material is sorted by topic alphabetically. The topics include all the countries of the world and international topics such as NATO or the Olympics. The primary area of emphasis, of course, is the former GDR. The card catalogue, used in the past, is only of limited value, and a team of 15 ABM (subsidised by the Employment Office) workers are currently trying to create a new one.
The BBB has applied for 25 staff positions (ABM) in 1997, but has yet to receive an answer. Nobody at BBB believes they will all be approved. The hope is that the staff strength will at least remain at the 1996 level. Some of BBB's best people are working on a voluntary basis. One hundred fifty people turned out on 23 December 1995 to help rescue the documents from an old barracks building in Luckau, where the papers had been dumped after the ND moved out of its Mehringstrasse office in 1992. Indeed some observant neighbour in Luckau called the police when they saw a chain of people moving the files via a ladder out a window and on to a truck. The papers were taken to a former tire factory in Fuerstenwalde (Oder-Spree) where the initial sorting began in early 1996.
The BBB dreams about creating a modern archive with all the documents scanned and available via CD-ROM or the Internet. For the moment, they are trying to get funding for a number of projects which would benefit a group of secondary goals. These could be based on making information accessible for specific topics or for providing a better catalogue, database or other technical systems. There is a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done. For the moment, the BBB warns that expectations should not exceed their present capabilities.
One of the limitations of the archive is that the subject areas are those important to journalists and other users at the time that the archive was created. There is lots of material about the "Berlin Wall" or "The 17th of June 1953", but lesser topics or even the classified ads, which might interest historians, are frequently missing. At least until today. The Berlin-Brandenburg Bildungswerk has been offered entire yearly editions of a number of GDR newspapers and magazines and is considering making these available in the future. Whether this ever occurs, of course, will depend upon space limitations, personnel strength and funding.
Harald Wachowitz, who is managing the programme for the BBB, hopes that starting in March 1997 he will be able to provide better answers to some of the questions prospective users might have. If you think this archive -- despite its limitations -- might help you or if you would like to help the archive, contact:
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) has awarded the Universite de Montreal and York University (Toronto) a ten-year grant to establish the Canadian Centre for Interdisciplinary German Studies. U de M and York's proposal to establish a trilingual, inter-university, and inter-provincial Centre with programs for teaching and research on German and European affairs from a Canadian perspective beat out proposals from the University of Toronto and from the University of British Columbia, though the latter institution will also receive some German government funding to establish a Centre for German and European Studies.
The new Canadian Centre, which will begin accepting students in the fall of 1997, may be of special interest to EGSG members working on questions of national identity, migration, multiculturalism, and federalism in postunification Germany since these are among the issue areas that the Centre has identified as "Forschungsschwerpunkte". U de M and York's proposal put special emphasis on these issues because they are central to academic and public debates in Canada and because the Canadian experience might shed a unique light on the German case. U de M and York also already have interdisciplinary and cooperative programs in these fields.
The Centre plans to concentrate its efforts on graduate education. Both York and U de M will offer M.A. and Ph.D. students in humanities and social sciences the chance to complete a supplementary special diploma in "interdisciplinary German studies." Additional course work will include a joint summer seminar to be held alternately in Montreal, Toronto, or Germany and a seminar in interdisciplinary methods during the academic year. Students accepted to the program will be eligible for scholarships allowing them to conduct research or study in Germany.
For information, contact:
Former EGSG President Henry Krisch reports: In early January 1997, I worked for a week at the Gauck Archives in Berlin. My "reservation" for a seat in the reading room was arranged the previous August; it is not so much a matter of chairs and tables- there are about a dozen of those- as of having a one-on-one SachbearbeiterIn who must be available to order the files from the Normannenstrasse ex-Stasi HQ, bring them to you from the basement, take them back, etc. The request goes from you to a SachbearbeiterIn, then shipped by car to the Gauck research site (a handsome ex-Palais, ex-GDR Culture Ministry on Molkenmarkt behind the Rotes Rathaus), and then delivered to you. Subject retrieval is difficult. If you know what you want, you can usually get it; if you wonder what the Stasi had on a subject, you hope that your mind works the way theirs did in labeling files.
After my week was up, I mentioned that I would be back from Leipzig for one more day in Berlin and could they please get me one or two especially promising looking files. When I returned, it was to discover that many, many files had meanwhile been retrieved and sent over- even though I was supposedly gone. Despite all difficulties, and thanks to a helpful staff and helpful researchers, I did get useful work done. While I didn't find what I originally wanted to see, I did find interesting reports on how the MfS judged political trends in the last half-decade of the GDR.
I also visited the former Institut für Jugendforschung in Leipzig, which is now the Leipziger Aussenstelle of the Deutsches Jugendinstitut München. (It is easily reached from the Leipzig HBf via #6 streetcar >Gohlis.) They had just undergone a major (again?!) retrenchment, but work does continue on the old longitudinal attitude surveys from the GDR era. A very useful contact is:
Timothy Dowling sends the following report: "At present, I am working in the Bundesarchiv in Lichterfelde. It is a combination of the Staats/Bundesarchiv which used to be in Potsdam and the Stiftung der Partei und Massenorganisationen. For those who might be interested, the archive is really modernising. Just last week they set up a computer in the reading room on which you can now place your document orders! I don't know about the library, as I have not ventured over that way yet, but the archiv is quite crowded at present, and the usual wait for a termin is about 6 weeks. Once you're in though, the staff is quite friendly, and things seem to be working smoothly. Should anyone have any specific inquiries, I would be happy to try to answer them, or track down an answer at the archive.
"We have acquired distribution rights to the Konrad Wolf film Sun Seekers (Sonnensucher), in addition to Divided Heaven (Der geteilte Himmel). Both are new 16mm prints with English subtitles; rental is $200 each. (Commercial classroom rental for films several years old is often $300, so please don't compare this rate to West Glen or video. We had to pay for the print and the subtitling.)
Some of you may have seen Karsten Witte's recent praise of Divided Heaven as a major work of German film modernism. Christa Wolf needs no introduction, and her work on the screenplay was influential in her further experimentation with narrative and point of view. The film's visual and narrative style shares the shocking modernism of the banned films of 1965 -- something largely eradicated from later GDR cinema. Influence of Neo-Realism, Hiroshima mon Amour and Soviet models make this a unique and significant film.
Sun Seekrers was banned in 1957 at the urging of the USSR, since it treats Soviet/German relations in mining uranium in the Wismut to support the arms race. Konrad Wolf presents a highly dramatic and differentiated view of the Nazi past, Stalinist political practices, and the energetic chaos of the early postwar period in a style combining Wolf's Russian sensibilities with echos of Italian neo-realism as well as Pabst's Kameradschaft(1931).
Releasing this film was one of Wolf's first priorities when it became politically possible in 1972, and in 1989 it was revived along with the banned films of 1965 as part of DEFA's best (if thwarted) tradition.
Production of a DEFA Reference Anthology is supported in part by a grant from the Eastern German Studies Group. The film archive is supported in part by a transportation grant from Lufthansa German Airlines."
Contact information for the DEFA Library is given above.
Lisa Whitmore has established an electronic mailing list similar to the WIG [Women in German] list for academic discussion of the East Bloc (former East Bloc) with emphasis on East Germany. To subscribe, email the following message: subscribe firstname.lastname@example.org
Wochenpost ceased publication at the end of 1996. The former GDR weekly will be merged with Die Woche.
The Centre for East German Studies at the University of Reading has a recently established web site that is worth a look.
The SAPMO library in Berlin publishes a monthly bibliography of holdings on a given topic. Recent issues include:
The Centre for the Study of German Culture and Society at Keele University, UK has completed a case study of social transformation in the Leipzig region, published as Eva Kolinsky (ed), Between Hope and Fear. Everyday Life in Post-Unification East Germany. Keele University Press 1995.
A series of research meetings of the German (Leipzig-based) and British contributors was funded by the British Council and the German Academic Exchange Service and the study was directed by Eva Kolinsky (Keele) and Steffen Wilsdorf (Leipzig).
Eva Kolinsky is now co-ordinating a British-German research team on the Social Transformation of post-communist Germany and its impact on the family. In 1996, the project has been funded by the ESCR and theAnglo-German Foundation and a book on the theme will be published by Macmillan in 1997. The research group has won further funding support from the ESRC to hold a series of research seminars from 1997 - 1999 on the family in the two German societies and in Europe (west and east).
For more information, please contact:
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SAPMO has published a short guide (178 pages) to its holdings, useful for anyone planning a trip there. The title is Die Bestände der Stiftung Archiv und Massenorganisationen der DDR im Bundesarchiv. Kurzübersicht. It's published by Edition Colloquium in Berlin (ISBN: 3-89166-127-4).
Stefan Wogawa reports that the Kommission für die Erforschung des sozialen und politischen Wandels in den neuen Bundesländern (KSPW) published the results of five years of their research in December 1996. The KSPW includes social scientists, economists, psychologists and jurists joining to study the transformation process. Included are works under the leadership of the following scholars:
The KSPW published 150 short reports from 1992-94 on related topics, and 28 research reports on conditions in the GDR prior to unification. Most are published by the Leseke+Budrich firm in Opladen.
Thomas Conlon reports buying the following GDR-related items recently:
Conlon would be interested in hearing of similar items from members, particularly relating to railroad transportation/Deutsche Reichsbahn. His postal address is:
Oxford has announced for May 1997 a book by John P. Burgess titled The East German Church and the End of Communism: Essays on Religion, Democratization and Christian Social Ethics.
A reminder that any of these can easily be ordered from the book dealers on the EGSG home page.
Rhodri C Williams reports that herpaper on "'Managing the Past' in the Eastern German Urban Landscape" won honorable mention in the 1996 Maxwell Colloquium, a social science graduate student paper competition at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University (where I received my M.A. in Geography last year.) It will be published in the forthcoming proceedings of the Maxwell Coll. The paper concerns how the controversies over changing street names, removing monuments, and demolishing buildings in Eastern German cities (and particularly in Eastern Berlin) fit into the West German agenda of "Vergangenheitsbewältigung"--management of Germany's Nazi past with the goal of eventually minimizing its role in the present.
Konstantin Soemer, a music student from Paderborn, has written an essay about Socialist Realism in the music of the GDR. It's in German.
Christiane Olivo completed her dissertation "Creating a Democratic Civil Society in Eastern Germany: The Case of the Citizen Movements and Alliance 90" in January, 1997. Her abstract: "Using a case-study of the East German citizen movements and their political party, Alliance 90, this dissertation analyzes normative theories of civil society and deliberative democracy. Citizen movements emerged during the fall of 1989 to lead the democratic opposition movements against the communist regime in the former German Democratic Republic. Experiences with dissident activities before 1989 and with institutional arrangements such as round tables and citizen committees during the GDR's "peaceful revolution" led activists in the citizen movements to a unique model of democratic politics. I argue that this model is similar to the understanding of democratic politics articulated by theorists of civil society and deliberative democracy, and that it can thus illuminate both theoretical weaknesses and democratic possibilities of such theories.
This case-study is particularly interesting and pertinent to civil society theories because it illustrates how a politics of civil society emerged under communism; what role this understanding of politics played during the transition to democracy; and, most important, how citizens attempt to integrate it into the established West German system of parliamentary democracy. This dissertation aims to inform theory with an analysis of actual attempts at institutionalizing citizen participation. It thus brings detail to the generally abstract level of scholarship in this area.
There are two central issues that remain unresolved in the literature on civil society and democratic deliberation: the question of how to motivate citizen participation in civil society, and the connections between civil society and the state. I suggest that a consideration of possibilities for institutionalizing democratic deliberation by citizens in civil society would help to address these theoretical weaknesses. The East German case offers several institutional arrangements that serve to illuminate the real democratic potential of citizen participation in civil society as well as the difficulties of implementing in liberal parliamentary democracies institutional innovations that approximate ideals of democratic deliberation, citizen participation, and civic responsibility."
James Currie writes: "I have just completed a dissertation at Rice University in Houston titled "Christianity and Marxism: A Historical Perspective on the Role of Ideology in the Thought of Hanfried Müller." Müller, a retired professor of theology at the Humboldt University in Berlin and his wife were, and remain, committed Marxists and believe that the Wende was a massive mistake. My dissertation examines the role of ideology in Müller's writings as well as the influence of Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Müller and how Müller misappropriates them. As you might guess, I am not at all sympathetic with Müller's perspective. He is, however, an interesting figure.
This is the first time I have come across this studies group and would like to know more and stay in touch. Might there be any interest in this group in theology and the church in the former DDR?
Astrid Hedin reports a 100 years anniversary special issue of the Swedish Journal of Political Science, devoted to papers from the conference "A World in Transition. Feminist Perspectives on International Relations" held at Lund University in June 1996. The special issue has no texts specifically on Eastern germany, but several on the theme 'Feminisms in Europe - East and West' including a workshop report from this workshop. Further info can be received through me
A J McAdams reports two recent publications:
Paul O'Doherty, now at the University of Ulster, recently completed his Ph.D. thesis at the University of Nottingham titled "The Portrayal of Jews in GDR Prose Fiction." It was published in February 1997 under the same title by Rodopi in Amsterdam.
Timothy Vogt expects to finish
his dissertation titled "The Foundations of Our New Democracy: Denazification
in Brandenburg under Soviet Occupation, 1945/1948" by spring 1997.
The study is based upon extensive use of the newly opened East German archives.
He is at the History Dept. of the University of California, Davis.
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Edward N. Peterson writes: "Since 1990 I have every summer researched the SBZ-DDR in East Germany, the first subject was the implementation of Russian policy in various local Länder and communities: Sachsen, Leipzig, Grimma, and Goerlitz, Sachsen Anhalt, Stendal, Thüringen, Eisenach, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Schwerin and Stralsund. More recently I have researched Stasi documents for evidence of problems and resistance as background to the fall of the Wall. The local aspects concentrated on the documentation of Schwerin District. I should be pleased to learn of any similar research completed or in process. I plan to return for the 8th summer of research in July. E.N. Peterson, Department of History, University of Wisconsin-River Falls, 54022.
Aad van Duijn writes: "I decided to write an essay and compile a bibliography about the subject 'Books and publishers in the GDR, 1949-1990 : four decades of ....'. That the last word of the subtitle is not there yet, is due to the fact that I hesitate to write there simply 'censorship'. No doubt there was censorship in this paradise, but in many cases it was not exercised by the state, but by authors and publishers themselves. What I mean to say is that I am searching after documents in German, English or any other European language reflecting the situation of writers and publishers in the SED-state. not included the position of the periodical press and newspapers, as they were so evidently state and/or party controlled, that that would hardly lead to interesting insights. I already found some titles in the DBI (Deutsches Bibliographisches Institut) database, in Lisa and in Sociofile. If anyone in this group could help me, I would be glad, even by telling me that the bibliography I have in mind already exists.
Frank Stearns writes: "I am a career Army officer, currently serving in MI, but I started Army life as an Armored Cavalry Officer in the 2d Armored Cavalry Regiment (2d Squadron, garrisoned then at Bamberg, with border camp at Hof/Saale). Now SMA Gene McKinney was the Fox Trooop First Sergeant, where I was a Platoon Leader 83-84. In my last job I was the OIC of the Hof Border Camp. This sector was unique in that it covered what was arguably the most intersting sector of DDR border (many large factories were left standing in the otherwise stripped 5km "Control Zone", and we had a small chunk of the CSSR border, otherwise unintersting save for the Trizonal Point of FRG, DDR, and CSSR). Please let me know if any work is being done relative to the active US Cavalry presence on the Iron Curtain. Many thousands of troopers of mainly the 2d and 11th regiments served many years providing a US presence and tripwire on the Grenze. The tenth anniversary of the fall is coming, will there be any special rememberance for the Cavalry?
Lee A. Evans, a graduate student at Portland State University currently in the middle of his MA thesis research at Charles University in Prague writes: "I am looking at how the East German Government reacted to and interpreted the 1968 reform movement in Czechoslovakia, as reported in Neues Deutschland. The project will compare the reporting in Neues Deutschland with the actual events of Prague. In this analysis I am in need of some fundamental background material regarding the history, purpose, and role of ND. I also need some pragmatic and concrete information about Czechoslovak-DDR relations in the the period in question."
Tyrell Otis writes: I am trying to locate information that may exist in Stasi files about Swedish arms sales (anywhere), or any information concerning GDR contacts with Swedish defence industries. Do you know of anyone currently doing research in the Stasi files on arms deals? Is there an organization I might check with? Finally, is there a public relations or law firm which has been successful in extracting information from Stasi files?
Mike Weaver writes: I'm a second-year PhD student at Southampton Institute,
England. My research interests centre on post-Wende historiographies produced
in United Germany, which appear either in "academic" accounts
such as in "history books" or "academic journals", or
in the German media as they inevitably contribute to our "historical
knowledge" about the GDR in their reporting of commemorative events
(e.g. 3rd October every year). I am also interested in collecting the oral
history accounts of East and West Germans as they reflect upon life in the
Cold War. Therefore, I would be very interested in hearing from anyone who
deals with GDR historiographies and also anyone who has carried out oral
history research in Germany and could give me advice (and maybe contacts
!) which would help me carry out similar work.
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EGSG home page
Department de science politique
Université de Montreal
Montréal, Québec H3C 3J7
Dept. of Political Science
University of Connecticut
341 Mansfield Road
Storrs, CT 06269-102
Phone: (860) 486-5334
Fax: (860) 486-3347
Department of Political Science
University of Georgia
104 Baldwin Hall
Athens, Georgia 30602
3201 Burton SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49546
Phone: (616) 957-6286
Fax: (616) 957-6601
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
Center for German and European Studies
School of Foreign Service
Washington, DC 20057
April 1997 EGSG Newsletter
Final update was on 17 April 1997
Web Page by Randall Bytwerk