Eastern German News


 Newsletter of the Eastern German Studies Group

 #23 (April 1998)

On-Line version of the April 1998 EGSG Newsletter

Table of Contents:


EGSG 1998 Conference

The seventh triennial congress of the EGSG will take place November 12-15 at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Montreal.

The congress theme is "After the GDR: New Historical, Theoretical, and Comparative Perspectives on Divided and Reunited Ger many." It will be an occasion to reassess GDR history in light of newly available archives and to take stock of the practical and theoretical implications of German unification almost ten years after the fall of the Wall. The congress should also lead to the publication of a volume in time for that decade anniversary. The volume, like the congress itself, will allow for reflection on the lessons of GDR history and of German unification for understanding the nature of totalitarian regimes, on the process of transitions to democracy and market economy, on the (re)construction of national identity, and on the continued relevance of eastern German studies to the disciplines involved.

One of the congress's central themes will be the problem of regional identity and national unity. It is thus fitting that the congress will meet in Montréal and under the co-sponsor ship of the new Canadian Centre for German and European Studies, which places questions of ethnicity and identity at the heart of its research program. The congress will provide impetus to this research program, drawing attention to parallels between the German and Canadian experiences and giving the Centre's 40 graduate student affiliates the opportunity to meet leading German studies scholars.

The congress's scholarly meetings will be organized thematically in panel presentations and discussions and may include (subject to confirmation) a keynote address by a prominent eastern German. Panel themes will include: 1) Reassessing GDR History"; 2) "Re-theorizing the GDR and 'Real-existing Socialism'"; 3) "The GDR and Unification in Comparative Perspective"; 4) "Political Culture in the New Länder"; 5) "Constructing East German Identity"; and 6) "Civil Society and Elites in and after the Wende."

The EGSG business meeting will not be entirely about "business" since the organizational future of the group depends on its intellectual assessment of its continued relevance as a distinct scholarly association. The business meeting will thus include the following items: 1) Debate on the continued intellectual relevance of the EGSG; 2) Financial report and decision to withdraw the organization from tax-exempt status in the US; 3) Newsletter-editor report and discussion of paper vs. electronic formats; 4) Attribution of financial aid to graduate student participants and members; and 5) Election of a new executive board.

The congress will include scholarly presentations by approximately twenty association members whose paper proposals have been accepted by a seven-member interdisciplinary program committee as well as by five guest gpeakers from Germany invited by the program committee on the basis of their outstanding and widely recognized contributions to GDR and eastern German studies. They include: 1) Professor Wolfgang Emmerich, author of the definitive comprehensive critical study of GDR literature; 2) Professor Sigrid Meuschel, author of a powerful theoretical analysis of the GDR regime; 3) Professor Detlef Pollack, author of numerous studies on citizens' movements in the GDR; 4) Dr. Bernd Lindner, assistant director of the Museum of the History of the Federal Republic in Germany (Leipzig branch); 5) Dr. Gunter Holzweißig, of the German Federal Archives and widely published media scholar.

The congress organizers have also invited Dr. Jens Reich (microbiologist, co-founder of the Neues Forum in 1989, and Green party candidate for the Federal presidency) and Wolfgang Thierse (deputy chair of the Social Democratic Party and member of parliament from East Berlin) to speak at the conference. Because their schedules do not allow them to confirm their participation until shortly before the congress, we do not include them in the preliminary program.

Bibliographies needed

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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Conference Announcements and Reports

Rport on the Harvard Graduate Workshop on Eastern Europe

Henry Krisch

On November 7-9, 1997, the Center for European Studies at Harvard held a Graduate Student Workshop on the theme of "New Directions in the Study of East European State Socialism."

Papers were presented by graduate doctoral students and some younger faculty. Among the participants were several colleagues known to EGSG members from previous work and conferences. Presiding/discussing at seven sessions were: Charles Maier (Harvard), Jan Gross (NYU), Lutz Niethammer (Jena), Gales Stokes (Rice), Daniel Chirot (Univ of Washington), Vladimir Tismaneanu (Univ of Maryland), and Grzegorz Ekiert (Harvard). Papers dealing in whole or part with Eastern Germany included:

Report on the 1997 Otzenhausen Conference

by Randy Bytwerk

About 75 people attended 4th annual Otzenhausen conference from 6-9 November. The conference locale, the Europäische Akademie Otzenhausen, is a splendid place, with pleasant surroundings, excellent food and a pub that is heavily used in the evenings. Participants included such prominent German GDR scholars as Clemens Burrichter, Gerd-Rüdiger Stephan, Ilse Spittman-Rühle and Rüdiger Thomas. Ulrich Mählert presented his new Vademekum DDR-Forschung, the print version of what is available on the Internet.

The conference papers were divided into three sections: Herrschaft, Alltag, and Außenpolitik, allowing the possibility of good discussion. A reporter in each section then managed the challenging task of summarizing several days of discussion for the plenary session. As in the past, conference papers will appear in an edited volume in about a year.

Prof. Dr. Dr. Heiner Timmerman, the conference organizer, announced next year's conference will run from 19-22 November. I was the only North American present. I'd recommend next year's conference to those who think they will have energy left after the previous week's EGSG gathering.

1999 Berlin Conference on the GDR

The Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung Potsdam is organizing a major conference in early summer, 1999 titled "1949-1989-1999: Getrennte Vergangenheit--gemeinsame Geschichte? Die doppelte Staatsgründung 1949 und die friedliche Revolution 1989: Wegmarken der deutschen Nachkriegsgeschichte." The conference will include scholars, political figures, those from the media, authors and the general public.

1998 New Hampshire Conference Call for Papers

The call for papers for this conference is now available.

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Miscellaneous News

The EGSG and the Stasi

Henry Krisch reports the following: "Looking through some Gauck correspondence, I came across the file excerpt on the founding of GDRSA, which was in a report on sophisticated methods of undermining the GDR. The Stasi reported on IREX, other funding groups, and on the GDR Studies Assosication. Lazy rascals that they were, the entire report (on our founding meeting at Racine in 1983, and plans for 1985) were taken from...Deutschland Archiv! "

German Newspapers with free online search capacity

Keeping abreast of German news can be a problem from North America. Although all the major newspapers have web sites, newspapers like the FAZ and the Süddeutsche Zeitung charge for using their search services. The following newspapers allow (for the moment, at least) free searches of their databases, usually going back to about 1994 or 1995:

On Buying German Books

The Internet has made buying books from Germany far easier than once it was. Two German book dealers are listed on the EGSG home page who have German Books in Print available on-line. One can order with a credit card and receive the books a month or so later. Another useful place to visit is the Zentrales Verzeichnis Antiquarischer Bücher, a well-organized collection of used-book stores. Not only are there links to the individual dealers, it is possible to search their collective holdings (currently over 185,000 volumes) with a single search. There is also a posting system. If you are searching for a particular book, an email is sent to all participating dealers.

Database of GDR Scholars established at Mannheim

Ulrich Mählert has begun a registry of scholars and institutions interested in the GDR. A questionaire is available, as is a search engine for the database. This looks to be a most useful enterprise.

Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublic Deutschland

The Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublic Deutschland in Bonn encourages EGSG members to visit. Besides the museum section, the library includes 3.5 million press clippings from 1953-1977. For the period 1978-1990, many more articles are acccessible through an electronic indexing system. The holdings inlcude most of the 242 GDR newspapers (often on microfilm) and archives from 126 Kombinate. For futher information, contact:

Inge Keßler
Wissenschaftliche Leiterin
Bibliothek zur Geschichte der DDR
Adenauerallee 8
53113 Bonn
Phone: (0228) 91431-21
Fax: (0228) 91431-27

Conference Group on German Politics

Joyce Mushaben reports: The Conference Group on German Politics is planning to put out a revised Membership Directory, under my direction. If anyone would like some info on that group, or would care to join (for $12 per year), or wishes to order the Directory when it does come out, please get in touch with me.

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New Reading

New Books

Herbst, Andreas, Gerd-Rüdiger Stephan & Jürgen Winkler, Die SED. Geschichte--Organisation--Politik. Ein Handbuch (Berlin: Dietz Verlag, 1997). This 1226-page book will be of interest to many EGSG members. 26 authors contributed sections on the history, organization and policies of the SED. That and a useful glossary comprise the first 500 pages. There are 300 pages of important documents, a listing of all leading SED officials (e.g., the top officials in each Bezirk, members and years of service for all important Berlin positions), a chronology, brief biographies and a list of abbbreviations. Until 1 January 1998, the price is DM. 98; thereafter it rises to DM. 128. The book can be ordered from Mail Order Kaiser.

Hell, Julia. Post-Fascist Fantasies: Psychoanalysis, History, and the Literature of East Germany. Duke University Press, 1997. The book examines the cultural functions of the novels of communist authors in the GDR from a psychoanalytic perspective.

Neubert, Eberhart. Geschichte der Opposition in der DDR 1949-1989 (Berlin, Ch. Links, 1997).

Polkehn, Klaus, Das war die "Wochenpost". Geschichte und Geschichten einer Zeitung. (Berlin: Ch. Links, 1997).

Silberman, Marc, ed., What Remains? East German Culture and the Postwar Public. AICGS Research Report No. 5 (Washington, D.C.: American Institute for Contemporary German Studies, 1997) includes articles by Marc Silberman, Friederike Eigler, Carol Anne Costabile-Heming, Barton Byg, Erk Grimm, and David Bathrick.

Hernand, Jost and Marc Silberman, eds., Contentious Memories: Looking Back at the GDR. Proceedings of the 28th Wisconsin Workshop (New York: Peter Lang, 1998) includes the English translation of an original text by author Gert Neumann (plus a Neumann bio-bibliography) and articles by Marc Silberman, Julia Hell, Jost Hermand, David Bathrick, Frank Hörnigk, Frauke Meyer-Gosau, and a collective article by William Maltarich, Alan Ng, and Nancy Thuleen

Everyday life in the GDR - A report about new literature

by Stefan Wogawa

The themes of these four new books are everyday life in and the material "estate" of the GDR.

Horst Moritz, Bernd Hiepe, Erasmus Schröter: Eigensinn mit Luntenzündung. Selbstgebaute Traktoren aus der DDR, ed. by Museum für Thüringer Volkskunde, Erfurt 1996.

Tractors and other agricultural machines for private use were difficult to get in the GDR. The people reacted to this situation by building such machines themselves. One reason was the good standard of vocational traning in the GDR, but it was also necesary to have "Beziehungen" (connections) to get the necessary material and components. The book with its interesting and curious pictures of handmade agricultural machines documents an important facet of everyday life in a "real socialist" society.

Christine Starke, Günter Starke: "... Alles meins". Fotografien und Objekte aus dem DDR-Alltag, ed. by Museum für Thüringer Volkskunde, Erfurt 1996

The authors photographed people in their homes between 1980 and 1989. The result is a personal, sometimes intimate, report of the "normal" life in a closed society.

Gerd Kuhn, Andreas Ludwig (Eds.): Alltag und soziales Gedächtnis. Die DDR-Objektkultur und ihre Musealisierung, Ergebnisse Verlag Hamburg 1997, ISBN 3-87916-036-8

In the anthology scholars from East and West Germany and from different branches of knowledge (history, philosophy, social sciences, pedagogics, fine arts) discuss the questions of the aproximation of the everyday life in the GDR. The essays are the results of a conference on the "Dokumentationszentrum Alltagskultur der DDR" in Eisenhüttenstadt; the themes are wide. Authors discuss theoretical problems like the connections between macro and micro hictory and the two kinds of defininitions of the GDR, as a state and as a society. But they ask also examine the problems of storage and presentation of the GDR's material "estate". The book is illustrated with pictures of shops, window displays and goods, but also of people and their faces, gestures and conversations.

Jenny Richter, Heike Förster, Ulrich Lakemann: Stalinstadt - Eisenhüttenstadt. Von der Utopie zur Gegenwart. Wandel industrieller, regionaler und sozialer Strukturen in Eisenhüttenstadt, Schüren Presseverlag Marburg 1997, ISBN 3-89472-154-5

In this book the authors, social scientists, show the various changes of Eisenhüttenstadt - from its foundation as a "socialist industry town" in the 1950's to the present. They analysed documents in archives and spokewith persons concerned. A typical element of the development of Eisenhüttenstadt was and is the connection to industry - a big steelworks - of the town and the people: Before 1990 more then a third of Eisenhüttenstadt's inhabitants worked in the steelworks EKO. Economic, urban and social processes are in the limelight of the book. A lot of illustrations round off the effective description.

Cold War International History Project

The CWIHP, whose acting director is EGSG board member Christian Ostermann, continues to publish interesting material on the GDR. The March 1998 issue includes considerable informatiion on June 1953. The material is available from the CWIHP's web site.

New CDs

Tom Conlon reports on CDs he found on a recent trip to Berlin:

Conlon also reports on several places of interest for visitors to Berlin: "I found a small bookshop next door to the PDS Party headquarters which has a nice selection of DDR materials -- used books, plus new books, CDs etc. on DDR topics, including Ostalgie, comedies, etc. Their address: Der Kleine Buchladen, Weydingerstr. 14-16, Karl-Liebknecht Haus, 10178 Berlin. Tel. (030) 24009676; Fax (030) 24009564.

The flea market outside the Humboldt University on Unter den Linden has some used and newer titles on these topics -- often at half price. They seem to be there every day when its light and the weather is good -- at least 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. in the winter. A bigger flea market is a couple of blocks north with even more such items."

New Articles

Beutelschmidt, Thomas, "Out of Fashion oder Mega In? Die DDR im Spiegel ihrer Objekte, Bilder, Töne. Eine Bestandaufnahme," Rundfunk und Gesellschaft, 23, 4 (1997): 224-32.

Hedin, Astrid (1998) "Mehrdeutige Representation - Frauen in der PDS" femina politica. Zeitschrift für feministische Politikwissenschaft, Berlin: Otto-Suhr-Institut, vol 7, issue 1 (forthcoming,April).

SAPMO Bibliotheksbriefe

SAPMO's library publishes a monthly bulletin of some of its holdings on specific topics. Randy Bytwerk can provide photocopies. Recent issues include:

Recent Theses and Dissertations

Mark Andrew Allinson recently completed a dissertation at London titled "'Faith, Hope and Apathy'. Politics and Popular Opinion in Thuringia, 1945-1968."

Phyllis Dinino (Yale Uiv), "The Uneven Road to Capitalism: Patterns of Industrial Assistance in the New German Länder."

Thomas Ott recently completed a dissertation titled "Erfurt im Transformationsprozess der Städte in den neuen Ländern. Ein regulationstheoretischer Ansatz," published as Erfurter Geographische Studien 6, Erfurt. - vi + 360 S., 62 Abb., 38 Tab., 36 Fotos, 1997 (ISBN 3-9803607-5-X). An English summary is available on the web, as is an interactive German version.

Bernd Schäfer recently completed a dissertation titled "Staat und katholische Kirche in der SBZ/DDR 1945 bis 1989" at Halle. It will be published soon.

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Requests and Queries

Janice Bartmess asks: "I have a kennel and I raise German Shepherd Dogs. Almost the entirety of my dogs are direct descendants of dogs exported from the DDR. The SDG in the Deutsche Demokratische Republik had administration over the raising and training of these dogs. We have found them to be of a very high quality in some regards, oweing to the discipline of the 40 years of breeding in the DDR. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has knowledge of these dogs in the DDR, also I am collecting and borrowing photographs of some of these dogs for publication in a website."

Linda Merz asks: "I am an independent researcher on POW/MIA issues from the Vietnam War. There were captured Americans sent to East Germany, some for medical treatment and possibly experiments, who were never repatriated to the US in 1973. There were also East German propoganda films on some of these POWs, the best known of which is Pilots in Pajamas. I'm trying to find out what happened to these men who were not returned to Vietnam and were never repatriated to the US. It is generally believed they may have gone on to the Soviet Union and some to Cuba. I am also trying to get more information on the military hospital in East Berlin where some were treated. Anyone with some knowledge of the matter may contact her at: 1236 West Sandtrap Way; Oro Valley, AZ 85737.

Gudrun Hommel-Ingram writes: {I am working on a dissertation at the University of Oregon on Erich Loest and went this summer to do research in Germany. I am intending to write on his Kriminalliteratur, the mystery novels he wrote under the pseudonym Hans Walldorf after he was released from Bautzen. I'm just in the early stages of the dissertation, so I don't have that much yet, but perhaps it's of interest to some of your members. I'll be happy to answer further questions.

Tom Conlon writes: I am interested in being an e-mail or snail mail pal with anyone interested in sharing experiences of growing up in the DDR. They can contact me at: 2183 Berkeley Ave., St. Paul, MN 55105.

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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: mcfalls@rz.uni-leipzig.de


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
bei Gnielka
Potsdamer-Str. 82
15711 Koenigs Wusterhausen

Email: sg@sowi.hu-berlin.de


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 April 1998 EGSG Newsletter
Last updated 20 April 1998
Web Page by Randall Bytwerk
Calvin College
URL: <http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/egsg/latest.htm>