Rethinking the GDR opposition: reform, resistance and revolution in the other Germany

Brown, Alexander D. (2019). Rethinking the GDR opposition: reform, resistance and revolution in the other Germany. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis looks at communist-oriented opposition in the GDR. Specifically, it considers reconstructions of this phenomenon within state-mandated memory since German unification in 1990. It presents three case studies of particular representative value. The first is dedicated to Paul Merker and how his entanglement in questions surrounding antifascism and antisemitism has become a significant trope in narratives of national (de-)legitimisation since 1990. The second delves into the phenomenon of the dissident through the aperture of prominent singer-songwriter, Wolf Biermann. Viewed as a proponent of ‘true’ communism who confronted the SED with uncomfortable truths, this study interrogates the Biermann legend. The third looks at the canonised opposition of the 1980s and how memory thereof tends to omit the left-wing views of these groups in order to portray them as striving for liberal democracy and national unification.

The dissertation concludes that communist-oriented opposition presents a rich seam with which the FRG’s public guardians of memory are able to communicate narratives significant to contemporary national legitimation and identity. It argues that awareness of the ideological conditioning of representations of the past and the significance of this for contemporary political debates should be taken into account more than is frequently the case.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music, Department of Modern Languages
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DD Germany
H Social Sciences > HX Socialism. Communism. Anarchism
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)


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