Debating German Cultural Identity since 1989 by Anne Fuchs, Kathleen James-Chakraborty, Linda Shortt

By Anne Fuchs, Kathleen James-Chakraborty, Linda Shortt

The occasions of 1989 and German unification have been seismic ancient moments. even though 1989 seemed to symbolize a therapeutic of the war-torn heritage of the 20 th century, unification posed the query of German cultural identification afresh. Politicians, historians, writers, filmmakers, architects, and the broader public engaged in 'memory contests' over such questions because the legitimacy of other biographies, West German hegemony, and the normalization of German background. This dynamic and contested - and nonetheless ongoing - transformation of German cultural id is the subject of this quantity of recent essays via students from the uk, Germany, the us, and Ireland.It explores German cultural id in terms of various disciplines together with historical past, movie stories, architectural heritage, literary feedback, reminiscence experiences, and anthropology, fending off a homogenized interpretation. Charting the advanced and sometimes contradictory tactics of cultural identification formation, the amount finds the various responses that proceed to accompany the venture of unification. individuals: Pertti Ahonen, Aleida Assmann, Elizabeth Boa, Peter Fritzsche, Anne Fuchs, Deniz Göktürk, Kathleen James-Chakraborty, Anja ok. Johannsen, Jennifer A. Jordan, Jürgen Paul, Linda Shortt, Andrew J. Webber.

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The proceedings highlighted the East-West divisions that made the forging of a united German identity such a challenging enterprise, especially in the early years of the Berlin Republic. In certain ways, the trials extended Cold War battles between the two Germanys into a new and transformed political context. The “Wall in the heads” was evident in the courtrooms, most obviously in the divisive East versus West tone that characterized much of the judicial debate between the defense and the prosecution.

Karen Leeder, special issue, Oxford German Studies 38, no. 3 (2009); Paul Cooke, Representing East Germany: From Colonization to Nostalgia (Oxford: Berg, 2005). 4 Peter Schneider, The Wall Jumper (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1983), 119. 5 A. James McAdams, Judging the Past in Unified Germany (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2001); Andrew H. Beattie, Playing Politics with History: The Bundestag Inquiries into East Germany (New York: Berghahn, 2008). 6 McAdams, Judging, 1–54; Roman Grafe, Deutsche Gerechtigkeit: Prozesse gegen DDR-Grenzschűtzen und ihre Befehlsgeber (Munich: Siedler, 2004), 15–18; “Die ‘bewaffneten Historiker’ treten ab,” Die Welt, 29 Dec.

2 Some twenty years on, the picture looks much more complex and nuanced. The most acute symptoms of unification-related illnesses have been healed in the intervening years, thanks primarily to slow but steady economic and social improvements in the new Bundesländer. Many former East Germans, particularly members of younger generational cohorts who have thrived personally and professionally since unification, are by now well integrated into the new Germany. 3 The stubborn refusal of the post-Communist Linke party to join the SPD and the Greens in backing the former GDR dissident Joachim Gauck as the centerleft candidate in the German presidential election of June 2010 highlighted, yet again, the persistence of important East-West rifts in German public life, more than two decades after unification.

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