Representations of Flight and Expulsion in East German Prose Works
It is by now almost a cliché that the flight and expulsion of Germans from east-central Europe at the end of the Second World War was a taboo topic in the German Democratic Republic. According to this claim, the Socialist Unity Party (SED) suppressed reference to flight and expulsion so as not to upset its socialist neighbors. This book shows that such a view does not hold up to serious scrutiny. While the topic may not have been addressed in the realm of politics or official commemoration, it was picked up again and again in literature, particularly fiction. Representations of flight and expulsion were by no means restricted, as some have asserted, to Christa Wolf's novel Kindheitsmuster: Niven's study documents around 100 novels and short stories published in the GDR that address flight or expulsion. He argues that in the 1950s and early 1960s GDR fiction included many refugee figures. The predominant emphasis was on their integration under socialism rather than their experience of flight and loss of home; nevertheless, flight and to a lesser degree expulsion were depicted, as was their impact on individuals. They continued to be thematized in the late GDR and even, to a degree, after unification. Flight and expulsion, then, were subject to a developing literary discourse in the GDR, a discourse that this book explores. Bill Niven is Professor in Contemporary German History at Nottingham Trent University.
Subjects: Language & Literature, Film Studies, Performing Arts
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