Edinburgh German Yearbook 3

Edinburgh German Yearbook 3: Contested Legacies: Constructions of Cultural Heritage in the GDR

Matthew Philpotts
Sabine Rolle
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 258
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt7zssk0
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  • Book Info
    Edinburgh German Yearbook 3
    Book Description:

    Established, commissioned, and edited by the Department of German at the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh German Yearbook encourages and disseminates lively and open discussion of themes pertinent to German Studies, viewed from all angles but with particular interest in problems arising out of politics and history. No other yearbook covers the entire field while addressing a focused theme in each issue. Coinciding with the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, volume 3 re-directs current debates on memory and tradition, opening up fresh perspectives on the cultural history of the GDR and exploring how the nation's cultural discourses entered into a productive but often problematic dialogue with the values of the past and with the German cultural inheritance. Topics include the compositional engagement with musical heritage; industrial design and cultural politics; the establishment of antifascist monuments and their use as sites of resistance; constructions of a cultural heritage in architecture; the influence of cultural politics on literary scholarship; continuities and breaks with tradition in visual and literary culture; and engagement with the past in the works of Konrad Wolf, Irmtraud Morgner, and Anna Seghers. Contributors: Leonie Beiersdorf, Julian Blunk, Dara Bryant, Helen Finch, Carola Hähnel-Mesnard, Stacy Hartman, Elaine Kelly, Heather Mathews, Katharina Pfützner, Matthew Philpotts, Larson Powell, Tim Rei, Marianne Schwarz-Scherer, Laura Silverberg. Matthew Philpotts is Lecturer in German at the University of Manchester, and Sabine Rolle is Lecturer in German at the University of Edinburgh.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-459-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)
    Matthew Philpotts and Sabine Rolle

    Histories are never just neutral accounts of the past. Rather, past events are selected, shaped, and linked into narratives that are told in order to make sense of, and give meaning to, the present. Individuals, families, religious communities, political parties, and other groups use them as vehicles to communicate how they arrived where they are, how they want to be seen and understood. Above all, the cultural construction of these narratives, understood in the broadest possible sense, is one of the central planks in the formation of national identity, the collective myth-making which so often essentializes the otherwise contingent nation-state....

  4. I

    • Auferstanden aus Ruinen: Die Konstruktion kultureller Traditionen einer traditionslosen Gesellschaft im Wiederaufbaufilm der SBZ
      (pp. 7-29)
      Julian Blunk

      Wohl zu kaum einem anderen Zeitpunkt stellte sich die Frage nicht nur nach der Zukunft, sondern auch nach der Herkunft des deutschen Volkes derart dringlich wie in der SBZ der unmittelbaren Nachkriegsjahre. Denn eine Gesellschaft, die dem Pilot-projekt der Realisierung eines deutschen Sozialismus entgegensah, hatte sich natürlich zunächst im Grundsatz daraufhin zu befragen, ob die deutsche Geschichte vor der Stunde Null zu irgendeinem Zeitpunkt Werte oder Symbole hatte hervorbringen können, an die es nun anzuknüpfen lohnte und, wenn ja, welche diese im Einzelnen hätten sein können. Insofern Deutschland nach der Kapitulation nicht nur moralisch, sondern auch ganz buchstäblich in Trümmern...

    • “A Romance with One’s Own Fantasy”: The Nostalgia of Exile in Anna Seghers’s Mexico
      (pp. 30-46)
      Stacy Hartman

      InThe Future of NostalgiaSvetlana Boym defines “the predicament of Lot’s wife” as the “fear that looking back might paralyze you forever, turning you into a pillar of salt, a pitiful monument to your own grief and the futility of departure.”¹ In many ways Lot’s wife remains the quintessential representation of the dangers of nostalgia in exile. Her predicament is the predicament of exiles everywhere: home is lost or, indeed, never existed to begin with, but nostalgic feelings persist, creating “a romance with one’s own fantasy” (B,xiii). This romance is visible in literature produced by exiles as they...

  5. II

    • From Narrative to Symbol: The Development of the Antifascist Monument in the GDR
      (pp. 47-62)
      Leonie Beiersdorf

      Twenty years after reunification, material remnants of GDR political identity can still be found at the very center of the communal fabric of most East German towns and villages. Among these relics, the most common type of GDR monument, the so-calledOdF-Denkmaldedicated to the “Opfer des Faschismus” (the victims of fascism), has received little attention from historians. This is perhaps a result of the limited artistic scope of these monuments. However, as a genre they are of great importance for understanding how a specifically GDR cultural heritage came to be formed.

      First appearing after 1945 and rooted in the...

    • Mama, ich lebe: Konrad Wolf’s Intermedial Parable of Antifascism
      (pp. 63-75)
      Larson Powell

      Mama, ich lebehas not received much more recognition from subsequent criticism than it did from its first viewers in 1977. Like its predecessor,Der nackte Mann auf dem Sportplatz(1974), it is one of Konrad Wolf’s most subdued, leisurely and understated films. It is far less dramatic than its closest relative,Ich war neunzehn,of which it thus may superficially appear a pallid remake. YetMamareworks not only many of the same thematic materials as other of Wolf’s films — the moral pathos of political decision, of redefining individual authenticity apart from nationhood, and the constellation of private and...

    • Queering the Antifascist State: Ravensbrück as a Site of Lesbian Resistance
      (pp. 76-89)
      Dara Bryant

      On 10 March 1984, a group of lesbians from the Berlin-based “Arbeitskreis Homosexuelle Selbsthilfe-Lesben in der Kirche” (Lesbians in the Church — LiC) made their first “official” trip to Ravensbrück, the former concentration camp in Fürstenberg, north of Berlin where they visited the museum and wrote a passage in the visitor’s book memorializing the victims of fascism, especially lesbians, and placed a wreath. All evidence of their visit was removed within a week. In response, the group registered a formal complaint and were informed the group’s name was the problem. A year later, eleven women from the same group attempted to...

  6. III

    • Formalism, Naturalism, and the Elusive Socialist Realist Picture at the GDR’s Dritte deutsche Kunstausstellung, 1953
      (pp. 90-105)
      Heather E. Mathews

      Willy Colberg’s paintingStreikposten in Hamburg[Fig. 1] was one of a number of artworks by West Germans to be included in theDritte deutsche Kunstausstellungin 1953, a major national event dedicated to showcasing emerging socialist realist art in the German Democratic Republic. In the following discussion, I will examine how the persistence of a naturalistic style, communicated in part by West German artworks like Colberg’s, helped to shape East Germans’ perceptions of their own progress towards socialist realism. As the case of theDritte deutsche Kunstausstellungdemonstrates, exhibitions are active, public narratives through which organizers are able to...

    • “Cold, Clean, Meaningless”: Industrial Design and Cultural Politics in the GDR 1950–1965
      (pp. 106-123)
      Katharina Pfützner

      This essay will focus on a conflict between two competing visions of socialist design in the GDR, which drew on different aspects of the German cultural heritage and were based on diverging, untested assumptions about what was suitable for the socialist consumer. Ideologues of the ruling SED championed the doctrine of socialist realism as a suitable starting point, while members of the GDR design community supported a modernist approach to industrial design. In the first fifteen years of the state’s existence this disagreement manifested itself in a considerable divergence between official rhetoric and design practice.

      So far this conflict has...

    • (Re)defining the Musical Heritage: Confrontations with Tradition in East German New Music
      (pp. 124-140)
      Laura Silverberg

      Nearly a decade ago, the Deutscher Musikrat began an ambitious project entitled “Musik in Deutschland, 1950–2000.” This recorded anthology of East and West German music would eventually include over one hundred compact discs covering themes such as electronic music, jazz, and musical theater. The series offers a comprehensive presentation of music from both Germanys; composers once physically separated by barbed wire and the Berlin Wall now reside together on the same CD. In some cases, “Musik in Deutschland” unearths striking similarities between East and West German composers, particularly among those who came of age prior to the Second World...

  7. IV

    • Zwischen klassischem Erbe, marxistischer Geschichtsphilosophie und Strukturalismus: Dieter Schlenstedts Entwurf einer „sozialistischen“ Gattungstheorie
      (pp. 141-161)
      Marianne Schwarz-Scherer

      Bis zum Ende ihres Bestehens gab es in der DDR keine mit der gattungstheoretischen Auseinandersetzung in der Bundesrepublik der 70er-und 80er-Jahre vergleichbare Gattungsdiskussion. Die wenigen Beiträge, in denen das Problemfeld „Gattungsästhetik“ thematisiert wurde, standen zumeist mit dem allgemeinen Diskurs um eine marxistische Ästhetik im Zusammenhang. Sie finden sich als „Splitter“ in Monografien oder Sammelbänden, und außer der Darstellung des sowjetischen Philosophen Moissej Kagan gehen sie im Allgemeinen nicht über skizzenhafte Entwürfe einer Gattungstheorie hinaus.¹ Dies ist umso erstaunlicher, als die Gattungen zum Bestand des „Erbes“ gehören und als Elemente der Inhalt-Form-Dialektik einen wesentlichen Bestandteil des sozialistischen Realismus darstellen.

      Dieter Schlenstedts...

    • Vom „Klassencharakter der Literatur“ zum „nationalen Kulturerbe“: Zum Zusammenhang von Kulturpolitik und Literaturwissenschaft in der DDR der siebziger und achtziger Jahre
      (pp. 162-183)
      Tim Reiß

      Der folgende Text geht von der Beobachtung aus, dass die kulturpolitisch angeleiteten Versuche, eine eigenständige DDRIdentität herauszubilden, schon lange vor 1989/90 gescheitert sind.¹ In den 1980er Jahren beziehen sich kulturpolitische Veröffentlichungen der DDR zunehmend auf eine Idee der Einheit der kulturellen Überlieferung. Diese Idee artikulierte sich in einer Rhetorik, die das „Bewußtwerden der Verwurzelung der sozialistischen deutschen Nation in derganzen deutschenGeschichte“ anmahnte.² Damit war der Versuch einer erbetheoretischen Legitimation deutscher Zweistaatlichkeit gescheitert, denn diese bezog sich auf eine Konzeption, die von der wesentlichen Heterogenität der kulturellen Überlieferung ausging.³ Die Vorstellung vom Erbe als „unteilbarer“ Einheit stand von ihrer...

  8. V

    • Polyphonic Traditions: Schiller, Sinn und Form and the “Thick” Literary Journal
      (pp. 184-197)
      Matthew Philpotts

      Founded by Johannes R. Becher in 1948, the legendary East Berlin literary journalSinn und Formexemplified the restorative, “all-German” cultural policy promoted by the occupying Soviet military administration.¹ The journal was not to be aKampfblattfor a radical new beginning under German socialism. Rather, in a project which was always intended as an international showcase, Becher chose as his editor-in-chief the non-aligned poet Peter Huchel, and together they drew self-consciously on a number of highly respected “bourgeois” antecedents: Hugo von Hoffmansthal’sNeue deutsche Beiträge; Willy Haas’sDie literarische Welt; Thomas Mann’sMaß und Wert; and even Stefan George’s...

    • Composing the Canon: The Individual and the Romantic Aesthetic in the GDR
      (pp. 198-217)
      Elaine Kelly

      Narratives of the past are inevitably subjective. They reflect prevailing structures of power and encode the social and cultural discourses in which they are conceived. This is particularly the case where cultural canons are concerned. Canons embody contemporary values and effectively function, as Paul Lauter observes, as “a means by which culture validates social power.”¹ This phenomenon can be perceived clearly in the constructs of the musical canon that pervaded in the early years of the German Democratic Republic. Portrayals of composers such as Bach, Handel and Beethoven as precursors of socialism reinforced official narratives of the GDR as the...

    • Recalling the Goddess Pandora: From Utopia to Resignation, from Goethe to Peter Hacks in Irmtraud Morgner’s Amanda
      (pp. 218-232)
      Helen Finch

      Irmtraud Morgner’s Feminist-Utopian project reserves a key place for Goethe in its famously complex mythology. Her feminist appropriation ofFausthas received most attention from critics;¹ less attention has been paid to her transformation of Goethe’s fragmentary playPandorain the second volume of her Salman-Trilogie,Amanda. Yet a close examination of Morgner’s engagement with Pandora shows thatAmandamarks Morgner’s move from utopianism to disillusionment in the final years of the GDR, and also that Goethe remained a poetic touchstone as she sought a new aesthetic form for her disillusionment. While the first volume of the trilogy sought to...

    • Distinktionsstrategien im literarischen Feld und Aktualisierung tabuisierter Traditionen in der selbst verlegten Literatur der DDR in den 1980er Jahren
      (pp. 233-252)
      Carola Hähnel-Mesnard

      Die selbst verlegte Literatur der 1980er Jahre zeichnet sich auf inhaltlicher und formaler Ebene, aber auch hinsichtlich ihrer Produktion und Rezeption durch einen radikalen Bruch mit den verschiedenen Traditionen der DDR-Literatur aus. Zwischen 1978 und 1990 zirkulierten in der DDR circa dreißig Kleinstzeitschriften, die größtenteils durch die Zusammenarbeit jüngerer Autoren und bildender Künstler entstanden sind.¹

      Die einzelnen Zeitschriften erschienen mit einer Auflage zwischen zwanzig und einhundert Exemplaren, sie zirkulierten vorrangig im Freundeskreis der Autoren und hatten aus diesem Grund eine relativ eingeschränkte Verbreitung. Dennoch ist ihre Wirkung im literarischen Feld der DDR nicht zu unterschätzen. Denn den Autoren und Herausgebern...