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Divided, But Not Disconnected

Divided, But Not Disconnected: German Experiences of the Cold War

Tobias Hochscherf
Christoph Laucht
Andrew Plowman
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 276
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  • Book Info
    Divided, But Not Disconnected
    Book Description:

    The Allied agreement after the Second World War did not only partition Germany, it divided the nation along the fault-lines of a new bipolar world order. This inner border made Germany a unique place to experience the Cold War, and the "German question" in this post-1945 variant remained inextricably entwined with the vicissitudes of the Cold War until its end. This volume explores how social and cultural practices in both German states between 1949 and 1989 were shaped by the existence of this inner border, putting them on opposing sides of the ideological divide between the Western and Eastern blocs, as well as stabilizing relations between them. This volume's interdisciplinary approach addresses important intersections between history, politics, and culture, offering an important new appraisal of the German experiences of the Cold War.

    eISBN: 978-1-84545-646-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. viii-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)
    Tobias Hochscherf, Christoph Laucht and Andrew Plowman

    On a basic level, it was its inner border that made Germany a unique place to experience the Cold War. The settlement agreed between the Allies at the Potsdam Conference not only partitioned Germany but divided the German nation, alone among the nations in Europe, along the fault lines of a new bipolar world order. With the integration of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) into the political, military and economic alliances of the West and the German Democratic Republic (GDR) into the Soviet bloc, the divide was cemented and the two states evolved in contrary directions.

    The ‘German question’...

  6. 1 Divided, but Not Disconnected: Germany as a Border Region of the Cold War
    (pp. 11-33)
    Thomas Lindenberger

    Within historical literature, it has increasingly become standard practice to refer to the ‘Cold War’ as an ‘experience’ rather than just a brute fact. From a strictly methodological point of view this may seem banal, since ‘experience’ is the way in which humans confront, form and remember any ‘reality’. To emphasize the dimension of subjectivity and perception here recognizes, of course, the paramount weight of the seemingly ‘objective’ and life-threatening ‘facts’ through which the Cold War marked world history for more than four decades. Bernd Stöver has convincingly made the case for considering the Cold War as a ‘system’ constituted...

  7. 2 Fighting the First World War in the Cold War: East and West German Historiography on the Origins of the First World War, 1945–1959
    (pp. 34-48)
    Matthew Stibbe

    Thomas Lindenberger’s notion, in this volume, of Germany as a ‘border region of the Cold War’, with the intense and contradictory feelings of ‘separateness’ and ‘togetherness’ that borders can generate, is also useful in interpreting different modes of ‘coming to terms with the past’ in the two Germanys.¹ On the one hand, behind the scenes scholars in the GDR typically displayed a high degree of interest in developments in political historiography in the West (and in neighbouring socialist countries like Poland), although this interest was not always reciprocated, and increasingly less so as time passed.² On the other, until the...

  8. 3 The Sideways Gaze: The Cold War and Memory of the Nazi Past, 1949–1970
    (pp. 49-62)
    Bill Niven

    It is a commonplace that the early, ‘classic’ phase of the Cold War prior to the advent of Willy Brandt’sOstpolitikin the 1970s is unthinkable without the Second World War and its aftermath. The very alliance between Soviet communism and Western liberalism during the war ultimately served to throw into relief and intensify the irreconcilable tensions between the two systems. In the postwar period, with control over Europe at stake, these tensions fractured and then split the alliance, and Germany found itself cut apart along the line of that split.

    But the Cold War was not only causally linked...

  9. 4 Recasting Luther’s Image: The 1983 Commemoration of Martin Luther in the GDR
    (pp. 63-76)
    Jon Berndt Olsen

    Germany’s relationship with the past entered a period of fluctuation during the late 1970s and early 1980s. The success of West German Chancellor Willy Brandt’sOstpolitikbrought new challenges to East Germany’s claims of legitimacy and forced it to reassess the categorization of many historical events and figures as belonging to either the ‘progressive’ or the ‘reactionary’ camp. Until then, the GDR had continually professed the so-called dual-line theory of history, in which it inherited the progressive elements of German history while West Germany inherited the reactionary ones. During this period of reassessment an increased number of historical subjects previously...

  10. 5 West German Labour Internationalism and the Cold War
    (pp. 77-89)
    Quinn Slobodian

    To West Germans at the turn of the 1960s, the decolonizing world represented both an opportunity and a threat. Business interests eyed overseas markets hungrily but were concerned about the advantages of Western European nations such as Great Britain and France, which maintained preferential trading arrangements with former colonies. Politicians in the Federal Republic were excited about the potential for making new allies in the struggle with their East German rival, but at the same time they were anxious that postcolonial leaders might favour the more radical politics of the GDR to their own.¹ Most West Germans believed that loyalties...

  11. 6 The German Question and Polish–East German Relations, 1945–1962
    (pp. 90-104)
    Sheldon Anderson

    There is an old Polish saying that ‘As long as the world is whole, no German will be a brother to a Pole’.¹ This fraternal reference is an apt metaphor for East German–Polish relations after the Second World War. The East Germans and Poles were like siblings born into the Soviet family. They curried favour with the paternal centre while pursuing conflicting national interests, yet no matter how much they quarrelled, they could not leave this family. This chapter examines a number of conflicts between the GDR and Poland from 1945 to 1962. It starts by exploring how East...

  12. 7 From Bulwark of Freedom to Cosmopolitan Cocktails: The Cold War, Mass Tourism and the Marketing of West Berlin as a Tourist Destination
    (pp. 105-118)
    Michelle A. Standley

    Historically, Berlin was not one of the great travel destinations of Europe. Over the course of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as mass leisure gradually extended beyond the elite classes to the bourgeoisie and petit-bourgeoisie, Berlin remained off the beaten track. Next to Rome or Paris, the city had comparatively little to attract the elite or bourgeois traveller in search of the roots of classical or modern civilization. A relatively young city, it lacked world-famous architecture, great works of art and the refined consumer pleasures of Paris or London. Nor did Berlin have sand and sunshine, which were increasingly...

  13. 8 Projections of History: East German Film-Makers and the Berlin Wall
    (pp. 119-133)
    Seán Allan

    There can be few locations in postwar Europe where the vicissitudes of the Cold War come so sharply into focus as in the divided city of Berlin. As the recent releases of Hartmut Schön’s televised filmDie Mauer – Berlin ’61(The Wall – Berlin ’61, 2006) and Dominik Graf’sDer rote Kakadu(The Red Cockatoo, 2006) underline, the Berlin Wall still remains one of the enduring icons of the ideological struggle between East and West. While the inner-German border between the GDR and the FRG was effectively sealed off after 1952, the fact that cross-border transit in Berlin remained...

  14. 9 Defending the Border? Satirical Treatments of the Bundeswehr after the 1960s
    (pp. 134-147)
    Andrew Plowman

    In Arno Ploog and Joachim Fischer’s humorous illustrated volumeMeine Dienstzeit bei der Bundeswehr(My Service in the Bundeswehr, 1965), the protagonist, a conscript to the West German Bundeswehr, briefly reflects upon the difference between military service in the FRG and in the GDR: ‘Our motives for serving are also superior to the East, because we havevalues worth defending, e.g. freedom’, he observes, comparing his situation to that of ‘young people in the [former Soviet Occupation] Zone, who are ruthlessly forced into military service’.¹ The joke, of course, is his failure to understand that conscription was a fact in...

  15. 10 East versus West: Olympic Sport as a German Cold War Phenomenon
    (pp. 148-162)
    Christopher Young

    Lies, damn lies and statistics! Nowhere is this maxim more appropriate than in sport, a world where figures on a spreadsheet capture little of the essence of individual brilliance and collective achievement. And nowhere more than sport is it so outrageously flouted as coaches, spectators and commentators analyse statistical information to gauge and celebrate the macro-narratives of season’s bests and the micro-details of individual performance. The body cultures of sport might generate aesthetic pleasure and engender a mood of mutual respect and understanding, but their dominant hermeneutic codes reduce them all – from gymnastics to clay pigeon shooting – to...

  16. 11 Films from the ‘Other Side’: The Influence of the Cold War on the West German Feature Film Import in the GDR
    (pp. 163-175)
    Rosemary Stott

    Film exchange between the two Germanys reveals much about diplomatic relations between the two states, with fluctuations in distribution patterns providing a barometer of the cultural relations between the GDR and the FRG. Because film production was one of the means via which both governments developed a distinctive national culture, film exchange was a politically sensitive activity, with neither government motivated to promote the ‘other’ German identity. A glance at the film releases in cinemas confirms that the two Germanys were generally very much divided when it came to promoting one another’s film output. In the FRG, films made by...

  17. 12 The Shadows of the Past in Germany: Visual Representation, the Male Hero and the Cold War
    (pp. 176-189)
    Inge Marszolek

    Focusing on the visualization of the ‘male hero’ as the embodiment of power, this chapter deals with the significance of visual representations in the battle for cultural hegemony during the Cold War. Although the role of visual representation in this battle is acknowledged, there has been little research on actual published pictures. This fact reflects the enduring suspicion among historians about the source value of images. A hierarchy of sources obtains, and questions of interpretation remain more acute in the case of visual material than for the written word. As Gerhard Paul emphasizes, what we might term ‘visual history’ cannot...

  18. 13 Reenacting the First Battle of the Cold War: Post-Wall German Television Confronts the Berlin Airlift in Die Luftbrücke – Nur der Himmel war frei
    (pp. 190-203)
    Tobias Hochscherf and Christoph Laucht

    In an episode of the comedy showPastewka, the actor and film producer Til Schweiger offered his host Bastian Pastewka a role in a fictitious historical drama based on the 1973 oil crisis entitledDer autofreie Sonntag(The Car-Free Sunday). Schweiger explains the project to Pastewka: ‘You know the major two-part television films about important events in German history, right?Sturmflut,Dresden,Die Luftbrücke,Der Tunnel… they always follow the same pattern: a historic event, a love story, a woman has to choose between two men, one of them played by the actor Heino Ferch.’¹ With their formulaic narratives...

  19. 14 Unusual Censor Readings: East German Science Fiction and the GDR Ministry of Culture
    (pp. 204-219)
    Patrick Major

    Science fiction (sf) in East Germany was always a double-edged sword. It was, first, a propagandistic means of inculcating young, mainly male readers with the virtues of science in general, and of Soviet endeavour in particular. After all, this was the age of the atom and Sputnik. This brand of writing reflected a long tradition of ‘hard’ sf, realist in approach and not limited to Germany, in which rationality and technology solved social problems. Ever since theKaiserreich, the ‘production novel’, pitting engineering know-how against nature, had flourished in a rapidly modernizing country at the forefront of the second industrial...

  20. 15 Funerals in Berlin: The Geopolitical and Cultural Spaces of the Cold War
    (pp. 220-232)
    James Chapman

    There are two dominant images of Berlin in Anglo-American popular culture.¹ One is the Berlin of the Weimar years: the hedonistic, libidinous nightlife capital of Europe imagined in films such as Josef von Sternberg’sDer blaue Engel(The Blue Angel, 1930) and evoked in Christopher Isherwood’s semi-autobiographical novelGoodbye to Berlin(1939), which in turn provided the source for the filmsI Am a Camera(Henry Cornelius, 1955) andCabaret(Bob Fosse, 1972). This is a Berlin of vice and promiscuity, a society caught between the economic problems that beset Germany in the aftermath of the First World and the...

  21. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 233-246)
  22. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 247-249)
  23. Index
    (pp. 250-266)