Eastern German News


 Newsletter of the Eastern German Studies Group

 #22 (October 1997)

Table of Contents:


EGSG 1998 Conference Call for Papers

The 6th triennial conference of the Eastern German Studies Group, co-sponsored by le Centre canadien d'études allemandes et européennes (Université de Montréal/York University), the Institut für kulturwissenschaftliche Deutschland Studien der Universität Bremen and Département de science politique de l`Université de Montréal will be held from 12-15 November 1998 in Montreal.

The theme is "AFTER THE GDR\APRES LA RDA: New Historical, Theoretical, and Comparative Perspectives on Divided and Reunited Germany"

The demise of the GDR in 1989-90 did not spell the end of Eastern German studies. To the contrary, the availability of new sources (archives, interviews, unpublished documents) compels and allows a complete re-evaluation of the GDR`s history, politics, society, economy, culture, and arts as well as of the causes of its collapse. New research and post-Cold War theoretical and comparative perspectives should offer answers to a broad range of questions. For example:

Moreover, the integration of Eastern Germany into the Federal Republic has raised new research questions:

We invite paper proposals addressing these and other relevant questions from all disciplinary and theoretical perspectives. Conference panels will be organized thematically and interdisciplinary. Because we intend to publish a conference volume in time for the tenth anniversary of the fall of the Wall, we ask that all proposals be based on original research, be of publishable quality by the time of the conference, and not exceed 25 pages in their final form. (Conference languages will be English, French and German, but final papers should be in English.)

Please submit paper proposals (including title, 250-word abstract, and a ten-line curriculum vitae) no later than March 1, 1998, by e-mail to the members of the programme committee:

  • Laurence McFalls (Université de Montréal)
  • Karen Kramer (Stanford University-Berlin)
  • Volker Gransow (York University)
  • Christian Ostermann (George Washington University)
  • Tom Baylis (University of Texas)
  • Lothar Probst (Universität Bremen)
  • OR send five hard copies to Volker Gransow c/o The Canadian Centre for German and European Studies, 230 York Lanes, York University, North York, Ontario, Canada M3J 1P3.

    Acceptance of proposals will be confirmed by May 1, 1998. The programme committe will invite qualified commentators for each panel, and completed papers should be sent to them by October 31, 1998. The conference will take place at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in downtown Montréal, with rooms available for a special conference rate of approximately $108 single or double. A conference programme including registration and room reservation information, the names of confirmed special guest speakers, panel and accepted paper titles, and other conference events will be circulated in May 1998.

    Bibliographies needed

    We're happy to post either lists of your publications or useful bibliographies on the EGSG web site. Email the editor any useful information as well that would be of interest to EGSG members.

    EGSG Financial Report for 1996

    Treasurer Scott Gissendanner reports that the EGSG remains solvent.

     Opening Balance (1/1/96)


     Income: Dues


     Income: Interest


     Expense: Travel Grant to A. Hedin


     Expense: Newsletter


     Closing Balance (31/12/96)


    GDR and East German Studies in North America

    EGSG President Laurence McFalls has written a report on East German studies in North America for Aktuelles aus der DDR Forschung.

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    Conference Announcements and Reports

    The Reading PDS Conference

    Henry Krish reports: "On September 12-13, 1997, the Centre for East German Studies at the university of Reading's Department of German Studies held a successful conference on "The PDS in Germany: Modern Post-Communism or Nostalgic Populism?' Attending were about fifty people from the UK, the United States, Germany and Ireland. Ten speakers read papers on the origins of the PDS in the Wendezeit (Peter Barker, Reading); the PDS in current German electoral politics: Oskar Niedermayer (FU Berlin) and Henry Krisch (Univ of Connecticut); Lothar Probst (UniBremen) on the PDS at a local level; Patrick Moreau (Munich) on the PDS compared to other West European postcommunists, especially Italy's Rifondazione Comunista, and Jens Bastian (LSE) on the PDS in an East European comparison; Dieter Klein (Humboldt/PDS) and Günter Minnerup (Birmingham) on the PDS and ideological issues; finally, the PDS from the SPD (Hans-Jürgen Scherer, Wissenschaftsforum der Sozialdemokratie ) and the Greens (Elisabeth Schroedter,MEP) perspectives. The weather was lovely, the courtesy of the hosts impeccable, the discussion lively. The results will be published in early 1998 by Rodolphi, Amsterdam."

    1998 New Hampshire Conference Call for Papers

    The call for papers for this conference is now available.

    Der Spiegel on the Conway Conference

    Infrequent readers of Der Spiegel might check the 28/1997 issue for Hemryk M. Broder's rather unfriendly report on the recently-concluded Conway symposium. It's on pp. 72-73

    DIS-UNIFICATION: Competing Constructions of Contemporary Germany

    The University of Southampton and Southampton Institute are holding a conference on the above theme from April 16-17, 1998 in Southhampton. Unification did not resolve questions of German Identity. Almost a decade on from the removal of the Berlin Wall, the comment that its ultimate role was to preserve the illusion that there was one Germany seems increasingly apt, and Post-Wende Germany is characterised by its divergent discourses and its multiple identities. Overshadowed by the trauma of their twentieth century memories, Germans are still seeking to re-locate themselves in a complex present, and in future-orientated chartings of the new century.

    Taking as its basis this unstable cultural plurality that flows beneath the hegemonic story of prosperity and progress, the conference aims to contribute to the discursive mapping of contemporary Germany from which new constructions of Germanness will emerge. In holding this international meeting outside Germany, the organisers hope that it will stimulate both internal and external views of the heteroglossic articulation of German identities in this period of cultural/linguistic risk and re-orientation.

    The conference programme will consist of contributions from distinguished guest speakers and responses to this call for papers. The conference language will be English, and it is planned to publish a selection of papers from the conference in book form with a British publisher to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the Wende.

    Titles and abstracts (approx. 200 words) for 30 minute papers are invited under two main headings, corresponding to two strands in the conference programme:

    1. Divergent Discourses: This strand will focus on public (e.g.mediatic, educational, political, intellectual, historiographical) encodings of contemporary German identities. It will analyse and question a range of formulations intended to influence German collective self-understanding. For example: What has become of the triumphal discourse of unity? Post-unification Eastern and Western discourses and identities - old ideologies in new disguises? Or new responses to new conflicts? Far right and neo-nazi discourses of Germanness - taboo breaking protest? Or a potent discursive response to perceived inadequate identity myths? European, multicultural and global identities - genuine alternatives? Or escape from the German into the utopian? Stereotyping the Germans - fun for whom? Whose games? The unifying feature of contributions should be a methodological approach based on critical discourse analysis of texts. Please send proposals for papers in this strand to:

    Dr John Theobald
    Associate Professor in Modern Languages
    Southampton Institute
    East Park Terrace, Southampton, SO14 0YN
    Tel. +44 1703 319583
    Fax. +44 1703 319490
    E-mail: theobald_j@solent.ac.uk

    2. Communicative Dissonance: This strand will focus on personal encodings of contemporary German identities, and will address some of the issues underlying discordant communicative practices. For example: Will communicative differences between East and West Germans be as short-lived as some commentators suppose? Are these differences a superficial problem to be overcome through compensatory education programmes? Or an expression of profoundly divergent cultural identities? Is the East/West dichotomy still appropriate, or are hybrid speech styles emerging? Should East/West questions be treated in isolation? Or should they be seen as one amongst many manifestations of inter-(or intra)cultural communication patterns that have evolved in Germany over the last 50 years? The unifying feature of contributions should be a methodological approach based on the analysis of interpersonal interaction. Please send proposals for papers in this strand to:

    Patrick Stevenson
    Senior Lecturer in German School of Modern Languages,
    University of Southampton
    Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK
    Tel. +44 1703 593405
    Fax. +44 1703 593288
    E-mail: ps@lang.soton.ac.uk

    Deadline for abstracts: 31 October 1997.

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    Miscellaneous News

    Death of Jürgen Kuczynski

    by Stefan Wogawa

    On August 6, the famous East German Marxist historian Jürgen Kuczynski died. He published more than 4,000 items, including 200 books. Among his most significant publications are the 40 volumes of the Geschichte der Arbeiter unter dem Kapitalismus (1960-72), the Studien zu einer Geschichte der Gesellschaftswissenschaften (12 volumes, 1975-78) and the Geschichte des Alltags des deutschen Volkes (5 volumes, 1980-85). His Dialog mit meinem Urenkel, written 1977 but published censored only 1982, was one of the most critical books published in the GDR. His other autobiographical writings are also important witnesses of East German history.

    Kuczynski was 1904 born in a Jewish scholarly family. He studied philosophy, statistics and economics at Berlin, Erlangen and Heidelberg. He earned the Ph.D. in 1925. As a research fellow he founded the research branch of the American Federation of Labor. Back in Germany he worked as an editor. As a member of the Communist Party (KPD), he fought against the Nazis and had to emigrate 1936 to England. He served as statistician with the rank of a colonel in the US armed forces, but also in the Soviet military intelligence. In the SBZ he was the leader of the German-Soviet Friendship Society (DSF), but had to resign because Soviet antisemitic reservations. He was a member of the parliament (Volkskammer) and professor for economic history at the Humboldt-University and the Akademie der Wissenschaften (DAW, later AdW), emerited in 1972. He judged himself as a "linientreuer Dissident".

    The man, who named the history of capitalism as the scientific theme of his life experienced the end of the state socialism in 1989. Nevertheless, he believed in a new socialism as the human future. But this new socialism will have to be, he wrote in 1996, a democratic one.

    His last books are Wohin geht unsere Welt and Freunde und gute Bekannte. (posthum in september), both by Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf, Berlin. His legendary library will go to the Humboldt University.

    Saxon State Commissioner for the Documents of the State Security Service of the GDR

    This organization recently established an interesting web site, with documents, illustrations and other material relevant to the operations of the Stasi.

    Database of GDR Scholars established at Mannheim

    Ulrich Mählert has begun a registry of scholars and institutions interested in the GDR. A questionaire is available, as is a search engine for the database. This looks to be a most useful enterprise.

    Berlin Library

    Henry Krisch reports that the FU Berlin has closed the famous "ZI 6," there is a struggle on over the future of the ZI's library. As many DDR-Forscher know well, this library, founded over fifty years ago, and containing major book and archival holdings on both GDR and Nazi era German affairs, has been an invaluable resource for the international scholarly community.

    Ulrich Mählert reports that the library will probably be shifted to the Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung in Potsdam.

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    New Reading

    New Books

    Charles Maier, Dissolution: The Crisis of Comunism and the End of East Germany (Princeton, 1997).

    Winfried Thaa, Die Wiedergeburt des Politischen. Zivilgesellschaft und Legitimitätskonflikt in den Revolutionen von 1989, Opladen: Leske und Budrich 1996.

    AIGS Report Available

    Marc Silberman announces that a report he edited titled "What Remains? East German Culture and the Postwar Public" has been published as Research Report No. 5 of American Institute for Contemporary German Studies. The 100-page volume includes articles by: Marc Silberman on theorizing the "Socialist Public Sphere", F. Eigler on Uwe Johnson's place in postwar literary history, C.A. Costabile-Heming on censorship and Günter Kunert, B. Byg on GDR filmmakers after 1990, E. Grimm on the "unpublic sphere" in the GDR, and D. Bathrick on Stephan Hermlin. The volume can be ordered directly from the AICGS by email: aicgsdoc@jhunix.hcf.jhu.edu or by fax: 202 / 265-9531. The price is $5.

    CWIHP Bulletin

    The Winter 1996/1997 issue of the Cold War International History Project Bulletin includes a variety of documents from the GDR archives relating to GDR foreign policy.

    SAPMO Bibliotheksbriefe

    SAPMO's library publishes a monthly bulletin of some of its holdings on specific topics. Randy Bytwerk can provide photocopies. Recent issues include:

    Papers on Eastern German Economics

    EGSG member Irwin Collier as placed a working drafts of a paper on Eastern German economics on the web in Adobe Acrobat format. Other documents available include the Aufbau-Ost report from the German Economics Ministry last year and a Leitungsbilanz prepared by the German Finance Ministry (west to east transfers).

    Recent Theses and Dissertations

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    Requests and Queries

    Linda Merz asks: "I am an independent researcher on POW/MIA issues from the Vietnam War. There were captured Americans sent to East Germany, some for medical treatment and possibly experiments, who were never repatriated to the US in 1973. There were also East German propoganda films on some of these POWs, the best known of which is Pilots in Pajamas. I'm trying to find out what happened to these men who were not returned to Vietnam and were never repatriated to the US. It is generally believed they may have gone on to the Soviet Union and some to Cuba. I am also trying to get more information on the military hospital in East Berlin where some were treated. Anyone with some knowledge of the matter may contact her at: 1236 West Sandtrap Way; Oro Valley, AZ 85737.

    Gudrun Hommel-Ingram writes: {I am working on a dissertation at the University of Oregon on Erich Loest and went this summer to do research in Germany. I am intending to write on his Kriminalliteratur, the mistery novels he wrote under a the pseudonym Hans Walldorf after he was released from Bautzen. I'm just in the early stages of the dissertation, so I don't have that much yet, but perhaps it's of interest to some of your members. I'll be happy to answer further

    Tom Conlon writes: I am interested in being an e-mail or snail mail pal with anyone interested in sharing experiences of growing up in the DDR. They can contact me at: 2183 Berkeley Ave., St. Paul, MN 55105.

    Greg Witkowski writes: I am a doctoral student in history at SUNY Buffalo. I conducted preliminary research for my dissertation this summer in Germany. My work will concentrate on the relationship between workers and farmers in the countryside and the government campaign to create a worker consciousness among farmers in the 1950s. I visited a number of local achives for this project, primarily in Sachsen-Anhalt and found a guidebook of the Kreis, Gemeinde and Stadt archives (40 Jahre DDR: Kleiner Archivführer für das Land Sachsen-Anhalt) which gave me much more information than I was able to find in any other guide to arhives. If anyone is interested, I could send them a photocopy. Do you know if similar books exist for other Laender?

    As most people told me, the Gemeinde archives had quite varied holdings. Some had almost no information from the 1950s. The staffs were generally helpful though not always knowledgible. I had no trouble getting appointments on short notice. I also used the Bundesarchiv in Lichterfelde which was crowded but far from full in June. The staff was incredibly helpful. Not all of the information that I used had been catalogued. I would like to take a look at Stasi records for my dissertation, do you know how to get access to the Gauck Archive?

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    EGSG Officers for 1995-98


    Laurence McFalls
    Department de science politique
    Université de Montreal
    C.P. 6128
    succursale Centre-ville
    Montréal, Québec H3C 3J7

    Email: mcfallsl@ere.umontreal.ca


    Henry Krisch
    Dept. of Political Science
    University of Connecticut
    341 Mansfield Road
    Storrs, CT 06269-102

    Phone: (860) 486-5334
    Fax: (860) 486-3347
    Email: henryk@uconnvm.uconn.edu


    Scott Gissendanner
    bei Gnielka
    15711 Koenigs Wusterhausen

    Email: sgissendan@uga.cc.uga.edu


    Randall Bytwerk
    CAS Department
    Calvin College
    3201 Burton SE
    Grand Rapids, MI 49546

    Phone: (616) 957-6286
    Fax: (616) 957-6601

    Members- at-Large:

    Joyce Marie Mushaben
    3652 Pine Creek
    Williamsburg, OH 45176

    Christian F. Ostermann
    The National Security Archive
    701 Gelman Library
    2130 H St., NW
    Washington, D.C. 20037

    Tel: (202 )994 7076
    Fax: (202 )994 7005
    Email: chrisost@gwis2.circ.gwu.edu

    Ellen Anderson
    Center for German and European Studies
    School of Foreign Service
    Georgetown University
    Washington, DC 20057

    Tel. 202-687-8073
    Fax 202-687-8359
    Email: 75103.371@compuserve.com

    In -progress version of the October 1997 EGSG Newsletter
    Last updated 19 March 1998
    Web Page by Randall Bytwerk
    Calvin College
    URL: <http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/egsg/2297.htm>