By looking at state-sponsored memory projects, such as memorials, commemorations, and historical museums, this book reveals that the East German communist regime obsessively monitored and attempted to control public representations of the past to legitimize its rule. It demonstrates that the regime's approach to memory politics was not stagnant, but rather evolved over time to meet different demands and potential threats to its legitimacy. Ultimately the party found it increasingly difficult to control the public portrayal of the past, and some dissidents were able to turn the party's memory politics against the state to challenge its claims of moral authority.
Jon Berndt Olsen is Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the Dean of Waldsee, the German language and culture immersion program of Concordia Language Villages. He has been the recipient of awards from the Fulbright Commission, the Robert Bosch Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council's Berlin Program.
List of TablesList of Illustrations and MapsAcknowledgmentsList of AbbreviationsIntroductionChapter 1. Mobilizing Memory in the Soviet Occupation ZoneChapter 2. The Politics of State MemoryChapter 3. Emotional BondsChapter 4. Broadening the Historical Roots of the State NarrativeChapter 5. The Erosion of State Memory Culture in the GDRConclusionBibliographyIndex