David H. Ehrenpreis
Institute for Creative Inquiry, James Madison University (USA)
E-Mail: EHRENPDH [at] jmu.edu
War Stories: Inventing National Memory at the Soviet Memorial, Treptow
My study examines the history and shifting meanings of the Soviet Memorial in Treptow, the largest and most significant memorial site in post-war Germany. Completed in 1949, this massive complex serves as both a victory monument and a military cemetery for seven thousand Soviet soldiers killed in the Battle of Berlin. The site provides unique insights into the invention of national memory in three successive states: the Soviet Union, the GDR and the FRG. Embodying foundational myths including reverence for the virtuous war dead, Soviet soldiers as “saviours of humanity,” the necessity of militarism, and dependence on the Soviet state, the memorial served as the GDR’s primary ritual space and a ubiquitous element of mass culture. By the 1980s, however, visual artists and writers in the Prenzlauer Berg district of Berlin were attacking this official state culture in their works. For them, this dogma glorifying violence and death and had become obsolete.
The research I’m conducting while at the ZZF this summer will help reveal the nature and impact of creative dissent in the GDR and this shifting understanding of state violence.
Professor David H. Ehrenpreis will conduct research in the department III "Contemporary History of Media and Information Society" during his stay at the ZZF Potsdam.