The Longue Durée of 1989/90. Regime Change and Everyday Life in East Germany

Project leader: Priv.-Doz. Dr. Kerstin Brückweh
Postdoc: Anja Schröter
PhD students: Kathrin Zöller, Clemens Villinger

Funded by the Leibniz Association as part of the Leibniz Competition, 2016-2019

1989/90 is often considered a key caesura of the twentieth century. By looking at the long-term developments surrounding this historic event from the mid-1970s to the beginning of the new millennium, this project analyses the social changes that paved the way for and shaped all three stages: the late phase of the GDR, the peaceful revolution, and the transformation that followed. Dynamics and tensions of the East German lifeworld throughout the period of regime change will be examined in four case studies focused on housing, local political culture, education and consumption practices. All four studies combine archival sources with oral history and the secondary analysis of social science data. The results will be placed in the context of other late or post-communist countries as well as the context of other societies in transformation.



Home Sweet Home: Property Between Expropriation, Appropriation and New Modes of Organisation in the Long History of 1989

Kerstin Brückweh

Research project

Although on the surface circumstances seemed stable, the situation regarding home ownership was, from the 1970s onwards, in growing need of action. This need was a consequence of the deterioration of existing older buildings, accompanied by the state...

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Dessau North (Photo: B. Duhm)

Political Culture in East Germany
Local Democratisation and Participation before, during and after 1989/90

Anja Schröter

Research project

At the centre of this project lies the creation of small, restricted public spheres and their significance for the development of dialogue- and consensus-orientated forms of civil participation and politics in East Germany.

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Entrance of the 56. polytechnic secondary school in Berlin-Marzahn, Parsteiner Ring 24, Type „Berlin 81 GT“, February 1984. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1984-0227-026 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1984-0227-026, Berlin, Marzahn, Polytechnische Oberschule 56, Eingang, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE

The East German School as a Site of Lifeworlds in Upheaval

Kathrin Zöller

PhD project

The centrally-organised education system in the GDR made schools into strongly regimented and, in terms of their mechanisms, predictable institutions for students and teachers alike. The system change of 1989/90 meant that the East German education authorities...

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Line infront of a butcher's shop, East Berlin 1988. Photo: Laurent Tchedry Warteschlange vor einer Fleischerei, CC BY-SA 3.0

East German Consumption Practices in the Long History of the ‘Wende’

Clemens Villinger

PhD project

Access to consumer goods is considered one of the central motives for large parts of the East German population engaging in the revolutionary events of 1989. After consolidating and improving the supply of consumer goods in the 1960s and 1970s, the situation...

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Posters in the campaign office of Alliance 90 for the People's Chamber elections on 18 March 1990, 28.2.1990. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1990-0228-021 / Uhlemann, Thomas / CC-BY-SA 3.0, Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1990-0228-021, Berlin, Volkskammerwahl, Wahlkampfbüro, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE

Edition Bündnis 90 (1989 – 1993)

Christoph Becker-Schaum

Associated Edition project

The reunification expanded the West German party system with two new formations, which brought their contrary validity claims from the GDR past into the new Federal Republic: the alliance of oppositional citizens’ movements and the SED successor...

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Hostile or friendly takeover on?
The merging of ‘Bündnis 90’ and the Green Party

Florian Schikowski

Associated PhD Project

This PhD project investigates the process of the merging of Bündnis 90 [Alliance 90] and the Green Party in a long-term perspective from 1989 to 1998, when Bündnis 90/Die Grünen joined the first red-green federal government in Germany.


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