Social history of the GDR

Ministry of State Security Foreign Aid – East German Popular Opinion – Social History of the SED Dictatorship – Alternative Concepts of Life in East and West – Impact of the Construction of the Berlin Wall - Cold War Tourism

Forschung

Projekte

East German Public Opinion, as mirrored in Secret Service Reports and Opinion Polling from East and West

Jens Gieseke

Research project

The project aims, with the help of serial report sources, to reconstruct the informal formation of and shift in opinions and attitudes among the East German population. The basis of the study is provided by two source groups: on the one hand, mood and situation reports on ‘reactions of the public’ by the Ministry of State Security of the GDR from 1958 to 1989 as well as status reports by the West German Federal Intelligence Service (as far as they are available), and on the other hand the results of demoscopic and sociological research programmes of Infratest in Munich as well as various East German bodies (ZIJ, IfM attached to the Central Committee of the SED, Institute for Market Research, East German Radio Broadcasting, etc.).

ID card of the Federal Republic of Germany for displaced persons and refugees. Picture: Public domain.

Pforzheim – A City of Arrival
On the Integration of Escaped, Ransomed and Departed GDR Citizens in the South-west of the Federal Republic

Florentine Schmidtmann

Associated PhD project

The influx of 3.8 million people who fled and left East Germany or were ransomed by the West German government between 1949 and 1990, some of them at the risk of their own lives, confronted society and politics in West Germany as well as the new arrivals themselves with substantial challenges.

Erich Mielke and the president of Mozambique Samora Machel in East Berlin, (around 1980). Photo: BStU, MfS Abt. X Nr. 769.

The GDR’s Ministry of State Security, the Cold War and the Global South

Anna Warda

Associated PhD project

Over the course of its existence, the German Democratic Republic's Ministry of State Security (MfS), generally known as the Stasi, operated in over 25 countries of what was then often described as the ‘Third World’.

Map of the crossings at the inner German border, with transit routes through the GDR and to and from Berlin (West) (as of 1982), from the official leaflet "Travel to the GDR". Image: Bundesministerium für innerdeutsche Beziehungen, DDR Transit041, public domain, details on Wikimedia Commons

Cold War Tourism
Travelling across the Iron Curtain

Stefanie Eisenhuth

Research project

After a period of further separation and isolation, the GDR government changed its policy regarding visits from and to the West. In the wake of the Quadripartite Agreement, the Basic Treaty and the Transit Agreement, the inner-German border became increasingly traversable.

VEB Narva Kombinat Berliner Glühlampenwerk, Brigade "25th Anniversary of the GDR". Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-P0520-0022 / Sturm, Horst / CC-BY-SA 3.0, Bundesarchiv Bild 183-P0520-0022, VEB Narva Kombinat Berliner Glühlampenwerk, Brigade "25. Jahrestag der DDR", CC BY-SA 3.0 DE

Subtle Differences in the Classless Society
A Social History of the SED Dictatorship

Jens Gieseke

Research project

The objective of this project is a compact portrayal of the social history of the SED dictatorship that combines the findings of the political history of the regime with analyses of the social structures and ranges of experience in East German society. In its focus it ties in with public debates on the mental and social legacy of East German state socialism and takes stock of the intensive as well as controversial research carried out since the fall of the Berlin Wall on rule and society in East Germany.

Computer technology in the East German Ministry of State Security. Photo: BSTU, MfS, Abt. XIII, Fo 0001.

Computerization and Knowledge Production in East and West German Security Authorities, 1960-1990

DFG-Project

The project examines the interrelation of computerization and knowledge production in a comparative manner and examines security authorities situated in a state socialist and a western liberal society respectively.

Squatters in Berlin-Kreuzberg, 1981. Photo: Tom Ordelman (Thor NL), Instandbesetzer Berlin Kreuzberg 1981, CC BY-SA 3.0

Alternative Lifestyles as Oppositional Social Practice in the GDR and the FRG, 1965 – 1980

Rebecca Menzel

Associated PhD project

Based on extensive research into the events of 1968, the student movement and its consequences, the 1970s are regarded as the ‘Red Decade’ (Gerd Koenen), when a highly politicised generation searched for ‘collectivity and community, social significance and political power’. These aims drew continuous attention in publications about the ‘period of 1968’, the Green Party, new social movements and terror groups; whilst people searching for an alternative lifestyle outside the public eye and established structures were often overlooked.

Kommunismus und Geschlecht - Kommunistische Frauen im kurzen 20. Jahrhundert

Ralf Hoffrogge

Forschungsprojekt

Das zunächst auf sechs Monate angelegte Projekt dient zur Erarbeitung eines größeren Forschungsantrages zur Geschlechtergeschichte des deutschen Kommunismus im 20. Jahrhundert.

Chemical engineer in the development laboratory of the VEB Berlin-Chemie. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-B0806-0001-001 / Brüggmann, Eva / CC-BY-SA 3.0, Bundesarchiv Bild 183-B0806-0001-001, VEB Berlin-Chemie, Senkung der Selbstkosten, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE

Gender and Power Relations in Everyday Life in Enterprises in the GDR in the 1970s and 1980s

Henrike Voigtländer

Associated PhD project

How did gender and sexuality shape everyday interactions in the workplace in enterprises in a state propagating equal rights between women and men? Even though the one-party state of the GDR took action in many ways to promote gender equality – especially in employment but also on some moral questions – gender-specific incidents such as insults, positive and negative discrimination, and sexual violence were part of the daily experience of women.

Social history of the GDR

Ministry of State Security Foreign Aid – East German Popular Opinion – Social History of the SED Dictatorship – Alternative Concepts of Life in East and West – Impact of the Construction of the Berlin Wall - Cold War Tourism

Forschung

Projekte

East German Public Opinion, as mirrored in Secret Service Reports and Opinion Polling from East and West

Jens Gieseke

Research project

The project aims, with the help of serial report sources, to reconstruct the informal formation of and shift in opinions and attitudes among the East German population. The basis of the study is provided by two source groups: on the one hand, mood and situation reports on ‘reactions of the public’ by the Ministry of State Security of the GDR from 1958 to 1989 as well as status reports by the West German Federal Intelligence Service (as far as they are available), and on the other hand the results of demoscopic and sociological research programmes of Infratest in Munich as well as various East German bodies (ZIJ, IfM attached to the Central Committee of the SED, Institute for Market Research, East German Radio Broadcasting, etc.).

ID card of the Federal Republic of Germany for displaced persons and refugees. Picture: Public domain.

Pforzheim – A City of Arrival
On the Integration of Escaped, Ransomed and Departed GDR Citizens in the South-west of the Federal Republic

Florentine Schmidtmann

Associated PhD project

The influx of 3.8 million people who fled and left East Germany or were ransomed by the West German government between 1949 and 1990, some of them at the risk of their own lives, confronted society and politics in West Germany as well as the new arrivals themselves with substantial challenges.

Erich Mielke and the president of Mozambique Samora Machel in East Berlin, (around 1980). Photo: BStU, MfS Abt. X Nr. 769.

The GDR’s Ministry of State Security, the Cold War and the Global South

Anna Warda

Associated PhD project

Over the course of its existence, the German Democratic Republic's Ministry of State Security (MfS), generally known as the Stasi, operated in over 25 countries of what was then often described as the ‘Third World’.

Map of the crossings at the inner German border, with transit routes through the GDR and to and from Berlin (West) (as of 1982), from the official leaflet "Travel to the GDR". Image: Bundesministerium für innerdeutsche Beziehungen, DDR Transit041, public domain, details on Wikimedia Commons

Cold War Tourism
Travelling across the Iron Curtain

Stefanie Eisenhuth

Research project

After a period of further separation and isolation, the GDR government changed its policy regarding visits from and to the West. In the wake of the Quadripartite Agreement, the Basic Treaty and the Transit Agreement, the inner-German border became increasingly traversable.

VEB Narva Kombinat Berliner Glühlampenwerk, Brigade "25th Anniversary of the GDR". Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-P0520-0022 / Sturm, Horst / CC-BY-SA 3.0, Bundesarchiv Bild 183-P0520-0022, VEB Narva Kombinat Berliner Glühlampenwerk, Brigade "25. Jahrestag der DDR", CC BY-SA 3.0 DE

Subtle Differences in the Classless Society
A Social History of the SED Dictatorship

Jens Gieseke

Research project

The objective of this project is a compact portrayal of the social history of the SED dictatorship that combines the findings of the political history of the regime with analyses of the social structures and ranges of experience in East German society. In its focus it ties in with public debates on the mental and social legacy of East German state socialism and takes stock of the intensive as well as controversial research carried out since the fall of the Berlin Wall on rule and society in East Germany.

Computer technology in the East German Ministry of State Security. Photo: BSTU, MfS, Abt. XIII, Fo 0001.

Computerization and Knowledge Production in East and West German Security Authorities, 1960-1990

DFG-Project

The project examines the interrelation of computerization and knowledge production in a comparative manner and examines security authorities situated in a state socialist and a western liberal society respectively.

Squatters in Berlin-Kreuzberg, 1981. Photo: Tom Ordelman (Thor NL), Instandbesetzer Berlin Kreuzberg 1981, CC BY-SA 3.0

Alternative Lifestyles as Oppositional Social Practice in the GDR and the FRG, 1965 – 1980

Rebecca Menzel

Associated PhD project

Based on extensive research into the events of 1968, the student movement and its consequences, the 1970s are regarded as the ‘Red Decade’ (Gerd Koenen), when a highly politicised generation searched for ‘collectivity and community, social significance and political power’. These aims drew continuous attention in publications about the ‘period of 1968’, the Green Party, new social movements and terror groups; whilst people searching for an alternative lifestyle outside the public eye and established structures were often overlooked.

Kommunismus und Geschlecht - Kommunistische Frauen im kurzen 20. Jahrhundert

Ralf Hoffrogge

Forschungsprojekt

Das zunächst auf sechs Monate angelegte Projekt dient zur Erarbeitung eines größeren Forschungsantrages zur Geschlechtergeschichte des deutschen Kommunismus im 20. Jahrhundert.

Chemical engineer in the development laboratory of the VEB Berlin-Chemie. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-B0806-0001-001 / Brüggmann, Eva / CC-BY-SA 3.0, Bundesarchiv Bild 183-B0806-0001-001, VEB Berlin-Chemie, Senkung der Selbstkosten, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE

Gender and Power Relations in Everyday Life in Enterprises in the GDR in the 1970s and 1980s

Henrike Voigtländer

Associated PhD project

How did gender and sexuality shape everyday interactions in the workplace in enterprises in a state propagating equal rights between women and men? Even though the one-party state of the GDR took action in many ways to promote gender equality – especially in employment but also on some moral questions – gender-specific incidents such as insults, positive and negative discrimination, and sexual violence were part of the daily experience of women.