Social history of the GDR

Ministry of State Security Foreign Aid – East German Popular Opinion – Social History of the SED Dictatorship –  Impact of the Construction of the Berlin Wall - Transformation of the GDR state party

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.).

Communist women in the short 20th century

Ralf Hoffrogge

Associated research project

The project served to prepare a research proposal on the gender history of German communism in the 20th century.

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’.

»Beauty for All!« Beauty Work and Distinction in Late and Post Socialism

Stefanie Eisenhuth

Research project

In the GDR, social origin and status were not supposed to determine a person's outward appearance and attractiveness. Therefore, attempts were made to enable a certain extent of social equality even in the field of beauty. The project examines how a GDR-specific beauty culture developed and how distinction was possible in a society whose goal was to overcome class differences. The study aims to trace the subtle differences and understands beauty as a social construct with its own history. Since beauty work is a highly gendered "obligation," it is also analyzed as a form of “doing gender” and “performing gender”.

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.

The hotel »Neptun« in Warnemünde, 1988. Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1988-0704-010, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE

Tourism through the Iron Curtain
Traveling from West to East Germany

Stefanie Eisenhuth

Research project

Starting in the early 1970s, the Iron Curtain became increasingly porous: During the "Honecker era," the GDR authorities recorded several million entries from West Berlin, the Federal Republic, and other non-socialist countries each year. Based on tourist travel from West to East Germany, the project explores the reasons for and consequences of the GDR's (re)opening to the West. It analyzes the regime's goals and the numerous obstacles to establishing a successful tourism business. Furthermore, it examines the personal encounters of people from East and West and state attempts to regulate them. 

 

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.

From SED to PDS: The transformation of the GDR state party in democracy

Antonia Gäbler

Associated PhD project

The project examines how the PDS transformed itself both at the federal and state level with regard to personnel, organization and program since the fall of 1989 and how it developed in the 1990s.

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.

Social history of the GDR

Ministry of State Security Foreign Aid – East German Popular Opinion – Social History of the SED Dictatorship –  Impact of the Construction of the Berlin Wall - Transformation of the GDR state party

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.).

Communist women in the short 20th century

Ralf Hoffrogge

Associated research project

The project served to prepare a research proposal on the gender history of German communism in the 20th century.

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’.

»Beauty for All!« Beauty Work and Distinction in Late and Post Socialism

Stefanie Eisenhuth

Research project

In the GDR, social origin and status were not supposed to determine a person's outward appearance and attractiveness. Therefore, attempts were made to enable a certain extent of social equality even in the field of beauty. The project examines how a GDR-specific beauty culture developed and how distinction was possible in a society whose goal was to overcome class differences. The study aims to trace the subtle differences and understands beauty as a social construct with its own history. Since beauty work is a highly gendered "obligation," it is also analyzed as a form of “doing gender” and “performing gender”.

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.

The hotel »Neptun« in Warnemünde, 1988. Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1988-0704-010, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE

Tourism through the Iron Curtain
Traveling from West to East Germany

Stefanie Eisenhuth

Research project

Starting in the early 1970s, the Iron Curtain became increasingly porous: During the "Honecker era," the GDR authorities recorded several million entries from West Berlin, the Federal Republic, and other non-socialist countries each year. Based on tourist travel from West to East Germany, the project explores the reasons for and consequences of the GDR's (re)opening to the West. It analyzes the regime's goals and the numerous obstacles to establishing a successful tourism business. Furthermore, it examines the personal encounters of people from East and West and state attempts to regulate them. 

 

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.

From SED to PDS: The transformation of the GDR state party in democracy

Antonia Gäbler

Associated PhD project

The project examines how the PDS transformed itself both at the federal and state level with regard to personnel, organization and program since the fall of 1989 and how it developed in the 1990s.

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.