Home Sweet Home: Property Between Expropriation, Appropriation and New Modes of Organisation in the Long History of 1989
Completed Research project
Funded by the Leibniz Association as part of the Leibniz Competition, 2016-2019
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 programme to provide new buildings, the loosening of property titles through political privileges and the fixation of informal ownership arrangements. Purchases and conveyances were thus being performed before the regulations on restitution within the unification contract had even been completed. The ‘convoluted circumstances’ (Grosser 1998) that developed reached back far into the GDR and even into the time of National Socialism, and continued to pose significant challenges for residents, occupants and owners after 1990. This project posed the question as to which practices developed regarding home ownership in East Germany and how the principal of ‘restitution over compensation’, negotiated as part of the political process of reunification, affected the everyday lives of residents. The project wanted also take a long, partly comparative, perspective on this society in upheaval and examine the traditions, politics and practices of ownership that influenced regulations and shaped both encounters between the residents and the so-called old or previous owners on the one hand and the decisions made in the administration apparatus on open questions surrounding personal estates on the other hand.