The Media Politics of the Federal Ministry of the Interior after National Socialism
Associated PhD project
The media politics of the Federal Ministry of the Interior were in many respects overshadowed by National Socialism: the debate on ‘smut and trash’, the initiatives for a federal press act or ‘Soraya’s Law’, as well as the establishment of a Voluntary Self-Regulation of the Film Industry are only a few examples that sparked conflicts among the German public as a result of legislative initiatives on the part of the ministry’s Culture Department. After National Socialism, an exertion of federal influence on the medial and cultural landscape was viewed with a particularly critical eye, whereas in other European countries centralist cultural concepts even expanded. In a permanent process of negotiation over areas of activity and competences, therefore, the question of which actors possessed the so-called cultural sovereignty was repeatedly negotiated anew. The prevailing contemporary concept of the ‘powerful media’ implies that, especially in the fields of film, television, radio and the press, concrete ideas of order on the part of the state actors manifested themselves.
The objective of this survey will be to probe the conflicts, scandals and tensions within the Culture Department of the Federal Ministry of the Interior and to arrange them in both the space of interaction of governmental action and the biographical ‘fourfold horizon of expectations’ of the actors, as well as in the traditional models of freedom of speech and the press. How did the Culture Department position itself vis-à-vis a changing and pluralistic society? Where were the fractures and continuities of an understanding of democracy and the public sphere, and how far did this correspond to general developments within the German general public? Finally, it will be asked how and to what extent the controversies over freedom of speech and the press helped to shape interaction with the legacy of National Socialist media politics.
Initial research findings of the project can be found at: http://geschichte-innenministerien.de/
Final report of the preliminary study from 29 October 2015 (pdf) on the topic: The Post-war History of the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) and the Ministry of the Interior of the GDR (MdI) regarding Possible Personnel and Material Continuities from the Time of National Socialism
Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History
Am Neuen Markt 1
Email: palm [at] zzf-potsdam.de