Political-cultural Journals in Germany, 1945 to 1955: A Comparison of East and West
Completed associated PhD project
This PhD project compared the most important political-cultural journals in East and West Germany in the context of changing political circumstances between 1945 and 1955. Organs such as the Wandlung, the Ruf, the Frankfurter Hefte and the Aufbau have a brief historical moment to thank for their prominence today, when the journals – as an important journalistic medium – addressed current political questions and initiated debates. The objective was to elaborate on a contribution to the political culture of the post-war period and to depict how current topics were debated in the journals, which ideas and convictions the journals held, to what extent they corresponded to political realities or were subjected to a transformation, and what influence political developments had on relations and freedom of action of the protagonists.
The journal producers and authors, all of whom came from the bourgeois-intellectual milieu and were generally writers and publicists, often knew each other from the period before 1933. Even if they did not know each other personally, they knew each other’s work; some of them shared friendships. Among them were famous personalities such as Karl Jaspers, Eugen Kogon, Johannes R. Becher and Axel Eggebrecht. The growing confrontation between East and West and the looming division of Germany had an increasing impact from 1948 on the political debates, influenced relations between the journals (and their producers) and ensured that the journals were involved in the tensions between competing political systems, sometimes functionalised and sometimes intentionally. On the basis of the history of the journals, the partition of Germany during the first decade after the war can be reconstructed, as it was reflected in the content, the protagonists’ relationships and the structural and ideational conditions for the existence of the journals.
A pan-German comparative history of the relationships between the political-cultural journals will contribute to better understanding the intellectual discourse of the time in view of increasing division and the interactions between East and West. By looking at and in the political-cultural journals as historical sources, but also as seismographs of their time, it is possible to more clearly emphasise an exciting perspective on the partition of Germany that has so far hardly been examined.
Fabian Kuhn successfully completed his doctorate at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin on July 13, 2021