The West German Left and its Association of Left-Wing Bookshops, 1970–1981
Completed associated PhD project
Since the end of the 1960s leftist bookshops and political publishing houses have been popping up like mushrooms all across the Federal Republic of Germany and West Berlin. The soil for this sudden appearance had been prepared by the student revolts that took place from 1967 to 1969.
My dissertation project examines this phenomenon and its ramifications. A particular focus of the work is on the “Association of the Leftist Book Trade (VLB)” [Verband des linken Buchhandels (VLB)], which was founded in 1970. Until its dissolution at the beginning of the 1980s it unified leftist, independent, collectively run (according to their self-definition), printing shops, sales offices and distributors. The thesis explores the political and cultural field, in which the association and crucial actors were embedded. It then analyses the publishing houses’ and book shops’ strategies, which were torn between the need for economic survival and political self-conception. The previously unexamined history of the VLB, treated in the cultural and social-scientific context of the Federal Republic of Germany, offers promising opportunities to broaden our understanding about the development of the West German left in the following decades. It describes the differentiation process of the leftist movement after the decline of the extra-parliamentary opposition (APO) and its development up to the emergence of the new social movements in the mid-1970s.