Dictatorship as Experience
Towards a Socio-Cultural History of the GDR
A decade after the collapse of communism, this volume presents a historical reflection an the perplexing nature of the East German dictatorship. In contrast to most political rhetoric, it seeks to establish a middle ground betdeen totalitarianism theory, stressing the repressive features of the SED regime, and apologetics of the socialist experiment, emphasizing the normality of daily lives.
The book transcends the polarization of public debate by delineating the tensions and contradictions of the East German System in using dictatorial means to achieve its emancipatory aims. Analyzing a range of political, social, cultural, and chronological topics, the contributors sketch a differentiated picture of the GDR that represents both its repressive and its welfare features. The nineteen original essays - especially written for this volume by historians from both east and wert Germany - represent the cutting edge of current research and suggest new theoretical perspectives. Expioring both the mechanisms of control and their Limits, the contributors discuss the mix of dynamism and Stagnation that was typical of the GDR.