Elke Sieber: Memorializing the GDR. Between (N)ostalgia and Total Condemnation


In: Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung 2014. Berlin: Metropol Verlag, pp. 17–28.

25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, there is still no uniform memory of the GDR which every German – in East or West – can agree on. Scholarship and the politics of memory privilege the SED-Regime, the Stasi and the Opposition in the GDR. However, many former citizens of the GDR look at their past in a different light, emphasizing that they lived an ‘ordinary life’ under the dictatorship, without repression or feeling the domination of the omnipresent state. They don't want their earlier lives to be devalued in this way and, thus, they claim a more differentiated view of their past. Because of this conflict and the many other factors informing the process of transformation after 1989 – such as GDR-specific socialization or subsequent economic problems – East Germans tend to look back on everyday life in the GDR in a nostalgic way. This nostalgia is based on personal experiences, whereas Ostalgie has to be understood as an all-German phenomenon. The article will trace the reasons for, and aspects of (N)ostalgie, the changes in memory during the past 25 years, and the prospects and problems of a commemorative culture with shared values and experiences.

Über die Autorin

Elke Sieber, M.A., geb. 1984 in Heilbronn, 2004–2010 Studium der Mittleren und Neueren Geschichte, des Öffentlichen Rechts und der Psychologie, seit 2011 Promotion am Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung Potsdam bei Prof. Dr. André Steiner zur Werbung in der DDR von 1948–1975. Seit 2012 freiberufliche Führungsreferentin im DDR Museum Berlin.