Henrik Nitsche: German or Socialist Space? Illustrated Books in the GDR


In: Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung 2014. Berlin: Metropol Verlag, pp. 249–261.

Illustrated books were a very popular way of constructing images of the nation in people’s minds during the first decades of the 20th century. These sources combined maps, historical abstracts or travelogues and photographs to create a specific image of a nation. After the Second World War, in both German states, publishers tried to maintain this tradition. At first the sources made rival claims for German unity and pictured both states. In later years, references to West-Germany were banished in the East. Instead, the sources promoted a powerful German socialist space in which industry and nature could both survive. Although many famous historical buildings in East German space were built by “class enemies”, the authors assimilated them to the socialist space. Also the old conservative vocabulary, such as “Heimat”, survived under the new socialist regime. During the whole period borders were never visible within the books.

Über den Autor

Henrik Nitsche, geb. 1981 in Werther (Westf.), 2003–2008 Studium der Sozial- und Geschichtswissenschaft in Bielefeld und Basel. 2009–2012 wissenschaftliche Hilfskraft am Lehrstuhl für Europastudien in Dresden. Seit 2013 Redakteur im Walhalla Verlag.