GHI Fall Lecture Series 2009

DDR - Was bleibt? East German Legacies in German History

Organized by Uta Balbier und Ines Prodöhl

With the fall of the Berlin Wall twenty years ago and the subsequent union of both Germanys, the German Democratic Republic ceased to exist as a state. Culturally, however, the GDR remains a presence in contemporary Germany. There has been a steady flow of books and movies about eastern German memory and identity amid discussion of Easterners' Ostalgie. Historians debate the place of the GDR in the larger sweep of German history. Even in political and social debate, the GDR continues to have an impact on united Germany through the presence of the Left Party, which has its roots in part in East Germany's ruling communist party.

The existence of the GDR had an impact on the self-perception of the Federal Republic during the Cold War and in some respects it still does so today. The question, then, as Germany celebrates the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall is not "Why did the GDR fail?" but rather "Was bleibt? What remains?"

Lectures begin at 6:30 pm (refreshments will be served from 6:00 to 6:30 pm) and will be held at the German Historical Institute, 1607 New Hampshire Avenue NW (Directions) unless otherwise noted.

Please RSVP (acceptances only) by Tel. 202.387.3355, Fax 202.387.6437 or E-mail.

  • East German Socialist Modernity and Consumer Culture Before and After the Wall
    September 17, 2009
    Katherine Pence (Baruch College)
  • Popular Culture, Memory, and German Unification: Heiner Carow's "The Mistake"
    October 05, 2009
    Barton Byg (University of Massachusetts Amherst)
    Please note: The lecture will take place at the Goethe Institut Washington DC (directions)

  • Afterlives: On the Resonance of Vanished German States (Prussia, Weimar, the Third Reich, the GDR)
    October 15, 2009
    Charles S. Maier (Harvard University)

  • Shoelaces, Fishing Manuals, and the Fear of Misspeaking
    November 05, 2009
    Katrin Askan (Berlin)

  • 'Was it really meant to be this way'? Unification and the Remaking of German Party Politics
    December 03, 2009
    Daniel Hough (University of Sussex)
Click on image to enlarge or print (pdf).
Fall Lecture Invite