The Preußenrenaissance Revisited: German–German Entanglements, the Media and the Politics of History in the late German Democratic Republic

Keil, Andre (2016) The Preußenrenaissance Revisited: German–German Entanglements, the Media and the Politics of History in the late German Democratic Republic. German History. ISSN 0266-3554

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Abstract

The ‘Renaissance of Prussianism’ (Preußenrenaissance), which began in the late 1970s and continued throughout the 1980s in the German Democratic Republic, has received considerable scholarly attention. Discussions have focused on the involvement of academic historians in the revision of the official conception of history of the socialist East German state. This article offers new perspectives on hitherto neglected aspects of the Preußenrenaissance. It explores the German–German entanglements of this phenomenon by linking it with almost simultaneous events in West Germany. By the mid-1980s each German state had embraced Prussia as a part of its redefined collective identity and had entered into a competition for representing its historical heritage. Yet, this piece also looks at the ways in which the new conception of German national history was transmitted and popularized in the GDR media. From 1978, state television promoted a positive view of Prussian history with opulent productions such as Sachsens Glanz and Preußens Gloria. An analysis of viewers’ letters offers some insight into the popular perception of the new course. Against this backdrop, this article also highlights that the ideological volte-face regarding Prussia’s history was not unanimously supported within the rank and file of the ruling Socialist Unity Party. In fact, the Preußenrenaissance in the late GDR proved to be a chequered and often contradictory process, shaped by the many self-willed actors. The article concludes with a brief consideration of the interplay between these various actors involved in the Preußenrenaissance and their specific motivations.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Culture > History and Politics
Divisions: Faculty of Education and Society > Department of Culture
Depositing User: Barry Hall
Date Deposited: 12 Apr 2016 08:32
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2017 11:40
URI: http://sure.sunderland.ac.uk/id/eprint/6222

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