The Nice Stasi Man Drove His Trabi to the Nudist Beach: Contesting East German Identity



For most of the 40 years of the existence of the GDR, the outside world took little interest in what happened there. If someone from the West were asked to talk about their image of East Germans, if they had anything at all to say, it probably would have been with regard to the marked achievement of East German athletes, whose performance, they might insinuate, could have been enhanced by artificial means. All this changed very dramatically in the months leading up to and following the opening of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989. Within six months, East Germans held their first democratic elections, in which they voted to dissolve their country. Less than one year after the opening of the wall came the reunification of Germany; both the scale and the urgency of these dramatic changes caught the public imagination of much of the world. This attraction led researchers from around the globe to descend on what had once been East Germany to ask people about their lives, their sense of their new-found freedom. As one observer remarked, in 1989 East Germans were the most interviewed people in the world. East Germans were constantly narrating their lives, both publicly and privately, and many encountered the documentation of their lives by others, in their Stasi files.


National Identity Fairy Tale Public Imagination Democratic Election Holocaust Remembrance 
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© Molly Andrews 2015

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