By Mary Fulbrook, Andrew I. Port
for about the 1st decade after the dying of the GDR, specialist and renowned interpretations of East German historical past targeted totally on kinds of strength and repression, in addition to on dissent and resistance to communist rule. Socio-cultural techniques have more and more proven single-minded emphasis on repression and coercion fails to handle a couple of very important historic concerns, together with these relating to the subjective stories of these who lived below communist regimes. With that during brain, the essays during this quantity discover major actual and mental features of existence within the GDR, comparable to health and wellbeing and vitamin, relaxation and eating, thoughts of the Nazi previous, in addition to identification, activities, and studies of daily humiliation. Situating the GDR inside of a broader ancient context, they open up new methods of studying lifestyles in the back of the Iron Curtain – whereas supplying a devastating critique of deceptive mainstream scholarship, which maintains to painting the GDR within the restrictive phrases of totalitarian theory.
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Additional resources for Becoming East German: Socialist Structures and Sensibilities after Hitler
Besides failing to tackle the import of this fact, the theory does not explain, or even address, the ways in which East Germans—besides being constrained and formed by the conditions in which they lived—made sense of their own lives, responded to challenges, and adapted to changing conditions. On questions and issues such as these hinge the kinds of interpretation and approach that are adopted—and the totalitarian approach has proven sorely lacking and unfit for the task. Even if the descriptive and analytical power of totalitarian theory suffers from severe limitations, we should nevertheless be wary of throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.
In their respective discussions of dieting and luxury dining in the GDR, Neula Kerr-Boyle and Paul Freedman point to East German consumption and behavioral practices that can be traced to the prewar period. Noting striking similarities between slimming aids and advertisements in Weimar, the Third Reich, and the GDR, Kerr-Boyle examines the resurgence of traditional notions of the female body and beauty in the postwar socialist state, as well as the tenacity of traditional dieting and eating habits—including ones frowned on by officials.
The “internalization” of norms and values is difficult to measure, of course. ” To be clear: no claim is being made about what constitutes a “normal” society. ”41 But what is the heuristic value of such a concept? In the first place, it can help us better understand which factors, besides repression, contributed to the stability of the East German regime—an issue that has attracted a great deal of scholarly attention since the demise of the GDR. 42 Accommodation with the regime should not be equated with support for the regime.