Elfe Dona, Ph.D. (Committee Co-Chair); Donovan Miyasaki, Ph.D. (Committee Co-Chair); Renate Sturdevant, Ph.D. (Committee Member)
Master of Humanities (MHum)
Political and cultural institutions of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) shaped generational identity before and after Germany’s Wende, or reunification. This thesis considers two memoirs, Zonenkinder and Meine freie deutsche Jugend, which were published after reunification and written by members of the GDR’s last generation. Contextualizing their memoirs in the context of the GDR’s political culture illustrates the degree to which memories are mediated by external factors and how in the confrontations with external assessments, portrayals emerge that focus on peculiarities rather than unifying features. Depictions of significant moments from the formative years of these authors demonstrate how social memories provide a unique way of communicating. Furthermore, these memoirs illustrate how historical representations may be exclusionary and the consequences of historical narratives that are narrowly linked to ideology. This study also reveals the benefit of memory discourse as it relates to commemorative celebrations and determining future models of national identity.
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