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The failure of East German antifascism: some ironies of history as politics

Das Versagen des Antifaschismus: zur Ironie von Geschichte als Politik in der DDR
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Jarausch, Konrad H.

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Abstract "The overthrow of Communism through the 'peaceful revolution' during 1989/90 raised the question of what to do with its ideological justification of 'anti-fascism'. Ironically some self-critical GDR intellectuals like Christa Wolf had already argued that what had begun as a rigorous effort to repudiate National Socialism had turned into a legitimation of a new SED-dictatorship. Written during the exciting process of German unification, this essay attempted a preliminary assessment of the rote of East German historians within the SED-regime: On the one hand their scholarly efforts had become more complex and convincing during the 1980s, leading to growing recognition from abroad. But on the other hand, these scholars also showed a failure of political nerve by not drawing the practical consequences from their empirical and methodological advances. Based on discussions with East German colleagues, this essay sought to resolve the paradox of their intellectual contribution and political inaction." (author's abstract)
Keywords German Democratic Republic (GDR); GDR research; anti-facism; historical analysis; ideology; Socialist Unity Party of Germany (GDR); dictatorship; essay; intellectual; socialist state; self-presentation; science of history; contemporary history; reunification; bilateral relations; perception; political history
Classification General History; Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture
Method historical
Document language English
Publication Year 2012
Page/Pages p. 212-228
Journal Historical Social Research, Supplement (2012) 24
Issue topic Contemporary history as transatlantic project: the German problem 1960-2010
ISSN 0172-6404
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works