The Rise and Fall of the German Democratic Republic
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The Rise and Fall of the German Democratic Republic

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Most public debate on reunited Germany has emphasized economic issues such as the collapse of East German industry, mass unemployment, career difficulties, and differences in wages and living standards. The overwhelming difficulty resulting from reunification, however, is not persisting economic differences but the internal cultural divide between East and West Germans, one based upon different moral values in the two Germanies. The invisible wall that has replaced the previous, highly visible territorial division of the German nation is rooted in issues of the past-the Nazi past as well as the German Democratic Republic past. In emphasizing economic differences, the media and academics have avoided dealing with typically German cultural traits. These include the psychological posture of West Germany, which emphasized not differences between East and West but the break with Germany's Nazi past. The adversarial posture of certain professional groups in East Germany towards the liberal and democratic values of West Germany have also been an obstacle. Reviewing the problems accompanying reunification, chapter 1 explores German culture and history and the moral lessons evolved from the Nazi past. Chapter 2 focuses on the East-West mindset and how differences in attitude affect efforts to adapt to reunification. Chapter 3 discusses the simulated break with Nazi Germany in the German Democratic Republic. Chapters 4, 5, and 6 analyze the roots of the adversary posture of the professional groups in East Germany towards the values of the Berlin Republic. Chapter 7 demonstrates the strong presence of inherited, typically German cultural traits among East Germans, such as a lack of individualism, suspicion of strangers, and obedience to authority. Chapter 8 documents the extent to which a right-wing extremist culture has remained latent in Eastern Germany. Chapter 9 documents the extent to which moral reasoning in the GDR relieves the individual of any kind of responsibility for the actions of the state, reproducing the way ordinary Germans rationalized their participation in the Nazi regime immediately after World War II. Chapter 10 concludes with an overview of the historical and sociological factors revolving around the discussion of Nazi Germany, the GDR and inner unification.This volume will be important for historians, political scientists, anthropologists, sociologists, and a general public interested in Germany's reunification.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 240 pages
  • 163.3 x 237.7 x 24.1mm | 471.74g
  • Taylor & Francis Inc
  • Transaction Publishers
  • Somerset, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New.
  • 0765801191
  • 9780765801197

Review quote

-He deftly synthesizes a large body of recent secondary literature, mostly by German authors. He offers profound insights about the long underestimated effects of the communist culture on East Germans, which only became clear after reunification in 1989, when the differences in coping styles and views of the Nazi past emerged. Not only historians, but political scientists and sociologists will find this book well worth reading.- - H-Net Review -In this brief account of recent events in Germany, sociologist Kupferberg (Aalborg Univ.) seeks to explain the reasons behind the continuing tensions between western and eastern Germans more than a decade after reunification. He reaches some surprising conclusions. Those former citizens of the German Democratic Republic who have had the most difficulty adjusting to conditions in post-reunification Germany are not the workers, but the well-educated professionals, a class that had the most at stake in maintaining a socialist East German state. Further, their problems stem from East Germany's refusal to deal effectively with its National Socialist past. The unwillingness of East Germany's communist dictatorship--which insisted that it alone inherited the legacy of the anti-Nazi traditions of the German Communist Party and bore no responsibility for Nazi Germany's crimes--has caused this group difficulties in the new Germany. Suddenly, they find themselves confronting a democratic culture in which Germany's criminal past is being examined, and they cannot cope. This has contributed to the continuing tensions between east and west, and, until the Germans address the roots of this divide, circumstances will not improve. Kupferberg's argument is convincing. Graduate collections and faculty.- --R. W. Lemmons, Choice -A useful addition to the literature on the GDR and the new, united Germany by bringing together insights of both sociologists and historians and by calling attention once again to the long shadow still cast on Germany by the horrors of its Nazi past.- - Wayne C. Bartee, Southwest Missouri State University, The Historian "He deftly synthesizes a large body of recent secondary literature, mostly by German authors. He offers profound insights about the long underestimated effects of the communist culture on East Germans, which only became clear after reunification in 1989, when the differences in coping styles and views of the Nazi past emerged. Not only historians, but political scientists and sociologists will find this book well worth reading." - H-Net Review "In this brief account of recent events in Germany, sociologist Kupferberg (Aalborg Univ.) seeks to explain the reasons behind the continuing tensions between western and eastern Germans more than a decade after reunification. He reaches some surprising conclusions. Those former citizens of the German Democratic Republic who have had the most difficulty adjusting to conditions in post-reunification Germany are not the workers, but the well-educated professionals, a class that had the most at stake in maintaining a socialist East German state. Further, their problems stem from East Germany's refusal to deal effectively with its National Socialist past. The unwillingness of East Germany's communist dictatorship--which insisted that it alone inherited the legacy of the anti-Nazi traditions of the German Communist Party and bore no responsibility for Nazi Germany's crimes--has caused this group difficulties in the new Germany. Suddenly, they find themselves confronting a democratic culture in which Germany's criminal past is being examined, and they cannot cope. This has contributed to the continuing tensions between east and west, and, until the Germans address the roots of this divide, circumstances will not improve. Kupferberg's argument is convincing. Graduate collections and faculty." --R. W. Lemmons, Choice "A useful addition to the literature on the GDR and the new, united Germany by bringing together insights of both sociologists and historians and by calling attention once again to the long shadow still cast on Germany by the horrors of its Nazi past." - Wayne C. Bartee, Southwest Missouri State University, The Historian "In this brief account of recent events in Germany, sociologist Kupferberg (Aalborg Univ.) seeks to explain the reasons behind the continuing tensions between western and eastern Germans more than a decade after reunification. He reaches some surprising conclusions. Those former citizens of the German Democratic Republic who have had the most difficulty adjusting to conditions in post-reunification Germany are not the workers, but the well-educated professionals, a class that had the most at stake in maintaining a socialist East German state. Further, their problems stem from East Germany's refusal to deal effectively with its National Socialist past. The unwillingness of East Germany's communist dictatorship--which insisted that it alone inherited the legacy of the anti-Nazi traditions of the German Communist Party and bore no responsibility for Nazi Germany's crimes--has caused this group difficulties in the new Germany. Suddenly, they find themselves confronting a democratic culture in which Germany's criminal past is being examined, and they cannot cope. This has contributed to the continuing tensions between east and west, and, until the Germans address the roots of this divide, circumstances will not improve. Kupferberg's argument is convincing. Graduate collections and faculty." --R. W. Lemmons, Choice "A useful addition to the literature on the GDR and the new, united Germany by bringing together insights of both sociologists and historians and by calling attention once again to the long shadow still cast on Germany by the horrors of its Nazi past." - Wayne C. Bartee, "Southwest Missouri State University, The Historian " "A useful addition to the literature on the GDR and the new, united Germany by bringing together insights of both sociologists and historians and by calling attention once again to the long shadow still cast on Germany by the horrors of its Nazi past." - Wayne C. Bartee, "Southwest Missouri State University, The Historian " "He deftly synthesizes a large body of recent secondary literature, mostly by German authors. He offers profound insights about the long underestimated effects of the communist culture on East Germans, which only became clear after reunification in 1989, when the differences in coping styles and views of the Nazi past emerged. Not only historians, but political scientists and sociologists will find this book well worth reading." - "H-Net Review" "He deftly synthesizes a large body of recent secondary literature, mostly by German authors. He offers profound insights about the long underestimated effects of the communist culture on East Germans, which only became clear after reunification in 1989, when the differences in coping styles and views of the Nazi past emerged. Not only historians, but political scientists and sociologists will find this book well worth reading."- "H-Net Review" "A useful addition to the literature on the GDR and the new, united Germany by bringing together insights of both sociologists and historians and by calling attention once again to the long shadow still cast on Germany by the horrors of its Nazi past."- Wayne C. Bartee, "Southwest Missouri State University, The Historian "
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About Feiwel Kupferberg

Feiwel Kupferberg is associate professor of Sociology at the Centre for International Studies at Aalborg University. He is author of The Break-Up of Communism in East Germany and Eastern Europe.
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