This book by Dutch historian J.H. Brinks contributes tothe study of GDR historiography in the context of Germany's nationalreunification. The author analyzes the interrelationship of historicalscholarship and the political-ideological framework within which thehistorical profession functioned, especially regarding the GDR'sself-conception of a separate German socialist nation. The ideologicalguidelines were closely integrated into a system of political controland discipline of the historical profession. History as such occupieda very important place in the hierarchy of academic sciences becauseof the special function it served in legitimating the regime and therationale of the GDR as an autonomous state. The author's main thesistouches the central dichotomy within the tradition of German Socialistthought regarding the 'national question': a persistent attachment tothe ideal of a Socialist 'class-state' versus the hope of a(re)unified German 'nation-state'. From the early 1980s onward itbecame clear that the GDR sought to establish its legitimacy on a muchbroader basis than the progressive 'traditions' (Traditionen) withwhich it used to identify itself. Party and state increasingly claimedGermany's national past as the 'heritage' (Erbe) of the Socialistnation, hence including the historical chapters formerly rejected asthe 'darker' side in German history, such as Lutheranism, Prussianabsolutism, and Bismarck's authoritarian Second Empire. The concept of'tradition' in its traditional sense was now understood more broadlyto comprehend not only the heroic and positive line in history, butalso those who in paving the way for German nationhood had created thepossibility of a Socialist Germany. In recovering Germany's nationalhistory, originally aimed at creating a seperate GDR nationalidentity, the author argues, historians and ideologists in the GDRcuriously anticipated the reconstruction of Germany in 1989.
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