Macquarie University
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Constructing ‘authentic’ memories of the German Democratic Republic since 2008: memoir, fiction and film

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posted on 2022-03-28, 20:54 authored by Joanna K. Molloy
The German Democratic Republic (GDR) was arguably one of the most efficient authoritarian regimes of the twentieth century. In this thesis I suggest that to fully understand the lived experience of GDR citizens, and contribute to understandings of the East German past, it is necessary to consider individual memories. This thesis presents a close reading of three post-millennial sources of individual memory: a memoir (Red Love, Leo), a historical novel (The Tower, Tellkamp) and a historical feature film (Barbara, Petzold). Memory theory offers a valuable analytical framework to understand these sources as complex interpretations of individual memory, social memory, political memory and existing cultural memory and also acknowledges the impact of the present and media in their construction. The three texts vividly portray the impact of the GDR State on everyday life and demonstrate that Leo, Tellkamp and Petzold did not experience the GDR in the same way; sometimes their interpretations overlap, and sometimes they conflict. While previous phases of cultural memory focused on the needs of unification and identity struggles, this thesis suggests that there has been a post-millennial shift towards remembering the GDR with greater nuance, but that competing interpretations of the GDR are still present in German memory culture.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- Chapter 1. Childhood memories and family history -- Chapter 2. Constructing individual memories of the GDR in a historical novel -- Chapter 3. Memory of a filmmaker -- Conclusion -- Bibliography.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 92-102

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations

Department, Centre or School

Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Michelle Arrow


Copyright Joanna K. Molloy 2017. Copyright disclaimer:




1 online resource (102 pages) colour illustrations, maps

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