West Germany/ East Germany: Who/where are the better Germans?


The competition between the two systems had a profound impact on both German states between 1949 and 1990. As so-called front states, they lived this competition daily. Both states wanted to be “better for Germans” and each felt that its citizens were “the better Germans.” Each state laid claim to interpretative correctness and this reflected on the other, whether the subject was refugees in West Berlin; old-new rituals such as the GDR’s Jugendweihe, a kind of secular confirmation ceremony; the broadcast range of radio and television programs; or the interpretation of the German past by Karl-Eduard von Schnitzler on “The Black Channel” [“Der schwarze Kanal”]. After 1990, the question arose: what was to be remembered as part of German history? Here, the GDR’s Sandman, an animated character from a children’s television show, managed to be preserved in the collective memory, not least because it featured in films such as Good Bye, Lenin! from 2003.


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