Heimat in East and West


Heimat continued to play an important role in discussions about Germanness and belonging well into the twentieth century. The year 1949 witnessed the official founding of both the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Thereafter, the loss of Heimat (or the mythical German homeland) was by no means a taboo subject, at least not in the FRG; on the contrary, it was repeatedly exploited for political ends. West German Heimat-films of the 1950s addressed the issue of expulsion but kept silent about Nazi crimes. Even the pop songs of the postwar era kept the longing for a lost homeland in the East alive. While ethnic German expellees in both the FRG and the GDR struggled to make sense of their experiences, the East German regime sought to build a new future for itself. Athletics became a point of national pride and identification, a kind of substitute home. As the postwar period progressed, the FRG grappled with new East-West issues, as growing numbers of labor migrants from Turkey and other countries arrived in West Germany to study, work, and live there. Germany became an immigration country and a new home for millions of migrants and their families.


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  2. Debating War and Genocide after the Wende >