Honecker's children: Youth and patriotism in East(ern) Germany, 1979-2002

Author(s): 
Saunders, Anna
ISBN: 
9780719082139
Date published: 
January 2011
Paperback
Price: 
£16.99

During the final decade of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), young citizens found themselves at the heart of a rigorous programme of socialist patriotic education, yet following the fall of the Berlin Wall, the emphasis of official state rhetoric, textbooks and youth activities changed beyond recognition. For the young generation growing up during this period, ‘normality’ was turned on its head, leaving a sense of insecurity and inner turmoil. Using a combination of archival research and interviews, together with educational materials and government reports, this book examines the relationship between young people and their two successive states in East(ern) Germany between 1979 and 2002. This unusual time-span straddles the 1989/1990 caesura which often delimits historical studies, and thus enables not only a detailed examination of GDR socialisation, but crucially also its influence in unified Germany. Anna Saunders explores the extent to which a young generation’s loyalties can be officially regulated in the face of cultural and historical traditions, changing material conditions and shifting social circumstances, and finds GDR socialisation to be influential to post-unification loyalties through its impact on the personal sphere, rather than through the official sphere of ideological propaganda. At a time of globalisation, this lucid study not only provides unique insight into the functioning of the GDR state and its longer-term impact, but also advances our broader understanding of the ways in which collective loyalties are formed. It will be of particular interest to those in the fields of German History and Politics, European Studies and Sociology.