SURF

Linda Marie Nyberg

East German Antifascism: The Everyday Reality of Historical Abstraction

With the crystallization of Cold War tensions by 1948/49, a specifically communist anti-fascism was invoked to distinguish East from West. In identifying West Germany as a fascist state, East Germany’s anti-fascist roots became her very raison d’etre. The roots, though, were shallow indeed; as the Cold War intensified, so did the degree of historical abstraction. By the 20th anniversary of the German Democratic Republic’s founding in 1969, the ideology of anti-fascism-based on a manipulation of history-had penetrated every aspect of both private and public life, from popular music to schools to memorials. In creating my own ideal-an East German born in 1949 with the Republic-I will examine how this abstract anti-fascism came to penetrate the everyday fabric of society as East Germany’s own socialist existence became increasingly threatened. Anti-fascism, like socialism, was an ideal that fell victim to politics.

Message to Sponsor

While studying abroad in Germany last year, I became fascinated by the primacy of historical discourse in German society. The Nazi past has not disappeared in Germany; on the contrary, it is constantly discussed and debated, on both a political and an individual level. Yet, it soon became clear that the discussion was different in East and West, and I wanted to know why. The SURF scholarship will allow me to return to Germany to spend hours upon hours with schoolbooks in the International Institute for Schoolbook Research in Braunschweig, and I can't express how excited I am. To do original research is an amazing opportunity, and I'm very grateful to SURF for the possibility.
  • Major: Scandinavian
  • Mentor: Margaret Anderson, History