The Development of a GDR Identity

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  • The Development of a GDR Identity
    • National Identity
      • One of the biggest challenges for the GDR was to create a national identity. In 1971 Honecker replaced Ulbricht as leader of the SED he sought to create anational identity.
      • He aimed to do this through DEMARCATION – distancing the GDR from the FRG and making greater relations with the USSR.
    • Using media to attack the West
      • The media was used to show the FRG as the enemy (even during Ostpolitik and when the GDR was finally dependent on the FRG).
      • The media tried to show how badlife was in the FRG however there were great power surges when programmes suchas The Black Channel came on as so many people turned their sets off.
    • GDR Broadcasts
      • Chairman of the Radio Committee in 1961 said that radio and television was for the ideological transmission of socialist ideas yet most of the air time was given to entertainment
      • Honecker in 1971 told broadcasters to avoid boredom when it was clear they were competing with FRG programmes. GDR crime series were a speciality.
    • Interpreting German History
      • They wanted to show a continuity in German history to show the GDR was a logical outcome.
      • They emphasised class struggles such as the peasants revolt and saw the Sparticist leaders as heroes.
      • They wanted to play down militarism which could be linked to the Nazis.
      • However later Honecker changed tact and began to celebrate Bismarck and Frederick the Great as they could not be ignored.
      • As the interpretation of GDR history continually changed people becameconfused about what they were supposed to believe was there national identity.
    • Mass Participation
      • Sports was seen as having beneficial effects even Ulbricht took part in televised exercise routines.
      • Children in particular were encouraged to take part in competitive sporting contests.
      • Money poured into sporting events was cut in times of economic difficulties.
      • Activities were encouraged were the oneswhich took little state funding such as running, jogging or rambling.
    • Sport
      • Sport was encouraged for both health and national identity reasons. Scouts were used to find those who showed promise and train and discipline them into sporting stars.
      • They would show the superiority of communism and act as rolemodels for the East Germany.
      • In the 1964 Olympics GDR athletes were givensteroids hidden as vitamin pills; it was costing 40 Ostpolitik by 1989.
      • It showed that in sports such as football were doping had less impact the GDR were less successful.
      • In 1964 East German athletes won 23 medals and in Mexico 1968 they came third in the medal table.
      • Ulbricht called them ‘diplomats in tracksuits.’
      • There was evidence that GDR citizens were equally proud of FRG citizens and their achievements, which is not want the SED wanted.
      • They were also encouraged as the SED thought they would be more compliant to doping.
      • The effects were noticed in women by the media and many oft he athletes have had physical and mental problems.
    • Role Models
      • Athletes were intended to be role models for the GDR.
      • There was a big push for GDR families so woman athletes were shown as contented mothers.
      • Overall women in the GDR were less likely to take part in sport than men.


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