The year 2014 marks the twenty fifth anniversary of the peaceful revolution in the GDR in 1989, which brought a nearly 40-year period of political repression, disenfranchisement and deprivation of freedom to a close and led to the reunification of Germany the subsequent year. The political upheaval that culminated in these two years, not only led to the demise of the GDR, but also entailed the end of the Cold War, which had determined world politics since 1945.

Essential to this peaceful revolution in the GDR was that it was advocated by the majority of the population and proceeded nonviolently. The events of autumn of 1989, had never before occurred in the history of Germany.

As great as the joy over the fall of the SED dictatorship and the reunification of East and West Germany was, in the following years, the memories of what the GDR had caused started to fade. Mainly due to the difficult economic and social situation of the new ‘Länder’, much of the population grew unsatisfied. Resulting out of this dissatisfaction, the GDR started to be viewed in a positive light again. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the majority of the people with this mindset want the old GDR back. “Nostalgia” rather refers to a way of longing for a GDR as it could have been if it had not been the way it was. Nevertheless, a nostalgically glorified retrospective on a system that not only impaired but even destroyed the lives of a large part of the population fails to help solve current issues. Instead, a realistic confrontation with the reality and everyday life with the GDR is required.

Particularly younger citizens, who no longer consciously experienced the GDR or were born after the reunification, must now more than ever be informed of what the GDR entailed.

The objective of the portal consists of providing the user with information about amongst others the everyday life, media, culture, church, science, education and ideology of the GDR. Didactic material as well as primary sources are also available.

While the portal will be expanded gradually, illuminating all facets of everyday life in the GDR is impossible. Instead, we want to encourage discussions on the topic, enhance textbook knowledge, as well as offer those interested quick access to the major topics.

Further Online Reading Recommendations (German)

Contributions to the series of lectures 2008/2009 „Wie schmeckte die DDR?”