Date of Award

5-2010

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Major

History

Major Professor

Vejas Liulevicius

Committee Members

Denise Phillips, Margaret Andersen

Abstract

This study analyzes East German representations of Hungary in cultural texts to investigate the emergence of a German socialist identity in the 1950s and 1960s. I further contend that post-1945 self- and collective identity in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) was complex and formulated by official, intellectual, and mass perceptions. By examining East German iconography of Hungary it becomes clear that socialist identity in the early years of the dictatorship relied on traditional expressions of society as well as ideology. Hungary provided East Germans with a practical model for socialist friendship. Though the GDR was a state that ostensibly celebrated multiculturalism, East German texts presented the People’s Republic of Hungary almost as another Germany with a shared heritage and culture. They articulated this palatable image of Hungary through the lens of ideology (Marxist-Leninist internationalism) and through traditional cultural definitions. This study concludes that East Germans used a composite of socialist ideas and folk customs to draw parallels with Hungary and create a distinct character that was both German and socialist.

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