Book review: Born in the GDR: living in the shadow of the wall
Hayton, Jeffrey P.
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Hayton, Jeffrey P. 2016. Book review: Born in the GDR: living in the shadow of the wall by Hester Vaizey, Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2014. European History Quarterly, vol. 46:no. 2:pp 407-409
In the twenty-five years since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of state socialism in East Germany, Hester Vaizey contends that two competing narratives exist uncomfortably side by side in the public understanding and memory of the GDR. On the one hand, there is the ‘damningly negative’ depiction of the GDR as a ‘Stasi-land’ oppressed by the SED and secret police, while on the other hand, there is the ‘rosily positive’ version of socialist utopia which supporters defend Book Reviews 407 Downloaded from ehq.sagepub.com at Wichita State University Libraries on May 16, 2016(161). Born in the GDR seeks to bridge the gap between these two extreme positions and show how life was lived as a combination of accommodation, restricted choice and acceptance, and to explain why after 1989 Easterners can ‘simultaneously feel both freer and frustrated’. Attempting to offer a more complex explanation for why many Easterners feel a sense of loss at the passing of the GDR lies at the heart of this investigation.
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