Krawall in der Zionskirche: skinhead violence and political Legitimacy in the GDR

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Authors
Hayton, Jeffrey P.
Advisors
Issue Date
2015-04
Type
Article
Keywords
1989 , GDR , Opposition movement , SED , Skinheads , Subcultures , Violence , Youth
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Citation
Jeff Hayton Krawall in der Zionskirche: Skinhead Violence and Political Legitimacy in the GDR European History Quarterly April 2015 45: 336-356
Abstract

In 1987, an East Berlin punk concert was attacked by Skinheads. This event and others like it provoked sustained outcry in the German Democratic Republic in the last years of the 1980s. The political opposition transformed public outrage over Skinhead violence into broader critiques about real-existing socialism', especially by using the Western media to circumvent the state's information monopoly. Thus dialogue opened up by violence going public helped to undermine the political legitimacy of the Socialist Unity Party (SED) by giving ordinary Easterners channels to express their disappointments over state policy. In the end, the SED felt compelled to make decisions concerning state youth policy which opened up new avenues for oppositional activity, pointing to the ways in which the SED responded to momentum from below in ways which only weakened its political hegemony further. By exploring how manifestations of public violence were used to chip away at the political authority of the SED, I suggest that the Krawall in der Zionskirche' and events like it help to explain why a small dissident movement was able to spread its message of discontent much more broadly.

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Publisher
SAGE Publications
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Series
European History Quarterly;v.45:no.2
PubMed ID
DOI
ISSN
0265-6914
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