Property, peace and honour: neighbourhood justice in Communist Berlin

Betts, Paul (2008) Property, peace and honour: neighbourhood justice in Communist Berlin. Past and Present, 201 (1). pp. 215-254. ISSN 0031-2746

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By now we are all quite familiar with the stock supply of crude epithets used to describe East Germany's failed socialist state, ranging from SED-Tyranny, Red Totalitarianism, Stalin's Puppet, Stasi-State, Unrechtsstaat and, perhaps most charitably, ‘welfare dictatorship’, to name but a few. Since the early 1990s dozens of best-selling histories, television programmes and exhibitions have helped popularize these images by repeatedly trawling the GDR's lurid underworld of unfreedom, surveillance and mass-produced misery. Anna Funder's novel, Stasiland, published amid great fanfare in 2005, is only one recent instalment in this fascination with the ‘wild, wild East’, painting as it does an image of GDR life dominated by Stasi henchmen, ideological cranks, shameless opportunists and crushed idealists. Even though most historians have refrained from such black-and-white renderings, a good deal of recent historiography continues to portray the GDR as twentieth-century Germany's ‘second dictatorship’, in effect framing its history in terms of its more famous forerunner's patent abuse of state power, civil law and designated ‘enemies of the state’.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > History
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DD History of Germany > DD280 East Germany
Depositing User: Paul Betts
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 19:40
Last Modified: 07 Aug 2012 13:12
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