East German Historians since Reunification

A Discipline Transformed

Edited by Axel Fair-Schulz & Mario Kessler

Subjects: History, Historiography, European History, German Studies, German Culture
Paperback : 9781438465364, 260 pages, January 2018
Hardcover : 9781438465371, 260 pages, July 2017

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

Axel Fair-Schulz and Mario Kessler

1. A Different Starting Point, a Different End: East and West German Historiography After 1945
Mario Kessler

2. Where Did Historical Studies in the German Democratic Republic Stand at the Eve of Unification?
Georg G. Iggers

3. The Revenge of the Krupps? Reflections on the End of GDR Historiography
William A. Pelz

4. “Once Upon a Time . . .”: Losses in Scholarly Competence as a Result of German Unification
Helmut Meier

5. German Unification and the Debate of the West German Social Sciences
Stefan Bollinger

6. Anticommunist Purge or Democratic Renewal? The Transformation of the Humboldt University, 1985–2000
Konrad H. Jarausch

7. Research on Fascism and Antifascism in the GDR: A Retrospective
Kurt Pätzold

8. Painful Transition and New Research on the History of Political Parties in Germany
Manfred Weissbecker

9. Research on Conservatism in Jena: The Beginning and the End of an Interdisciplinary Research Project
Ludwig Elm

10. The Dissolution of East German Economic History at the Economic University in Berlin-Karlshorst: A Typical Anschluss Procedure
Jörg Roesler

11. The Dissolution of the Institute for Economic History at the Academy of Sciences
Axel Fair-Schulz

12. Dismantling the GDR’s Historical Scholarship: A Case Study of the University of Leipzig
Werner Röhr

13. From “Imperialist Class Enemy” to “Partners in Leadership” in 365 Days? East German American Studies Since 1989
Rainer Schnoor

14. Handling GDR Colonial Historiography
Ulrich van der Heyden

15. Obscuring East Germany: The Phantom Menace of East Germany to Social Scientific Understanding of
Post-Reunified Germany
Marcus Aurin

Conclusion: A Note on Research Directions and Literature
Axel Fair-Schulz and Mario Kessler

Appendix: Appeal from University Professors and Former German and Central European Refugees, from Frankfurter Rundschau, September 11, 2002

Index of Names

Surveys how reunification in 1990 impacted historical scholarship in the former East Germany.


With German reunification and the demise of the German Democratic Republic in 1990, East German historians and their traditions of historiography were removed from mainstream discourse in Germany and relegated to the periphery. By the mid-1990s, few GDR-trained historians remained in academia. These developments led to a greater degree of intellectual pluralism, yet marginalized many accomplished scholars. East German Historians since Reunification assesses what was gained and lost in the process of dissolving and remaking GDR institutions of historical scholarship. The collection combines primary and secondary sources: younger scholars offer analyses of East German historiography, while senior scholars who lived through the dismantling process provide firsthand accounts. Contributors address broad trends in scholarship as well as particular subfields and institutions. What unites them is a willingness to think critically about the achievements and shortcomings of GDR historiography, and its fate after German reunification.

Axel Fair-Schulz is Associate Professor of Modern European History at the State University of New York at Potsdam. Mario Kessler is Associate Professor at the Center for Contemporary History, Potsdam, Germany. Together, they are the editors of German Scholars in Exile: New Studies in Intellectual History.