Political Detainment in the German Democratic Republic: Public Discourse and Personal Memory
Between 1976 and 1989, about 60,000 East German citizens were in political detention in the former GDR, a fact which was disclaimed by the GDR government. In this article, I focus on the auto-biographies which were collected by the use of narrative interviews. How do people who were politically persecuted and imprisoned remember their detainment now? Are they able to integrate this event in their life history and talk about it in their social environment? On the basis of biographical case-reconstructions and global analysis, I present four types of memory and biographical work. The analysis shows that the limited reprocessing prior to 1989 as well as the political discourse after 1990 about the GDR past produced a politicization of their imprisonment by the biographers, for example, in the construction of their identity as a political opponent.
political imprisonment; GDR; memory; biographical work; rehabilitation; prosecution; biography