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Social perspectives on nationalism, normalization and East German-Polish relations, 1965–1985

Coll, Simon Daniel; (2020) Social perspectives on nationalism, normalization and East German-Polish relations, 1965–1985. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis explores popular attitudes within the German Democratic Republic (GDR) towards Poland and the Poles from 1965 to 1985, and the ways in which they were shaped by official propaganda campaigns in the GDR. The German Polish relationship had been profoundly damaged by the events of the Second World War and its immediate aftermath, and the subsequent establi shment of communism served to ossify the animosity between the two peoples , while adding a variety of new grievances . The thesis focuses on the effect of two discursive projects (a nation building discourse and a discourse of German Polish reconciliation) used by the Socialist Unity Party (SED) as part of its attempt to dominate public discourse in the GDR and mould the mindset of its citizens in order to legitimize its rule. It explores the ways in which these competing discourses were continually (re)constructed, reinforced and given emotive power through a variety of discursive practices, and situates them within broader frameworks of communist memory and nationalism politics. It draws on recent work in nationalism theory (notably Billig’s concept o f ‘banal nationalism’) and memory studies (including Bell’s ‘mythscapes’) to model these discursive processes. Overall, the thesis argues that East German attitudes towards the Poles in this period, particularly as they evolved on a popular level, were largely a product of this ceaseless discursive contestation, or at least heavily influenced by it, and were marked by resentment and unresolved traumas. While this antipathy could no longer be expressed openly, the political structures and the value system of the socialist bloc offered an alternative framework in which it could be indulged, with the result that both German ethnonationalism and anti-Polonism were sustained under communism.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Social perspectives on nationalism, normalization and East German-Polish relations, 1965–1985
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2020. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
Keywords: Germany, German Democratic Republic (GDR), Poland, communism, nationalism, normalization, Second World War
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > SELCS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10113388
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