Reactions from the other Germany : the Fischer Controversy in the German Democratic Republic

STIBBE, Matthew (2013). Reactions from the other Germany : the Fischer Controversy in the German Democratic Republic. Journal of Contemporary History, 48 (2), 315-332.

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Link to published version:: 10.1177/0022009412472717


This article seeks to understand East German reactions to the Fischer controversy within the broader context of German-German historiographical relations during the Cold War. For an interpretive framework it draws on Christoph Kleßmann’s notion of the history of the two Germanys after 1945 as being the record of an asymmetrical process of ‘intertwining and differentiation’ (Verflechtung und Abgrenzung). With varying degrees of scepticism and enthusiasm, East German scholars of the First World War sought to maintain links with, and at the same time to distance themselves ideologically from, the ‘Fischer school’ in Hamburg. Beyond this, Fischer’s particular mode of challenging the dominance of the historist tradition in West Germany enjoyed a very positive reception in the GDR and had a genuine and significant impact on the methodological approach and style of argumentation adopted by at least two of the main East German experts on the 1914–18 period. In a final section, the article examines what these findings can tell us more generally about the interlinked nature of East and West German historiography, in spite of the divisions of the Cold War.

Item Type: Article
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Humanities Research Centre
Identification Number: 10.1177/0022009412472717
Depositing User: Sam Wharam
Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2013 08:58
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2013 08:58

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