CIAO DATE: 10/07
The Frankfurt School's first years on Morningside Heights progressed very smoothly. Based on the group's activities and accomplishments, it is clear that its members had not misrepresented themselves to Columbia's sociologists and administrators. The emphasis that had been placed on scientific social research had not been an empty marketing scheme. Members of the Institute for Social Research were heavily engaged in social research throughout the 1930s. This was never more true than during the first five years on Morningside Heights. Although members of the Horkheimer Circle later played up stories of their anonymity and isolation at Columbia, evidence suggests that such claims were greatly exaggerated.
This study seeks to answer the question: how did the East German leader Walter Ulbricht survive de-Stalinization in the 1950s and remain in power until 1971? How was Ulbricht able to prevent the kind of unrest that was occurring in Poland and Hungary? The answer is not obvious, for Ulbricht had much in common with the Hungarian leader Mátyás Rákosi, who in July 1956 was forced into permanent exile in the Soviet Union, where he died the same year as Ulbricht's resignation (1971). Both had spent the World War II years in the Soviet Union and were "Muscovites." Both were diehard Stalinists who dragged their feet in implementing the reforms dictated by the Twentieth CPSU Congress. Both communist leaders were immensely unpopular. Ulbricht was dubbed the "Goat-beard" (Spitzbart), which, although not as derogatory as "Bald Murderer" (Kopasz Gyilkos) or "Asshead" (Seggfej) for Rákosi, was hardly flattering. (Rákosi's successor, Ernö Gerö, who became First Secretary after his patron was deported to the USSR in July 1956, was just as despised. As Hungarians said in the privacy of their kitchens: "Instead of a fat Rákosi we got a skinny one.")
German politicians, journalists, and analysts are predicting that the DVU's and the NPD's tenure in state parliaments will be brief. Referring to the NPD, Wolfgang Bosbach of the CDU claimed that the party would quickly lose its appeal because its politicians were "generally lazy, not very intelligent and therefore ineffective in parlia-ment." Similar opinions have been voiced about the DVU. In this article, I argue that, while the DVU is likely to remain a marginal player in German politics, the NPD's electoral breakthrough represents a major new development. Over the last decade, the NPD has evolved into a highly organized social movement in eastern Germany. The fact that it can now mobilize portions of the eastern electorate strongly suggests that it has become a political force as well.
Throughout these shows, a value system is constructed that runs counter to the apparent, stated aim of normalizing the everyday experience of eastern Germans. GDR consumer goods are brought into the mainstream, only to be reconfined to the periphery as "strange" and nonwestern. In so doing, the programs invite former GDR citizens to join a club of western German consumers and to laugh along with them at their bizarre, ridiculous past. Consequently, while Ostalgie might not be what it used to be, the power dynamic between east and west remains the same. In these shows the GDR is no longer presented as a "Stasi state." Instead, through Ostalgie, it becomes a world of curious consumer products. Nevertheless, even if the gasps of horror and disapproval of earlier representations are replaced now by curiosity and amusement, these recent television shows still furnish us with a representation of the east from which the Federal Republic can distance itself, thereby finding further validation as the better German state (which of course it is). But it is also a state that, for many indignant eastern Germans at least, still fails to engage honestly and in a differentiated manner with their preunification experience.