Remembering History: German Representations of the Stasi’s Legacy in Fiction and Memory

  • Author(s) / Creator(s)
  • Germany’s twentieth century was one filled with traumas, both inflicted and
    experienced. By looking at portrayals of the German Democratic Republic’s surveillance
    apparatus in fictional narratives, done here by analyzing Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s
    The Lives of Others film, not only are the social perspectives of such traumas’ highlighted, but
    intrinsic differences between the role of memory and the historiographical operation revealed.
    Doing so, memory’s ability to preserve and memorialize victims’ experiences both separate from
    and connected to the narratives emerging out of the historical institution is shown. These
    narratives help shape social perspectives on said past events and perpetuate an understanding and
    awareness even if it overlooks some more complicated elements within the historical realities.
    By distinguishing between memory and history, the importance and uniqueness of fictional
    representations is defended along with its influence on the broader social consciousness and
    identity formation. Reflections upon impactful past German experiences emerge not only with
    regards to the GDR’s Ministry of State Security, but echo tendencies which occurred during the
    Historikerstreit of the 1980s and the German approach to its Nazi legacy. By comparing the role
    of memory in both such instances, the importance of understanding the differences between it
    and the historical process along with their importance in shaping societal understandings of
    traumatic past experiences is made clear.

  • Date created
  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Type of Item
    Research Material
  • DOI
  • License
    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International