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Völkerfreundschaft nach Bedarf: Ausländische Arbeitskräfte in der Wahrnehmung von Staat und Bevölkerung der DDR
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of History.
2014 (German)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Peoples’ Friendship as Required : Foreign Workers in the Perception of GDR State and People (English)
Abstract [en]

The claim to successfully have eliminated racism and xenophobia in socialist Germany was crucial for the GDR’s demarcation against the Federal Republic and for GDR’s political self-conception. According to the state party SED, both the GDR’s government and its people met with all members of the working class, regardless their ethnicity or culture, in the spirit of Völkerfreundschaft – the peoples’ friendship. In the early 1960s, suffering from a lack of work power, the GDR began to recruit foreign workers, and continued to do so up until German reunification. When workers arrived from Eastern Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia, the propositions of antiracism and peoples’ friendship were tested in practice.

Following a discourse-analytical approach this study analyzes how the ideal of Völkerfreundschaft was reproduced, exploited and altered both by citizens communicating with the state and within party-loyal circles. It examines when, why and by whom ethnicity was downplayed in favor of common class affiliation, and under which circumstances it regained importance.

While latest research on foreigners in the GDR has focused on diagnosing the discrepancy between ideological claims and reality this study goes beyond such an approach and analyzes how this discrepancy was dealt with – both by state authorities, the state-owned factories and ordinary people – in everyday life.  

This study is a contribution to migration research, as well as to everyday-life-history and history of mentality in the GDR.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of History, Stockholm University , 2014. , 295 p.
Stockholm studies in history, ISSN 0491-0842 ; 102
, Södertörn Doctoral Dissertations, ISSN 1652-7399 ; 100
Keyword [en]
GDR, foreign workers, guest workers, labor immigrants, SED, socialism, xenophobia, racism, the peoples' friendship, discourse theory, discourse analysis, public transcript, petitions, state-owned factories, Neues Deutschland, migration, cold war, Stasi, state security
Keyword [de]
DDR, ausländische Arbeitskräfte, Werktätige, Gastarbeiter, DDR-Bevölkerung, SED, Sozialismus, Fremdenfeindlichkeit, Rassismus, Völkerfreundschaft, Diskurstheorie, Diskursgeschichte, public transcript, Eingaben, VEB, Neues Deutschland, Migration, Kalter Krieg, Stasi, Staatsicherheit
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URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-108755ISBN: 978-91-7649-018-1ISBN: 978-91-87843-11-2OAI: diva2:760791
Public defence
2014-12-12, MB 313, Södertörns högskola, Alfred Nobels allé 7, Huddinge, 10:00 (English)
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies
Available from: 2014-11-20 Created: 2014-11-04 Last updated: 2014-11-26Bibliographically approved

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