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Ideology vs. RealityPhoto (detail): Harald Hauswald @ Bundesstiftung Aufarbeitung

Ideology vs. Reality

The FRG and the GDR were based on very different ideologies. While the FRG was oriented towards the western ideal of a constitutional and welfare state, the GDR had a socialist system based on the model of the Soviet Union. But how did the implementation of these ideologies translate in everyday life in the two states? Where did ideology come close to being realized and where did reality differ greatly from ideology?

Donna T. Harsch Video still © Goethe-Institut New York

What did women mean to Socialism?

Women emancipation in the GDR was mainly sought in the public sphere, with emplyoment and education being the driving vehicles. Gender equality debates did not address the private sphere enough. 

Astrid Eckert Video still © Goethe-Institut New York

Environmental movements in the GDR

Did East Germany have environmental movements? How did they fit with Socialist ideology?

Frank Wolff Video still © Goethe-Institut New York

Two democracies?

Both, West and East Germany called themselves “democratic,” but how democratic were they in reality? 

Approaches by historians Video still © Goethe-Institut New York

What do historians today think about....

...how West- and East Germany approached democracy and how they both organized the relationship between the state, the law and the people during the Cold War? 

Ideology or Reality? Video still © Goethe-Institut New York

Freedom, restriction and coded language

According to GDR propaganda, East Germany was a state for young people. The balance between allowing them some freedoms, while restricting others, proved tricky. Though basic needs like food, shelter and clothing were met, the GDR youth had to negotiate the space for all other extras that make life fun, like music and fashion and often applied coded language and subversive messages to address these.

Reunification Revisited © Goethe-Institut New York

Can education be objective?

We asked, Ingrid Miethe, PhD answered: The GDR wasn’t the only country to impart political and societal values through education. Can education be objective?
See answer.

Reunification Revisited © Goethe-Institut New York

Challenges to Education in the GDR

We asked, Ingrid Miethe, PhD answered: In your view, what were the biggest problems with education in the GDR?
See answer.

Open Memory Box © Open Memory Box

Public Spaces

Public spaces and events in the GDR were saturated with propaganda and images of power, but a peek into private spaces suggests little ideological intervention into ordinary life.


Gabriel Fermino @Gabriel Fermino

GABRIEL, BRAZIL: The ideal society

Gabriel Fermino, a student at a PASCH school, a global network of schools with stellar German programs, discusses what an ideal society means in the Brazilian context. In German. English subtitles available.

Cecilia Mexico Cecilia Rebollar Ramos

Cecilia, Mexico: The perfect society

Cecilia Rebollar Ramos studies at a PASCH- school in Mexico. In this video, she discusses the meaning of the Berlin wall for the Mexican society. What does it mean to build a perfect society? In German with English subtitles.


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