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 Race and racismPhoto (detail): © picture alliance / ZB

Race / Racism

East Germany turned anti-racism into state-policy, i.e. it outlawed racism out of existence, but did it really erase racism? How did GDR officials define “anti-racism?” Why was Angela Davis a celebrity in the East? How did Socialist Globalization shape the way East Germans thought about difference? What accounts for the racially motivated violence after 1990, particularly in the East? How has the history of colonialism, the Holocaust, Antisemitism and Islamophobia influenced discourses on race and racism in both countries, before and after Reunification? Is race and racism as important to the German public discourse as it is in the US? 


Educators: Teaching this unit? Check out our interactive classroom materials on race and racism.

Angela Davis in the GDR Video still: © Goethe-Institut New York

Solidarity for Angela Davis

Did you know that Angela Davis aquired an almost celebrity status in East Germany and that thousands of young people wrote letters of solidarity to support her release from prison? 

Race and history Video still: © Goethe-Institut New York

Race and history

How has the history of Fascism, Holocaust and Antisemitism influenced thinking about race in both states, East and West Germany?

Mahdis Azarmandi Video still: © Goethe-Institut New York

What is an anti-racist society?

Is there a different between anti-racist and non-racist societies? Why is “race literacy” important? 

Quinn Slobodian Video still: © Goethe-Institut New York

Race in the Capitalist West and Socialist East

What was the status of race in the socialist world? Was Socialism free of racism?

Alissa Bellotti Video still: © Goethe-Institut New York

East German Subcultures and Racism

Why did youth subcultures in East Germany question the antifascist position of the GDR? 

Quinn Slobodian Video still: © Goethe-Institut New York

GDR's anti-racism policy

East Germany turned anti-racism into state-policy. What did GDR officials understand under “anti-racism”? 

Anti racism Video still: © Goethe-Institut New York

Anti-racism

What country was more anti-racist? East or West Germany? 

Where would East Germans have met POC? Video still: © Goethe-Institut New York

POC in West and East Germany

Where would East Germans have met POC? What about West German “guest workers?”

Open Memory Box © Open Memory Box

Footage of Racial Difference

Despite their visible presence, foreign guest workers from Cuba, Vietnam, and Mozambique in the GDR were largely isolated and invisible. See if you can spot the only footage of racial difference shot in the GDR within the 415-hour Open Memory Box collection. Where does this footage appear? 

Racially motivated violence in the GDR Video still: © Goethe-Institut New York

After Reunification: Racially motivated violence in the East

If East Germany (GDR) was racism-free, what accounts for racially motivated violence after 1990?

Noa Ha Video still: @ Goethe-Institut New York

Colonialism and the Humboldt Forum

Dr. Noa K. Ha discusses the controversy around the Humboldforum, one of Europe`s most ambitious cultural projects envisioned to be built on the ruins of the Palace of the Republic, GDR`s former highest seat of power.

Mahdis Azarmandi Video still: © Goethe-Institut New York

The Colonial Past in German Public Discourse Today

Mahdis Azarmandi, PhD, grew up in Germany in the 90ies. What did she learn about Germany's colonial past? And how present is this past in the German public discourse today? 

Mahdis Azarmandi Video still: © Goethe-Institut New York

Decolonization: What does that mean?

Decolonization has become a buzz-word in recent times, but what does it mean? Hear decolonial scholar Mahdis Azarmandi's thoughts on the term. 

Mahdis Azarmandi Video still: © Goethe-Institut New York

German Interest in Discussing Racism

Mahdis Azarmandi, PhD, discusses how comunities of color have historically tackled racism in Germany and why she is hopeful about the new anti-racist solidarities that are emerging at the present moment. 


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