Video Interviews Reunification Revisited

Decolonisation – Did racism exist in the GDR?
Photo (detail): © picture alliance / ZB
  • 30. September 2020 — 31. December 2022

  • Decolonisation

  • New York City (United States of America)

Thirty years after German reunification, the Goethe-Institut USA asks people who grew up in the GDR and the Federal Republic of Germany how they experienced racism in the two parts of Germany and have experienced it since German reunification, how the issue of colonialism was dealt with in their respective school systems and what they think about it today.

The project Reunification Revisited, which is aimed primarily at young learners of German and provides interactive materials for teachers, examines how colonial history, the Holocaust, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia influenced the debate on race and racism in both countries before and after reunification.

The video interviews focus on whether the anti-racism that was elevated to state policy in the GDR, which made racism de facto illegal, really eradicated racism. And if the GDR was allegedly free of racism, what are the reasons for racist violence after 1990, especially in East Germany?

Historical films show how guest workers in both parts of Germany - in the GDR they came from Cuba, Vietnam and Mozambique, in the FRG mainly from Italy and Turkey - helped to rebuild the economy after the Second World War, yet lived largely isolated from the local population.
In current videos, decolonial scholars comment on the controversy surrounding the Humboldt Forum in Berlin, which is to house the ethnological collections of the former German colonial power in the rebuilt Prussian City Palace on the site of the former Palace of the Republic of the GDR. In this context, one of the many interviews conducted in English and with German subtitles inquires: How present is the colonial past in Germany's public discourse today?

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