What Do You Understand By 'ostalgie' And To What Extent Is The Term Appropriate To Describe Wolfgang Becker's Good Bye, Lenin!?

2313 words - 9 pages

Germ10311:Contemporary German Culture 7027318
What do you understand by 'Ostalgie' and to what extent is the term appropriate to describe Wolfgang Becker's Good Bye, Lenin!?Ostalgie is composed of the two German words Osten and Nostalgie. Osten refers to the former German Democratic Republic and the meaning of Nostalgie in English is the sentimental memory of or longing for things of the past in a fairly general sense. This longing for the days of the GDR is the sentiment of many Ostler who resided in the East German state and witnessed its collapse, which saw a whole state dissolve in the space of six weeks. What came about was a popular appreciation and acknowledgement of the GDR, its material reminders e.g. Spreewaldgurken and memories, such as going to the FDJ-Versammlung for example. It is apparent that Ostalgie has played, and still plays, a big part in German culture. Ostalgie is found in many different contexts in the German society and one notable social trend in the former East German states is the attempt of citizens to restore the communal values of the former socialist republic into present day life, where people, for example, recreate youth groups such as Jungpioniere and FDJ. Groups such as the Jungpioniere and FDJ were at the heart of the GDR society and played a big part in the childhood of many former East Germans. The icons from youth groups like these and other icons are used in the area of fashion which is shown in the case of an internet t-shirt dealer, shirt66.de, which is enjoying huge success due to its sales of garments sporting recreated logos such as the GDR emblem, the Ampelmännchen and Club Cola. This material representation of Ostalgie has become especially popular with the younger generations who did not live in the era of the GDR although such items did not directly come from the former East German state, whereas original logo t-shirts would be kept at commemorative museums and websites such as Ostalgie-Museum.de. They show Ostalgie in a different form seeming to monumentalise the tangible items from the GDR such as Ostdeutsche Münzen and East German medicines which hold specific memories for their GDR-consumers. This website encourages its visitors to 'maintain the GDR memory' implying a more generalised form of Ostalgie.Ostalgie is described by many as a critique of the present, especially with the current situation in the former GDR, which saw unemployment rates of 9.2% on 5 December 2001 in the whole of Germany, with the East German rates of unemployment more than doubling those of the West German states1. Many from the GDR now complain that they have been ignored by the federal state and, in turn, turn their backs on the mainstream political parties by turning to the far right and far left parties such as NPD and Die Linke.PDS. It can be claimed that there is a greater sense of Ostalgie with Die Linke.PDS, who, in fact, is the legal successor of the SED, which was the party which ruled the GDR....

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