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Twenty Years of German Unity

Display photos (October 4-11, 2010): 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

Twenty Years of German Unity display

"Twenty Years of German Unity" is on display through October 11, 2010 in the Renne Library display case in the main lobby.

About the Display: 20 Jahre Deutsche Einheit (1990-2010)

Photographs inside display case by Kelly Gorham
Display by Patricia Anne Simpson

The books, records, artifacts, and memorabilia in this display document the time period just prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 through the months following Unification Day on 3 October 1990. Accompanied by the starkly beautiful photographs of Kelly Gorham, the items in this case are meant to evoke the historical epoch now known as the Wende, or turning point, in German-German history.

Some East German bands used music to voice their critique of the state - some later directed their discontent at the process of unification itself. Bands such as "Feeling B" (two members later co-founded Rammstein) were known as "fun punk" musicians with attitude. Others, such as "Freygang" and "Die Firma" (the company) had reputations for being critical, left-wing groups, but later several members of both bands were revealed to be unofficial informants for the Stasi (Staatssicherheitsdienst or State Security Service). The display includes copies of Stasi documents about the rise of skinhead groups in the former East.

There was one official record label, Amiga, and the album "Parocktikum" represents one official attempt to include critical music, such as punk and independent sounds, in the official repertoire. At the same time, some bands celebrated "The Last Days of Pompeii" in a squatted club known as "Im Eimer" (in the trash). The concert, referenced in the display with the pink album cover depicting the club, commemorated the currency reform.

During the early 1990s, many of the documents that appeared in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in samizdat (self-published literature) were collected and given a wider distribution as scholarly books. Activists in the independent peace and democracy movement in the GDR worked laboriously to reproduce and distribute political essays, literature, poetry, and information about the environment, conscientious objection to military service, and alternative lifestyles under socialism.

Some items, such as the comic books from the adventure series Mosaik, are part of the collection that show the GDR's attempt to entertain and edify young readers - though often by using crude cultural stereotypes in the service of criticizing capitalism and Western societies.

Others, such as the pieces of the fallen Wall, the postcard of the "Trabant" - the only car produced in the GDR, the green eraser in the shape of the Ampelmann (the East German traffic signal for "walk"), political buttons, and the early underground radio station (Sputnik: Rock the Nation), are souvenirs from the early 1990s.

Further reading on German Reunification

Please contact Patricia Anne Simpson, Associate Professor of German Studies and German Section Coordinator (Modern Languages), at 994-6443 with questions or comments about the display. For more information about displays, visit the library or call Shari Curtis at 994-5307.