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Völkerfreundschaft nach Bedarf: Ausländische Arbeitskräfte in der Wahrnehmung von Staat und Bevölkerung der DDR
Södertörn University, School of Historical and Contemporary Studies, History. Stockholms universitet.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2286-3646
2014 (German)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Peoples' Friendship as Required : Foreign Workers in the Perception of GDR State and People (English)
Abstract [en]

The claim to successfully have eliminated racism and xenophobia in socialist Germany was crucial for the GDR’s demarcation against the Federal Republic and for GDR’s political self-conception. According to the state party SED, both the GDR’s government and its people met with all members of the working class, regardless their ethnicity or culture, in the spirit of Völkerfreundschaft – the peoples’ friendship. In the early 1960s, suffering from a lack of work power, the GDR began to recruit foreign workers, and continued to do so up until German reunification. When workers arrived from Eastern Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia, the propositions of antiracism and peoples’ friendship were tested in practice.

Following a discourse-analytical approach this study analyzes how the ideal of Völkerfreundschaft was dealt with and how it was exploited and altered both by citizens communicating with the state and within party-loyal circles. It examines when, why and by whom ethnicity was downplayed in favor of common class affiliation, and under which circumstances it regained importance.

While latest research on foreigners in the GDR has focused on diagnosing the discrepancy between ideological claims and reality this study goes beyond such an approach and analyzes how this discrepancy was dealt with – both by state authorities, the state-owned factories and ordinary people – in everyday life.  

This study is a contribution to migration research, as well as to everyday-life-history and history of mentality in the GDR.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of History, Stockholm University , 2014. , 295 p.
Södertörn Doctoral Dissertations, ISSN 1652-7399 ; 100
, Stockholm Studies in History, ISSN 0491-0842 ; 102
Keyword [en]
GDR, foreign workers, guest workers, labor immigrants, SED, socialism, xenophobia, racism, the peoples' friendship, discourse theory, discourse analysis, public transcript, petitions, state-owned factories, Neues Deutschland, migration, cold war, Stasi, state security
Keyword [de]
DDR, ausländische Arbeitskräfte, Werktätige, Gastarbeiter, DDR-Bevölkerung, SED, Sozialismus, Fremdenfeindlichkeit, Rassismus, Völkerfreundschaft, Diskurstheorie, Diskursgeschichte, public transcript, Eingaben, VEB, Neues Deutschland, Migration, Kalter Krieg, Stasi, Staatsicherheit
National Category
Research subject
Historical Studies; Baltic and East European studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-25166ISBN: 978-91-87843-11-2ISBN: 978-91-7649-018-1OAI: diva2:759865
Public defence
2014-12-12, MB 313 (svarta lådan), Stockholm/Huddinge, 10:00 (English)
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies
Available from: 2014-11-20 Created: 2014-10-31 Last updated: 2016-10-10Bibliographically approved

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DissertationRabenschlag(3838 kB)847 downloads
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