West German editorial journalists between division and reunification, 1987-1991
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This thesis analyzes the published commentary of editorial journalists regarding the division of Germany in twelve major newspapers of the Federal Republic of Germany in a period spanning from the final years of division to the immediate aftermath of the unification of the two German states. The study tracks editorial advocacy in response to East German leader Erich Honecker's Bonn visit in 1987 coupled with the intra-German policy efforts of the Social Democratic Party in opposition, which seemed to edge towards two-state neutralism; the wave of repression in the German Democratic Republic from late 1987 onward in the wake of Mikhail Gorbachev's reform programme, and the June 1989 visit of Mikhail Gorbachev to Bonn. Journalistic commentators' propagation of a form of constitutional patriotism as a Federal Republican identity will be examined. Responses to the East German Revolution as it developed in late 1989 are analyzed in detail, followed by an account of journalistic efforts to define the political-cultural parameters of united Germany between March 1990 and June 1991. After four decades, the post-war division of Germany had acquired a degree of normalcy. Journalistic commentators argued against any acceptance of division that also accepted the existence of the party-state dictatorship in the German Democratic Republic, insisting that the German Question was 'open' until self-determination for East Germans was realized. Nevertheless, throughout the period journalistic commentators argued in unison against solutions to division which would alienate the Federal Republic from its western alliance or put its established socio-political order at risk. Contemporary journalism propagated an image of the Federal Republic that was thoroughly defined by its post-war internalization of 'Western' value norms. This was most evident during the East German Revolution and the immediate aftermath, ostensibly the moment of greatest uncertainty about Germany's future path, when commentators became champions of continuity within the western alliance.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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