My name is John Paul Kleiner and I reside in Toronto, Canada. This blog is my attempt to add a footnote to the “footnote of world history” that was the German Democratic Republic (quote by Heinz-Ulrich Wehler). In The GDR Objectified, I present a collection of objects produced in, or related closely to, the German Democratic Republic (GDR), or East Germany. These items were produced primarily during the years between the founding of the GDR in October 1949 and its accession to the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) in October 1990. The objects presented here are from my collection of East German ephemera, I provide information on these items with the aim of providing a window onto East German history in an historical and/or personal way.

I hold an M.A. in History from York University, Toronto, Canada. During my graduate studies, I focused primarily on aspects of the history of the German Democratic Republic and wrote my major research paper on how the Saxon city of Leipzig dealt with manifestations of the East German state in its public spaces during the ten years following German unification. I have contributed to Einblick, the magazine of the Federal Republic of Germany’s Bundesrat, on topics related to East Germany

I have traveled extensively throughout the former East Germany and lived for a year and a half in Leipzig during the late 1990s and early 2000s. In the fall of 2008, I was a co-organizer of an eleven-day study tour which took a group of students from York University’s Canadian Centre for German and European Studies to the “New German States” for an interdisciplinary look at this region on the eve of the 20th anniversary of German reunification.

My interest in the GDR arises out of the contradictions between the utopian aspects of the state’s socialist ideology and the realities of everyday life for the vast majority of East Germans. The GDR’s Marxist ideology helped inform its insistence that it be judged on the basis of how well it satisfied the material needs (and to an extent, wants) of its citizens. Given this, I would contend that those items produced in the GDR – both within and without its centrally planned economic system – are especially eloquent in telling the story of East German society and the culture which produced it.

John Paul Kleiner
Toronto, Canada
October 2012
jpkleiner[at]hotmail.com

Advertisements
3 comments
  1. Boban Klobucar said:

    I’m ”stunned”. I have a special ”love” for the GDR. I can’t explain it better. Maybe is fascintion a better word but I’m not sure. Of course its not in the way that atrocities comitted during this nations existance is something that I support. Au contraire.
    My parents were born in Yugoslavia but moved in the mid 60’s to Sweden as labour. And thats where I’m born. But during my whole childhood we travelled by car to Yugoslavia thru the Eastern bloc (GDR, CSSR and Hungary before reaching Yugo). GDR was the country that fascinated me most. It was kind of ”greyish” and in a way the most ” hard-core” cold-war contrast. But I imagined how it was to live in DDR. Besides all what was written in Western media about the life in GDR I thought that it must be a more ”everydayish” life for their citizens. Not only what was described thru the politilized spectars of our western media but something little ”beyond”. And it seems that I found something really refreshing here. I’m really looking forward to read more!
    And I found the page thanks to your text on hockeyplayer Dieter Frenzel. I saw him live a couple of times since Dynamo played against our local hockey team here in Sweden (Södertälje SK) a couple of times in the early 80`s.
    However: keep up the good work!
    Sinc. Boban

    • Thanks for your kind words. Always nice to connect with someone who shares the enthusiasm for GDR history, especially one who had the privilege of seeing Dieter Frenzel play. I am jealous! Regards, John Paul

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: