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Lorn Hillaker, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, History

Promising a Better Germany:  Competing Cultural Diplomacies between West and East Germany, 1949-1989

The split of the German nation in to Western and Eastern occupation zones and later two distinct states provoked renewed questions of what it meant to be the “better” Germany.  Both the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the German Democratic Republic (GDR) competed to gain international support and obtain official diplomatic recognition and other forms of acknowledgment to answer this question in their favor.  During the Cold War, these newly founded states attempted to establish themselves in this competition by developing new images to replace the memory of Nazism and by differentiating themselves in their search for approval from domestic and foreign audiences through what often became a German-German dialogue.  My dissertation project aims to explore the competing practices of cultural diplomacy of the FRG and the GDR though an exploration of their distinct, yet closely connected and interacting, self-images. The changing images of each Germany tell us about the successes and failures of their respective auswärtige Kulturpolitik strategies that were essential for political legitimacy abroad and could lead to having a voice in international affairs and organizations, but also about the two states attempts to normalize the division of Germany and to craft distinct national identities.