The official concept of the nation in the GDR : theory versus pragmatism
This thesis is a study of the attempts by the leadership of the GDR to devise a concept of the nation which suited their objectives regarding the future of the state and of Germany as a whole, from 1949 until 1989. A simple analysis of official pronouncements on the subject over the years reveals serious inconsistencies and dramatic U-turns. This thesis considers various factors which may have shaped the official line, including the influence of Bonn and Moscow, public opinion and personal convictions. In particular it examines the input of experts from academic institutions in order to answer the question of whether or not the official line on the nation had a clear theoretical basis, or was purely determined by pragmatic considerations. In order to investigate what lay behind official policy, extensive use has been made of material from the SED's Central Party Archive, and interviews were conducted with leading theorists. In this way it was possible to gain a better understanding of the interaction between the political and theoretical aspects of the National Question in the former GDR. The findings reveal that the official concept of the nation was primarily determined by pragmatic, or even opportunistic considerations, and was viewed by the SED leadership as a means to legitimise the GDR in the absence of alternative methods. Initially the intention was to reinforce the claim that the GDR was a model for a future united socialist Germany, but later a concept was fashioned to support the idea that it was an independent sovereign state, and in no way linked to the Federal Republic. However, the regime was heavily reliant on the skills of theorists to provide credible (Marxist-Leninist) justifications for policy changes, and to modify policies in order to make them more acceptable and therefore more effective as a means to legitimise the state.