Irreconcilably past and present : the representation of the archaeological fabric of post-1989 Berlin in six narrative texts
In the political and cultural discourses of the post-Wende period Berlin was widely seen as the symbolic force of the new united Germany. Between 1989 and 1999 much of East Berlin's urban fabric was radically altered to confirm this image. Memories of the GDR and of National Socialism were erased from the recently unified city - hence the renaming of prominent public sites, of street names and buildings and the demolition of others, mostly in East Berlin. This thesis analyses in six narrative texts a link between the unification and the erasure of Berlin's divided pasts. Both Thomas Hettche's Nox and Thomas Brussig's Helden wie wir focus on the night of November 9 1989 in Berlin and proffer conflicting readings of the event as well as its importance. In Gunter Grass's Ein weites Feld Berlin is represented as a site informed by an omnipresent past covering the last 150 years of German history. For the protagonist of Cees Nooteboom's Allerseelen, Berlin is understood as an archaeological site that invites the critical purchase of a modern, non-German flaneur to uncover the historic. For the paranoid protagonist of Friedrich Christian Delius's Die Flatterzunge, Berlin is experienced as a suffocating and an inescapably constant reminder of an assumed inherited National Socialist guilt. Whereas Tanja Duckers's novel, Spielzone, illustrates a potential liberation from the historic thematised in the previous texts by portraying Berlin as an uninscribed blank urban space inhabited by a historically carefree younger generation. The six texts studied in this thesis constantly debate the function of Berlin as a site of remembering and forgetting.