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Title: Treatments of the past : medical memories and experiences in Postwar East Germany
Author: Wahl, Markus
ISNI:       0000 0004 6421 290X
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2017
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This dissertation explores continuities and discontinuities in the transition of medical personnel from war to postwar and the subsequent persistence of cultural, medical, and social concepts of diseases in East Germany after 1945. The cities of Dresden and Leipzig constitute a particular focus of the work. Consequently, the analytical tool of 'medical memories and experiences' investigates how the past influenced postwar medical and social treatment of patients, and potentially affected the future career and private life of medical personnel in the new state. Firstly, the thesis aims to demonstrate how doctors were able to negotiate and mitigate their past involvement in the Third Reich with local and state authorities, not least due to the health crisis in postwar East Germany. Secondly, it argues that the continuity of health officials and doctors from the war into the postwar period had a direct impact on the medical and social experience of patients with venereal diseases. Thirdly, the study also illustrates how East German authorities medicalised any 'deviant behaviour' of the 'war youth' and often confined adolescents in social and medical institutions for re-socialisation. Finally, this dissertation examines the F¸rsorgeheim Leuben, in which Dresden's 'delinquent children' and 'promiscuous women' were inmates. While clarifying the analytical use of 'medical memories and experiences', the concluding analysis reveals that this institution is an example of the persistence of socially constructed diagnoses, which influenced treatments and experiences of apparently 'deviant' people in East Germany after 1945. This dissertation is located at the intersection of different historiographies, such as memory studies, postwar, social, cultural and East German history, and makes a twofold contribution to these fields: arguing, firstly, that postwar East Germany was not a monolithic, Soviet-dominated construct. Secondly, 1945 was not a watershed regarding the perception of 'deviance' by local health and social authorities, the methods utilised by doctors to treat diseases, the experiences of patients in medical institutions, and the ideas on morality within the population. This study demonstrates the necessity of an interdisciplinary methodology to differentiate the history of everyday life in the German Democratic Republic with the help of microcosm studies. Thereby, it contributes to the recent scholarship that aims to overcome the emotionally loaded and often political approaches of over twenty-five years of historical inquiry into the East German political system and society.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available