Lukas Bartl

PhD student (Max Weber Centre for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies)


Forschungsbau "Weltbeziehungen" / C19.03.24

Office hours

nach Vereinbarung

Visiting address

Max-Weber-Kolleg für kultur- und sozialwissenschaftliche Studien
Forschungsneubau „Weltbeziehungen“ C19
Nordhäuser Str. 63
99089 Erfurt

Mailing address

Universität Erfurt
Max-Weber-Kolleg für kultur- und sozialwissenschaftliche Studien
Postfach 90 02 21
99105 Erfurt

Lukas Bartl

Personal information

  • 2015 – 2016: Voluntary Service at Nkosi’s Haven, Johannesburg.
  • 2016 – 2020: Bachelor of Arts in Staatswissenschaften/Governance and Public Policy at Universität Passau.
  • 2020 – 2023: Master of Arts in Geschichte and Politik des 20. Jahrhunderts at Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena (including one semester at KU Leuven in the winter of 2021/22).
  • 2021 – 2022: Freelance Assistant to Dr. Fabien Théofilakis (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne).
  • 2021 – 2023: Student Assistant to Dr. Carsta Langner (Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena).

Research project

Naturally beautiful. Naturally fit. Naturally healthy – the topos of „Natürlichkeit“ in GDR health publications and its political and social dimensions 

Living in accordance with nature, the quest for ‘natural beauty’ or the trust in the ‘natural’ (self-)healing powers of the body form potent ideas in modern society. Nature has been identified by Hartmut Rosa as a central sphere of resonance (“Resonanzsphäre”) of modern times. If nature is a central sphere of resonance, then naturalness is the central promise of resonance to modern audiences. The ambiguousness of the term and its use make it both a very appealing object of historical investigation and at the same time difficult to grasp.

My project wants to explore this promised resonance on various levels in the context of the Eastern Germany in the last two decades of the GDR and the following phase of transformation around 1989/90 and the preceding decade. On the level of the self, bodies were conceptualized as a site of “Natürlichkeit”, and this transported a promise of a better or more pure relation to the world for the individual. Health magazines such as “Deine Gesundheit” or “Für Dich” conveyed ideals of natural beauty and natural health which were contrasted with ‘unnatural’ beauty or health and lifestyle trends like tattoos, piercings or fast food. Insofar as such trends were explicitly or implicitly associated with the West, notions of “Natürlichkeit” also served a political purpose and – as I want to argue – became elements of an imagined East German identity.

This identity which manifested itself in quite complex ways and was fed by various actors through manifold perspectives. A (more) natural way of living was a major concern amongst oppositional forces in the 1980s. When anxieties and anger in relation to environmental problems were rife in the 1980s in the GDR, it was subject to a curious fetishization of the ‘primitive’ East German emerging in West Germany, which escalated after 1989/90 when expectations about ‘the other’ erupted in “Nackt-Krieg[en]” on the beaches of the Baltic Sea – as the German tabloid BILD titled it – and an ostensible “Natürlichkeit” of the East German body and sexuality began to feature as a positive lieu de mémoire from as early on as the mid-1990s.

The topic offers numerous possibilities to ask various resonance-related (and other) questions – too many to answer them all but I will try to shed some light on at least a few.


Bartl, Lukas/Gerstmeier, Markus/Rehbein, Malte: Die „Waldwerke GmbH Passau“ (1942/43-1945) und ihre Belegschaft im Spiegel von Arbeitsbüchern. Historische Datenforschungen zu NS-Rüstungsindustrie und Kriegsgesellschaft in Ostbayern, in: Passauer Jahrbuch LXIV (2023), pp. 201-246.

Ostrowski, Alina et al.: Arbeitsmigration in der süddeutschen NS-Kriegswirtschaft. Computergestützte Datenexploration mittels historischer Geoinformation und Netzwerkanalyse, in: Geschichte in Wissenschaft und Unterricht 74, H. 9/10 (2023), pp. 550-570.

Further information

Co-organised exhibition:

Dachauer Prozesse – Verbrechen, Verfahren und Verantwortung | Gedenkstätte Dachau | 29. April 2022 – 31. Dezember 2023.