Faculty of Philosophy Religion, Society, and World Relations Research

Family memories of everyday life and the reality of rule under the SED dictatorship

Subproject in the research network "Dictatorship Experience and Transformation". The research project focuses on the generational stratification of family memories and narratives about experiences in the SED dictatorship and transformation phase after 1989/90. The starting point is the results of the Thuringia Monitor, according to which a predominantly positive judgement of everyday life in the GDR, which is essentially based on the traditions in the close circle of family and friends, contrasts with a strikingly negative judgement of the political order of the SED state ("unjust state") by the respondents. The project aims to bring together these two divergent perspectives and explores the question of how the images of everyday reality and the reality of rule in the GDR can be related to each other.

01/2019 - 12/2022

Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF)

Project management

Prof. Dr. Christiane Kuller
Holder of the professorship Neuere und Zeitgeschichte und Geschichtsdidaktik (Historisches Seminar)


Dr. Patrice G. Poutrus

Research Assistants

Romy Mittelbach

Lorenz Hartung

Main project

Related projects

oral history research centre Prof. Dr. Christiane Kuller
Between experience and memory Prof. Dr. Jörg Seiler

The first step in the project is to ask which images of history can be found in families today and how these differ, especially generationally. To this end, the memories of 15 selected Thuringian multi-generational families will be researched and made accessible. To what extent do they refer to the own experiences of the older family members, what role do the political and social changes during the Peaceful Revolution and in the years since 1990 play? Another question is how this family tradition relates to the interpretations of public remembrance culture and historiography and their changes over the last three decades. In contrast to previous studies, the interpretation does not focus primarily on the question of the (more or less successful) overcoming of SED rule. Rather, it will examine how the narratives about the most recently closed chapter of German history, the GDR past, are used by the interviewees to describe their complex present.

In a second step, the GDR holdings of the Thuringian State Archives will be researched for those events that have references to the family narratives. We will ask how written sources and narratives relate to each other. By exploring the complex relationships, a multi-perspective view of the narrated facts becomes possible, which at the same time emphasises the specific significance and limitations of the different sources.

commemorative culture contemporary history

Cooperation partner

Research focus

Religion, Society, and World Relations