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COMPARE AND CONTRAST SOCIALIST OSTALGIE/NOSTALGIA IN GERMANY AND RUSSIA

Introduction

Really, each era has its own false nostalgia. We all put a picket fence up around something. For my generation it was the '50s, and for other generations it will be something else. Change is scary for everyone [] Gary Ross (Klein, 1998)

This quotation forms the basis of this essay which will be analysing the differences between socialist nostalgia in the two former socialist states, the German Democratic Republic and Russia. The term nostalgia will, for the purposes of this essay, be defined as a positive view of the past regime, based on a holistic evaluation of its faults and merits (Centre for the Study of Public Policy, 2006). It is expected that, given their similar ideological stances, the ways in which nostalgia is visible in society will be comparable, for example the availability of memorabilia. Since the USSR existed approximately thirty years longer than the GDR, it is anticipated that nostalgia will have different manifestations among the Russian people as there is a larger bank of memories, therefore aspects of memory studies will be brought in to assess the impact of memories on the apparent levels of nostalgia in Russia and Germany. In order to determine the validity of these presupposed ideas, opinion polls from The Centre for the Study of Public Policy and Die Allgemeinen

Bevlkerungsumfrage der Sozialwissenschaften (ALLBUS) will be used to analyse the prevailing attitude towards nostalgia in the former GDR and Russia. Articles by David E. Powell, Paul Cooke and Der Spiegel will also be examined along with several web articles that look particularly at tourism and memorabilia. Focus will be principally centred on Moscow and Berlin as they are not only the capital cities but the national centres of SED and Soviet rule. The essay will look firstly at economic representations of nostalgia, followed by historical and socio-political.

Economic

The most expressive display of nostalgia is the purchase of vintage goods that have some emotional attachment for consumers. Typical nostalgic items in Germany include Nudossi spread and Tempo pulses whereas in Russia archetypal Soviet memorabilia stalls sell USSR military uniforms, various items embossed with the hammer and sickle and Soviet leader posters/flags. It is therefore firstly clear that there is a strong difference between the items themselves as Russian memorabilia is largely military based whereas German memorabilia is predominantly Alltag, specifically, everyday cooking and household products. This though, may simply reflect who principally purchases nostalgic items in Russia and Germany. Having researched Berlin and Moscow on a Lonely Planet Guide (considered the worlds largest travel guide publisher (Fildes, 2007)), it was possible to view recommended shopping destinations in order of popularity. Whilst Izmaylovo Market which is packed with art, handmade crafts, antiques [and] Soviet paraphernalia was first in the Moscow list, the first shop to be of an ostalgisch nature in the Berlin list was Mondos Arts which appeared towards the end of the third page of search results (Lonely Planet, 2013; Lonely Planet, 2013). This is consequently suggestive, though not definitively proven, that nostalgic memorabilia is more tourist-centirc in Russia than it is in Germany. That is not to say though that nostalgic purchases are lower in Germany. According to a Focus article from the 25th February 2013, Ostprodukte liegen weiter im Trend (Focus, 2013). Furthermore, nach Angaben der Betreiber ist der Ostprodukte-Versand in jedem Jahr seit der Erffnung gewachsen. 2012 splten die Artikel rund 1,2 Millionen Euro Umsatz in die Kasse elf Prozent mehr als 2011, showing therefore that the sale of nostalgia products is high among German citizens (Focus, 2013). This is representative of the concept of identity assertion, that will be further explored later in this essay. In Russia though, memorabilia is
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primarily a consequence of tourism. As Kristin Blythes articles states, Travel and tourism made up 5.9% of Russias GDP in 2011 contributing 3.4 trillion rubles ($106 billion) to the countrys economy and of that, souvenir sales arguably contribute considerably (Blyth, 2013). Consumption of nostalgia products in Russia and Germany thus appears to be on similar purchase levels according to the popularity of souvenir markets and figures given in Focus and The Moscow News. There is a marked difference though between those who purchase such items since Russian nostalgic products appear to cater to tourists association with Russia and their USSR past, whereas German products seem to be bought by German citizens themselves in search of DDR Alltag.

Similarly, souvenirs can also be bought in gift shops which can found a greater demand for museums and memorials. For example according to a list compiled on

afterthewall.bangor.ac.uk, there are at least 40 museums, border museums and memorialmuseums in Germany, 10 of which are in Berlin (Bangor University, 2001-2013). In contrast though, according to a list on Museums in Russia, there are only 16 museums in Russia relating to the USSR, of which 6 are in Moscow ( Russian Cultural Heritage Network, 19962013). It is consequently possible to suggest that the number of museums correlate to the demand for such exhibitions, though it is also true that Moscows Red Square is the largest tourist attraction in Russia which houses the Kremlin collections as well as Lenins Mausoleum thus lessening the demand for Soviet Museums elsewhere. Themed holiday packages or thematic tours are, however, growing in popularity in Russia, suggestive perhaps of an international interest in the Soviet Period rather than national. In Moscow for instance, it is possible to partake in walking tours that focus solely on Soviet areas of interest such as Lyubyanka Square which was previously home to the KGB headquarters (Lonely Planet, 2013). There are also several themed hotels such as the Sovietsky
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Historical Hotel or the Cosmos Hotel in Moscow which cater for a USSR themed stay. Comparatively though, a search of GDR themed hotels in Berlin only found one result the Ostel Hostel that claims to be the Ostigsten DDR-Design-Hostel Berlins (Ostel Hostel, n.d.). This therefore further supports the theory that the interest in Soviet history is external rather than internal whereas German interest is rooted in Germany which alludes to the concept of collective memory that will explored later in this essay. As a result, the exploitation of Socialist-themed tourism can be regarded as a business based on foreign curiosity, especially given that Russia is most commonly associated with the USSR abroad, rather than Russian interest, and as such, is packaged in a way that appeals to international tourists. Whereas, the influx of DDR-themed museums is based primarily on an FRG fascination with the Cold War era, hence the lack of impetus to appeal to foreign visitors. It is also important to note that whereas in Germany, the Government established the Gedenkstttenkonzeption which aimed, amongst other things, to encourage a continued, wider discourse about the GDR and exhibit an expansion of perspectives, no such thing exists in Russia. In terms of Ostalgie, the Konzeption states Das Alltagsleben in der DDR wird bercksichtigt, um einer Verklarung und Verharmlosung der SED-Diktatur und jeder "Ostalgie" entschieden entgegenzuwirken (Deutscher Bundestag, 2008). As a result, many GDR museums which comply with the suggestions put forward by the

Gedenkstttenkonzeption are able to receive Government funding. Therefore there is a greater incentive to curate museums of this kind. In Russia however, funding was largely cut following the collapse of the USSR and is now reliant on private investors unless the museum collections are deemed of particular importance culturally (though this depends greatly on the personal taste of the governors and mayors involved ) (Tolstoy, 2002). As a result, it is conceivably more difficult to maintain museums relating particularly to niche interests, whereas in Germany, Government funding is more readily available leading to a

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greater number of museums about the GDR that incorporate some element of nostalgia/Alltag.

An area in which nostalgia can be freely expressed though is the online community. As Paul Cooke recounts in his article entitled Surfing for Eastern Difference: Ostalgie, Identity and Cyberspace, the internet can fulfil [] societys need to recreate a lost sense of community (Cooke, 2004). In this way, the internet can be a powerful tool for nostalgia by allowing a disparate community in reality to unite online and share their feelings with li keminded individuals that may not be as numerous in the real world. He explains that the notion that individuals can be whoever they wish to be is seen as another means of reinvigorating society, allowing people to try out roles in virtual reality that can potentially liberate them in real life which can be applied to East Germans who feel a need to express their Ostalgie online as they feel marginalized in German society (Cooke, 2004). This, however, is not the case for the members of Russian society who all share the same history and therefore look at the modern system from the same historical perspective. Thus they have a lesser need to explore an identity online. Cooke continues to discuss the varieties of websites referring to the GDR, stating a search on Google.de for Deutsche Demokratische Republik at the time of my survey generated approximately 37,600 hits [1,860,000 now] (Cooke, 2004). Having repeated this search on Google.ru for [Soyuz Sovetskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik - Union of Soviet Socialist Republics], 2,240,000 results were found. Like the GDR search though, the vast majority of hits are links to newspaper articles, museums, and other institutions that have connections to the GDR [/USSR] (Cooke, 2004). Interestingly though, the majority of USSR websites aim specifically at rectifying the common misconceptions of the USSR, with the term [obrazovaniye education] recurring on several websites,
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suggesting a tendency among Russian society to use the internet to educate rather than express multiple and often unexplored aspects of the self (Cooke, 2004). Cooke also makes the assertion that the sites picked up by these search engines either tend to a high degree of complexity, or it is clear that their authors have gone to some effort to make their pages visible (Cooke, 2004). Similar USSR websites vary though in their complexity and apparent effort to make their pages visible. Web pages such as .Ru [Entsikolpediya Kommunist.ru - Encyclopaedia Communist.ru] show two visitor counters as well as listing how many articles they have on their site thus endeavouring to demonstrate a high level of authenticity to visitors ( .Ru, 2012). Another site that reflects Cookes findings was the website [SSSR Nasha Rodina - USSR Our Motherland] which exhibited a high level of complexity through the detail on each page as well as the number of sections and subdivisions of each page ( , 2011). This site also, like the majority of Cookes sites, focused primarily on the positive nostalgic aspect of the Soviet era, with various sections such as I would like the USSR! (3785 threads), The best Soviet films (374 threads), Soviet Toys (211 threads), of which the largest section by far was a discussion/information forum discussing what should be reintroduced to modern society from the USSR period. Other websites though, gave a more balanced view such as CCCP.narod.ru which stated both advantages of the USSR and analysis of less favourable aspects (SSSR Narod, 2000-2013). CCCP.narod.ru does have similar markers to Cookes sites that have a guest book, visitor counters as well as a visitor map to prove authenticity to visitors. Cookes last group of sites that served as re-enactment sites could not be found in relation to the USSR. Consequently, it is clear that whilst both groups of society use the internet to discuss their former states, it has a different purpose amongst Russians who look to correct misconceptions and educate the online community. Whereas German internet

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users look to be part of a virtual community they have failed to find in reality. These differences may well reflect the circumstances these two socialist states were established with the USSR being an all-encompassing system affecting all Russians while the GDR was one German state among two Germanys, therefore there is a historical difference between FRG citizens today that is often associated with the Mauer-im-Kopf syndrome.

Historical

It can be assumed that nostalgia is frequently the product of dissatisfaction with the prevailing political regime; and this is certainly true of the former GDR and Russia. According to the ALLBUS study in 2004, 11.3% of East Germans fully agree and 49.6% agree with the statement that Ich schme mich fr manche dinge in der BRD, compared to 9.9% and 40.0% of West Germans. Furthermore only 2.0% of East Germans are very proud of the way Democracy functions, whilst 11.4% of West Germans claimed to be very proud. Similarly, 4.2% of East Germans believe Democracy in the BRD functions very badly, compared to 1.8% of West Germans (ALLBUS, 2004). It is therefore evident that there is a heightened sense of dissatisfaction in the BRD among East Germans, which is further expressed in their voting patterns; 20.1% of East Germans surveyed, voted for PDS compared to 1.3% of West Germans and 39.1% voted for SPD compared to 33.0% of West Germans. Overall, it is suggestive not of a desire to return to the status quo ante but of a desire to restore some of the former socialist values. Likewise, despite Russia placing the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) leader Gennady Zyuganov second in the 2012 Presidential Elections (Focus, 2012), a 2006 Centre for the Study of Public Policy study found that 28% strongly disagreed and 30% somewhat disagreed when asked if
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Russia should return to Communist rule (Centre for the Study of Public Policy, 2006). Similar sentiments are reflected too in the 2010 Sozialreport in which 59% of Germans asked, stated that Ich mchte weder die DDR wiederhaben noch fhle ich mich in der Bundesrepublik schon richtig wohl (Die Volkssolidaritt Bundesverband e .V., 2010). Hence proving that whilst both countries express a sense of dissatisfaction with the current regime, for example in their voting patterns, neither expressly desires a return to the GDR/USSR therefore nostalgia can be seen as bridging the gap between dissatisfaction and reactionary politics.

The role of faith in socialist regimes is perceivably a great influence on levels of nostalgia as religious conviction was deemed the antithesis of socialist ideology. The USSR for example, promulgated State Atheism which relied on political socialisation, namely the process by which one generation passes on political standards and beliefs to succeeding generations (Powell, 1975). The political standards they desired to pass on were intentionally contrasted with religious beliefs so as to maintain ideological purity since Marx had defined religion as the Opium des Volkes. The USSR regime not only used propaganda techniques to unmask religious miracles, but taught state atheism in schools; therefore students had anti-religious training [and a] new network of secular holidays and ceremonies which affirm Socialist or Communist traits (Powell, 1975). It is therefore possible to suggest that taught disassociation with religion would foster a deeper belief in the state ideology, which would consequently be reiterated today in the form of socialist nostalgia. In contrast though, Article 39 of the 1968 DDR Verfassung states Jeder Brger der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik hat das Recht, sich zu einem religisen Glauben zu bekennen und religise Handlungen auszuben. Kirchen und andere Religionsgemeinschaften ordnen ihre Angelegenheiten und ben ihre Ttigkeit aus in bereinstimmung mit der Verfassung
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und den gesetzlichen Bestimmungen der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik (Die Deutsche Demokratische Republik, 1968). It is therefore clear that, unlike the USSR system, the GDR politburo saw religious powers as an entity that could be symbiotic with the political regime. Although in the GDR, religious belief was restricted and often caused a glass ceiling in career progression for followers, it was loosely permitted. Specifically, unlike in the USSR, Religion was not outlawed in the later phases and Church property remained for the most part, in the hands of the clergy. As such, the Church served as a shelter and supported citizens who believed the existing system could and should be reformed (Lieb, 1998). It became the only place deemed safe where people could freely discuss ideas, and consequently fostered peace movements that ultimately led to Unification. One such example was the Monday Night Prayer in Leipzig in 1989 that was considered the primary peace protest and kindled a process of change (Lieb, 1998). It is therefore possible to suggest that the role the Church played in Die Wende correlates with levels of Ostalgie since the Church allowed for a lack of ideological conviction that influenced 55% of the GDR population (Lieb, 1998). As a result, just over half of the population were in some way exposed to free critical discussion of the regime that would conceivably cause a reduced level of Ostalgie. In Russia though, State Atheism prevailed with most religious buildings being destroyed or permeated by the KGB therefore not providing the sanctuary they did in Germany (Dunlop, 1990). Instead there was resurgence in nationalism that established two variants. The first were the conservative nationalists who, since 1987, were linked with neoStalinism; the second were liberal nationalists who were loosely allied with reformist Marxists although they primarily desired a restoration of Russian Traditions (Dunlop, 1990). Nationalism is conceivably more closely linked with nostalgia as both groups wished, and continue to wish as can be seen in the internet findings listed above, for a restoration of lost ideals and traditions that came under the overarching themes of various phases of the

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Soviet era. Thus, it is possible that the state ideology, although ever-present, was not as politically socialised as in the USSR, leading to lesser levels of Ostalgie from this cause. In other words, the Soviet ideology was the sole approved belief-system in the USSR whereas the GDR ideology was adjacent to the Church leading to a diluting of commitment to the ideology that might today be reflected in the levels of nostalgia.

Socio-Political

Political manifestations of nostalgia are noticeable in both countries, however Vladimir Putins political style of syncretism which is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as the amalgamation or attempted amalgamation of different religions, cultures, or schools of thought (Oxford Dictionary, 2010), selects only the elements of the USSR that glorify Russia thus arguably politicising Ostalgie. In Putins Russia, syncretic politics have established themselves as amalgams of celebrating Soviet Victories as well as vowing never to return to a Socialist State (Centre for the Study of Public Policy, 2006). In this way, the USSR is continually placed on a pedestal on the national stage consequently promoting a sense of nostalgia, though of a selective nature, primarily in order to garner more votes. As the November 17th 2011 Reuters article states, President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin played up their nostalgia about Soviet times ahead of discussions about forming a Eurasian Union that would essentially replace the current Commonwealth of Independent States made up of former Soviet countries (Bryanski, 2011). But it is not just the Eurasian Union discussions that have seen the political use of nostalgia in Russia, as Financial Times journalist John Lloyd explains in his article entitled Master of Nostalgia. According to Lloyd, [Putin] is at one with most Russians over the age of 40, who are able
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(like many of us) to colour their past rose. More than that: he has been able to plug into a nationalism that has survived the communist era (Lloyd, 2012). It is therefore clear that nostalgia in Russia is used as a voting tactic playing into the widespread sentimentality for the USSR. Conversely, in Germany it is arguably feared that a level of political Ostalgie would give the GDR a cult status causing great divide among citizens who either condemn the GDR or celebrate it (Murphy, 2003). Unlike in Russia though, German politicians cant play up their nostalgia for fear of alienating West Germans in particular. Since the GDR was not a German-wide system, Ostalgie cannot be profited from politically in the same way as USSR nostalgia. Rather, the Bundestag have taken the opposite approach in ensuring the GDR is remembered correctly using the findings of the Gedenkstttenkonze ption to control how and what is remembered of the GDR, thus side-lining Ostalgie as a concept secondary to Aufarbeitung. The Gedenkstttenkonzeption itself states Dazu ist das alltgliche Leben notwendigerweise im Kontext der Diktatur darzustellen there fore illustrating how the German Government use Ostalgie as an ancillary to the greater concept of portraying the GDR dictatorship (Deutsche Bundestag, 2008).

The notion of memory, in particular memory studies, plays a large role in almost all aspects of nostalgia. This is in relation to Maurice Halbwachs collective memory concept (Halbwachs, 1992 (1952)). Halbwachs argues that collective memory, specifically the memory of a group of people, passed from one generation to t he next (Oxford University Press, 2010), is influenced by social frameworks and is thus formed always in context of a specific group. According to Halbwachs we; recall the past in interaction with others, think of ourselves as part of a group when remembering and narrate our memories in a shared set of ideas and attitudes of a social milieu (Halbwachs, 1992 (1952)). Most importantly, though, he maintains that individuals can be part of different groups with different (possibly
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competing) identities. It is this concept that is most relevant to this essay as the memories among East and West Germans not only differ but can be competing, especially when asserting a collective identity. In Russia though, collective memories of the USSR are unlikely to be competing. As a result, Russians are expected to find like-minded individuals who share in a collective memory more easily than East Germans who might find their collective memories competing with West Germans consequently leading to a greater need for Ostalgie in order to assert an identity that West Germans cant necessarily share or desire. East German tendencies towards Ostalgie may also be a display of uniting memories in accordance with Halbwachs conviction that we think of ourselves as part of a group when remembering (Halbwachs, 1992 (1952)). In Russia though, there is a lesser need to assert an identity among society or feel a sense of community since almost every citizen shares similar if not the same memories of the USSR. As such, Russian citizens are less inclined to nostalgia as a result of identity assertion. As mentioned previously though, Russian politics does encourage nostalgia to celebrate the USSR.

Conclusion

From the arguments given above, it is possible to conclude that whilst nostalgia exists in Russia, much in the same way Ostalgie exists in Germany; it is born out of different causes that have produced subtly different manifestations. As has been stated above, nostalgic consumption in Germany is dominated by German citizens whereas Russian USSR nostalgia is predominantly led by tourist souvenir purchases. Nostalgia in Russia has established itself, primarily, not in consumer goods or museums, but in political attitudes. Vladimir Putins intentional celebration of USSR achievements and political nostalgia only
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strengthens Russian societys perception of the USSR as an era warranting pride and nostalgic appraisal. The German Bundestag however, appears wary of growing levels of nostalgia, introducing concepts such as the Gedenkstttenkonzeption which limits the volume of Alltag in museums and memorials. One aspect in which nostalgia appears to be exerted in a largely similar style is in online communities which both contain aspects of positive reappraisal. Russian websites though, look more to rectify common USSR misconceptions whilst GDR sites aim to unite a disparate real-life community online hence the greater number of re-enactment sites in Germany than Russia. Ultimately, nostalgia in Russia differs from that of Germany due to the manner in which it enters society. Russian nostalgia can be described as top-down nostalgia, specifically, a conscious movement by politicians to encourage reminiscent attitudes to the past in order to reach the people. Germany, on the other hand, can be described as bottom-up nostalgia which began with the German citizens themselves and has now instigated political changes such as the Gedenkstttenkonzeption. The two countries can consequently be viewed as presenting with the same symptoms, but derived from two different diseases.

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