Full text: Das Schulbuch zwischen Lehrplan und Unterrichtspraxis

fragmentation of the German nation into many small states. Unification in 1871 is thus 
portrayed as an economic necessity. 
Other reasons for unification were located in popular support. The extent to which the 
German people were described as patriotic and in support of the three Prussian wars 
(against Denmark, Austria and France) increases over time and the populace was consis- 
tently portrayed as playing a role in these developments. Popular demands for action 
against Denmark and France were particularly emphasized in this context and placed in a 
historical continuity with revolutionary attempts to establish a German nation-state in 
1848. Bismarck’s role in unification was thus somewhat balanced by attention to eco- 
nomic developments and by portrayals of popular support for his policies, attributing 
some agency to the population and the working class in particular. At the same time, 
narratives of the founding of the modern German nation-state also reveal the movement 
away from universalizable historical developments to particularly German history in 
East German education. Whereas unification was described mostly in terms of class 
struggle in the 1950s and as a process of Prussification, later accounts downplayed class 
relations and portrayed Prussia and especially Bismarck in a neutral or even positive 
Moderating accounts of popular support for unification are the narratives of the rise 
ofthe working class. From the 1960s onward, the account of the modern history of the 
working class was separated out from German history. However, the history of working 
class organization was reintegrated into the historical narrative in the textbooks of the 
1980s, though it now appeared as an integral part of the historical development as op- 
posed to the separate section it consisted of in earlier versions. 
With the above observations on history education in the GDR, I have shown that con- 
trary to the universalistic intentions of Marxist historiography, portrayals of the nation in 
East Germany actually tended towards particularism and an emphasis of the agency of 
heroic individuals in historical developments. Although this trend was not linear and 
uniform across historical episodes examined, it is noticeable particularly in comparisons 
ofthe end points of the period. Early East German materials thus were rigidly analytical 
in their presentations of history and highlighted the agency of classes whereas textbooks 
ofthe late 1980s were infused with particularist elements. 
For East Germany, my analyses above have traced the impact of a „conservative” 
shift in overall political discourse in the course of the 1970s on history education. Histo- 
riography remained primarily materialist historiography in the 1980s, but this material- 
ism was tempered somewhat by a particularistic turn toward East German history as 
national history under the Honecker regime. 
- DR 

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