Lorn Hillaker

  • Fellowship year:2018-2019
  • University: University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill
  • Dissertation Topic/Category: Modern Europe
  • Dissertation Title: Promising a Better Germany: Representations of East and West Germany, 1949-1990
  • My disseration project entitled "Promising a Better Germany: Representations of East and West Germany, 1949-1990" examines how both German states managed international public perception tainted by the Nazi past and inflected by the Cold War present. To that end, I show how the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the German Democratic Republic (GDR) developed two competing and interrelated magazines as primary markers of the goals of each state in cultivating their international image. Over the course of the dissertation, I examine how high-level government policy filtered down to institutions that implemented their goals which were then portrayed in the magazines Scala International and GDR Review. In the end, I argue that there was a double-reversal over the course of the Cold-War.
    The GDR started with profound disadvantages in size and prestige, but then compensated with aggressive media and propaganda campaigns leading to a state of relative parity with the FRG in 1972 with the conclusion of the Basic Treaty and mutual admission to the UN. Next, the FRG, worked to combat highly negative portrayals of their state and people and to develop competing media capable of both countering the GDR's narrative and pushing their own. After 1972, an increasingly self-critical FRG proved more capable of developing believable and responsive narratives over the GDR's static presentation. Together, the weight placed on foreign cultural policy by both states placed the groundwork for an ongoing focus on international public relations work in united Germany after 1990 that persists today.