June 17, 1953: a fifty-year retrospective on a German Cold War tragedy, 1953-2003.
The failed June 17, 1953, uprising in East Berlin and elsewhere in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) marked an early, tragic flashpoint of the Cold War. While the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) elevated June 17 to a "German Day of Unity" to remind people of the protestors' sacrifices and national hopes for reunification, the East German regime gained strength from crushing the revolt with Soviet help and justified its actions on ideological grounds while suppressing details of the violence and repression. The materials examined in this study span fifty years, 1953 to 2003, and focus on German, European and American perspectives gleaned from primary and secondary sources. Each chapter views the revolt's coverage through a different medium and change over time—historiography, film and television, literature and art, and newspapers. Taken together, they create a rich tableau of national remembrance and renewal before an international audience.