Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Project of Reconciliation: Journalists and religious activists in Polish -German relations, 1956–1972
by Frieberg, Annika, Ph.D., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2008, 359; 3304372
Abstract (Summary)

My dissertation, "The Project of Reconciliation," analyzes the impact of a transnational network of journalists, intellectuals, and publishers on the postwar process of reconciliation between Germans and Poles. In their foreign relations work, these non-state actors preceded the Polish-West German political relations that were established in 1970. The dissertation has a twofold focus on private contacts between these activists, and on public discourse through radio, television and print media, primarily its effects on political and social change between the peoples. My sources include the activists' private correspondences, interviews, and memoirs as well as radio and television manuscripts, articles and business correspondences.

Earlier research on Polish-German relations is generally situated firmly in a nation-state framework in which the West German, East German or Polish context takes precedent. My work utilizes international relations theory and comparative reconciliation research to explore the long-term and short-term consequences of the discourse and the concrete measures which were taken during the 1960s to end official deadlock and nationalist antagonisms and to overcome the destructive memories of the Second World War dividing Poles and Germans. Analyzing early Polish-German relations within the conceptual framework of reconciliation after violent conflict, I distinguish between those developments that fitted within reconciliation models and the political narrative which the actors developed and disseminated to explain and justify their position on Polish-German relations. The positive aspects included the cross-border contacts established and the challenge to national stereotypes and myths. On the other hand, a statist focus on improving the relations with the communist government in Poland rather than the people, and a limitation of the dialogue to intellectual and media elites and political circles meant that in 1970, and in 1990, when reconciliation was declared accomplished, many layers of society remained excluded and isolated from this master narrative of success. My research strives to emphasize the silences, and give voice to the marginalized minorities and to emphasize that media, intellectuals and politicians continually face the task of integrating these forgotten aspects into any grand narratives of reconciliation.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Jarausch, Konrad H.
Commitee: Browning, Christopher, Bryant, Chad, Hagemann, Karen, Levine, Madeline
School: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Department: History
School Location: United States -- North Carolina
Source: DAI-A 69/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: European history
Keywords: Cultural diplomacy, Germany, Journalists, Poland, Post-war Europe, Reconciliation, Religious activists, The Federal Republic, Transnational
Publication Number: 3304372
ISBN: 978-0-549-53566-9
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