Internet self-identification of people born in the former GDR (based on materials of social network)


After the Reunification of Germany in 1990, many people from its Eastern part (former East Germany, or GDR) faced a problem of self-identification. They were born and had been living for many years in the state which was then criticized by the West Germans, and which did not exist anymore, they were ashamed of their motherland and felt that they differed from the Germans born in the West. This juxtaposing became clear in the fiction texts created by those who had lived in the GDR. The phenomenon of thinking on the GDR past got the name ostalgia (Ostalgie, from Ost (East), and nostalgia). Further on, this word named any reminiscence of the East Germany. Today one can find traces of ostalgia in the real life in a form of numerous souvenirs from the GDR, and also in the Internet where social networks allow establishing accounts dedicated to the former East German life. The present article aims at finding to what extend social network users identify themselves with the East Germany and what significance the GDR still has for them. The used methods included sampling which allowed adopting examples from five accounts reflecting different aspects of life in the GDR. A lexic-semantical method was implemented to analyze them. The accounts can be divided into several groups in accordance with their focus. Many users recollect their East German past with pleasure, appreciate it and try to avoid extremes in assessing that period. Most of all, users underline the word Zeit, referring to the good old days that were calm (ruhig) and peaceful (friedlich). They still identify themselves with the GDR and name it as their motherland despite it seizing to exist. Thus, belonging to the community of GDR-born-people is a way of identification for social network-users and is significant for their mentality even after more than 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall.