GDR research

Cultural heritage holds important potential for shaping society in the future. Looking back into the past is essential for understanding and dealing with current social developments. This also includes research into the history of the GDR.

Straßenschild Platz der Deutschen Einheit

Adobe Stock / Joerg Sabel

Even today, the legacy of the GDR is part of the debate about the self-image of the Federal Republic of Germany. It appears in discourses on right and wrong, is reflected in family patterns, is a part of discussions about the reconciliation of parenthood and work, and not least, it shapes the expectations placed on the state. 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and German unity, reappraisal of the SED dictatorship and its consequences remains a central socio-political task throughout Germany. This goal is served by the guideline for funding GDR research projects of May 2017. As part of this programme, 14 research alliances, each covering several disciplines, have been funded - since 2023, a total of 7 of these collaborative projects will continue researching their topics in a follow-up phase until 2025. They are working on issues relating to the economic and media history of the GDR, its school and education system, the history of medicine and the legacy of the peaceful revolution of 1989.

The BMBF thus supports the stronger anchoring of GDR research in the German higher education and research landscape. At the same time, memorials, victims' associations and museums are involved in the funded projects as research, transfer and education partners. Through close cooperation with educational institutions, the research results are made available for formal and non-formal education. Research into injustices (for example in prisons, reformatories, in the healthcare system or against prospective immigrants) and their lasting consequences on many people remains an important task - also as a service to the victims of the GDR dictatorship and their rehabilitation.

In this context, the BMBF will have funded GDR-related research with almost 50 million euros since 2018 and until 2025.