JSU Newswire
Jacksonville, Alabama

Faculty Scholar Lecturer To Speak on German Democratic Republic on Nov. 12

JACKSONVILLE -- November 6, 2001 -- Dr. Russel Lemmons of the Jacksonville State University Department of History and Foreign Languages, the 2001-2002 Faculty Scholar Lecturer, will deliver his lecture on Monday, November 12, 2001, at 7:30 p.m. in Room 1103A of Houston Cole Library. His topic will be "`A Great National Deed': Kurt Maetzig's Ernst Thälmann Films, the Antifascism Myth, and Secular Hagiorgraphy in the German Democratic Republic."

From its creation in October 1949, the German Democratic Republic faced a crisis of legitimacy. In the face of their increasingly prosperous neighbor to the west, East Germany's leaders needed to justify the existence of a second, communist, German state. They did so by linking its existence to the legacy of communist leaders who had fought against the Nazis, or fascists, in the final years of the Weimar Republic. Among the leaders whose memory was most often manipulated in this manner was Ernst Thälmann, chairman of the German Communist Party from 1925 to 1944.

East Germany's leadership developed an elaborate political mythology surrounding Thälmann, who was murdered by the Nazis in August 1944. The leadership sought to link the very existence of the German Democratic Republic to the legacy of the martyred communist leader. Nowhere was this done more effectively than in two propaganda films, Ernst Thälmann--Son of His Class and Ernst Thälmann--Leader of His Class, produced during the 1950s.

In his lecture, Dr. Lemmons will analyze these two films. The Faculty Senate and the Department of History and Foreign Languages encourage all faculty, staff, students, and members of the community to attend the lecture and the reception that will follow.


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