Table of contents for Textbook reds : schoolbooks, ideology, and Eastern German identity / John Rodden.

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	Foreword by Wolfgang Strauss
	List of Abbreviations
	Prologue: Creating Young Comrades
	Introduction: Ideology as Core Curriculum
		1945: Textbooks and German Re-Education
		From Brown to Red?
		The (East) German Ideology
Part I: Of Politics and Letters; and Numbers
1	German for the East Germans: Language and Literature
		Reared in the DDR
		Mother-Tongue Education
		Socialist Fatherland Education
			Excursus: Th¿lmann ¿ber alles? Vicissitudes of a Socialist State Icon
		Living Heroes, or the DDR Cult of Personality
		Canon Fodder for Young Revolutionaries
			Excursus: A Bruderland Comparison: Soviet and Post-Soviet Textbooks
		The Advanced High School Curriculum
		Books Are Weapons
2	Terra Verde, Terra Rosso: Geography
		The Expanding Red Earth
		Excursus: "Our Socialist Fatherland": How Fifth-Graders Learned to Love 
the Heimat
			Excursus: "Elementary" Political Geography
			Excursus: Amerika Through Eastern Eyes
		The Upper Grades
		Of Class and Soil
3	My Country, Left or Wrong? Civics
		Marxed Menschen
			Excursus: Socialist Morality for Tenth Graders
		In Lenin's Corner: The Model Socialist Citizen
		Education for Hatred
		"Trust Is Good, but Control Is Better"
4	Progressive Lessons of the Past: History
		The Past is KA
		History Class / Class History
		Modern Times
			Excursus: Marx and Engels as Role Models
		"Socialism Is Winning!"
		"Made in East Germany," or the Historical (Re)Invention of the DDR
		Overtaken by History? 1989 and the Perestroika of DDR Historiography
			Excursus: The Black Book as Anti-Textbook: History Turns a Corner?
		Bearing the Double Burden of History
5	Socialist Science: Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics
		Science, Western versus Eastern
			Chemical Reactions, Progressive Results
			Of Applied Science and Agitprop
			The Simple Arithmetic of Progressivism
			Party Figures, or the Higher Calculus of M-L
Part II: The Voices Behind the Page: Conversations about Post-Communist Education and 
Eastern German Life with Faculty and Students
6	Arts and Humanities
		1. "History Lessons" for Would-Be Revolutionaries
		2. Pedagogy of the Distressed: A German Teacher's Self-Criticism
		3. "My Post-Communist Brecht": A Weimar Student's Weltanschauung
	4. West Side (Hi)Story I: A Wossi's Postcommunist Critique of Humboldt 
Historians and Jammerossis
		5. The Strains of Silence: A Music Teacher's Brave (New) Career
		6. "My Teachers Ignored the Ideological Crap"
		7. "French Leave": A Gifted Language Student Goes AWOL
		8. West Side (Hi)Story II: A Wossi in Wittenberg
		9. Running On, or Training for the (Russian) Olympics
		10. Varieties of Academic Experience: A German View
		11. "Proud to Be German"
7	Physical and Social Sciences
		1. Of Biophysics and Metaphysics: Post-Communism Meets McUniversity
		2. Post-Communist Social Studies? A Teacher-Student Conflict of Generations
		3. "I Was a True Believer": A Convinced Communist Student Looks Back
		4. "My Father Was in the Party": A Daughterly Diptych
8	Education for Tolerance: Of Ideology, Identity, and Intolerance, or Among (German 
and Jewish) Schoolchildren
		1. Border-Crossing after Checkpoint Charlie
	2. Forward and Never Forget; Tolerance? A Berlin Teacher's Post-Communist 
"Class" Struggles
		3. Return of the Pink Rabbit?
		4. Breaching Walls, Breaching Faith
		5. The Strains of Silence II: Hospitality or Hitlerism in Weimar?
		6. "Re-Education for Tolerance": A Civic Leader Speaks Out
	Epilogue: Curriculum Without a Core
This book is a comprehensive overview of the East German school curriculum that is 
unequalled for scholarly thoroughness, stylistic verve, and sheer human interest. It is far 
more than merely a chronological report about the subject matter that was taught in the 
classrooms of the German Democratic Republic (Deutsche Demokratische Republik, DDR). 
The book furnishes keen insight into the true nature of communism and the historical 
processes that ultimately resulted in the overthrow of this system. I have not read such a 
brilliantly executed book about the aims and substance of DDR education in years. Textbook 
Reds exhibits a detailed knowledge of how communist ideology penetrated all school 
subjects and a firm grasp of the entire cultural and philosophical context of DDR education.
	Textbook Reds falls into two parts. In Part 1, Rodden explores how a broad cross-
section of school subjects, such as German language and literature, geography, civics, 
history, biology, chemistry, and mathematics, contributed to the pedagogical goals of East 
German education. "Ideology as Core Curriculum," as the author has titled his introduction, 
was indeed both the governing principle of textbook production and the prime pedagogical 
directive from the Ministry of Education to all classroom teachers. Among the specific 
topics addressed in Part 1 are: socialist patriotism, international proletarianism, socialist 
morality, the capitalist-imperialist enemy, the duties of socialist citizenship, and the DDR 
identity. It becomes evident that culture and education were thoroughly based on the 
dogma of Marxism-Leninism not only in the Stalinist period but also later in the seemingly 
"liberal" Honecker era.
	Rodden covers in Part 1 how the manifold twists and turns in DDR ideological 
indoctrination, dependent on the "weather conditions" in global policy, manifested 
themselves in the nation's schoolbooks, especially in ideologically sensitive subjects such 
as German language and literature, history, geography, and civics. Though the Soviets had 
defeated the Germanic ideology of the Nazis, they immediately imposed an equally 
authoritarian ideology on eastern Germany, and this ideology rapidly evolved from a 
Schein-democratization at the beginning to a strict Sovietization and Stalinization by the 
1950s. As a result, the DDR became more staunchly authoritarian than, for example, the 
neighboring states of Poland and Czechoslovakia. Rodden shows meticulously, based on a 
sophisticated analysis of both elementary and secondary school textbooks, how effectively 
DDR schoolbooks fulfilled the tasks of shaping the minds and capturing the souls of the 
younger generation.
	Part 2 concentrates on teachers and students who experienced the DDR educational 
system in the 1970s and 1980s. Rodden has interviewed eastern Germans who were 
influenced in varying degrees by the textbooks used in the communist classroom. His 
intention is to suggest how the DDR textbooks have continued to exert influence on the 
minds of eastern Germans long after the DDR's demise; and to provide insight thereby into 
how the "textbook mentality" exemplified by the rigid indoctrination policies of the DDR 
	Rodden is more concerned with people's lives than with pedagogical materials. In 
his interviews throughout Part 2, which span a range from former supporters and true 
believers in the system to resistant or even outspokenly critical individuals, he shows in a 
most subtle manner the diverse emotions prompted by the collapse of the DDR educational 
system and its transformation and abrupt "integration" into the West German system: 
disappointment, frustration, ignorance, self-criticism, expediency, and pragmatic 
acceptance of the new reality. In these portraits, as well as in his analytical sections, 
Rodden maintains an unusual stance that is both sympathetic and critical at the same time, 
which facilitates his explanations of the essential purposes and aspirations of DDR curricular 
	I say all this as a man who himself lived through most of the history of DDR 
educational and cultural politics, first as an idealistic supporter of the system and then, 
later, increasingly in opposition to the dictatorship, a man who experienced the events of 
1989/90 as a personal and intellectual liberation from an ideological straitjacket. I can, 
therefore, on the basis of my own intimate knowledge of that history, confirm that this 
book is an outstanding achievement as a work of scholarship and human empathy. 
Textbook Reds; and most especially its portraits and interviews; makes absorbing and 
compelling reading, and it addresses a public far beyond academic specialists. It is 
accessible to the general reader and deserves the widest possible audience. May it be a 
source of stimulating reflection for everyone who is interested in this period of the Cold 
War and in the future of German education.
Wolfgang Strauss
I began writing this book a decade ago, and in my ten years of work on it I have gained 
many comrades and acquired many debts. Friends and family suffered my obsessive 
preoccupation with amiable tolerance, patiently listening to my hard-to-translate jokes and 
puns as well as my stories and satires of East German life, many of them taken directly 
from my personal archive of DDR schoolbooks.
	To Lynn Hayden, I am grateful for the opportunity to acknowledge a considerable 
personal debt publicly. A true friend, she has opened her home to me and provided me 
unwavering support, limitless forbearance, and constant encouragement. I am also indebted 
to Beth Macom, who offered me superb criticism, all of it welcome even when I lacked the 
wherewithal to implement it. A great many of the nonscholarly lessons that I have learned 
in the years during which this book has occupied my life have been learned with Beth, and 
the process of learning them together has proved as fulfilling for me as the knowledge itself 
attained. My brother Paul has also been indispensable to my work on this project, as he 
listened carefully to my unfolding argument, astutely edited my infelicitous phrasing, and 
offered sage advice. I am again grateful to other family members; to my parents, John and 
Rose Rodden, and my brothers, Edward and Thomas Rodden; who have welcomed 
another book into their lives and recognized the labor and value of such a birth.
	Like its predecessor, Repainting the Little Red Schoolhouse (2001), this study is a 
tribute to German largesse. It was written without the aid of any fellowships, foundations, 
or university affiliations. It owes its existence to more direct and personal forms of human 
interaction; long-established friendships, chance encounters with strangers on trains, and 
midnight conversations with students who offered me floor space on which to rest before 
departing the next morning. In the course of several research trips totaling twenty-seven 
months, I rarely spent more than a single night in an eastern German hotel or rented room. 
In other words, this book was assisted by countless random acts of generosity committed 
by individual Germans.
	In western Germany, Ilse Kathinka Robaschik introduced me to eastern friends, 
opened her home to me, and catered to my vegetarian peccadilloes. Gisela and Hubert 
Stuchly fed me and chauffeured me, repeatedly extending me more hospitality than I could 
ever hope to repay. Tine Traute and Karolin Wyneken adopted me as their "Black Forest 
Philosopher"; they are young western Germans of such intelligence and character that I feel 
glad for Germany's future. Rudi and Karin Walter, my editors at Verlag Herder in Freiburg, 
challenged my mind with their stimulating conversation and warmed my stomach with their 
delicious vegan meals.
	In Berlin, Karin Hasselblatt and Ulrike Henderson remain valued friends whose 
support fortifies and uplifts. As in the past, I am once again grateful to the staff members 
at the following archives in Berlin: the Stiftung Archiv der Parteien und 
Massenorganisationen der DDR (SAPMO), the Deutsches Institut f¿r Internationale 
P¿dagogische Forschung, the Kinder- und Jugendbuchabteilung at the Staatsbibliothek zu 
Berlin-Preussischer Kulturbesitz, and the Deutsches Historisches Museum.
	My sincere thanks also go to the many eastern Germans who corresponded with 
me, granted me interviews, and donated their old schoolbooks to their odd American visitor 
so absorbed in their rapidly receding and oft-forgotten past. They did more than any 
interviewer or foreign guest could ever expect, and many of them have since become 
cherished friends as a direct consequence of this work.
	Above all, five eastern German friends have been of invaluable help by listening to 
my ideas about East Germany as they were forming. Stefan Schwarzkopf, critic and 
comrade, inspired me in our many conversations about DDR history and culture and helped 
me immensely in the late stages of the manuscript, reading it closely and spotting numerous 
errors of fact and interpretation. Christine L¿sch in Apolda and Annaliese Saupe in Plauen 
hosted me on several trips, and their cogent observations led me to compose my ideas more 
sharply and boldly than I otherwise might have done. Matthias Pietzonka and his family in 
Meissen displayed extraordinary hospitality during numerous visits, showing me how the 
spirit of true socialism lives in the east, even if the corrupt DDR system does no more.
	I am particularly grateful to Professor Wolfgang Strauss of the University of Jena, 
who contributed this book's foreword, was unfailingly ready with reminiscences from his 
extraordinary memory, devoted many hours to conversation with me about this project, 
and made shrewd suggestions about translation. (Junge Sozialisten vom Reissbrett, he 
suggested as the German translation of my title; I countered with Kommunisten wie im 
Buche.) As both a linguist and a scholar of DDR educational history, Professor Strauss was 
keenly interested in my research findings, read the first draft of this manuscript 
meticulously, and was both searching and specific in the extended criticism that he 
provided these pages.
	Several other American friends and colleagues also graced me with immediate and 
open-handed generosity. Jay Alejandre worked with steady diligence and laser-beam 
concentration to prepare the manuscript for submission to the press. Tanya O'Neil, Jean 
Harrison, Michael Haydel, Sara Enright, Megan Giller, and Pablo Ormachea saw the book 
through its seemingly endless revisions. I am also grateful to Randy Bytwerk, the late 
Sterling Fishman, Vince Kling, Jim McAdams, Kathleen O'Connor, George Panichas, Craig 
Pepin, David Pike, Gerhild Rogers, James B. M. Schick, Christian S¿e, and Denise Weeks, 
all of whom read portions of the manuscript and furnished me perceptive criticism. Peter 
Potter remained an exemplary editor throughout; available, insightful, and forever patient.
	Still other friends and colleagues in the United States also assisted me, either via 
correspondence or in conversation, with their kind words of encouragement and 
knowledgeable observations about European history, German culture, and/or comparative 
education: Mitch Baranowski, Rafe and Jack Bemporad, Benita Blessing, Erica Carson, 
Thomas Cushman, Peter Dougherty, Catherine Plum, Jonathan Rose, Mary Triece, Claire 
Van Ens, and Greg Wegner.
	I dedicate this book to my long-time Kameradin, Cristen Carson Reat, who 
contributed to the excursus in Chapter 1 on Soviet and post-Soviet textbooks. She was my 
first research assistant on this book and has had much to do with sustaining my 
commitment to this project and shaping its outcome, with helping me keep faith with it and 
with myself. Throughout my decade of work on Textbook Reds, Cristen not only drew on 
her years in Germany and the former Soviet Union to provide me with perceptive criticism, 
but uplifted me with her sparkling wit and joyful wisdom.
	I am blessed to know her.
J. G. R.
November 2004
Austin, Texas
 List of Abbreviations
Although I have sought to minimize the use of acronyms in the main text, the following list 
includes abbreviations used in selected chapters of the book and throughout the notes, 
either for purposes of illustration or economy.
	German-language acronyms, included here for ease of reference, are translated on 
first citation in the text.
APW	Akademie der P¿dagogischen Wissenschaften. Academy of Pedagogical 
BRD	Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Federal Republic of Germany. Used by 
communist officials to refer to West Germany, in order to place West 
Germany on an equal level with the DDR; avoided by West German officials 
for this same reason.
CDU	Christlich-Demokratische Union. Christian Democratic Union party or 
Christian Democrats.
CPSU	Communist Party of the Soviet Union
DDR	Deutsche Demokratische Republik. German Democratic Republic, 1945/89.
DEFA	Deutsche Film Aktiengesellschaft. DDR state film production agency.
DFD	Demokratischer Frauenbund Deutschlands. Democratic Women's League of 
Germany, the major government-sponsored mass organization for women in 
the DDR.
DIAMAT	Dialectical Materialism. Shorthand term, along with M-L, for required 
university courses in Marxism, as well as for Marxist philosophy itself.
DKP	Deutsche Kommunistische Partei. German Communist Party of West 
Germany and, since 1990, of reunited Germany. Its current membership has 
shrunken to fewer than 5,000.
DSF	Gesellschaft f¿r Deutsch; Sowjetische Freundschaft. German-Soviet 
Friendship Society.
EOS	Erweiterte Oberschule. The advanced high school of the DDR (eleventh and 
twelfth grades).
FDGB	Freien Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund. Federation of Free German Trade 
Unions. The unique government-sponsored, national trade union of the DDR 
that negotiated labor contracts for the state, administered the pension 
system, and represented workers' interests in labor-management disputes. 
The FDGB was the larges mass organization in the DDR.
FDJ	Freie Deutsche Jugend. Free German Youth. The DDR's mass youth 
organization for fourteen- to twenty-five-year-olds.
GST	Gesellschaft f¿r Sport und Technik. Society for Sports and Technology. The 
main DDR athletic association, paramilitary in orientation.
HJ	Hitler Jugend. Hitler Youth. The mass youth organization of the 
Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, the National Socialist 
German Workers' Party.
JP	Junge Pioniere. Young Pioneers. The DDR youth organization for first 
through third grades. The acronym was not in use orally in the DDR, but is 
frequently found in official DDR publications.
KA	Kapitalistisches Ausland. Capitalist foreign country.
KPD	Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands. Communist Party of Germany. The 
pre/World War II party founded in 1919. .
KJVD	Kommunistischer Jugendverband Deutschlands. Communist Youth League 
of Germany or Young Sparticists. The pre-war youth organization of the 
LDPD	Liberaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands. The Liberal Democratic Party of 
Germany. A DDR "bloc" party.
LPG	Landwirtschaftliche Produktionsgenossenschaft. Agricultural cooperative.
M-L	Marxismus-Leninismus. Marxism-Leninism. See also DIAMAT.
MFS	Ministerium f¿r Staatssicherheit. Ministry of State Security of the DDR Also 
known by the shorthand term "Stasi."
NVA	Nationale Volksarmee. National People's Army.
PDS	Partei des Demokratischen Sozialismus. Party of Democratic Socialism. The 
reconstituted, successor party of the SED. Originally known as the SED-PDS, 
the PDS has since moved toward the center and become a left-wing social 
democratic party with a current membership of approximately 65,000.
POS	Polytechnische Oberschule. The ten-year uniform, general education DDR 
RGW	Rat f¿r gegenseitige Wirtschaftshilfe. Council for Mutual Economic Aid, 
generally known as COMECON in English. The East bloc equivalent of the 
Common Market.
SBZ	Sowjetische Besatzungszone. Soviet Occupation Zone.
SED	Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands. Socialist Unity Party of 
Germany. The Communist Party of the DDR.
SMAD	Sowjetische Milit¿radministration Deutschlands. Soviet Military 
Administration of Germany. The occupation-era government of the SBZ.
SPD	Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands. Social Democratic Party of 
Germany or Social Democrats.
TP	Th¿lmann Pioniere. Th¿lmann Pioneers. The DDR youth organization for 
fourth through seventh grades, the equivalent of Boy and Girl Scouts. The 
abbreviation was used only in West German publications, never in the DDR.
VEB	Volkseigener Betrieb. People's Own Enterprise, official DDR term for state-
owned and -run enterprises.
The following list includes German-language terms appearing in the main text, except those 
items already noted in the List of Abbreviations, along with a number of terms not 
appearing in the book. I have included the latter for interest's sake and because they are 
germane to the topic at hand.
Abitur. German school-leaving examination, which qualifies a student for university 
Abwicklung. Wrapping up or winding down. Euphemism used for the dismantling of DDR 
institutions and the laying off of thousands of eastern German employees.
antifaschistischer Schutzwall. Anti-fascist Wall of Protection. Official DDR government term 
for the Berlin Wall.
Asylanten. Asylum seekers.
Ausl¿nderfeindlichkeit. Xenophobia.
Besserwessi. A smart-aleck or know-it-all Wessi.
Blueshirts. Nickname for Free German Youth.
Bruderl¿nder. Brotherlands. A communist term for the international fraternity of socialist 
Bundestag. The lower house of the (West) German legislature.
COMECON. Council for Mutual Economic Assistance. The mutual economic aid organization 
of the communist world.
das bessere Deutschland. "The better Germany." Term often applied both to the German 
socialist tradition and to the DDR.
Demo. Short for demonstration or protest march.
Demospr¿che. Protest slogans.
DIAMAT. Dialectical Materialism. Shorthand term, along with M-L, for required university 
courses in Marxism, as well as for Marxist philosophy itself.
dr¿ben. Over there. Used both in West Germany and the DDR to refer to "the other 
Erbe. Heritage. DDR term for that part of the German past admissible to progressive DDR 
Erdkunde. Geography.
Erziehung zum Hass. Education for Hatred. DDR school program in military training. 
Generally used to describe the proper attitude of socialist patriots toward 
imperialists and warmongers.
Erziehung zur Toleranz. Education for Tolerance. Administered by UNESCO and endorsed 
by most EU nations, this worldwide program seeks to foster interracial respect and 
international cooperation through teacher and student exchange programs, 
professional courses in "diversity appreciation," and numerous intercultural 
projects. Germany is a strong supporter of such initiatives.
Feindbild. Enemy image.
Freundschaft! Friendship! A Communist greeting.
Freiraum. Free space, freedom.
Geschichte. History.
Grenzg¿nger. Border crossers.
Grepos. Short for Grenzpolizei, the DDR border police. Chiefly used by West German 
Gymnasium. German high school.
Heimat. Homeland. A German term with patriotic overtones.
Heimatkunde. Local and regional studies. A DDR school subject (known in the early postwar 
era as Deutschkunde).
Historikerstreit. Historians' debate. The 1986/87 controversy among West German 
historians about the status and uniqueness of the Holocaust.
Hort. After-school child care center.
Jammerossi. A complaining Ossi, or eastern German.
Jugendweihe. Youth consecration ceremony. A communist confirmation rite administered 
to youth at the age of fourteen. Inaugurated in pre-war Germany under the auspices 
of the SDP, it had been voluntary until the 1950s.
Komsomol. The Soviet mass youth organization.
Land, L¿nder. State(s).
Mensch. Human being.
die neue schule. The new school. The uniform, democratic school of the DDR, a term chiefly 
employed by early post-war DDR educators.
Neues Deutschland. New Germany. Formerly the official SED newspaper; associated since 
1990 with the PDS.
Neulehrer, Neulehrerin. New teacher. Mainly used to refer to teachers of anti-fascist 
convictions hired in the early post-war era of the DDR.
Oberschule. Generic name for DDR and pre-war German high school.
Ossis. Eastern Germans. Term used since 1989/90.
Planmensch. Planned human being, the "new socialist man." Chiefly used by West German 
Realschule. Technically oriented German school.
Republikflucht. Flight from the Republic. Escape from the DDR; an official term of 
Stab¿, Staatsb¿rgerkunde. Citizenship studies, or civics. DDR school subject.
Staatssicherheitsdienst. State Security Service. Also known as Stasi, MFS, or SSD.
¿berpr¿fung. Audit, investigation. Term for formal screening conducted of all DDR teachers.
Umerziehung. Re-education. German-language term (used more frequently in the SBZ than 
western Germany) for Allied program of anti-fascist, democratic renewal.
Unterrichtshilfen. Lesson aids. Term used by Volk und Wissen for its teaching guides.
Vergangenheitsbew¿ltigung. Coping with the past. German short-hand term for the 
national challenge of coming to terms with the legacy of the Holocaust.
Volk. People, nation.
Volk und Wissen Volkseigner Verlag. The official name of the DDR state publishing house 
for educational and pedagogical materials, including textbooks and teachers' 
handbooks. It was typically referred to by its shorter name, Volk und Wissen 
Volkskammer. People's Chamber. The DDR parliament.
Wehrerziehung, Wehrkunde. Defense education, military studies. DDR school subject.
weltanschauliche Erziehung. Education for a world outlook. The Marxist-Leninist 
philosophy of education.
Weltanschauung. Worldview.
Wende. The "turn." Used in the DDR and eastern Germany to refer to the change from SED 
rule to parliamentary democracy during 1989/90.
Wessis. Western Germans. Term used since 1989/90.
Wossis. Western Germans living or working in eastern Germany.
 Creating Young Comrades
Books have long been weapons in cultural wars; it's no secret that education is one way 
of transmitting culture. American parents and school district administrators have wrestled 
for decades over what kinds of lessons those novels and plays assigned for classroom use 
should teach. In recent years, the fiercest struggles among educators, parents, and religious 
authorities have centered on what textbooks to adopt. The textbook campaigns have 
introduced new rules and expectations into the age-old book wars. 
	In these battles American educators have banned many a classic; from Brave New 
World and Nineteen Eighty-Four to The Grapes of Wrath, Huckleberry Finn, and Catcher 
in the Rye; that failed to satisfy cultural vigilantes on the lookout for four-letter words, sex 
scenes, evolutionary theory, or Commies between the covers. Traditionally, in the case of a 
novel or play, schools either use it or ban it, but they don't change it. That's not the case 
with textbooks, in which the content is insidiously malleable. 
	As the twenty-first century unfolds, the textbook wars rage on, with small 
watchdog groups disproportionately influencing textbook adoption policy. In the state of 
Texas, where I live, the state board of education, which purchases K/12 textbooks for the 
entire state, holds public hearings that witness no-holds-barred matches among family 
planning, pro-life, gay advocacy, fundamentalist Christian, and other lobbying groups on 
the merits of proposed textbooks; and those hearings often result in one or more 
textbooks being withdrawn from consideration for adoption or even in the reconsideration 
of previously approved texts. 
	Though textbooks undeniably fulfill important tasks in the school systems of all 
states and nations; capitalist as well as communist, democratic as wells as 
authoritarian; nowhere were textbooks more consciously and completely turned to 
propagandist purposes than in the DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republic, German 
Democratic Republic). Throughout the forty-four-year existence of the DDR (1945/89), the 
Ministry of Education controlled textbook content tightly, and, in turn, the textbooks and 
teachers' guidebooks kept a tight rein on DDR teachers. The task of writing textbooks was 
entrusted by the Ministry of Education to scholarly "collectives" (groups of academics, 
each headed by an elite Party member) who could be trusted to adhere to the communist 
line on all questions.
	The most important of these were the editorial collectives at Verlag Volk und 
Wissen, the central state publishing house in East Berlin. To guarantee that there would be 
no ideological deviations among members of the collective, recalls Helmut Roske, formerly 
an editor at Volk und Wissen, his superior always took special precautions. Roske's 
department chief, Heinz Frankewicz, would regularly summon collective members to his 
office and remind them of the educators' ideological mission. In his memoir titled "The 
Textbook Factory," published in the December 1963 Atlantic Monthly, Roske recounts one 
such meeting, during which the political lessons that DDR textbooks sought to indoctrinate 
became painfully clear:
The editors would listen in silence while he [Frankewicz] read out a perfectly 
correct sentence from the text[book] and then proceeded to smother it beneath a 
mountain of objections.
	For instance, he would read: "Because the German Democratic Republic is 
poor in hard coal resources, soft coal is used here in great quantities." "This is what 
you have written," he would say, "and let me quote further": "Soft coal contains a 
high water content, very little hydrogen, and its heat potential is limited." "This 
kind of thing could be found in any book, even in a capitalistic one."
	According to Roske, Frankewicz proceeded to ask:
And what is the student supposed to infer? That the German Democratic Republic 
is weak? That we are unable to build up any industry, or what? Teaching material 
must serve to instill patriotic feelings and political conviction. A textbook like this 
might just as well be published in West Germany. It is false and useless. We are 
political beings and are educating young communists. Where is there anything here 
about the Ruhr barons? Where is there anything about the warmongering 
monopolies in West Germany? Why are the tables for water content in soft and 
hard coal placed right next to each other? So that the student can instantly compare 
them? Use the tables in which water doesn't appear and which build up a more 
favorable picture. It all sounds different when you say, "The German Democratic 
Republic has the greatest soft coal output in the world." Then list the collectivized 
industries we have treating soft coal. Show pictures of the [coal] plants. Quote from 
the plan, describe the activities in these various [firms]!
Roske goes on to recount the futile attempts of the editorial collective to preserve the 
textbook's scientific integrity:
	"But this is a book on chemistry," the editors protested.
	"No," said Frankewicz. "This is a textbook whose job it is to work up 
student enthusiasm over the Party's output. It must show the teacher how and 
with what methods to instill this enthusiasm. Take a look at Neues Deutschland, 
our Party's paper."
	"But a newspaper," objected the editors, "is no source for a scientific 
	"Not a newspaper; this newspaper! It's the organ of the Party," said 
Frankewicz. "In it, Party Chief Walter Ulbricht outlines the prospects for our 
chemical industries, which today live off coal but which tomorrow will be fed by 
petroleum supplied from our Soviet friends. That's what we mean by science.
	"At least two socialist examples must be introduced on every page, 
deliberately, you understand. I'll see you in three weeks' time."
	With that he dismisses the team.
This exchange serves as ironic evidence of the single-minded intention of the Ministry of 
Education's policymakers. As the DDR Pedagogical Encyclopedia confidently pronounced: 
"The textbook is one of the most important lesson materials É and it effectively fulfills 
the cultural and educational tasks of the socialist school." 
Textbooks did indeed form a cornerstone of the DDR school curriculum; though, as East 
Germany's defunct status doubtless suggests, their effectiveness was disputable. But the 
lessons that they sought to impart are indisputable. DDR primers and school readers told 
schoolchildren who and what to admire and abhor. Civics textbooks exalted a model of 
German socialist youth and instructed DDR pupils what to think about the West, especially 
the United States, and what to think about the Soviet Union. History textbooks shaped 
pupils' views about the major events of DDR and world history. Even textbooks in the 
sciences and mathematics reflected the doctrine of so-called DIAMAT (dialectical materialism).
	Textbook Reds examines how; and how effectively; DDR textbooks fulfilled these 
tasks, as it explores how a broad cross-section of school subjects contributed to the 
pedagogical goals of East German education. My title is intended to be thought-provoking 
rather than politically provocative: I do not mean to suggest that all DDR citizens were lock-
step, ideologically benighted, card-carrying communist functionaries; or even to imply 
that lifelong Party supporters rigidly conformed to official DDR views. Rather, my title is 
meant to convey that what we can term a "textbook mentality"; which equated citizens' 
critiques of the Party and DDR government with disloyalty and such bourgeois sins as 
individualism, negativism, and cosmopolitanism; imprinted itself deeply on generations of 
DDR pupils. Those DDR citizens who broke free of such indoctrination still bore marks of its 
influence, even, as we shall see, long after their leaving school; and long after the DDR's 
	No book-length English-language study has discussed how the East German 
textbook sought to shape the Weltanschauung of DDR youth and form the young citizen's 
mind. But if one wants to know what DDR students were told to think about their nation, 
their governing Party, and its leaders, their so-called Soviet friends, and their class enemy, 
no better source than textbooks exists. For here we have the dogmas of the SED 
(Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands, Socialist Unity Party) communicated in their 
most simplified form and manufactured in the millions for mass consumption.
	It is perhaps impossible to reconstruct at this date what DDR citizens actually 
thought about their state and its place in the world. Few reliable records and no public 
opinion polls existed in the former DDR (at least none that were ever published in the West). 
Some demographic information and research data were available from the Zentralinstitut f¿r 
Jugendforschung (Central Institute for Youth Research), but for the most part Western 
scholars could only estimate or speculate about what DDR citizens actually thought. 
Specifically because of this scarcity of survey data the DDR textbook is invaluable, for it 
reveals in detail what citizens were supposed to think.
	In light of these facts, Textbook Reds draws extensively on teachers' manuals and 
handbooks in order to illuminate how the Ministry of Education directed teachers to 
present classroom material. Yet my main concern is not with classroom teaching methods 
or with an empirical analysis linking student attitudes and curricular content. Nor does this 
work seek to establish the dense post-war historical context in which the textbooks were 
produced and received, let alone to present a full-scale history of the DDR educational 
system, a story that I have recently told in Repainting the Little Red Schoolhouse: A 
History of Eastern German Education, 1945/1995 (Oxford University Press, 2002). 
Rather, this book scrutinizes the imprint of communist ideology in curricular materials and 
suggests how the thinking of eastern Germans has evolved beyond the worldview inscribed 
in the DDR textbook.
	Part 1 is a detailed textual and thematic study of the role of ideology in making 
"textbook Reds" and how the promotion of that ideology served the purpose of state 
legitimation for the DDR. It concentrates on DDR educational materials and on how the state 
philosophy of M-L (Marxism-Leninism) permeated every school subject. Chapter 1 
addresses the schoolbooks used in German language and literature classes, ranging from the 
primary school readers found in the POS (Polytechnische Oberschule ) elementary school to 
the EOS (Erweiterte Oberschule)secondary school anthologies. Given the centrality of 
German class in the DDR curriculum; the DDR devoted up to 30 percent more class hours to 
German than did some West German L¿nder; its presentation in DDR textbooks receives 
the most extensive attention. Chapters 2 through 5, respectively, treat curricular materials 
in geography, Staatsb¿rgerkunde (civics), history, and the physical sciences and 
mathematics. Among the specific topics addressed are: socialist patriotism, international 
proletarianism, socialist morality, the capitalist-imperialist enemy, the duties of socialist 
citizenship, and the DDR identity. 
	Drawing on a rich and varied collection of materials; a total of more than two 
hundred textbooks, teaching guides, school songbooks, educators' professional journals, 
and school examinations; Textbook Reds engages in close sociological and cultural readings 
of these materials and spotlights the role of M-L in East German pedagogy. For reasons of 
both space and the availability of primary materials, I have chosen to concentrate chiefly 
on the elementary (POS) curriculum and the post-Wall era (1961/89). Periodic attention is 
also given to secondary school (EOS) schoolbooks and other educational resources from the 
early post-war years. My focus in Part 1 is, therefore, on the DDR era, especially the 1970s 
and 1980s, and on DDR textbooks, with occasional attention directed to textbooks published 
since 1990.
Each chapter in Part 1 features numerous examples and other data from the 
textbooks, whereby I mean to show the ubiquity of the ideological contents. Certainly the 
textbooks of every nation reflect its political culture and values. But the sheer volume and 
variety of ideologically conditioned material is the most striking feature of East German 
textbooks, and thus I deem it essential to offer an ample demonstration of both its 
pervasiveness and its significance.
	Moreover, in order to show what role textbooks played in ideological indoctrination 
and national self-legitimation, the book not only investigates their contents, but analyzes 
how those contents evolved across the history of the DDR. In select instances, I have 
compared the textbooks of the DDR with those of West Germany or the Third Reich; and 
also with American, Soviet, and recent Russian textbooks. These cross-cultural 
comparisons serve to highlight the distinctive character of DDR schoolbooks. My hope is 
that these diverse approaches to understanding the DDR educational system will prove 
valuable not only to educators, but also to cultural historians, political scientists, 
sociologists, and communication theorists. Although I discuss periodically why certain 
school subjects were more vulnerable to ideologically motivated material, I am not 
concerned to specify what proportions of the texts are ideological in nature, or to pinpoint 
the relative level of propaganda to which East German students were subjected. Instead my 
emphasis is on comparative historical analysis and interpretative methodology, whereby I 
also aim to render Textbook Reds accessible to a wide audience via the aid of the excursus 
sections, which are designed to shed light on the reception and impact of the textbooks.
	These excursus sections in Part 1 warrant additional comment. Each chapter therein 
includes one or more such sections that highlight and further explore the topics pursued in 
the main narrative of the chapter. Each excursus broadly illustrates how eastern Germans 
were influenced by ideology in the schools or inspects some dimension of post-communist 
educational life. More specifically, each excursus examines a particular issue or theme in the 
curricular subject under discussion in its respective chapter, or devotes extended attention 
to how a single grade or class year was handled by the textbooks, or engages a topic in 
comparative education.
Part 2 of this book takes the story of the making of East German "textbook Reds" up to 
the year 2002. It discloses how cultural and educational policies enter the lives of real 
people even after the regime that promoted this ideology and issued its textbooks has 
passed from the scene. For the fact is that textbooks are often too narrowly analyzed 
according to their texts alone; rather than in the context of real readers; and therefore 
these analyses fail to capture any sense of the impact and imprint of the textbooks on 
people's lives.
	This study attempts to redress that imbalance by devoting Part 2 to a series of 
portraits and interviews of eastern Germans influenced by the textbooks already discussed. 
Some of my interlocutors were, by their own admission, "convinced communists" (a.k.a. 
"textbook Reds"), while others were resistant to or even outspokenly critical of the DDR 
regime. Nonetheless, all of my interviewees grew up with the worldview of the textbooks 
as the official horizon of their thinking.
	The three chapters of Part 2 thus feature both "school portraits" and interviews 
with teachers or students, each of whom reflects on his or her educational experience in the 
DDR. My aspiration is to illustrate suggestively how the Weltanschauung of DDR textbooks 
has been renegotiated in easterners' lives; rather than, once again, to argue whether or how 
DDR schoolbooks continue to exert influence on the minds of eastern Germans long after the 
DDR's demise and German reunification.
	That is also the reason I have limited my formal analysis of textbooks to the DDR 
era. For I am more interested to trace into the post-communist era the developments in 
people's minds than in pedagogical materials; i.e., I am more concerned to disclose the 
ongoing imprint of the "textbook mentality" on the citizens who grew up in the DDR than to 
identify alterations in schoolbooks since reunification. In short: I am more concerned with 
people's lives than with propagandists' lessons. Part 2 concentrates on teachers and 
students who experienced the DDR educational system in the 1970s and 1980s; this focus 
suggests the mode of thinking of a generation, and it suggests the persisting; if quite 
indefinite; influence of the DDR textbooks in the process.
	Among the questions that the portraits and the interviews raise are the following: 
How do the communist past and the post-communist present fit together in eastern 
Germany? How have education and teaching in the region evolved since 1989? What 
influence does "Ostalgie" exert on memory of the communist past and the direction of 
eastern German education? How did eastern Germans adapt in the classroom? How did 
they respond to the orthodoxies embodied in the textbooks? How much continuity existed 
between the idealistic era of the 1940s and early 1950s and the backlash that occurred 
toward the Soviets in the late 1950s and 1960s? And what remains in eastern Germans' 
attitudes of the DDR's determined campaign "to win the minds of men," its ceaseless 
struggle to form the East German identity? 
	Most of the portraits and interviews in Part 2 concern an eastern German who 
passed through the DDR school system. I have not attempted to analyze closely how a 
particular textbook left its imprint on any of the minds of my conversation partners. (Who, 
indeed, remembers school that well?!) Rather, I have sought to present snapshots of 
eastern Germans coming to terms with their textbook learning during the decade following 
German reunification. Because the majority of my interviews were conducted during 
1990/97, the first seven years after German reunification, they also have a particular 
documentary value as oral history of a vanished past.
	Indeed, this special documentary aspect of the conversations in Part 2; which 
function as "eyewitness testimony" of a gut-wrenching transitional moment in eastern 
Germany's history; was stressed to me by several early readers of this book in 
manuscript, who found the transcripts of my interviews invaluable as a historical record 
and urged me to edit them for this study. (All of the interviews were conducted in 
German.) The enthusiastic responses of these readers reminded me of my original 
motivations for arranging these interviews: to serve as a witness to witnesses. For I was a 
visitor during a fleeting, evanescent moment in German history, when East German 
socialism had not yet disappeared and Western-style capitalism had not yet established 
	In hindsight, many of my conversations and experiences in the early 1990s could 
only have happened at that precise historical moment. Before 1990, it was impossible for a 
Westerner, or indeed practically any non/East German, to travel freely in the DDR; and 
near-impossible to have conversations with East Germans who possessed the temerity and 
transparency to express themselves freely and openly. After the early 1990s, the old DDR 
way of life receded so quickly that older adults wanted to move beyond that past and 
young eastern Germans had no memory of it. Moreover, as numerous eastern Germans told 
me, I was distinctive because I am an American; they felt antagonism toward western 
Germans (the so-called Besserwessis, or western German know-it-alls), and they felt either 
hatred or incuriosity toward Russians and Eastern Europeans from the old Soviet bloc; but 
most of them had never spoken to an American, and now that it was safe to do so, they 
were passionately curious to share their stories with me; and almost equally so to hear 
about my impressions of their country and themselves.
	So I was uniquely positioned both temporally and culturally to witness an 
extraordinary and defining instant in world history that has left very few traces in eastern 
German society today. Part 2 of this book represents an attempt to capture than unique 
	Furthermore, the portraits and interviews in Part 2 represent an attempt not just to 
include the responses of readers but to bring alive how the textbooks reflected their 
worldview; even more than a decade after the fall of the Berlin Wall. For I am not simply 
analyzing the sober contents of now-moribund communist schoolbooks but suggesting how 
these books functioned in DDR education; and, in many cases, how they continue to 
influence their readers' lives. Thus the larger aspiration behind my examining "the textbook 
in the classroom" is to capture the human implications of East German curricular policy 
and spot the amplitude and register of political tones in the symphony of unsung citizens' 
lives. In this way, I have sought to establish a context in personal histories for better 
understanding the curricular materials. The study thereby becomes not only an 
investigation of DIAMAT pedagogy as communicated via DDR textbooks, but also a motley 
chorus of voices that discloses how the DDR Weltanschauung manifested itself in the 
outlooks of its ordinary citizens.
	By inviting DDR teachers and students to tell their stories; to share the high and 
low notes of their experiences in the educational system; I have striven to make available 
the drama of DDR history from below, of erlebte Geschichte (lived/experienced history). 
Rather than interview top school administration officials, I sought out rank-and-file 
teachers and students whom I met through friends and acquaintances. The fact is that most 
well-known people tend to be somewhat removed from ordinary life; this book aspires 
precisely to draw American readers to re-experience a near-universal experience in the 
industrial world; school life; and thereby draw them into lives apparently dissimilar yet 
ultimately not so unlike their own.
	Indeed, a special comparative feature of the portrait and interviews; which should 
be of compelling interest to American readers; is the periodic commentary on American 
education and American values. In many cases my interviewees were drawn to make 
extended comparisons between Germany and the United States, especially between the 
values of eastern Germany and the socialist heritage and their counterparts. This reflects 
both the new orientation of capitalist Americans and that of eastern Germans toward the 
West and, quite often, these easterners' recent experiences of studying and or visiting the 
United States. In many cases, eastern German students preferred to compare their socialist 
values not with western German values but with American values, because they considered 
the latter most representative of capitalism; and because American capitalism seems to 
them an extreme version of the capitalist ethos that they have encountered in western 
	Because these interviews and portraits function as an informal social history of DDR 
education and tell its story from below, they may be considered a "school supplement" to 
Lutz Niethammer's revealing 1991 anthropology of everyday life in the DDR, Die 
volkseigene Erfahrung (The People's Own Experience) that showed the gap between 
claims of the Party (which professed to speak always for the Volk) and the lived reality of 
East Germans' lives. The conversations in the present volume expose a similar gulf, thus 
giving belated voice to onetime teachers and students from the former DDR. These "school 
portraits" might be titled: Die volkseigene Schule; "The People's Own School."
Textbook Reds thus presents not just an interpretive analysis of communist textbooks, but 
also offers a glimpse of post-communism with a German face, indeed what might be called 
"the textbook with a human face," thereby to see how the ideology of the textbooks was 
variously concretized in the consciousness of the teachers and students who read them. 
"Post-communism" is a charged, indeed loaded and over-determined phrase in 
contemporary Europe. Is communism "post-"? Or can it be revived? Will it become just 
another school or movement of thought? Or can it serve as the basis for a reconstituted 
political and economic system? These are questions with which both thinkers and 
policymakers are still grappling, and they have particular relevance to citizens of former 
communist nations such as the DDR. At minimum, as the portraits and interviews in Part 2 
evince, the past lives on in the present: the DDR communist regime exists no longer, but 
elements of the communist ideology remain alive in the minds and hearts of millions of 
eastern Germans.
	Post-communist education is also, in a very real sense, post-German education. 
That fact is vividly illustrated in the final chapter of Part 2, about which an extended 
comment is appropriate here. Chapter 8 devotes consideration to a topic not found in the 
DDR textbooks and never explicitly advanced by DDR educators. Indeed, it is a topic that 
may be seen as a post-reunification counterpart to the old DDR program of "Education for 
Hate." The new program is broadly known as "Education for Tolerance" and it has received 
attention throughout Germany, yet most especially in the east. An entirely new dimension 
of education is raised with the introduction of tolerance as a leitmotif in the curriculum. For 
tolerance is not simply a matter of pedagogical approach or course content.
	Among those most concerned with education for tolerance are Germany's Jewish 
citizens and residents. And arguably, the setting in which the success or failure of the 
program will prove most crucially apparent is the German-Jewish school. Thus a special 
feature of this book is its attention in Chapter 8 to Jewish themes and to the rebirth of 
Jewish education in Germany in the shadow of the Holocaust.
	Finally, in a brief epilogue, I shift back from the school portraits to the DDR system, 
offering a final meditation on the high toll that its ideological core curriculum exacted.
 Ideology as Core Curriculum
 1945: Textbooks and German Re-Education
Nazi rule placed the entire course of German education, from nursery 
through university, in the service of fascist ideology, racial hatred, spiritual 
and physical preparation for war, chauvinistic baiting, and military 
drilling. . . .
; KPD-SPD Joint Declaration on Education, 11 June 1945
Even before the Russians occupied eastern Germany in May 1945, the topic of German 
schoolbooks was already one that occupied Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and the Kremlin. 
Like the western Allies, the Soviets wanted to avoid giving Germans the impression that 
their children would be stuffed with Allied propaganda. Above all, the Soviets sought not 
to repeat the fiasco that the British and Americans had unwittingly created during the early 
months of the Italian occupation in 1944: After the successful Anglo-American invasion of 
Italy in late 1943, schools had been reopened in 1944 under Allied administration. London 
and Washington had decided, on a temporary basis, to continue using the fascist 
schoolbooks and simply excise those pages that glorified fascism. But some families had 
retained old; and intact; copies of the books at home, and predictably, the excised pages 
had become the object of intense interest among Italian schoolchildren. Allied policy thus 
had achieved exactly the opposite of its main goal, the political "re-education" of the 
vanquished fascist enemy. 
	Plans to implement German re-education with non-Nazi textbooks hit an immediate 
roadblock: The Nazis had burned all German schoolbooks printed before 1935. And so the 
Allies were forced to search outside Germany for old German textbooks. The biggest 
source was Teachers College, Columbia University, which sent microfilms of twenty 
textbooks to London shortly before the war's close. These books were republished in 
Germany, with some alterations made for political content, and remained in use until 
	But these textbooks were circulated only in Germany's western zones. By the 
war's end, political tensions between the western Allies and the Soviet Union had become 
so exacerbated that the two sides could not agree on how German re-education should be 
conducted. Both the western Allies and the Soviets concurred that re-education was a 
program of moral reconstruction that would entail a complete revamping of Germans' 
tradition (i.e., not just pro-Nazi) values. The aspiration was to foster a new Fatherland: 
Whereas the West sought a Germany committed to popular democracy and to the freedoms 
of speech, press, and religion, the Soviets wanted a Germany committed to Marxism-
Leninism under the guidance of the Communist Party and the Kremlin. Thus the Allies' 
fight about re-education policy eventually became a battle over which "un-lessons"; the 
democratic or the Bolshevist; would be taught in German schools.
	Of course, disagreement over textbook content was just one aspect of a larger 
battle; extending far beyond education policy; between the western Allies and the 
Soviets. The conflicts would ultimately lead to the complete end of cooperation between 
occupation authorities of the West and the Soviets; and, after the 1946/47 Berlin airlift 
and a series of other small crises, to the formation of separate Germanies: the Federal 
Republic of Germany (Bundesrepublik Deutschland [West Germany]) in May 1949 and 
the DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republik, German Democratic Republic [East 
Germany]) in October 1949.
	Although textbooks that had been in use during the Weimar Republic were easily 
available, Soviet educators considered them insufficiently progressive, just as the western 
Allies regarded them as insufficiently democratic. (Both the USSR and the western Allies 
also judged them to be proto-fascist.) Unwilling to use the textbooks from the Weimar 
era; especially after they were revised by the western Allies to show strong sympathy to 
capitalism and hostility to socialism; the SMAD (Sowjetische Milit¿radministration 
Deutschlands, Soviet Military Administration of Germany) decided to issue its own 
textbooks. Having located a few Weimar-era textbooks that could serve as models, Soviet 
educators worked with returning German socialist ¿migr¿s to write several textbooks for 
grades one through four. Volk und Wissen Volkseigener Verlag, the newly founded 
educational publishing house, rushed out these temporarily usable books in late 1945 for 
the 1945/46 school year. (Given paper shortages, fiscal crises, and the quickly changing 
political lines in the Kremlin, the Ministry of Education issued no non-science textbooks 
until 1951. Even in the sciences and mathematics, teachers in the upper elementary school 
and secondary school grades had no textbooks until the founding of the DDR in 1949.)
 From Brown to Red?
The old Party slogan trumpeted "St¿rmt die Festung Wissenschaft!" ("Storm the citadel of 
learning!"). Marshal Stalin himself had issued the call to arms, declaring educational 
institutions "the citadel of learning" that "we must capture at any price. This citadel must 
be taken by our youth, if they wish to take the place of the old guard." The youth could 
be persuaded of the superiority of communism, even if their elders were a lost cause. The 
Soviets called their agitprop educational campaign vospitanie (moral-social development); 
the East Germans termed it weltanschauliche Erziehung (education for a world outlook). 
Whatever the name, the intent was the same: creating the new socialist human being.
	From the earliest days of the SMAD, textbooks were the foundation in eastern 
Germany that undergirded the "citadel of learning." As we shall see, no subject; not even 
spelling, penmanship, inorganic chemistry, or linear algebra; escaped the Red paintbrush. 
Marxist-Leninist (Marxismus-Leninismus, M-L) indoctrination thus "replaced" fascist 
propaganda in eastern German textbooks: "the Red replaced the Brown."
	Of course, that formulation is a vulgar and misleading oversimplification. The word 
"replace" suggests a simple historic transfer from the Nazi regime to East German 
communism. There was no such easy transfer. The totalitarianism theory behind this 
oversimplification, first propounded by Hannah Arendt in The Origins of Totalitarianism 
(1951), is too reductionist to grasp the historical intricacies of the transition in German 
society between 1945 and the official founding of the two German states in 1949. Those 
four intervening years were crucial in the formation of two entirely new societies, whose 
complex development defies the simplistic "from Brown to Red" theories of the East 
German society.
	That new starting point in German history after 1945 in both German societies does 
not accommodate for a simple "replacement theory" of "Red = Brown." The theory of a 
mere replacement of the Nazis by the communists overlooks the liberties that the 
communist regime offered. It underplays the gravity of the racial hatred that the Nazis 
stamped in the minds of many Germans; including committed communists and political 
liberals. Moreover, generational change that was taking place within East German society in 
the late 1950s and 1960s, which reoriented DDR youth toward atheistic, progressive beliefs, 
also goes unnoticed. Thus, the "Red = Brown" concept only serves to obscure the 
complexities of the East German society. DDR society was founded upon the belief in the 
equality of all human beings (black, white, Jewish, Muslims, men and women); and it 
upheld that creed in the main (despite a degree of anti-Semitism and sexism).
	Here again, I do not say that social and political reality ever matched these beliefs: 
in numerous cases I think they turned out to be vain beliefs. Nevertheless, as mental and 
social constructs, these beliefs were part of DDR reality. A "Red = Brown" approach thus 
ignores the many layers of East German social and political reality. Quoting from school 
textbooks and pressing the citations into an artificial framework of "Nazi-era _ DDR 
transition" promotes a myth rather than illuminating history.
	So the "Red" did not simply "replace" the "Brown"; the historical transition to 
the DDR was complex and partly discontinuous with the immediate past. Moreover, at least 
in1945 and 1946, it was not evident that M-L would come to dominate eastern German 
education. Largely to satisfy the western Allies; and to preserve the possibility that a 
reunited Germany would one day stand in the socialist camp; the policy of the SMAD was 
anti-fascist rather than explicitly pro-communist: anti-Brown rather than overtly pro-Red. 
A directive on syllabus revision published by the Ministry of Education in October 1945 
makes it clear that SMAD re-education policy sought merely to assure that eastern Germans 
would learn to scorn Nazis and fascist Brownshirts and to appreciate socialist and Soviet 
In Biology, Nazi racial ideology and the teaching on which it is based; the 
supposed superiority of the German people over other peoples; is to be removed. 
Likewise to be removed is the application to human society of the teaching about 
the struggle for existence in the animal world. Students are only to learn about the 
lawfulness of nature and the development of plants and creatures, and to see how 
human beings learn to master nature through the recognition of these laws.
<one line space>
In German, selection and interpretation of materials must consist not only of 
aesthetic and literary viewpoints, but also correspond to the introduction of the 
comprehensive educational goal [i.e., anti-fascism]. This requires that the youth be 
introduced to our classics, our current democratic [i.e., socialist] literature, and the 
great works of world [including Russian] literature. 
	German communists began to speak of "the new school" (die neue schule); the 
anti-fascist, democratic school; that they were building in the SBZ (Sowjetische 
Besatzungszone, Soviet Occupation Zone). The phrase was deliberately lower-cased to 
trumpet the DDR's democratic intentions. To staff their schools, the Ministry of Education 
fired almost all teachers who had been members of the Nazi Party (almost two-thirds of the 
teaching profession), leaving the median age of SBZ teachers at fifty-two and one-half (fifty-
nine in Berlin). (Roughly 70 percent of teachers had been Nazi Party members during the 
Third Reich.) These teachers were replaced by "new teachers" (Neulehrer), some of 
whom were as young as sixteen years old, and some of whom had not even completed 
elementary school. But the SMAD ordained that educational attainment was not a decisive 
criterion for selection as a new teacher. Political reliability; an anti-fascist and, preferably, 
pro-socialist or pro-communist orientation; was the key. For the new teachers were to be 
the cornerstone of the SMAD's re-education efforts to transform the German character and 
eradicate German militarism. As part of this re-education, the SMAD banned all kinds of 
military games and ordered that the production of war toys be halted. These measures, 
along with the progressive ideological perspective provided by the new teachers, 
revolutionized the eastern German classroom. And by "spread[ing] the truth about the 
Soviet Union," the new teachers revolutionized the classroom in a pro-Soviet, M-L 
direction, as the words of one DDR historian make clear:
Many young people began to understand [in1945/46] that participation in 
democratic reconstruction which stamped out the roots of war; and not death on a 
battlefield in an imperialistic war; was meaningful and honorable. Concepts such as 
"love of the Fatherland," "heroism," and "courage" received new, humanistic 
content, completely opposed to imperialistic conceptions. Insofar as the new 
school told schoolchildren of the genuine heroism and real patriotism of the anti-
fascist resistance fighters, insofar as it spread the truth about the Soviet Union, it 
helped to make the poison of anti-communism ineffective for the first time in 
German educational history. 
	But Nazi, or at least anti-Soviet, attitudes could not be changed overnight: Most 
students had belonged to the HJ (Hitler Jugend, Hitler Youth) organizations and most 
families harbored anti-communist sentiments. It was not easy for the Soviets to overcome 
years of propaganda against the "Bolsheviks" and the "Slavs"; and German hostilities 
were exacerbated by the widespread raping of German women by Soviet troops, by the 
shame of the Nuremberg Trials of 1945/46, and by the dismantling of eastern German 
industry by the SMAD. Some local school districts were hard to bring under control: A 1946 
report in the state of Saxony on fascist tendencies in the schools noted that "military 
propaganda is still to be found" and even that teachers were teaching from "schoolbooks 
. . . that were published after 1933 and are considered fascist books." Indeed, defiance 
toward the SMAD even went further: "In various schools, there are still pictures of Hitler 
and other so-called Nazi Ôleaders'; even Nazi placards and mottoes haven't been entirely 
	But resistance to the SMAD and the German communist educational authorities did 
not last long. By 1948, the citadel; at least at the elementary and secondary levels; had 
been successfully stormed (the university would take almost another decade of struggle). 
And by the early 1950s, it had been taken over and transformed completely. At least some 
of the credit for the victorious campaign after 1951 must go to the schoolbooks and 
teaching guides (which gave explicit instructions on how to conduct every single class 
hour), because it was through these materials that the Party controlled the teachers 
themselves. Since individual teachers, especially non-Party members, could not be trusted 
to support (or even grasp) subtle changes in the Party line, every teacher was told to 
"teach the textbook to the letter"; the textbook and syllabus thus functioned like military 
orders issued from a rigidly centralized, hierarchical command structure; and SED 
(Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands, Socialist Unity Party of Germany) educational 
authorities permitted no deviations; at least not officially. 
	Indeed, until the mid-1980s and the glasnost initiatives under Mikhail Gorbachev, it 
is fair to say that; long after the SMAD was gone; the USSR continued to control the East 
German educational apparatus, though of course not directly, since hard-line SED 
apparatchiks were available to write the texts and select the illustrations. Or, rather one 
should say, to translate the texts. For there was seldom much difference between the 
contents of the DDR and the USSR schoolbook: What H¿nschen learned to read was usually 
very similar to what little Ivan was learning to read. What East Berlin mandated had already 
been handed down from Moscow. But the combination of the Nazi past, the lost war, and 
the Soviet occupation also produced significant differences, often in the direction of a much 
more orthodox, rigid communism than in the post-Stalinist USSR. H¿nschen's and little 
Gretel's textbook world was black and white; or better, Red and black; populated by 
good comrades and evil strangers, by friends of the Fatherland and enemies of the People.
	This context makes the study of the DDR's schoolbooks especially significant. 
Virtually every classroom in the nation used the assigned textbook for each subject and 
grade level. The textbook was the ultimate source of information for many pupils; and 
even for many Neulehrer. Most DDR citizens had little or no formal education after their 
ten-year polytechnical school (or, in the early post-war era, their eight-year school). Above 
all, it was the information that was taught in school, not at the university or in adult 
education courses, that shaped the average citizen's beliefs. And beliefs implanted in 
school, especially given DDR travel restrictions and limited access to outside sources of 
information, took root and grew. So the textbooks taught the young how to perceive their 
nation and world. For many DDR citizens, the lessons lasted most of a lifetime; and the re-
educational "unlessons" were hard won indeed.
 The (East) German Ideology
And what constituted, we may ask, the content of these textbook lessons; or unlessons?
	The textbooks transmitted a factory myth of the First German Workers' and 
Peasants' State, a set of doctrines that might in toto be termed "the East German ideology." 
In The German Ideology (1845), Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels castigated the "illusions" 
of German Hegelianism, which promoted a system of false ideas, or "ideology," based on 
dishonest reasoning and the distortion of facts designed to justify the position of the ruling 
class. In the 1930s, the National Socialists glorified nationalism and perpetuated myths that 
gave special emphasis to Deutschtum (Germanness), representing the culmination of 
decades of increasingly aggressive emphasis on German soil and blood, and thereby creating 
what scholars such as Fritz Stern have termed "the Germanic ideology." Out of the defeat 
of the Reich in 1945 arose new ideologies, western and eastern, reflecting the opposing 
Weltanschauungen of the respective Allied occupation powers.
	In the SBZ, the new German ideology soon emerged to be a wintry version of Soviet 
ideology transplanted; direct from the Kremlin and with little adjustment for environment 
or climate; westward. Thus the new Germany on the Elbe became, as it were, Soviet 
Germany. As we shall soon see in detail, however, though the Soviets had defeated the 
Germanic ideology of the Nazis, they immediately imposed an equally authoritarian 
ideology on eastern Germany. And it rapidly evolved, more and more showing its real 
colors: from Schein-democratization to Sovietization to Stalinization. Ultimately, the DDR 
of the 1950s and 1960s became more staunchly authoritarian than even the USSR.
	And so, almost exactly a century after Marx and Engels had deplored the German 
ideology of their day, East German communists were inculcating their own official 
ideology, an ideology that turned out to bear striking resemblance to the Teutonic false 
consciousness that the German forefathers of the socialist Fatherland had excoriated: 
Stalinism, or M-L. But, as I have suggested, the emphasis in DDR Stalinism was definitely a 
matter of "L" before "M": Lenin, not Marx; Russian, not German. And Marx's definition 
of ideology; i.e., a false consciousness that masks from the protagonists themselves the 
causes, grounds, and motives for their actions; characterized M-L even more than it had the 
German nationalism and philosophical idealism of his own day. Indeed, for all its 
denunciations of fascism and Hitlerism, the only close counterpart in German history to 
the new East German ideology was, ironically, the recently defeated Germanic ideology of 
the Nazis. Just as Soviet ideals displaced Teutonic ones, Soviet nationalism replaced 
Deutschtum. Where the Nazi educators had prized German blood as the mark of the 
Herrenmensch (master race), DDR schools presented workers' children as superior to 
bourgeois children, and asserted that workers' problems had nothing to do with individuals 
and everything to do with economic structures. Soviet pedagogues and M-L "science" were 
treated as omniscient, eerily recalling the Nazi elevation of Aryan pedagogy and vilification 
of "Jewish" science. And so the new democratic socialist Mensch of East Germany would 
be reared on a Weltanschauung recognizably similar to that which the USSR had sacrificed 
20 million citizens to conquer. The school stories in DDR readers highlighted the East 
German ideology, taking special pains to lionize the Soviet Union.
	A common tactic was to portray Stalin's alleged love for German children, partly to 
counteract the enduring anti-Soviet sentiment among East Germans. One story, which 
features Stalin's towering presence at the Potsdam conference in 1945, is titled "When 
Stalin Came [to Germany]": "Whether Stalin is sunk deep in thought at his work table or at 
the conference table seeking peace, always his mind is on the People. He thinks about 
every child, especially about German children. No one will ever know war or fascism again; 
there will only be peace and friendship among the children of the whole wide world." 
Under the picture of Marshal Stalin runs the caption: "Never, so long as the world turns, 
will the People forget their great and loving father and teacher." 
	But the lessons of socialism's great march to victory were traceable to and 
projected upon events occurring long before the twentieth century. Consider, for instance, 
the introduction to the DDR fifth-grade history text of the 1980s, which covered the period 
from prehistory to classical Greece and Rome:
In fifth through tenth grade you will become acquainted with the important events 
in the history of humankind. You will learn why working people often did not 
possess what they created and how the exploiters came by their riches. You will 
understand how wars came to be and why courageous persons battled for peace. 
But one thing above all should be investigated and answered:
	How does it come that human society, from its beginnings to the present, 
has steadily developed itself, and that this development already in many countries 
has led to socialism; and in all countries will lead to it? 
	Whether referring to the Stone Age or ancient Mesopotamia or Periclean Greece, 
DDR textbook historians made it clear that animals and human beings were distinguishable 
by their different relations to work, that human history was the history of a class struggle 
between workers and non-workers, and that the glorious past battles of workers and 
peasants were the heroic antecedents of the First German Workers' and Peasants' State. 
The SED operated with its Marxist-Whig interpretation of history: History was the story of 
the rise of socialism, and "real existing socialism" could be found in the DDR and its 
Bruderl¿nder. Following the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Education and Volk und 
Wissen, DDR textbook writers faithfully followed the Party summons that "authors of 
textbooks should take as their model the works of Marx and Lenin, which are permeated 
with boundless faith in the victory of communism and unrelenting hatred for its enemies. A 
textbook should be written so that not a single fact leaves the student indifferent." 
	As we shall soon see, DDR textbooks did not leave the citizenry indifferent; as the 
outrage reflected in the popular demonstrations and mass protests that led to the toppling 
of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 evinced. That the textbook "facts" selected to 
persuade DDR pupils ultimately failed to do so, despite more than four decades of ceaseless 
effort, was not, however, for lack of trying. Nor should we Americans remain indifferent 
about the relentless textbook wars in the United States, when the state assumes ever greater 
control of education, whether in the name of the "No Child Left Behind" initiatives, or 
raising performance goals, or establishing uniform and comparative quality standards. For 
such justifications resemble what DDR educators also claimed, albeit in different language. So 
let us Americans remain vigilant and self-critical. A politicized curriculum led the DDR 
school to become an instance of "illiberal education" at its most extreme. We should heed 
the lesson of that mistake. 
	But what were the particular "facts" chosen to inspire DDR youth? How exactly did 
DDR schoolbooks help breed the German democratic socialist Mensch?
	Let us turn to the central subject in the DDR curriculum for our first glimpse at the 
 Part I
 Of Politics and Letters; and Numbers

Library of Congress Subject Headings for this publication:

Textbooks -- Germany (East).
Education -- Germany (East) -- Curricula.
Communism and education.