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Wessis and Ossis

Neal Ascherson: Traces of the GDR, 14 December 2023

Beyond the Wall: East Germany 1949-90 
by Katja Hoyer.
Allen Lane, 475 pp., £25, April 2023, 978 0 241 55378 7
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Out of the Darkness: The Germans, 1942-2022 
by Frank Trentmann.
Allen Lane, 837 pp., £40, November 2023, 978 0 241 30349 8
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... metaphor and conclude that the GDR has evaporated as completely as its smell. Easy, but wrong.As Katja Hoyer shows, a ghostly East Germany survives more than thirty years after its abolition. It exists in the resentment of older people at the ‘cancellation’ of their memories after lives of hard effort, some achievements and some joy in a country ...

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