Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Soldiers, Citizens, and the State: East German Army Officers in Post-Unification Germany

  • Andrew Bickford (a1)

Despite official narratives of a relatively smooth transition, of the merging of “those things which belong together,” German unification and the formation of a new German state has been an uneven project filled with friction and animosity. While the West German government celebrated the “victory” of unification, and stated that all East Germans wanted unification, one group of East Germans did not look forward to the dissolution of the GDR: members of the East German military, the Nationale Volksarmee (National People's Army, or NVA). Disbanded immediately upon unification, the overwhelming majority of NVA officers were left unemployed overnight, stripped of their status as officers and portrayed by the West Germans as the “losers” of the Cold War. For these men, unification was not a joyous, desired event; rather, it represented the end of their careers, security, status, and the state they had sworn to defend. As such, the “fall” into democracy for these men was from the start fraught with uncertainty, disappointment, anomie, and a profound sense of loss.

Hide All
Stefan Berger . 1995. Historians and Nation-Building in Germany after Unification. Past and Present 148 (Aug.): 187222.

John Borneman . 1993. Uniting the German Nation: Law, Narrative, Historicity. American Ethnologist 20, 2: 288311.

John Borneman . 2001. State Formation. In, Neil J. Smelser and Paul B. Baltes , editors-in-chief, International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Amsterdam and New York: Elsevier Sciences Ltd.

Dominic Boyer . 2006. Conspiracy, History, and Therapy at a Berlin Stammtisch. American Ethnologist 33, 3: 327–39.

Daniel Giese . 2002. Die SED und ihre Armee: Die NVA zwischen Politisierung und Professionalismus 1956–1965. Schriftenreihe der Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte, Band 85. München: R. Oldenbourg Verlag.

Lesley Gill . 1997. Creating Citizens, Making Men: The Military and Masculinity in Bolivia. Cultural Anthropology 12, 4: 527–50.

Georg-Maria Meyer and Sabine Collmer . 1993. Kolonisierung oder Integration: Bundeswehr und Deutsche Einheit: Eine Bestandaufnahme. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Comparative Studies in Society and History
  • ISSN: 0010-4175
  • EISSN: 1475-2999
  • URL: /core/journals/comparative-studies-in-society-and-history
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 3
Total number of PDF views: 28 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 253 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 17th October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.