Symbolic Erasures and Populist Discontent: The Post-War Rebuilding of Historic Dresden

April A. Eisman


This article looks at the post-war rebuilding of Dresden’s historic Altstadt (Old City) as a case study in the elision of East German cultural achievements in Germany today. Beginning with the destruction of the city at the end of World War II, an event that is deeply embedded in the psyche of native Dresdners and that sets the stage for the city’s subsequent reconstruction, this article focuses on the rebuilding of the Zwinger and the Semper Opera House, which, unlike the Frauenkirche, were done by East Germans themselves and completed in a context of material hardship. The article then shows how this past has been elided since unification and how this striking elision is linked to contemporary dissatisfaction in the East that has contributed to right-wing populist groups like Pegida and the AfD. (AAE)

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