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Call for Papers: "The East in the West“ – German-Speaking Authors from Eastern Europe in Broadcasting after 1945

Call for Papers: "The East in the West“ – German-Speaking Authors from Eastern Europe in Broadcasting after 1945

A workshop on 22/23 March 2022 at the German Broadcasting Archive in Frankfurt will be dedicated to the radio work of German-speaking authors from Eastern Europe who fled to Germany's four occupation zones after the end of the Second World War and became active in radio after their arrival. The Call for Papers encourages especially female junior researchers to participate with research topics. The deadline for submissions is 31 January 2022.

With the end of the Second World War, many German-speaking authors fled from Eastern Europe to the four occupation zones, from which the Federal Republic and the GDR emerged in 1949. With their literary and journalistic work, they reacted to the experiences of war and flight, of losing their homeland and starting out in a new environment. The work for the radio stations was of particular importance, as they very quickly became central places for the production and dissemination of literature and took on an important role in the newly emerging literary enterprises.

This radio literary and radio journalistic activity of authors "from the East" has been researched very little so far, even if there are exceptions, such as that of the Estonian-born radio playwright Fred von Hoerschelmann (1901-1976) or that of Friedrich Bischoff (1896-1976), who was born in Silesia. Bischoff was a writer and before 1933 the director of the Silesian Radio Hour in Wroclaw. After the war, he started a second broadcasting career at the Südwestfunk. He was the director of the radio station until 1965 and, together with the editors in Baden-Baden, had a lasting influence on the programme.

Another example illustrates the winding paths that were sometimes taken. For example, Dr. Vilém Fuchs (1933-1990), who grew up in Prague in a German-speaking Jewish family, first worked as editor-in-chief of the radio programmes in German on Radio Prague until 1965, before becoming head of the culture and society department at Radio Bremen in 1971. Finally, many writers of the so-called "young generation" came into touch with the radio for the first time after 1945. As in the case of Siegfried Lenz, who was born in East Prussia, this could lead to a lifelong media career.

The workshop will explore these connections between literature and the media, authors from Eastern Europe and the role of broadcasting after the end of the Second World War in the Federal Republic and the GDR.

The archives of the ARD state broadcasting corporations and the German Broadcasting Archives (DRA) have radio recordings of German-speaking authors from Eastern Europe who had to build a new existence "in the West" after the Second World War. These voices in the radio of the first post-war decades in the Federal Republic and the GDR are to be rediscovered and the contexts of the recordings are to be researched.

For this purpose, the workshop will introduce young scholars from the fields of literature and media studies interested in the topic to archival staff from broadcasting companies and the DRA at the German Broadcasting Archive in Frankfurt/Main. Participants will have the opportunity to present and discuss outlines of research interests and planned projects. They will also have the chance to look at existing archive holdings.

The workshop also intends to initiate research at the intersection of broadcasting and literary history, programme history and contemporary history. Students will have the opportunity to contribute their own questions from this thematic field in connection with a planned research project of the organisers and to work on these in the context of a dissertation and/or a post-doctoral project. A corresponding proposal can be developed and submitted in cooperation with the selected young researchers.

The Call for Papers is aimed at Master's graduates who wish to do a doctorate, doctoral students and post-docs. They are invited to present current work or project ideas on the above-mentioned subject area and the related questions. Based on the submissions received, the archivists are asked to present a small selection of suitable document examples from their respective archives related to the proposed topics.

Research Questions

The focus lies on the media work of authors from Eastern Europe and especially their work for radio programmes in the first post-war decades. The following questions will be addressed:
  • How did writers and journalists from Eastern Europe deal with arriving in a new environment/region?
  • How did they make a new start professionally and literary in a different cultural landscape?
  • How did they deal with the traumas of the war and post-war period?
  • What themes did they choose for their writing?
  • What media strategies did they develop to cope with their new situation, and what role did the medium of radio play in this?
  • How did they themselves and the new listeners perceive their different accent/intonation/dialect? How did their language change?
  • How much "East" was in their new activity in the "West" (continuities, breaks)?
  • Were there differences between West Germany and the GDR in the way literary workers dealt with their new situation in the media or in their reception by the new environment?
Please send your exposé (approx. 2,500 characters), short curriculum vitae with e-mail and postal address (approx. 1,000 characters) to both addresses by 31 January 2022 at the latest:

Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institut, Hamburg,
Dr. Hans-Ulrich Wagner: [email protected]

The Federal Institute for Culture and History of the Germans in Eastern Europe (BKGE),
Maria Luft: [email protected]
Travel and accommodation costs for the scientific workshop participants will be reimbursed if budget funds are available.

Project Partners

  • The Federal Institute for Culture and History of the Germans in Eastern Europe (BKGE), Oldenburg
  • Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institut, Hamburg
  • Stiftung Deutsches Rundfunkarchiv [German Broadcasting Archive]
  • Historische Kommission der ARD [Historical Commission of the ARD]
  • German Culture Forum for Central and Eastern Europe, Potsdam
The workshop will take place at the German Broadcasting Archive in Frankfurt, meeting room: Hessischer Rundfunk, conference room 1, Bertramstraße 8, 60320 Frankfurt am Main, on 22/23 March 2022.

Photo by Maximilian Hofer on Unsplash


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