Asking Americans to play a word association game with “Germany” usually results in Nazis or the Holocaust being a first answer; the Berlin Wall is often second. Though not as prolific in international memory as World War II, the impact of Germany’s division into a Western capitalist country and an Eastern socialist state is difficult to overemphasize. The twenty-eight year separation was a defining moment in German culture. From 1961 to 1989, the wall interrupted lives, running through cities, between buildings, and across families. With such a dramatic political and personal impact, it’s no surprise that the time period has been both reflected and explored in popular culture.
But interestingly, three comics have been published in the last six years that take a personal approach to recording Eastern German history, perhaps due to a rejuvenated interest following the 2009 twentieth anniversary of the wall’s demolition. Das Land, das es nicht gibt (The Land That Didn’t Exist) by Peter Auge Lorenz was published in 2013, Drüben! (The Other Side of the Wall) by Simon Schwartz was published in 2009, and Berlin: Geteilte Stadt (Berlin: A Divided City) was published in 2012. The books deal with everyday life, familial impact, personal conflicts, and attempts to escape, all from an Eastern German perspective. Exploring this past is not uncommon, but its application to the comic book format is somewhat unique, which brings up a wide variety of questions about Germany history, general memoirs, and the historical and memoir comic format.
Souris, Elena, "Clear-Cut and Clearly Drawn: Analyzing Portrayals of the GDR in Modern German Comics" (2015). Undergraduate Student Research Awards. Paper 25.