Journal Article

The Moral State: Men, Mining, and Masculinity in the Early GDR

Jennifer V. Evans

in German History

Published on behalf of German History Society

Volume 23, issue 3, pages 355-370
Published in print July 2005 | ISSN: 0266-3554
Published online July 2005 | e-ISSN: 1477-089X | DOI:
The Moral State: Men, Mining, and Masculinity in the Early GDR

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In the five years following the Worker's Uprising of 1953, the GDR government employed moral reform strategies to build a strong firmament for socialist transformation. It marshalled discourses of respectability and decency in the fight against sexual deviance, casting the traditional family as an important feature of social and political life. In the uranium-mining region of Saxony and Thuringia, a special wing of the district attorney's office, the Bergbaustaatsanwaltschaft, oversaw the regulation of sexual comportment in trying cases of homosexuality among workers in the Wismut mines. With the régime's belief that homosexuality contravened the ‘healthful mores of the working people’, the policing of sexual conduct represented the confluence of socialist morality with the productivist demands of the state. In other words, the SED régime employed masculine archetypes to promote greater discipline, accelerate economic output, and generate wider acceptance of political reorientation. Alternatively viewed as a remnant of bourgeois decadence, a sign of moral weakness, and a threat to the social and political health of the nation, same-sex acts among men became a hot-button issue for local authorities who were charged with weeding out class enemies and living up to the changing directives of the Ministry of Justice. As in West Germany, moral regulation was an important feature of East German statecraft.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: European History

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