On slaveholder societies

You might question whether the country I grew up in still exists: the old Federal Republic of Germany. What has certainly gone is the country a few miles further east: a State socialist experiment known as the Democratic Republic of Germany. This lost world is depicted in a number of works in our collection, most of them written in German, with some in English or French. I’ll give you a few entertaining – or depressing – examples.

In 1959, Margot Krecker compiled original texts on early childhood education throughout history, identifying primitive nations as “Proto-Communist Societies”, ancient Greece as a “Slaveholder Society” and the last centuries as “Industrial-Capitalist Societies”. For research on the interpretation of history, the introductions to the source texts could well prove a treasure trove.

A similar introduction to an “unscientific” philosophy of education bears testimony to a very confident young atheist State in Gedenkschrift zum 100. Todestag von Friedrich Fröbel of 1952. Unscientific interpretations of those unscientific systems are evidently being replaced with objective, progressive thoughts.

In 1982, Ernestine Briegel assiduously compared school textbooks from the two German States with regard to the image of women. Not very equal at all on either side of the Iron Curtain, only 30 or 40 years ago: the vast majority of characters are boys and men, shown as active, dominant and involved in typically male occupations and pastimes.

These books are amongst those that have few or no other entries on the COPAC online catalogue of over 70 academic and national libraries, which means that you cannot find them easily anywhere else in this country.

A subject search for “Germany (Democratic Republic)” on our Catalogue yields 80 book titles and for “Soviet Union” over 300. You could also look up “Eastern Europe”, “Communist countries”, “Communism”, “Marxism” or “Marxism and education”.

For a general overview in English, we have a massive introduction to education in the GDR by John Rodden, following a peculiar phase of European history up into the period of transition after 1990. My eye was caught by slogans like “STALIN: HE IS PEACE” and “TRUST IS GOOD, BUT CONTROL IS BETTER”…

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