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Reviewed by:
  • Bibliotheken, Bücher und andere Medien in der Zeit des Kalten Krieges
  • Matthew Z. Heintzelman
Bibliotheken, Bücher und andere Medien in der Zeit des Kalten Krieges. By Peter Vodosek and Wolfgang Schmitz . Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2005. 216 pp. €59.00. ISBN 3-447-05287-2.

The study of libraries and archives within their political environments has grown markedly in recent years. That these institutions are inevitably (though sometimes not openly) politicized is most evident in the American context in confrontations over the Patriot Act and censorship. However, as the thirteen essays (all but one in German) in this collection demonstrate, the politicizing of libraries, archives, and media often serves broader political goals. This volume's intermingling of detailed research with personal experiences demonstrates that such studies can be especially fruitful at this time.

These papers are the fruits of the twelfth annual conference at the HerzogAugust Bibliothek (Wolfenbüttel), "Libraries, Books, and Other Media in the Era of the Cold War." As coeditor Peter Vodosek explains, this theme grew out ofrelated research projects, especially a French/American–sponsored conference, "Books, Libraries, Reading, and Publishing in the Cold War" (June 1998), whose proceedings appeared in Libraries & Culture 36 (Winter 2001). Indeed, the relative paucity of discussion concerning cold war Germany at the earlier conferenceprovided the impetus for the current collection. Wolfgang Schmitz detailsGermany's unique position as the only European country politically divided into two opposing states during the cold war; deteriorating relations in 1945 and 1946 set the tone for the flow of information within and between the postwar Germanys.

Approximately two-thirds of the essays focus on libraries and archives, while the remainder look at the media's role in the cold war. This combination makes sense in light of the interrelationship between libraries, archives, newspapers, and [End Page 203] radio in the flow of information in the public sphere. I will treat those articles that focus on libraries and archives separately from those on newspapers and radio.

Otto-Rudolf Rothbart discusses the cold war structure of book review services for librarians in the two Germanys. More than 200,000 reviews appeared in journals such as Bücherei und Bildung (BuB) in West Germany and Der Bibliothekar in the East. While East German librarians were expected to fulfill their Marxist duty by influencing the public ideologically, the editors at BuB proclaimed their intention to endorse East German literature only if it offered a realistic picture of life in the other Germany.

Four essays address difficulties librarians and archivists faced in a divided Germany. Friedhilde Krause describes the career of Rudolf Hoecker, director of the Öffentliche Wissenschaftliche Bibliothek zu Berlin (East Berlin) from 1945 to 1950. While his contribution to the rebuilding of the library system was warmly acknowledged in 1949, the ongoing testing of his political views led to Hoecker's dismissal in 1950. Similarly, Alexandra Habermann summarizes the careers of several librarians who crossed the border between East and West. While a few prominent librarians (e.g., Horst Kunze and Kurt Brückmann) moved eastward, most moved in the opposite direction.

Claudia-Leonore Täschner complements these early cold war stories with her personal experiences in East German libraries and archives. During both her time as student at the Humboldt University (Berlin) and her work at the Zentralstelle für Genealogie—which she eventually had to leave due to professional contacts with Western archivists—she was keenly aware of works that were to be kept separate, requiring a demonstrated "need for review." Another voice of personal recollections of the East German archival system comes from Karlheinz Blaschke, who describes his seventeen years at the Landeshauptarchiv Dresden. He notes that party affiliation became more important than expertise for archive directors, eventually becoming a haven for party functionaries with no archival experience or understanding. The resulting drive for conformity led to the perception that silence was intended as criticism of these party functionaries (210). Such factors—together with centralization—led to collections becoming inaccessible or at best accessible with difficult stipulations placed on researchers. Ultimately, Blaschke left the Landeshauptarchiv to work at the Lutheran Church archives.

In her English language contribution, "American Libraries in Germany and the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2166-3033
Print ISSN
2164-8034
Pages
pp. 203-205
Launched on MUSE
2007-06-21
Open Access
No
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