Communism, national socialism, and imperialism : East Central Europe in German-language literature : Herta Müller, Erica Pedretti, and Gregor von Rezzori / by Valentina Nicoleta Glajar
Includes bibliographical references (p. 221-233)
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Electronic version from ProQuest
In my dissertation, I examine German-speaking writers from three multicultural regions in East Central Europe (Banat, Moravia, and Bukovina) and focus on the political and cultural history of the communities to which these authors originally belonged. I investigate the complex legacy of the German and Austrian political and cultural presence in East Central Europe, as illustrated in the works of Herta Müller (born 1953), Erica Pedretti (born 1930), and Gregor von Rezzori (1914–1998). Analyzing the impact of political events on the identity formation of these authors allows me to study the history of German-speaking communities in East Central Europe, which for centuries dominated the East Central European peoples under the Habsburg rule. The dissolution of the Habsburg Empire in 1918 gave rise to political and ethnic tensions in the new nation-states, since these German communities were reduced to ethnic minorities and lost their cultural and political dominance. As I show in my analysis, these Germans' belief in a “superior” German culture and civilization shaped their relationship with the East Central European peoples for most of their common history. Given the complicated history of these regions, each of the three cases I analyze sheds an alternate light on the presence of the Germans and Austrians in East Central Europe and on the legacy of the Habsburg Empire in East Central Europe. In Chapter One, I investigate the ethnocentrism and intolerance of Banat-Swabians toward other ethnic groups as well as toward the Romanian majority as premises for this minority's involvement with National Socialism during the Third Reich. The main focus in Müller's writings is, however, the oppressive communist regime of Nicolae Ceausescu. In Chapter Two, I show how Pedretti's work raises important questions regarding the complicated history of Sudeten Germans and Czechs. She questions the legitimacy of the expulsion of many innocent Sudeten Germans from Czechoslovakia in 1945, but also uncovers nationalism and chauvinism on both the Czech and the Sudeten side. By focusing on Gregor von Rezzori's representation of Bukovina, Chapter Three investigates the Austrian Germans' mission as military, economic and cultural colonizers of the East and analyzes the relationship between Austrian Germans and the subject peoples of the region. In light of these three case studies, I argue for a more differentiated understanding of literature in German—one that takes into consideration the German presence in East Central Europe and opens German-language cultural history to Eastern contexts, in contrast to the predominantly Western-oriented viewpoint.
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