Mastering the Past: Legacy of the Stasi

Subject GERM40001 (2013)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2013.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 4 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2013.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 2.5 hour seminar per week
Total Time Commitment:

2.5 contact hours/week, 6 additional hours/week. Total of 8.5 hours per week.


Admission to the postgraduate diploma, postgraduate certificate or fourth-year honours in German. European studies students wishing to enrol in this subject would normally have completed 37.5 points of European studies at second/third year and the language prerequisite for this subject.



Recommended Background Knowledge:


Non Allowed Subjects:

Students who have completed 671-361 Mastering the Past: Legacy of Stasi are not allowed to enrol in this subject.

Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website:

Subject Overview:

This subject will look at attempts to come to terms with the collapse of communism or "really existing" socialism in post-unification Germany. For the second time in the space of 50 years Germans were forced to face up to a criminal past and revelations of wide-spread human rights abuse. Particularly shocking were allegations, made in 1990, of extensive collaboration with the secret police among artists, writers and professionals of all kinds. This subject will deal with a variety of genres of texts that address the question of the legacy of the Stasi and the East German past. The focus of the course will be on narratives and stories by the Stasi's victims and perpetrators and texts that tackle the issue of individual guilt and moral responsibility, collusion and complicity. The sorts of narratives studied will include first-person testimonials and narratives by victimised writers and informants, diaries, interviews with Stasi agents, films by dissident filmmakers as well as fictional works such as Christa Wolf's Was Bleibt that have as their theme secret police surveillance and its effects on the lives of ordinary citizens. On completion of the subject students should have gained a critical appreciation of the complex political, ethical, psychological and historical issues involved in "coming to terms with the past" as well as the way in which gender has impacted on the process.




A 1200-word class paper 30% (due during semester) and an essay of 4000 words 70% (due at the end of semester).

This subject has the following hurdle requirements:

  • Regular participation in tutorials is required with a minimum of 75% attendance.
  • All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per day and in-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked.

Prescribed Texts:

A reader will be available from the bookshop.

  • Was Bleibt (C Wolf) Luchterhand 1990
  • MachtSpiele (P Boethig & K Michael) Reclam Leipzig 1993
Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • have gained generic skills in research, critical thinking and contextualising information.
  • have developed skills in communicating knowledge intelligibly through oral presentations and essays in German.

This subject is taught in German.

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