Ivor Bolton

The implementation of German heritage policy and the representation of the German Democratic Republic through memorials and museums

Supervisor: Dr Jonathan Grix and Dr Sara Jones

The purpose of the research is to provide new data, analysis and discussion on the use of the history of the GDR in formulating and implementing heritage policy, and to examine the effect of this on how the GDR is remembered through memorials and museums. In addressing these issues, the work investigates how the politics of remembrance relates the GDR past to unified Germany.  A framework of political network theory supports the research. Using memorial and museum-based comparative contexts the research investigates how the memory of the GDR past is used to shape political decision-making, and how political decision-making shapes how the GDR is remembered.

 The key themes of the research are: Policy into practice - reconstructing the past; Managing the representation of the GDR - bringing the past into the present ;Representation and Diversification - How diverse intent, purpose and motivation on the part of heritage policy-makers and implementers produce representations of the GDR. In conclusion the research considers how diverse outcomes and implications in the representation of the GDR can indicate ways forward for remembering the GDR past and its long-term memorialisation.


Before retiring from a successful career in teaching, Ivor completed an MA in International Studies as preparation for PhD research work in the Institute for German Studies at UoB. Returning to a lifelong interest in the GDR (German Democratic Republic) for the theme and setting of his work, Ivor is researching how the socialist state is represented as part of the heritage of Germany. His personal interests include a range of  international issues – in particular those relating to the representation of continuity and change, transfer, transition and transformation in social order.


  • MA International Studies (Distinction), York St. John University
  • BEd.(Hons), Cert Ed.(Distinction), University of Leeds

Research interests

  • The GDR and post-unification Germany
  • Representation
  • Social order and social control
  • Continuity and change
  • Policy network theory
  • Political and cultural memory studies

Teaching responsibilities

After 47 years experience of teaching in UK state schools I have no current teaching commitments in UoB, but have continuing involvement from my teaching career with Initial Teacher Training and with the OFSTED assessment process.

Professional memberships

  • The German Studies Association;
  • International Association for the Study of German Politics;
  • The Political Studies Association;
  • The Royal Historical Association;
  • Council for European Studies (USA),
  • UACES – UCL.

Conference papers

Bolton, I.M. (2013) Eisenhüttenstadt - The memorialisation of the DDR by the Dokumentationszentrum Alltagskultur der DDR, Association for German Studies Conference (May 2013, University of Cardiff)

Bolton, I.M. (2014) The relationship between the culture of the GDR and its representation in memory, University of Birmingham, GDR Today Conference (January 2014, Birmingham UK)

Bolton, I.M. (2014) Heritage policy and the German nation, Council for European Studies Conference (March 2014, Washington DC)

Bolton, I.M. ( 2014) Dictatorship and Democracy in the Age of Extremes, Aston Remembers - 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall Conference (May 2014, University of Aston, Birmingham)

Bolton, I.M. (2015) German heritage policy and the remembrance of the German Democratic Republic, DAAD Summer School (July 2015, University of Oxford)        


Bolton, I.M. (2014) Book review: Grieder, P., The German Democratic Republic. Palgrave Macmillan. In German Politics, May 2014

Bolton, I.M. (2015) Book review :Berghoff,H and Balbier, U.A., ,The East German Economy, 1945 – 2010: Falling Behind or Catching Up? German Historical Institute Washington DC and Cambridge University Press. In Business History, Vol.57, No 3-4, 2015

Bolton, I.M. (2015) Book review: Novy,L., Britain and Germany Imagining the Future of Europe:  National Identity, Mass Media and the Public Sphere. Palgrave Macmillan.  In German Politics, Vol.23, No.3 2014

Contact details:

Email: IMB127@bham.ac.uk