Alex Brown

Rethinking the GDR Opposition: Reform, Resistance and Revolution in the Other Germany

Supervisors: Dr Sara Jones, Dr Joanne Sayner, Dr Franziska Meyer

My current research focuses on the communist-oriented opposition within the German Democratic Republic and how it has been constructed in state-mandated memory since unification. Although the lines between ‘official’ memory and other discourses are often more blurred than commonly acknowledged, this somewhat artificial division allows insight into the political concerns and ideological norms of the modern German memory landscape.

Various strands of liberal or anti-communist thought are usually privileged in discussions of GDR opposition, in contrast this research emphasises perhaps less obvious–from the point of view of the state-mandated institutions–groupings. Inner-SED reformists, communist dissidents and proponents of a ‘new’ socialist GDR are all considered as part of a thorough interrogation of the Federal Republic’s memorial discourse which touches on fascinating thematic fields such as anti-Semitism, anti-fascism, anti-communism, democracy theory and of course highlights the interrelation between portrayals of the past and contemporary power.


I am currently undertaking an AHRC-funded PhD at the University of Birmingham, which investigates the communist-oriented opposition in the GDR and memory thereof since 1989. I completed a BA in German Studies at Birmingham before an MRes dedicated to memorial representations of the communist-oriented opposition up to 1961 and the construction of the inner-German border wall, entitled: "The Red Resistance? Communist Opposition in the Early GDR".

I was the IGS/DAAD project assistant on the Institute's major research project "Weltanschauungen: The German Past and the Contemporary World: The Domestic and Foreign Politics of Memory" (2014-2015).

I co-organised the GDR Today III Colloquium at the University of Bangor, 2017.

My interests lie in the intersection of memory studies and ideology critique, particularly with reference to the discernible shift away from overtly Marxist-oriented models over the last few decades.


  • BA German Studies, University of Birmingham
  • MRes Modern Languages, University of Birmingham

Research interests

  • The German Democratic Republic
  • Collective Memory Theory
  • Ideology Critique
  • Geschichte der Arbeiterbewegung
  • Nietzsche Reception

Professional memberships

  • German Studies Association (GSA)
  • Royal Historical Society (RHS)
  • Gesellschaft für dialektische Philosophie

Conference papers

Paul Merker: "Ein Moment kommunistischer Ungleichzeitigkeit?", The GDR Today III Colloquium, The University of Bangor, 6-7. April 2017

Theory: The Memory of Ideology (The Ideology of Memory), Thinking Through the Future of Memory
Inaugural Conference of the Memory Studies Association, Amsterdam, 3-5 December, 2016

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