Date of Award

Spring 2023

Degree Type



Languages, Literatures and Cultures

Director of Thesis

Dr. Yvonne Ivory

Second Reader

Dr. Kristina Stefanić-Brown


This paper investigates the portrayal of Ostalgie in post-unification film and its impact on the East German identity. The swift nature in which East Germany was reabsorbed into the West and subsequent dissociation from all commercial, social, and political infrastructures relating to the GDR following reunification inspired the Ostalgie phenomenon as a way to recover an East German distinctiveness and legitimize the East German experience by expanding the narrative beyond the tyranny and injustices of the socialist state. Ostalgie films Sonnenallee, Helden wir wir, Kleinruppin Forever, and the Westalgie film Herr Lehmann contain recurring concepts of self-conscious storytelling, the unlikely hero, and incorporation of western themes and plot points, which reveal the role of Ostalgie in allowing individual reevaluation of the past and adjustment to present realities. This paper attempts to highlight the progressivity of Ostalgie and counter its characterization as a passive longing that is inhibitory to East German adaptation to post-unification society.

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