The People's Music: Jazz In East Germany, 1945-1989
ABSTRACT This dissertation examines jazz in the life of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), from its founding after the end of World War II to its dissolution with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989. Challenging the established scholarly view that jazz was an art form whose primary dynamic consisted of opposition to the state, this dissertation argues that jazz was in fact a musical genre that enjoyed considerable state attention and in some cases support. Over the 40 years of the GDRâ€™s history, party leaders variously legislated, controlled, repressed, encouraged, and ultimately sponsored jazz activities, recognizing throughout these years that jazz bore a critical relation to Marxist ideology with respect to its origins in racial identity and class-based oppression: this history, then, reflects the evolving struggle by socialist authorities to define this relationship and manage it accordingly. In order to make this argument, this dissertation examines previously unexamined material from a variety of sources in the GDR, including interviews from former residents and jazz actors, private documents such as diaries and letters, official government policies, and records of state surveillance. It provides the first full-length assessment of jazz over the entire lifespan of the GDR, dividing this history into four key phases and documenting the evolution of jazz from its initial use as a tool of re-education immediately following World War II to its emergence as a state-sanctioned art form in the 1980s. In sum, this dissertation argues that jazz can no longer be seen in such a simplistic way as scholars generally contend: rather, this research concludes that jazz must be understood as an art form in continuous and evolving dialogue with, not pure opposition to, the state.