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Stereotypes, Ideology and Foreign Correspondents

German Media Representations of Ireland, 1946–2010

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Fergal Lenehan

This book examines German media representations of Ireland from 1946 to 2010, from the post-war period to the years of the so-called «Celtic Tiger» and Ireland’s subsequent economic downturn. It charts both the patterns and the inconsistencies in depictions of Ireland in the weekly publications Der Spiegel and Die Zeit, as well as in German cinema.

Cultural stereotypes may be employed in the furthering of a problematic cultural essentialism; however, they may also be used to «play» with readers’ or viewers’ expectations. They may be juxtaposed with newer cultural generalizations, or re-moulded to fit a transformed cultural reality. The representations of Ireland examined in this book are revealed as inherently ideological, consistently locating Ireland outside of an evolving European societal «normalcy». While this is often presented as something highly positive, the book argues that it implicitly places Germany at the centre of Europe and may be viewed as a type of excluding Europeanism.

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Chapter 3: ‘Many things appear Oriental’: Ireland in Der Spiegel and Die Zeit, 1946–1968

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← 54 | 55 →

CHAPTER 3

‘Many things appear Oriental’: Ireland in Der Spiegel and Die Zeit, 1946–1968

Germany and Ireland, 1946–1968: The Social and Cultural Context

The direct post-World War 2 period in Germany is often seen as encapsulated by the metaphor Stunde Null; the zero hour. It was a period in which Germany, devastated by war and occupied by the Allied forces, had to begin anew, amid destitution and chaos. The immediate post-war era was marked by very real material poverty and hunger among the ruins of what had been the National Socialist Third Reich, as the Allies sought to provide the nutritional needs for ordinary Germans, for German refugees banished from the former German-speaking eastern regions, newly released and emaciated concentration camp victims, as well as former non-German forced labourers, or Zwangsarbeiter, now viewed as displaced persons. Humanitarian aid from its western European neighbours, Scandinavia and the USA contributed greatly in the alleviation of hunger and impoverishment.1 Germany, having lost its sovereignty and divided into American, French, British and Soviet zones, now also became a central theatre of the emerging Cold War as the roots of political and ideological division were ← 55 | 56 → sown, represented by the two soon to be established German states, the western Federal Republic of Germany and the eastern German Democratic Republic. The allies, especially in the US zone, also initiated a societally extensive, if not necessarily very thorough, re-education process. An attempt was made...

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