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Stereotypes, Ideology and Foreign Correspondents

German Media Representations of Ireland, 1946–2010


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 4. ‘Their hands still clasp prayer books and guns’: Ireland in "Der Spiegel", and Die Zeit 1969–1993


Chapter 4 ‘Their hands still clasp prayer books and guns’: Ireland in Der Spiegel and Die Zeit, 1969–1993 Germany and Ireland, 1969–1993: The Social and Cultural Context Following the 1969 federal election West Germany received its first social democratic Chancellor, with former foreign minister Willie Brandt now taking over office for the SPD, in coalition with the liberal FDP party. Brandt’s famous policy of Ostpolitik; rapprochement with the eastern neighbours Poland, Czechoslovakia and East Germany, is probably his best-known and most important contribution from this period and is symbolized by the image of Brandt kneeling in humility at the monument to the Ghetto Uprising in Warsaw. The policy improved relations with the east and set in train the process that would, eventually, end with unifica- tion in 1990. Brandt was, however, forced to resign in 1974 when a senior member of his staff was exposed as an East German spy.1 Finance minister Helmut Schmidt took over from Brandt and remained in office until 1982. Schmidt was a dedicated supporter of the European Community and the Atlantic alliance – he was also the first German Chancellor to visit Ireland in 1979. Another area of probable German-Irish connections – although truly reliable evidence on the matter 1 See here e.g.: Axel Schildt and Detlef Siegfried, Deutsche Kulturgeschichte, 287–9; Hans Georg Lehmann, Deutschland-Chronik 1945–2000, 240–44; and Carole Fink, Ostpolitik 1969–1973: European and Global Responses. Cambridge: University Press, 2009. 106 Chapter 4 does appear to remain rather scant2 – was between...

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