Initial Discourses on AIDS in East and West Germany Open Access

Teed, Jacqueline (Spring 2018)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/v405s938k?locale=en
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Abstract

The first German case of AIDS was diagnosed in West Germany in 1982. During this time period, little was known about the disease, and throughout Germany, there was limited official scientific or political discussion or information regarding the growing pandemic. The 1980s AIDS crisis in Germany is further complicated by the division of the country into Soviet- controlled Eastern and democratized, American-influenced Western lands. As a result, from 1982 to 1985, the West German public relied heavily on sensationalized rhetoric perpetuated by the heteronormative West German mass media for AIDS-related information, while the East German public relied on highly restricted information reported by the East German government. The varying official discourses surrounding the AIDS crisis in East and West Germany resulted in different responses and reactions to the disease in each of the lands. More specifically, the East German government’s controlled response to the epidemic helped to create an organized, unified front against the disease, which played a role in preventing the spread of the virus. On the other hand, the disorganized, hysterical, and misinformed response of West Germany generated reactions in the gay community that allowed for HIV/AIDS to spread. In this thesis, these varying reactions and responses to the German AIDS epidemic are analyzed using discourse generated by the mass media in West Germany and official governmental reports published by the East German regime. Michael Kiesen’s 1992 novel, Menschenfalle, is also analyzed, in order to explore the representation of the disease in the private sphere of Germany, after the peak of the epidemic in Germany.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction ................................................................................................... 1

Chapter 1: Perceptions of Homosexuality ..................................................... 6

Chapter 2: Varying Reponses to AIDS in East and West Germany .............. 22

Chapter 3: Reflection of the Epidemic through Literature ............................ 40

Works Cited.................................................................................................... 49

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