Zeitschrift für interkulturelle Germanistik
Ed. by Heimböckel, Dieter / Hess-Lüttich, Ernest W.B. / Mein, Georg / Sieburg, Heinz
2 Issues per year
Train journeys to the USSR were a popular topic in GDR literature. This article explores the images of the Soviet Union, of its inhabitants and of the travellers themselves in texts by GDR authors written and published between 1962 and 2010. In these texts the train becomes an important symbol for what the authors see on their journey. This also includes what remains hidden from them and, in particular, how they understand what they are seeing and what not. The train therefore turns into a symbolic transit space, a heterotopia capable of juxtaposing several spaces - that are in themselves incompatible - in a single real place (Foucault). The train, its engine, windows and compartments in the texts discussed encompass surprisingly different perceptions of the Soviet Union, ranging from those informed by a strong faith in the imminent implementation of the socialist utopia to those informed by the perception of a Stalinist dystopia - and the ongoing repression of this insight on the part of the authors.