In 1983, both East and West Germany celebrated Martin Luther’s 500th birthday with great fanfare. Nowhere was this competition more provocative and visually arresting, however, than in two multi-part television plays which depicted Luther’s life: the West German Martin Luther, broadcast by the public station ZDF in April, and the East German title of the same name, aired in October. In this essay, I argue that the East German version constituted an appropriative strategy of memory formation – one that depicted Luther’s positive qualities and grafted them into the Marxist canon of heroes. In contrast, the ZDF Martin Luther, which featured a highly rational Luther, projected what Jan Assmann has termed a normative strategy of harnessing Luther’s memory, focusing on Luther’s intellectual arguments and anti-radicalism.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Martin Luther, ZDF, DFF, Cold War, Collective Memory
Publisher Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.18146/2213-0969.2013.jethc028
Journal VIEW Journal
Rights Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).
Note VIEW Journal of European Television History and Culture; Vol 2, No 3 (2013); 22-26
Citation
Anderson, Stewart. (2013). Martin Luther in Primetime: Television Fiction and Cultural Memory Construction in Cold War Germany. VIEW Journal, 2(3), 22–26. doi:10.18146/2213-0969.2013.jethc028