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 which 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.

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Keywords Martin Luther, ZDF, DFF, Cold War, Collective Memory
Publisher Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision
Journal VIEW Journal
Rights Each article is copyrighted © by its author(s) and is published under license from the author(s).When a paper is accepted for publication, authors will be requested to agree with the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Netherlands License
Note VIEW Journal of European Television History and Culture; Vol 2, No 3 (2013): European Television Memories; 22-26
Anderson, Stewart. (2013). Martin Luther in Primetime. Television Fiction and Cultural Memory Construction in Cold War Germany. VIEW Journal, 2(3), 22–26.

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