This talk looks at outer space travel in East and West Germany throughout the Cold War. It considers spaceflight from both a scientific and a cultural perspective. Scientifically, it discusses how East and West Germans were involved in the exploration of the cosmos. Culturally, it looks at how Germans used the imagery of spaceflight to examine issues that related to life in the two states. This talk focuses on one particular way in which East and West Germans both used outer space: as a place to find identity and even connections in a divided world. Although the contours of space enthusiasm developed in different ways in the two states, from the 1940s through the 1980s, East and West Germans shared the belief that outer space was important to overcoming borders, thereby also suggesting a way to consider the histories of these two states together.
Colleen Anderson is a Mellon Fellow in the Humanities and lecturer in German Studies at Stanford University. She studies the history and culture of modern Germany. Her work has been supported by the American Historical Association & NASA, the Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies, DAAD, the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies, the German Historical Institute, and the Central European History Society.