Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/4378
Title: The German archival system 1945-1995
Author: Landwehr, Regina
Degree: Master of Archival Studies – MAS
Program: Library, Archival and Information Studies
Copyright Date: 1996
Abstract: After World War Two, Germany became divided into two countries commonly called East and West Germany. This thesis describes how the two countries, one communist and one pluralistic, developed distinctly different archival systems with respect to the organization, legislation and appraisal methods of government archival institutions. East Germany’s archival system was organized and legislated into a rigorous hierarchical structure under central government control with the mandate of fulfilling in a systematic way primarily ideological objectives. Although professional collaboration between the archivists of the two countries had been officially severed since the early years of separation by East Germany, because of irreconcilable political differences, they influenced each others’ thoughts. Specifically, East German archivists borrowed and implemented extensively appraisal concepts formulated in West Germany, such as the documentation profile idea. The examination of the archival system in West Germany reveals organizational characteristics typical of federalist countries. The development of archival legislation in West Germany was clearly the outcome of initiatives from the archival profession itself, and West Germany’s appraisal methods reflected a diversity of theoretical considerations which, because of the pluralistic nature of the discussions, were marked by a lack of professional consensus. The description of the discussions that took place over time illustrates an ongoing struggle to identify and respect the perceived demand for sources, and to formulate appraisal methods focusing on the contextual and functional analysis of records creators’ activities and competencies. The discussion of the. developments that followed Germany’s political reunification in 1990 shows that East Germany’s archival system was absorbed by the West German system. The thesis concludes that the main effect of reunification was a search for a balance between East and West appraisal concepts and methods, and a renewed constructive debate characterized by a reexamination of previous archival contributions supporting contextual and functional appraisal approaches.