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Tells the story of the women who fought for a voice in the construction of a German state system


The East German uprising of 1989 was not a male revolution. Indeed, one of the most significant aspects of the fall of East Germany, compared to that of other East European nations, was the presence of women demanding a political role in the newly emerging social order. As one slogan proclaimed, "Without Women There Is No State."
Yet despite the determination of these women--and of West German feminist groups--to help shape the future of the German state, their influence remained, in the end, very limited. In Triumph of the Fatherland, political scientist Brigitte Young draws on in-depth interviews, archival sources, newspapers, and her own observations from 1989 to 1991 to study the goals, strategies, and eventual fate of the German women's movements during this tumultuous period.
Young focuses on the relationship between the state and its citizenry, outlining the mobilization of women in four states: the East German and West German states before unification; the "stateless state" in East Germany after the collapse of the Wall, and the West German state during unification. Ultimately she finds that the political opportunity structures opened during the "stateless state" closed again with unification, resulting in what Young calls "double gender marginalization."
Brigitte Young is Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Otto-Suhr-Institute, Free University Berlin, Germany.

Brigitte Young is Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Otto-Suhr-Institute, Free University Berlin, Germany.

"Among the remarkable phenomena of the East German autumn of 1989 was the emergence, almost overnight, of a dynamic, articulate feminist movement. Yet within a few months the movement had become demoralized, fragmented, and politically marginal. . . . Young's book helps us to understand why women's interests played such a disturbingly small role in reunification."
—Elizabeth Heineman, University of Iowa, Central European History, Volume 33, No. 2 (2000)

- Elizabeth Heineman, University of Iowa

". . . clearly and concisely documents how the conservative structure and practices of the West German state, plus the fundamental differences between East German 'political' and West German 'cultural' feminism, frustrated the UFV's attempt to place women's issues at the center of a newly unified Germany, and reveals the dismal results thereafter. This knowledgeable, well-written, and largely objective monograph also briefly compares the East German women's experiences with women in other postcommunist societies."
—C. Fink, Ohio State University, Choice, March 2000

- C. Fink, Ohio State University

"Young's analysis of German unification from a gender-specific perspective offers a useful insight both into the processes of the West German state and the differences between the women's movements in East and West Germany. She takes a measured view of what East German women won and lost in the unification process and of the achievements of the UFV, whose aims were always bound to come to naught as it failed to grasp the gendered nature of the state which took over its own and the East German people's desire for speedy unification."
—Helen L. Boak, University of Hertfordshire, German History, 18:3

- Helen L. Boak, University of Hertfordshire

"[An] excellent analysis of female exclusion. . . ."
—Debbie Wagener, Birmingham University, German Politics, August 2000

- Debbie Wagener, Birmingham University