04 June 2020

BOOK: Ned RICHARDSON-LITTLE, The Human Rights Dictatorship Socialism, Global Solidarity and Revolution in East Germany (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020). ISBN 9781108440783, £ 22.99

(Source: CUP)

Cambridge University Press is publishing a new book on the history of human rights in the DDR.


Richardson-Little exposes the forgotten history of human rights in the German Democratic Republic, placing the history of the Cold War, Eastern European dissidents and the revolutions of 1989 in a new light. By demonstrating how even a communist dictatorship could imagine itself to be a champion of human rights, this book challenges popular narratives on the fall of the Berlin Wall and illustrates how notions of human rights evolved in the Cold War as they were re-imagined in East Germany by both dissidents and state officials. Ultimately, the fight for human rights in East Germany was part of a global battle in the post-war era over competing conceptions of what human rights meant. Nonetheless, the collapse of dictatorship in East Germany did not end this conflict, as citizens had to choose for themselves what kind of human rights would follow in its wake.


Ned Richardson-LittleUniversität Erfurt, Germany
Ned Richardson-Little is a Freigeist Fellow at Universität Erfurt, Germany, where he leads a project on international crime and globalization. He received the Fritz Stern dissertation prize from the German Historical Institute Washington and a commendation from the Fraenkel Prize committee at the Wiener Library.


Introduction. The exploitation of man by man has been abolished!
1. Creating a human rights dictatorship, 1945–1956
2. Inventing socialist human rights, 1953–1966
3. Socialist human rights on the world stage, 1966–1978
4. The ambiguity of human rights from below, 1968–1982
5. The rise of dissent and the collapse of socialist human rights, 1980–1989
6. Revolutions won and lost, 1989–1990
Conclusion. Erasures and rediscoveries.

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