October 29, 2005
Digital Project Proposal - Ammon
Collection tool and gathering place for oral histories.
While any field of historical research is a potential target for this project, I would like to focus on an area of German history that has had little scholarly coverage. Germany has a long historical involvement with religion. Beginning with Charlemagne's forced application of Christianity and his reign with the Holy Roman Empire in the late 8th and early 9th Centuries, continuing with the Catholic Reformations of Martin Luther in the 16th Century, and including the horrifying Holocaust against the Jews in the 20th Century, Germany has played a part in many global changing events relating to religion.
After World War II, Germany became a divided nation with differing stances on religion. Whereas West Germany became relatively free and democratic, East Germany became just as regulated and censored as they had been under the National Socialists. After the creation of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), and the dust from WWII had settled, West Germans were able to move freely about Europe and the world, openly criticize their government, and freely practice most any form of religion they chose. The same was not true for East Germans in the German Democratic Republic (GDR). The Communist government that had taken control through the help of the occupying Soviets, enacted restrictions that were eerily similar to the fascists of Nazi Germany they claimed to despise. This project will endeavor to collect the stories of religious people in East Germany and pull together a general narrative of how they lived their religious lives despite the restrictions placed on them by their government.
This project will collect, review, and organize oral histories and relevant documents and research relating to religious laws and religious society in the former German Democratic Republic. This project is innovative and important because very little research has been done in this area. Collecting oral histories will ensure that first hand accounts will be safely recorded while the people who experienced this time period are still alive. Providing a central location for historical documents and research done in this field will benefit future researchers of this topic. While the subject of religion in East Germany is very broad, it is my hope to refine the topic, after sufficient gathering of data, to a specific religious community, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, within the GDR.
Many oral history collections are done by personally interviewing someone and recording the response on paper, tape recorder, or video recorder. This site will allow interviews to take place in a 'virtual' setting. Potential interviewees will go to a web site and fill out a survey by typing in their answer or recording their voice and/or video responses to the survey questions. The technology is easily accomplished using Macromedia's Flash Communication Server. The voice and video application can be built into the survey so as to be used if the interviewee is able and would like to use it. Otherwise the answers can simply be input using text areas, check boxes, radio buttons, etc.
The greatest challenge will be spreading the word about the availability, purpose and hopes of the site sufficiently to provide an acceptable amount of feed back. This will hopefully be done by recruiting involvement through personal contacts with former GDR citizens, German Universities or students interested in this field of study, and possible collaboration with churches in Germany.
Posted by ashephe1 at October 29, 2005 10:19 AM