Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Political Science


W.D. Coleman




This thesis focuses on the roles played by the Protestant Church and several social and political movements in the communist GDR and throughout the East Gennan transition to democracy. Where many other studies give only cursory treatment to these social forces, this thesis argues that they played a valuable role in building the foundation on which a democratic civil society could develop.

The thesis further argues that these church-based movements were similar in several important ways to New Social Movements in Western Europe. Moreover, the close, and at many times conflictual, relationship between the Protestant Churches and the social movements created under their umbrella, had an important influence on the ideology and structure of the variety of NSMs which developed. The lack of serious consideration given movement (and round table) proposals to build an egalitarian, ecological, and democratic socialist state in the GDR is explained by a number off actors: the marginal character of the movements themselves, their own internal weaknesses and at times overly moralistic approach, the speed with which events unfolded in the fall of 1989, and the great lack of legitimacy of the GDR itself, as a state that was never a nation. Finally, the thesis sheds new light on the reasons how and why this particular religious institution was able to play such a pivotal role in an atheistic state.

McMaster University Library

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