Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Eli Rubin

Second Advisor

Marion W. Gary, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Jeff Hayton, Ph.D.


Punk, church, East Germany, youth, subculture

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


A punk subculture emerged in East Germany during the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was an expression of their disillusionment with life, their frustrations with the government, and their pessimistic view of a future that seemed pre-planned. The subculture refused to conform, disengaged from the established system, and expressed their views through song lyrics and other acts of defiance. In the eyes of the state, punks were a threat. The subculture turned to the East German Protestant churches for shelter. The churches occupied a unique place within East German society because the government had granted the churches limited free space for religious purposes. Although the churches felt it was their duty to engage society and politics, the churches did not agree on the extent or nature of this involvement.

After a government crackdown on the subculture began in 1983, punks became more politically active. The churches had provided shelter for other dissident groups, such as pacifists and environmentalists, and the punk subculture began to become involved with some of these groups. When a segment of the churches broke off to form a more politically activist church, the Kirche von Unten, the punk subculture gravitated towards this group. Because of the experiences the punk subculture had in the church, and because of the government crackdown, punks took a more active political role than before, and they contributed to the opposition movement that developed in East Germany.