M.A. Johannes Günther

History of Technology

Johannes Guenther joined the MCTS in June 2017. He is part of the DFG Research Group “Practicing Evidence – Evidencing Practice“, in the context of which he is working on the history of evidence for technical safety in the road traffic in the German Democratic Republic.

Johannes Guenther studied History, Religious Studies and Contemporary History at the University of Potsdam. The master thesis was written at the Moses Mendelssohn Center (MMZ) in Potsdam on the topic: “Jewish Life Worlds in Exile of the 1930s and 40s. Uprooting and Reorientation in the Personal Estate of the Writer Gabriele Tergit.

History of Science and Technology, History of Car Safety, Traffic Education in the GDR, History of East German Consumption, History of “Socialist Collectives”, German-Jewish History of the 20th century

Between Duroplast, People’s Police and the ‚Socialist Human Community‘. Negotiation Processes for Technical Safety in the Road Traffic of the German Democratic Republic.

At the centre of the research project are the debates and discussions about evidence for car and traffic safety in the German Democratic Republic from the 1950s to 1980s. Therefor evidence is defined as scientifically founded knowledge and certainty, which is created in socially negotiated processes. In the light of the authoritarian political system of the GDR multiple questions arise: Who were the actors from state, society, media and science in these safety discussions? Where we can see areas of social participation, state control, ideological disciplining or – at least – scientific verification for facts to become accepted and reliable? There will be two major practices of evidence to bring into focus for the research. On the one hand, the project will analyse the importance of technical test methods like regular car checks (so called ‘Technische Überprüfungen’), crash tests and (self-)repairs. On the other hand, the dissertation will focus the influence of the socialistic traffic education on the communication of knowledge regarding automobile safety.

München, Deutsches Museum – Oberseminar „Technik- und Wissenschaftsgeschichte des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts“, 25.6.2018: “Auf der Jagd nach Hugo Leichtsinn. Verkehrserziehung in der DDR als sozialistische Volkserziehung?”

Wolfsburg, VW Historisches Archiv – Workshop: “Die Konsumgeschichte des Autos”, 05.04.2019: “Von Eisenach nach London. Die Genese des sicheren ostdeutschen Automobils vor dem Hintergrund der Konsum- und Exportstrategie der DDR.”