Four Germanys

A Chronicle of the Schorcht Family

Donald S. Pitkin
Book Cover

PB: $34.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1343-7
Publication: Nov 16

HC: $94.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-1342-0
Publication: Nov 16

Ebook: $34.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1344-4
Publication: Nov 16

316 pages
6 x 9

Charting the transformation of East Germany through the lens of one town and one multi-generational family

Read the Prologue and the Introduction (pdf).


In this last book by the late Donald Pitkin, author of The House that Giacomo Built, comes a story of the Schorcht family, through whose fortunes and struggles one can see the transformations of Germany through the long twentieth century.

Each chapter of Four Germanys is reflective of generational rather than historical time. In 1922, Edwin Schorcht inherited his family farm, and in Part One, Pitkin traces the derivation of this farmstead. Part Two focuses on Schorcht’s children who came of age in Hitler’s Germany. Part Three has the Schorchts growing up in the Ulbricht years (1950–73) of the German Democratic Republic. The book concludes with the great-granddaughter, Maria, looking back to the past in relation to the new Germany that history had bequeathed her.

Ultimately, Four Germanys reflects the impact of critical historical events on ordinary East Germans while it also reveals how one particular family managed its own historical adaptation to these events.

Table of Contents

Foreword, by John C. Torpey

Prologue: Locating Weimar, Göttern, and a Family

1. Edwin and Elly
2. The Lay of the Land
3. Farming
4. The Farmstead

5. Edgar and Irmgard
6. National Socialism
7. Edgar at War
8. American Occupation, Russian Occupation: Edgar and Wally's Wedding, 1948
9. Land Reform, 1945-1949
10. Irngard Defects to the West
11. Collectivization of the Land, LPG I
12. Edgar Becomes Mayor: Collectivization, LPG III
13. The Mayoralty of Edgar Schorcht, 1965–1987
14. From Stables to Apartments

15. Erhard and Heidrun Schorcht
16. The University
17. Heidrun in America
18. Heidrun's Metamorphosis from a Cold War Kid

19. Maria Schorcht


About the Author(s)

Donald S. Pitkin (1922-2012) was Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Amherst College and Founder of the Anthro-Sociology Department. He was the author of The House that Giacomo Built: History of an Italian Family, 1898-1978.


In the Series

  • Politics, History, and Social Change edited by John C. Torpey

    This series will disseminate serious works that analyze the social changes that have transformed our world during the twentieth century and beyond. The main topics to be addressed include international migration; human rights; the political uses of history; the past and future of the nation-state; decolonization and the legacy of imperialism; and global inequality. The series will also translate into English outstanding works by scholars writing in other languages.