Fig. 2.14. Ostalgia experiences and objects: GDR everyday life in the Dresden museum 'GDR Time travel'.
Eastproducts in a typical GDR shop.
the mythical home that can be viewed, touched
and even entered. Heidi's House offers a 'return
home' to tourists willing to travel to Maienfeld
and to buy a ticket for a relatively modest fee.
This return home involves not only a return to a
pre-modern lifestyle, but also a chance to return
to childhood. Nonetheless, this experience can
only be ephemeral and contingent.
Within this framework, the media and their
imagery have played and continue to play an
important role: the story of the little orphan is
famous thanks not only to the Heidi novels but
also to the fi lms, TV series and, last but not
least, the Japanese animated cartoons of the
1970s. 5 Thanks to the media, the myth of
Heidi has now undoubtedly spread worldwide,
and has been renewed time and time again
over the years through different forms of reme-
diation, and using codes suited for different
Heidi is indeed a textbook example of the
transformation of an element of collective mem-
ory (and more precisely of cultural memory 6 )
into a fragment of modern social memory, a
process that took place over the space of the
century spanning from 1880 when Heidi was
'born' to today, and that has been fuelled by the
profound assonance between the fi ctional story
and the sense of loss that characterizes the lives
of individuals in modernity. More precisely, the
5 The original novel has been translated into more than 50 languages and approximately 50 million copies
have been published. No less than ten fi lms inspired by the story of Heidi have been made: the fi rst, a silent
fi lm made in 1921 in Hollywood, was followed in 1937 by a more well known version starring Shirley Temple
6 Cultural memory and communicative memory are the two forms of collective memory classifi ed by Jan and
Aleida Assman. They defi ne 'cultural memory' as the more institutionalized form of collective memory: it
is an objectifi ed memory that conserves and transmits its contents as autonomous from single, individual
memories and from concrete interaction. Typical objectifi cations of cultural memory are rituals, myths, texts or
remembrance objects such as temples and monuments (J. Assman, 1992; A. Assmann, 1999).