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DEFA at the Crossroads of East German and International Film Culture: A Companion
 9783110273458, 9783110273441

Table of contents :
Acronyms
Introduction. DEFA at the Crossroads: Remapping the Terrain
Part I. Extending the Socialist Collective
Chapter 1. Cinema and Socialist Modernity
Chapter 2. Emplotting Antifascism: Heroes, Scoundrels, Traitors
Chapter 3. Divided Loyalties: Technocrats and the Working Class in DEFA Films
Chapter 4. Representations of Art and the Artist in East German Cinema
Chapter 5. Family Feelings: Kinship, Gender and Social Utopia in DEFA Film
Part II. Expanding the Reach of Entertainment
Chapter 6. Not Only Entertainment: Sights and Sounds of the DEFA Music Film
Chapter 7. The Trail Runs Cold: DEFA’s Crime Films
Chapter 8. A Late Genre Fade: Utopianism and its Twilight in DEFA’s Science Fiction, Literary and Western Films
Chapter 9. Public Figures, Political Symbols, Famous Stars: Actors in DEFA Cinema and Beyond
Part III. Enlarging the Map
Chapter 10. ‘Wind from the East’: DEFA and Eastern European Cinema
Chapter 11. DEFA Children’s Films: Not Just for Children
Chapter 12. DEFA Films for the Youth: National Paradigms, International Influences
Chapter 13. Alternative Realities and Authenticity in DEFA’s Documentary Films
Bibliography
Selected Filmography
List of Illustrations
Contributors
Index

Citation preview

Marc Silberman, Henning Wrage (Eds.) DEFA at the Crossroads of East German and International Film Culture

Companions to Contemporary German Culture

Edited by Michael Eskin · Karen Leeder · Christopher Young

Volume 4

DEFA at the Crossroads of East German and International Film Culture

A Companion Edited by Marc Silberman · Henning Wrage

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ISBN 978-3-11-027344-1 e-ISBN 978-3-11-027345-8 ISSN 2193-9659 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A CIP catalogue record for this book has been applied for at the Library of Congress Bibliographic information published by the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie; detailed bibliographic data are available on the internat at http://dnb.dnb.de © 2014 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston Typesetting: Dörlemann Satz GmbH & Co. KG, Lemförde Printing and binding: Hubert & Co. GmbH & Co. KG, Göttingen Printed on acid free paper Printed in Germany www.degruyter.com

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Table of Contents Acronyms fi VII Marc Silberman, Henning Wrage Introduction. DEFA at the Crossroads: Remapping the Terrain fi 1

Part I. Extending the Socialist Collective Hunter Bivens Chapter 1. Cinema and Socialist Modernity fi 25 Manuel Köppen Chapter 2. Emplotting Antifascism: Heroes, Scoundrels, Traitors fi 45 Barton Byg Chapter 3. Divided Loyalties: Technocrats and the Working Class in DEFA Films fi 67 Seán Allan Chapter 4. Representations of Art and the Artist in East German Cinema fi 87 Anke Pinkert Chapter 5. Family Feelings: Kinship, Gender and Social Utopia in DEFA Film fi 107

Part II. Expanding the Reach of Entertainment Stefan Soldovieri Chapter 6. Not Only Entertainment: Sights and Sounds of the DEFA Music Film fi 133 Brad Prager Chapter 7. The Trail Runs Cold: DEFA’s Crime Films fi 157 Jaimey Fisher Chapter 8. A Late Genre Fade: Utopianism and its Twilight in DEFA’s Science Fiction, Literary and Western Films fi 177

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Table of Contents

Sabine Hake Chapter 9. Public Figures, Political Symbols, Famous Stars: Actors in DEFA Cinema and Beyond fi 197

Part III. Enlarging the Map Larson Powell Chapter 10. ‘Wind from the East’: DEFA and Eastern European Cinema fi 223 Benita Blessing Chapter 11. DEFA Children’s Films: Not Just for Children fi 243 Henning Wrage Chapter 12. DEFA Films for the Youth: National Paradigms, International Influences fi 263 Nick Hodgin Chapter 13. Alternative Realities and Authenticity in DEFA’s Documentary Films fi281 Bibliography fi305 Selected Filmography fi321 List of Illustrations fi327 Contributors fi331 Index fi 335

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Acronyms ARD

Arbeitsgemeinschaft der öffentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunkanstalten der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (consortium of public broadcasters in [West] Germany) BA FA Bundesarchiv, Abteilung Filmarchiv (Federal Film Archive) BArch Bundesarchiv (Federal Archive) COMECON Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (economic organization in the Eastern Bloc) DEFA Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft (German Film Corporation, Ltd) DFD Demokratische Frauenbund Deutschlands (GDR mass organization for women) DFF Deutscher Fernsehfunk (state television broadcaster in the GDR, renamed in 1972 to ‘Fernsehen der DDR’ [GDR Television]) FDJ Freie Deutsche Jugend (Free German Youth, socialist youth organization in the GDR) FRG Federal Republic of Germany GDR German Democratic Republic MDR Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (regional public broadcaster in Germany, part of the ARD) IM inoffizieller Mitarbeiter (unofficial collaborator of the secret police in the GDR) KOR Komitet Obrony Robotników (Polish Committee for the Defense of Workers) KPD Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands (German Communist Party) NATO North American Treaty Alliance NöS Neues ökonomisches System (New Economic System, GDR) NSDAP Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Workers Party) ORWO Original Wolfen (film stock brand in the GDR) PDS Partei des Demokratischen Sozialismus (Party of Democratic Socialism) RBB Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (regional public broadcaster in Germany, part of the ARD) SED Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands (German Socialist Unity Party, GDR) SPD Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (German Social Democratic Party) Stasi informal name of the MfS: Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (GDR secret police)

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UFA USSR

Acronyms

Universum Film Aktiengesellschaft (Universum Film Corporation, Ltd) Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

Introduction DEFA at the Crossroads: Remapping the Terrain

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Introduction DEFA at the Crossroads: Remapping the Terrain Film scholars generally agree that the German cinema figures in international film history in only two eras. During the 1920s, Expressionist experiments like Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari [The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Robert Wiene, 1919] and large-scale productions like Der blaue Engel [The Blue Angel, Josef von Sternberg, 1930] travelled the world; directors, stars and managers such as Ernst Lubitsch, Emil Jannings and Erich Pommer moved between Berlin and Hollywood; and German production companies dominated European exports. Again during the 1970s, ‘New German Cinema’ in the Federal Republic (FRG) followed in the footsteps of other post-war New Waves to garner international attention for a young generation of ‘auteur’ filmmakers such as Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Volker Schlöndorff, Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders and Margarethe von Trotta, even while the domestic audience tended to ignore their successes abroad. Otherwise the traditional view considers the German cinema to be insular and provincial. In the early years of the 20th century the nascent film industry struggled against high culture prejudices towards mass entertainment, while the working-class audience was regaled with French, Italian and Scandinavian imports. The cinema of the Third Reich was constrained by its ideological preferences and later during the war by Allied boycotts and resistant audiences in occupied countries. After the Second World War a lack of financial and intellectual resources and the historic division of modern Germany yielded two equally self-contained cinemas that strove to serve their respective domestic audiences. Then, following reunification in 1990, the massive transformations in the East as well as the difficulties encountered in integrating two very different socio-political cultures gave rise to what has been called an orientation to a ‘cinema of consensus’, one seeking the lowest common denominator of entertainment value and box office receipts without much chance of export appeal.1 While this film historiographical narrative conveys some truth from the bird’s-eye-view of global film culture, it ignores the fact that motion picture production, distribution, exhibition and reception has always been a transnational

1 Eric Rentschler, ‘From New German Cinema to the Post-Wall Cinema of Consensus’, in Cinema and Nation, ed. by Mette Hjort and Scott Mackenzie (London and New York: Routledge, 2000), pp. 260–77.

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phenomenon. No national film culture, indeed no national culture, is an island unto itself. World literature, world music and world cinema are concepts that scholars and critics now employ to characterize activity that transcends the boundaries of language and culture or that produces hybrid forms combining a variety of cultural codes. Hence, the very notion of national cinema is itself a precarious one. At least since the introduction of sound technology in the late 1920s both film production and distribution have adapted increasingly to norms of standardization and efficiency in order to participate in the transnational movement of commodities. Neither in the sense of high cultural art nor of popular folklore does the concept of the ‘national’ seem applicable to the cinema medium. Even the frequently referenced independent national cinemas in Europe, which are considered to be definable entities within distinct geographical boundaries and proposed as proof of European cultural autonomy, are a weak idea. At least since the 1970s the so-called European independents have been structurally maintained by coproduction deals with television broadcasters and European financing, and their films enter a market where audience taste and expectations have been shaped by the flow of American movies. The German Democratic Republic (GDR) at first glance might appear to be the exception to the rule. After all, situated at the edge of the post-war Iron Curtain that divided two systems and ideologies, separated by a boundary that became materialized in the Berlin Wall in 1961, East Germany resembles nothing if not an island, a sheltered space where film production could develop under the protection of government subsidy and ideological purity. This volume proposes on the contrary that the GDR cinema was never just a monologue. Rather, its media landscape was characterized by constant dialogue, if not competition, with both the capitalist West and socialist East. At the same time the films produced by DEFA (Deutsche Film-Aktiengesellschaft, or German Film Corporation, Ltd) tend to be an unexplored terrain, especially in the Anglo-American context. Before 1990 few East German films were circulated in the West or even subtitled in English; even fewer were screened on the festival circuit; and access to archival holdings in East Germany was almost impossible. This volume intends to reshape DEFA cinema studies by exploring international networks, identifying lines of influence beyond national boundaries and recognizing genre qualities that surpass the temporal and spatial confines. While the claim that East Germany’s cinema can only be understood within an international context may seem radical, the general insight is not original. Already in 1967 filmmakers Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino spelled out in their manifesto ‘Towards a Third Cinema’ the challenges of the transnational film: ‘In our times it is hard to find a film within the field of commercial cinema, including what is known as “author’s cinema”, in both the capitalist and socialist

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countries, that manages to avoid the models of Hollywood pictures’.2 DEFA was not a commercial movie company, at least not in the sense of the box-office driven production of entertainment commodities we identify with the ‘Hollywood model’, but it was a large and influential cultural institution in the GDR. Its mission was to produce films for mass consumption that would educate and inform the public about the evils of the past and address the viewer as the imaginary socialist citizen of the future. As a result, the cinema was also susceptible to extraordinary official attention and control by party and government officials. At the same time this political and ideological supervision of studio productions bore the mark of deeply ingrained leftist prejudices about mass media. Consequently the mandate to entertain and simultaneously raise the public’s consciousness harboured a strong distrust of the seductive nature of images and of the way movies distract from the ‘real’ struggle to change society. The amorphous sphere of desire, emotions and fantasy that characterize popular entertainment remained suspect but nonetheless a coveted goal.3 The films produced by the state-owned and chartered film company DEFA did have budgets, penalties for cost overruns, publicity campaigns and planning offices. Moreover, the various oversight agencies in the Ministry of Culture and the company’s own management regulated not only the ideological content but also the productivity and popularity of the various studio units for feature-length films, documentary films, animated films, television films, educational films, etc. More to the point, however, is Solanas and Getino’s polemical insistence that no film can escape the dominance of the ‘Hollywood model’, no matter from where it hails, even in East Germany where DEFA’s monopoly structure excluded any kind of internal competition. The essays in this volume demonstrate, however, that the matrix of influence is not limited just to ‘Hollywood’, although it too played an important role in DEFA’s ongoing struggle to produce entertaining films. Shifting attention from the national to the international suggests a counter strategy to the epistemology that established and has sustained scholarship on DEFA films since the 1960s. Tied to concepts of the nation, national culture and national identity, discussions in both the East and the West have focused on defining a canon of the most important films that reveal the qualities and distinctiveness of East Germany’s film culture, its difference being variously qualified as

2 Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino, ‘Towards a Third Cinema’, in Movies and Methods. An Anthology, ed. by Bill Nichols (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976), pp. 44–64 (p. 51). See also http://documentaryisneverneutral.com/words/camasgun.html. 3 On the discourse of entertainment in the early East German cinema, see Marc Silberman, ‘Learning from the Enemy: DEFA-French Co-productions of the 1950s’, Film History, 18.1 (February 2006), 21–45 (especially p. 23).

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produced by post-war, socialist and/or Cold War cultural policies. This too has grounded the institutional status of the films in departments of German studies, in archives, in festivals and retrospectives that parse DEFA as a national cinema, as an imaginary formation in its own right. This volume does not and can not ignore the national dimension of film culture but it does insist that national specificity is a dialectical reference point of the larger international context. The following essays reposition East German cinema within the European and international terrain by examining a selection of feature and documentary films produced by DEFA during its 45 years of existence. Drawing on the excellent resources of archival print and film material that has become available since 1990, the authors identify blind spots of past approaches that have failed to contextualize DEFA filmmaking beyond the boundaries of the GDR.

The Legacy of DEFA Film production in the GDR was closely connected to political developments. Having inherited the expansive physical facilities as well as the technical personnel of the former UFA studios, Goebbels’s factory for Nazi film propaganda and entertainment, DEFA released a remarkable number of popular and critically successful films in its first years of production. With the intensification of international Cold War rivalries in the late 1940s and the accompanying establishment of the two separate German states in fall 1949, cultural policy became more ideologically and aesthetically restrictive. This diminished DEFA’s room to manoeuver between audience taste schooled on Third Reich entertainment films, the competition from West German and American movies (accessible to many in the East with the still open borders to the West) and the mandate to create socialist realist films for the masses. There followed a dramatic slump in the number of DEFA productions in the early 1950s and parallel to it an unenthusiastic response by the audiences to the clumsily executed political films during the height of Stalinist cultural imperatives. After Stalin’s death in March 1953 and widespread political street turbulence in June 1953, the government’s officially pronounced New Course granted movie professionals somewhat more autonomy and also revitalized contacts with the West in order to respond to strong audience demand for more and better entertainment. GDR movie houses enjoyed an unprecedented wave of entertainment films from West Germany and Austria, a concession to popular taste that came to an abrupt end with the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961. Even in this cloistered situation, however, the politics of inner consolidation allowed for and even promoted experimentation. With the

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borders secured, there was less internal pressure and more opportunity to engage with developments beyond those borders, especially with the New Wave cinemas in Eastern Europe (Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia) and Western Europe (France, England). Moreover, important directors studied at international film academies and successful productions were shown at international film festivals from Cannes to Karlovy Vary. By the mid-1960s the GDR command economy was showing serious signs of a slowdown owing to its dependency on the lock-step planning priorities of the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc countries. As was often the case, such problems were never discussed publically but rather ‘cultural’ initiatives were staged to signal a change or reversal in course. Thus, in December 1965 the 11th Plenary of the Central Committee of the SED (Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands, the GDR communist party) marked the end of a period of liberalization by withdrawing or cancelling almost the entire year of DEFA film productions (the ‘rabbit films’, as they came to be called) because they ostensibly had lost touch with contemporary reality and focused too narrowly on problems of individuals rather than the socialist collective. Not until the early 1970s, after East and West Germany signed agreements recognizing their borders and sovereignty, did films from the West once again come trickling into the eastern cinemas, but in the meantime television had also become an important source of information and entertainment, and East German television itself began to broadcast international films programmed around stars like Burt Lancaster, Ornella Muti and Alain Delon. Furthermore, the GDR as a whole was a representational society. Situated at the Cold War border of systemic difference and division, it had to emphasize visibly the values and achievements of socialism while at the same time mastering the mass media influences of Western society. Almost 80 percent of the GDR’s population had access to West German public television broadcasts by the 1970s, and despite the Socialist Unity Party’s (SED) and government’s official disapproval the reality was that television both for the viewing audience and programmers was more than just GDR television. West German competition both in television and radio broadcasting set the standard and was also the measure for East Germany’s own media decisions.4 Conversely programming decisions by the broadcasters in the Federal Republic took into account the viewing public in the GDR, including their programming of German and international film entertainment in the evenings and on

4 Claudia Dittmar, Feindliches Fernsehen: Das DDR-Fernsehen und seine Strategien im Umgang mit dem westdeutschen Fernsehen (Bielefeld: Transcript, 2010).

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weekends.5 The resulting interactions were complex and spanned a range of activities from official programme exchanges to the unspoken but no less visible adaptation of formal concepts and genre elements so that, for example, the dramaturgical setup of a successful production could migrate from west to east while recoding the content for politically compatible storylines. This dialogue suggests that the cinema viewing public on both sides of the intra-German border had much in common: language, cultural and genre traditions. For DEFA this meant that at last the rigid polarity between notions of quality (coded as topical and explicitly political) and the popular (coded as trivial and trashy) began to dissolve. With the change in leadership in 1971 there was once again a surge of cultural activity when the new head of state, Erich Honecker, announced that there were no longer ‘any taboos’ in content or style, as long as the point of departure was the fundamental agreement about socialist values. But once again within a few years the hammer fell when dissident poet-singer Wolf Biermann was expatriated for criticizing the GDR while on a concert tour in West Germany. An unprecedented open petition to Honecker signed by prominent artists and writers, including from DEFA, led nowhere, but the affair signalled a major turning point that many have interpreted as the beginning of the end of the GDR. Film talent left for the West or retreated into a privatized niche existence while fewer and fewer films dared to challenge the status quo. Research on the cinema in East Germany, like film production, was influenced by political shifts. It has produced a significant body of analysis, but because it emerged from the same social paradigms as its object of study, that is, the DEFA films, we recognize several structural problems. First, GDR film research never broached certain ideological axioms. The crisis of the bourgeoisie under capitalist conditions, for example, was never questioned as a basis for judging social progress and thus it became an axiom for evaluation. Implicitly and in many cases explicitly the axiom was prescriptive and used to explain the aesthetic quality of a film through its potential to contribute to social improvement beyond bourgeois class norms. Second, concepts of film theory were attributed to and justified by drawing on the canonized corpus of Marxist-Leninist classics. Lutz Danneberg has described this phenomenon as the ‘mono-paradigmatic’ framing of

5 This reciprocity has been referred to variously as ‘symmetrische Verflechtung’ (symmetrical interweaving) or contrastive dialogue; for the former see Irmgard Wilharm, ‘Der Quellenwert von Filmen für die doppelte Nachkriegsgeschichte: DEFA-Film als nationales Kulturerbe?’, Beiträge zur Film- und Fernsehwissenschaft, 58 (2001), 81–92, and for the latter, see Henning Wrage, ‘Kontrastiver Dialog. Literarisches Fernsehen’, Weimarer Beiträge, 3 (2006), 454–58.

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the humanities more generally in the GDR.6 This suggests that DEFA and related academic research were never politically independent, with the consequence that some issues were simply never open to investigation. To name just one example: the taboo on all formal film experiments had to be justified by an overarching narrative with reference to the ‘anti-formalism’ debates in the early 1950s. It took until the early 1960s to construct a functional infrastructure for film history and research in the GDR. The problem was two-fold: on the one hand having an institution for serious research on film was obviously desirable, but on the other the party itself aimed to develop prescriptive standards for the film industry. Especially after the party-initiated film conferences of 1952 and 1958 guidelines were set forth about how to approach contemporary social conflicts and how to apply socialist realist methods with clear parameters for acceptable models and paradigms.7 Nonetheless, in 1959 the first steps were taken when the Coordinating Office for Film Research (Koordinierungsstelle für Filmforschung) was established. That same year Friedrich Salow published a programmatic article in the journal Deutsche Filmkunst titled ‘The Debut of Our Young Film Scholarship’.8 One year later the German Central Office for Film Research (Deutsche Zentralstelle für Filmforschung) under the direction of Heinz Baumert was founded, which was transformed in 1963 into the Institute for Film Research at the Academy for Film and Television in Potsdam (Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen). Here a central film library was located that included material of the former UFA library from the Third Reich. Baumert was also appointed executive editor of the only academic film journal in the GDR: Filmwissenschaftliche Mitteilungen (1960–1967). During the early 1960s this journal provided a platform for the discussion of international influences on East German film. A survey in 1965, four years after the Berlin Wall went up, for example, elicited answers from directors such as Konrad Wolf, Günter Stahnke, Kurt Maetzig, Manfred Freitag and Roland Gräf, from scriptwriters and authors such as Wolfgang Kohlhaase and Christa Wolf, and from cinematographers such as Günter Ost and Werner Bergmann. Not only were these major players in DEFA film production aware of new developments, but they also named internationally acclaimed films from East and West as models for their own work, amongst the most frequently mentioned being Luchino Visconti’s Rocco and His

6 Lutz Danneberg and Wilhelm Schernus, ‘Die Rezeption der Rezeptionsästhetik in der DDR. Wissenschaftswandel unter den Bedingungen des sozialistischen Systems’, in 1945–1995. Fünfzig Jahre deutschsprachige Literatur in Aspekten, ed. by Gerhard P. Knapp and Gerd Labroisse (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1995), pp. 643–702. 7 See Andreas Herbst, Winfried Ranke and Jürgen Winkler, So funktionierte die DDR. Lexikon der Organisationen und Institutionen (Reinbek: Rowohlt, 1994), pp. 415–17. 8 Friedrich Salow, ‘Debüt unserer jungen Filmwissenschaft’, Deutsche Filmkunst, 5 (1959), 149.

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Brothers [Rocco e i suoi fratelli, 1960], Mikhail Romm’s Nine Days of One Year [Devyat dney odnogo goda, 1962], Federico Fellini’s 8½ (1963), Andrzej Munk’s Man on the Tracks [Czlowiek na torze, 1957], Stanley Kramer’s On the Beach (1959) and Alain Resnais’s Hiroshima mon amour (1959).9 Characteristic for the non-synchroneities and privileges in the GDR more generally, there was exposure to international film trends even during the 1960s when the borders were most tightly closed. Film professionals and artists could screen films at the Academy of Arts, Potsdam Film Academy, international film festivals and annual private ‘market’ showings for DEFA Außenhandel, the import/export distributor responsible for purchasing foreign film rights. There were, however, also interruptions, not least because of political pressures. The punitive 11th Plenary of 1965 proved to be a severe setback not only for film production but also for film research. The ‘international’ issue of Filmwissenschaftliche Mitteilungen cited above was retrospectively banned and removed from the libraries. Heinz Baumert and other film scholars were dismissed and/or banned from the profession. The Institute for Film Research was restructured and affiliated with the Ministry of Culture in 1968 and in 1971 it was completely dismantled. Thus, the so-called Kahlschlagplenum or demolition Plenary resulted in a serious rupture in the infrastructure for DEFA research. It also created a situation in which discussion of the critical and creative film productions during the years following the rise of the Berlin Wall became a more or less taboo topic.10 It took until the beginning of the 1980s for East German DEFA research to resume its critical engagement with GDR film history more systematically. In 1977 the Film Academy began to prepare a multi-volume, comprehensive history of DEFA films that was to be published in 1985. The project was never completed, although some of the manuscripts appeared later independently or became part of other postGDR projects about East Germany’s cinematic history.

9 See ‘Umfrage’, Filmwissenschaftliche Mitteilungen, 2 (1965), 281–319. 10 See Lutz Haucke, ‘Einige Grundfragen und Entwicklungslinien der filmwissenschaftlichen Forschung in der DDR’, Filmwissenschaftliche Beiträge, 1 (1972), 45–75 (p. 62); and Hans Lohmann, ‘Die DEFA-Spielfilme der sechziger Jahre. Neue Gegenstände – neue Gestaltungsweisen’, Schriftenreihe der Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen, 1 (1979), pp. 309–42.

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Post-Unification DEFA After the momentous opening of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 and German reunification in October 1990 there was no end to speculation and theorizing about why the GDR had imploded and what, if anything, would be recognized as its historical contribution in the various cultural domains. The DEFA studio conglomerate was amongst the casualties in the process of devolution. While it had built a solid reputation for craftsmanship coupled with conservative aesthetic and political judgement, its domestic audience was already eroding in the 1980s through competition from imported films, increasingly from the West, and through television programming received from both East and West German broadcasters. Moreover, after 1990 the state-owned enterprise had no function and no government subsidies in the media landscape of small production companies that had developed in the post-war West German market and that now served as the model for future film work in eastern Germany. Thousands of employees were fired, and the DEFA trademark was deregistered. The DEFA studio park and real estate was sold to a French multinational company in 1992 that subsequently transformed it into a state-of-the-art European film and television production facility with a spin-off movie theme park and other media related businesses and institutions called Media City Babelsberg. Meanwhile the audience in both East and West was voting with its feet: approximately 80 per cent of the tickets sold in 1990 were for American productions. The year of German reunification reconfigured the playing field in a number of other significant ways as well. Suddenly a large pool of talent from the East faced off against colleagues in the West who were all competing for regional and local subsidies as well as for public television co-financing. In addition, television deregulation opened the door to private broadcasters with an enormous appetite for new (cheap) talent and with great potential as a secondary market for feature films. Finally, import/export strategies of the American majors adapted to the new European landscape with investments in multiplex cinemas and movies to protect their traditionally high share in the German market by investing in local production with distribution guarantees.11 All this created a new context with new opportunities while sweeping away the structures, infrastructure and funding mechanisms that had made filmmaking in the GDR possible, if not profitable. Ironically DEFA rose like a phoenix from the ashes. If the films were no longer being screened in the cinemas, the corpus of feature films, animated films and

11 Marc Silberman, ‘European Cinema in the 90s: Whither Germany?’, in Schreiben nach der Wende. Ein Jahrzehnt deutscher Literatur, 1989–1999, ed. by Gerhard Fischer and David Roberts (Tübingen: Stauffenburg, 2001), pp. 317–30.

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documentaries and newsreels produced over forty-five years became a source of cheap filler for morning, late night and weekend television programming. In the mid-1990s the two new eastern German regional broadcasters (MDR and RBB) programmed a veritable rush of DEFA films, signalling the onset of a wave of nostalgia that surfaced in the following years. As this market became more visible, a profit-oriented company called Icestorm Entertainment began to distribute DEFA films for home video consumption. Since video technology had never been introduced in the GDR and the films had hardly been distributed in the Federal Republic, there was an audience and market waiting to be tapped. The Icestorm catalogue of titles grew exponentially, moving later onto DVD with ‘bonus material’ included and most recently onto Blu-ray as well.12 More important, after years of legal wrangling the German government established in 1999 a public foundation (DEFA-Stiftung) to preserve the DEFA legacy. As the sole owner of the film rights to almost all DEFA feature and documentary films, it is charged with preserving and managing them for posterity through the revenues it generates from these screening rights.13 In this capacity the DEFA Foundation supports film programming, research and new film projects with biannual grant competitions. A separate, for-profit subsidiary called ‘defa-spektrum’ advanced the Foundation’s work from 2006 until 2012 with book publications and film projects related to the history of GDR cinema. Thus, a further irony of history finds the once centralized film production of East Germany now in a better position to organize and preserve its legacy for the public and for scholars than the fragmented West German film industry with its fly-by-night independent producers and decentralized distribution system owned mainly by American multinationals. Perhaps the most emphatic symptom of DEFA’s rebirth, however, is the recent fan culture that has developed around it on the Internet, providing a platform for lively exchange and arcane, fandom-driven enthusiasm.14 Scholarship, too, entered a completely transformed and dynamic force field after 1990. During the ten years it took to establish the DEFA Foundation, the holdings of all GDR agencies, including the Ministry of Culture, SED and DEFA management office, were sorted out and found their way into the German Federal

12 See http://www.icestorm.tv/. See also Sebastian Heiduschke, ‘GDR Cinema as Commodity: Marketing DEFA Films since Unification’, German Studies Review, 36.1 (2013), 61–78 (especially pp. 61–66). 13 Stefanie Eckert, Das Erbe der DEFA. Die fast unendliche Geschichte einer Stiftungsgründung (Berlin: DEFA-Stiftung, 2008); see also http://www.defa.de/cms/en. 14 See, for example, www.defa-fan.de and www.defa-sternstunden.de. On DEFA fandom see Sebastian Heiduschke, ‘The Afterlife of DEFA in Post-Unification Germany: Characteristics, Traditions and Cultural Legacy,’ Ph.D. diss., University of Texas, 2006, Chapter 5, pp. 154–70.

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Archive and Federal Film Archive.15 This fundamentally changed for scholars the conditions of access to the corpus of film material and to the production and decision-making processes for all filmmaking in the GDR. Two strands of discourse on DEFA film developed amongst researchers. Especially in the first years after the fall of the Wall attention focused on the instrumentalization of cinema within a totalitarian political system. From this perspective East German cultural and institutional history is seen as inseparable, and the state controlled media are figured generally as the channel of transmission for instructions from party bureaucrats.16 Partially in reaction to this one-sided political judgement of film culture, eastern German scholars and film professionals developed a different argument, suggesting that DEFA film today is first and foremost a historical document, evidence of a rapidly disappearing culture. Film historian Wolfgang Gersch, for instance, writes that East German film has to ‘be considered as a visual aid for history, testimony of a vanished land that was more than the Berlin Wall, Stasi and pickles from the Spreewald’.17 From this perspective East German cinema is to be understood as a reservoir of (positive) memories, a basis for the production of meaning and more specifically of a stable identity. The argument that fiction films can serve as ‘authentic’ documents of a past society, however, is problematic, since it ignores historical context as well as the narratological patterns and aesthetic characteristics that do not conform to rationales of everyday life and politics. Furthermore, both the discourses of instrumentalization and of testimonial lead to a narrow, GDR-centred approach to DEFA films while either systematically ignoring or overestimating the role of difference between East German political history and everyday life. It is, then, probably no coincidence that the necessity of ‘comparative observation and analysis of films from East and West’ was noted first and foremost by North American and British scholars.18

15 For an overview of the GDR holdings in the German Federal Archive in Berlin, see http:// www.bundesarchiv.de/benutzung/zeitbezug/ddr/index.html.en; for the German Federal Film Archive, also in Berlin, see http://www.bundesarchiv.de/bundesarchiv/organisation/abteilung_ fa/index.html.en. 16 Gunter Holzweissig, ‘DDR-Medien und Medienpolitik’, Bilanz und Perspektiven der DDR-Forschung, ed. by Rolf Zimmermann (Paderborn: Schoeningh, 2003), pp. 113–16, (p. 113); and Stephan Pannen, Die Weiterleiter. Funktion und Selbstverständnis ostdeutscher Journalisten (Cologne: Wissenschaft und Politik, 1992), p. 335. 17 Wolfgang Gersch, Szenen eines Landes. Die DDR und ihre Filme (Berlin: Aufbau, 2006), p. 9. 18 Barton Byg, ‘Der Stand der Dinge. Eine amerikanische Sicht auf die DEFA-Rezeption heute’, in apropos: Film 2005. Das Jahrbuch der DEFA-Stiftung, ed. by Ralf Schenk, Erika Richter and Claus Löser (Berlin: Bertz und Fischer, 2005), pp. 302–307 (p. 303); and Seán Allen, ‘Frauen, Starts und Arbeitswelten. DEFA-Forschung in Großbritannien 1996–2005’, ibid., 308–13.

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How did this interest in DEFA cinema arise? Owing to the lack of access to archives and film prints mentioned above, there had been only a few isolated publications in English on East German cinema prior to the early 1990s.19 But there had already developed during the 1970s and 1980s a cohort of scholars with strong, interdisciplinary interests in GDR literature and society that supported regular conferences and publication opportunities.20 If the fall of the Wall suddenly changed the map of Germany, it also – at least for a number of years – put this somewhat marginal group of specialists of East German culture on the map. Coupled with shifts in the discipline of German Studies that was opening up to media studies as well as the reality of waning enrolments, German film was becoming more generally a popular topic in the post-secondary curriculum during the 1990s. This concatenation of opportunities and pressures was a fortuitous moment for DEFA film in the Anglo-American academe, perhaps best exemplified by the founding of the DEFA Film Library in the early 1990s, the only academic research centre outside of Europe dedicated to the study and teaching of films from East Germany.21 In the two decades since those early 1990s there has been a blossoming of English-language scholarship on DEFA films, much of it referenced in the chapters that follow. It should be noted in this context that already in the 1970s and 1980s Anglo-American scholarship on East German topics – be it literature, society, culture or politics – had at least one advantage over the work of our German colleagues east and west: the status of being outsiders enabled if not a clearer, then a less politically polarized observer’s perspective on the Cold War stand-offs and post-Wall expectations and recriminations. At the same time the

19 These include Marc Silberman on Wolfgang Staudte’s Der Untertan (‘Semper Fidelis: Staudte’s The Subject [1951]’) and Dennis F. Mahoney on ‘A Recast Goethe: Günther’s Lotte in Weimar (1975)’, both in German Film and Literature. Adaptations and Transformations, ed. by Eric Rentschler (New York: Methuen, 1986), pp. 146–60 and pp. 246–59; Sigrun Leonhard, ‘Testing the Borders: East German Film between Individualism and Social Commitment’, in Post New Wave Cinema in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, ed. by Daniel J. Goulding (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989), pp. 51–101; Marc Silberman, ‘Remembering History: The Filmmaker Konrad Wolf’, New German Critique, 49 (Winter 1990), 163–91; Barton Byg, ‘What Might Have Been: DEFA Films of the Past and the Future of German Cinema’, Cineaste, 17.4 (Summer 1990), 9–15; idem, ‘Cinema in the German Democratic Republic’, Monatshefte, 82.3 (1990), 286–93. 20 Venues in the United States for East German literary and cultural studies prior to 1990 included the annual symposium at the World Fellowship Center in Conway, New Hampshire, from 1974 until 1996 with its proceedings published as Studies in GDR Culture and Society (Washington: University Press of America, 1980–1996); the annual conference of the German Studies Association that regularly included panels on the GDR as well as articles in its journal German Studies Review; GDR-Bulletin (1975–1999); and regular articles in New German Critique (1973–) and German Politics and Society (1983–). 21 See http://www.umass.edu/defa/aboutus.shtml.

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proximity to Hollywood tended to prejudice the film scholarship to stress a rather narrow spectrum of similarities and differences while neglecting the East European connections. A flip side to this advantage should also be acknowledged: some GDR professionals and scholars guard their personal stories in the DEFA studios and are increasingly disinclined to share their past experiences, indicating a proprietorial concern that their history is being written by ‘outsiders’. Their testimony represents a crucial counterpoint to the material one finds in the archives, but their resistance brings us back to the illusion of insularity in any film culture.

Enlarging the Map: DEFA Crosses the Road Between 1945 and 1990 approximately five thousand films were screened in the cinemas of the Soviet Occupation Zone and the GDR.22 It is estimated that of the more than one hundred films screened annually about fifteen were DEFA productions, eighty were imported from other socialist countries around the world and about twenty came from the West, although these numbers shifted from decade to decade.23 Add to this the ubiquity of competitive television programming in East and West Germany, and it becomes clear that international entertainment and art cinema was accessible to East German audiences and shaped their viewing expectations and habits. Similarly film directors, scriptwriters and other industry professionals were familiar with trends beyond their geopolitical borders. Hence, even if DEFA was not a market-driven company, its production and reception were not sheltered from the international circulation of film styles, genres and character types. The contributors to this volume offer new perspectives on DEFA films by embedding them within this broadly understood frame. Contrary to previous scholarship on DEFA that has focused more narrowly on the East German cinema as reflecting and shaping issues of national identity and a distinctive

22 For film titles and dates, see Filme in der DDR 1945–1986. Kritische Notizen aus 42 Kinojahren, ed. by Herbert Janssen and Reinhold Jacobi (Cologne: Katholisches Institut für Medieninformation, 1987); and Filme in der DDR 1987–1990. Kritische Notizen aus 4 Kinojahren, ed. by Martin Thull and Peter Hasenberg (Cologne: Katholisches Institut für Medieninformation, 1991). 23 See Rosemary Stott, ‘Zwischen verdeckter Zensur, finanziellen Zwängen und öffentlicher Nachfrage. Die Kriterien für die Auswahl der aus dem Westen in die DDR importierten Filme’, in DEFA International. Grenzüberschreitende Filmbeziehungen vor und nach dem Mauerbau, ed. by Michael Wedel and others (Wiesbaden: Springer Fachmedien, 2013), pp. 353–67 (p. 353). See also idem, Crossing the Wall. The Western Feature Film Import in East Germany (Oxford: Lang, 2012).

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post-war trajectory behind the Iron Curtain,24 these essays examine how protective insularity tended not only to divide, exclude and shield but also to connect, include and focus attention. Grouped into three parts, the chapters each offer close readings of several films that span the multiple decades of DEFA productions while situating them within larger contexts, for example, competition and influence between East and West Germany, Eastern and Western Europe, Moscow and Hollywood. Part I probes the nature of the socialist collective as a modern and contested sociopolitical imaginary. Hunter Bivens launches our inquiry with the core question concerning the status and structure of modernism and modernity in socialist societies – and in East Germany more particularly – as well as its cultural encoding in DEFA cinema. He questions the claim that East Germany was a premodern society, a position widely discussed in the early years after the fall of the Wall, and argues rather that the GDR and socialist societies more generally can be seen as responding to the problems and challenges of social modernity. They are better understood as an alternative to Western conceptions of modernity because socialism defines private happiness as a collective project rather than an individual pursuit. This definition provides background for the analysis of three paradigmatic films: Slatan Dudow’s 1952 Frauenschicksale [Destinies of Women], Frank Beyer’s 1966 Spur der Steine [Trace of Stones] and Egon Günther’s 1972 Der Dritte [Her Third], each of which adapts filmic devices to address the clash of desire and constraint familiar as well in post-war West German and Hollywood melodramas, but here with very different political agendas and social imaginaries. As Bivens demonstrates, labour functions as the vehicle for enabling the positive, soughtafter collective experience in socialism, offering typical moments of melodramatic excess until in the 1970s the political constraints on social relations foreclose the very notion of collective happiness. Manuel Köppen’s essay reprises a well-known topic: the antifascist narrative as the foundational myth of East Germany’s legitimacy and collective identity.

24 There are some important exceptions, for example, Barton Byg, ‘DEFA and the Traditions of International Cinema’, in DEFA: East German Cinema, 1946–1992, ed. by Seán Allan and John Sandford (New York: Berghahn, 1999), pp. 22–41; Thomas Elsaesser and Michael Wedel, ‘Defining DEFA’s Historical Imaginary. The Films of Konrad Wolf’, New German Critique, 82 (Winter 2001), 3–24; Katie Trumpener, ‘DEFA. Moving Germany into Eastern Europe’, in Moving Images of East Germany. Past and Future of DEFA Film, ed. by Barton Byg and Betheny Moore (Washington, D.C.: American Institute for Contemporary German Studies, 2002), pp. 85–104. In addition a broadly conceived volume with essays in German appears parallel to this one under the title DEFA International (see note 23), including sections on traditions and context, German-German film relations, international cooperation and coproductions, and transnational distribution and reception.

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After characterizing its prototypical dramaturgical construction as realized in Wolfgang Staudte’s 1949 Rotation, a film portraying the ruptures in the biography of a Nazi fellow traveller, Köppen follows the erosion of this mythological narrative through DEFA history. Already the heroizing tendencies of Kurt Maetzig’s early, two-part Ernst Thälmann biopic (1954/55) reveal the pitfalls inherent in the archetypical constellation when political discourse defines the dramaturgical structure of the films’ heroes, scoundrels and traitors. Compared to Mikheil Chiaureli’s Soviet epic The Fall of Berlin [Padeniye Berlina, 1949], for example, whose exemplary heroic victor is none other than Stalin, Ernst Thälmann – the head of the interwar communist party in Germany – is transformed symptomatically into a heroic victim or martyr. Whereas the role of the scoundrel consistently falls to that of the evil, opportunistic fascist (or Westerner), the traitor depends on the respective paranoia of the socialist vision and its enemies. For Thälmann the traitor in interwar Germany is social democracy, but in Frank Beyer’s Fünf Patronenhülsen [Five Cartridges, 1960], a feature reminiscent of an American Western but about the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War produced one year before the Berlin Wall was built, the traitor is anyone who threatens the (insular) solidarity of the collective. By the 1970s the traitors are no longer external enemies but members of the collective itself. Rolf Römer’s 1970 He, Du! [Hey, You!], an erotic comedy aimed at a younger audience, resists the rebelliousness of the New Wave cinemas in 1960s Eastern and Western Europe while proposing that the strength of the (eviscerated) antifascist myth can be defended against scoundrels and traitors by good will and political correctness. Finally, Roland Gräf’s Die Flucht [The Flight, 1977] signals a generational shift from the unity created by the antifascist narrative of the fathers to a new paradigm that recognizes the limits and diminished resources of the collective while promoting Heimat, the emotional attachment to home, as the tie that binds. The next two chapters in this section reveal the flexibility and vulnerability of the socialist collective by examining the changing relation between the state and East German elites, the intellectuals and artists, reconfiguring DEFA history from the perspective of intellectual history. Barton Byg focuses on film narratives about the scientific and technical intelligentsia who were seen as icons of socialist progress in the Cold War competition with the West. An early feature like Kurt Maetzig’s Rat der Götter [Council of the Gods, 1950], whose film language echoes Weimar models such as Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, conforms to the antifascist narrative defined by Manuel Köppen, but here the issue is framed by the Nazis’ criminal misuse of technical innovation and science, the alliance of capitalists with these crimes and the scientists’ need to recognize their proper role as allies of the working class in building socialism for a modern society. Technological advances in the Eastern Bloc, especially under the leadership of the Soviet Union in the 1950s

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and 1960s, shifted attention to the negotiation of the scientists’ role within GDR society and international cooperation. Now they became role models who wholeheartedly embrace modernity, recognize Soviet leadership in the sciences as the realization of the historic mission of the international working class and choose the GDR as the morally superior place to practice science and develop technology, even when confronted with bureaucratic planning structures and a backwardslooking working class. By the 1980s this kind of optimism had been tempered by the NATO decision to station nuclear weapons in Europe and the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, raising doubts more generally about socialist aspirations of competing at the highest level of technology. As one of the last films produced by DEFA, Peter Kahane’s Die Architekten [The Architects, 1990] is a bitter reckoning with the stifling impact of the planned economy and the bureaucratic structure of socialism on creativity or innovation. The fact that professional frustration and compromise characterize the young in this film narrative rather than socialist ideology or even international competition reveals that the dream of building a better future through scientific progress had exhausted itself in the GDR. Seán Allan’s chapter on the Künstlerfilm – about representations of artists and art – highlights the role of another elite in the socialist collective. If the GDR’s official discourse promoted a supportive partnership between the working class and the technical intelligentsia in the effort to build a modern and technologically sophisticated socialist society, the centrality of culture for imagining the new socialist personality (der neue Mensch) put a special burden on artists and the arts that was susceptible to the changing agendas of cultural policy and the shifting fortunes of the DEFA studio. In the early years Künstlerfilme, beginning with newsreels, engaged with the traditions of Germany’s classical humanist heritage in the arts, an attempt to reclaim lost ground after the years of Nazi racial and political exclusion. In the 1950s documentary films about artists such as Bach and Beethoven promoted the concept of a Kulturnation, envisioned as a united socialist Germany with the GDR aspiring to become the true heir of the nation’s cultural heritage. By the 1960s a younger generation of filmmakers had emerged in both Eastern and Western Europe with new ideas about modernist aesthetics and the place of art in society, and DEFA films about the Expressionist sculptor Ernst Barlach (Ralf Kirsten), the Spanish painter Francisco Goya (Konrad Wolf) and once again the composer Beethoven (Horst Seemann) sought to align these unconventional but progressive artists with the role of modernist aesthetics in socialist film art. The cultural bureaucrats were suspicious of these self-reflective features that made no attempt to hide their emulation of European New Wave trends, and the domestic cinema-goers tended to resist the invitation to reflect critically on the conditions of artistic creativity in the socialist collective that undervalued art and regarded it primarily as something decorative.

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The last chapter of Part I by Anke Pinkert reprises Bivens’s notion of GDR socialism as an alternative modernity by examining the affective as well as ideological production of family in DEFA films. The utopian vision of fostering greater social justice by integrating women into the work sphere put considerable pressure on traditional conceptions of the family, but claiming the centrality of affirmative affects such as love, care and tenderness as the crucial binding elements of family in the social imaginary of the East, Pinkert shows how DEFA cinema positioned itself in the larger modern context of cinematic concerns with interpersonal receptivity. Slatan Dudow’s 1949 Unser täglich Brot [Our Daily Bread] is symptomatic for early films that displayed families shattered by the war. The dominant representational strategy was to transform a precarious sense of masculinity by modelling the successful integration of men into the collective project of building a new society and stabilizing traditional notions of family and female nurturance. Dudow’s 1952 Frauenschicksale [Destinies of Women] already reflects the erosion of this model by featuring independent women and competing family arrangements. By the 1960s the ideal modernist socialist woman in the nuclear family is no longer bound by economic dependency but rather by mutual affection and love, thus relocating the familial imaginary in an exploration of emotional economies as in Jürgen Böttcher’s censored Jahrgang ’45 [Born in ’45, 1965/1990]. Frank Vogel’s 1968 Das siebente Jahr [The Seventh Year] about a female heart surgeon highlights the protagonist’s doubts with regard to her multiple roles as wife, mother and professional, indicating that in the GDR, as in Western society, pressures put upon altering constructions of family came from both external and internal struggles. While women-centred policies in the last two decades of the GDR continued to imagine the (nuclear) family as social stabilizer, films like Lothar Warneke’s Die Beunruhigung [Apprehension, 1982] or Hermann Zschoche’s Die Alleinseglerin [The Solo Sailor, 1987] create a contingent family imaginary that renders the breakdown of matrimonial and domestic structures visible, comparable to the cinemas of other advanced societies, but confirming the agency of women as single mothers, divorced spouses or in patchwork families with multiple children. If DEFA’s mission was to educate viewers about the collectivist vision of socialist society, its major challenge was to entertain the cinema audience. These sometimes conflicting goals nowhere generated more discussion and compromise than in finding an approach to genre films. The contributions in Part II present a series of reflections on how East German cinema responded to these demands. Stefan Soldovieri sketches out paradigmatically the contradictions and policy shifts that ensued when DEFA sought to attract viewers through the traditionally popular appeal of music films. Negotiating a path between the rich UFA legacy of the Third Reich, Soviet models of the 1930s and 1940s and the competi-

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tion from West Germany, Austria and Hollywood, he examines the rather small number of music films that were nonetheless consistently amongst DEFA’s strongest box office successes. The astonishing range includes adaptations of classical operettas, musical biopics, revue films, teen musicals, compilation and concert films, and period musicals. In a fine-grained analysis of the 1958 revue film Meine Frau macht Musik [My Wife Sings, Hans Heinrich], Soldovieri shows how the genre structure of a backstage musical was exacerbated not only by the intention of attracting both East and West German audiences (prior to the Berlin Wall) but also by the conservative cultural policies of the film bureaucrats. In this sense the film anticipates issues that would pursue genre film production more generally during the next decades: entertainment and politics, the status of stardom and how a socialist cinema culture could contribute to the renewal of traditional genres. Another popular genre in high demand amongst East German audiences was the crime thriller. Brad Prager examines how here too DEFA rose to the occasion while learning how to steer a precarious course between audience expectations of suspenseful criminal behaviour, psychopathology and deviance on the one hand and socialist commitments to rehabilitation, positive heroes and the role of state surveillance in securing law and order on the other. Surveying forty years of DEFA crime films, he identifies how the earliest features like Werner Klingler’s 1947 Razzia [Raid] reached back to traditions familiar from the Weimar period, including expressionistic cinematography and acting styles, while presenting moralizing, didactic arguments meant to discourage any audience identification with unsavoury (capitalist) criminals who invariably heralded from the West. With the founding of the GDR and intensifying Cold War politics the focus shifted in the 1950s from protecting the socialist utopia against the external enemies in the West and an emphasis on border security (leading up to the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961) to a fixation on subversive forces at home. This introduced a new message that every citizen is obliged to collaborate with the police to combat internal enemies (accompanied by the real expansion of the Stasi between 1952 and 1965). Over the course of the next two decades a specific pattern emerged in the DEFA whodunit in which the police recede more and more into the background while the transformation of the criminals into positive role models is foregrounded as they learn to internalize the law and accept self-policing by family, neighbours and work colleagues. More important, the blind spot in all the crime thrillers – the absence of the Stasi – conceals to what extent the state was willing to go in monitoring and interrogating its citizens. Jaimey Fisher examines three additional genres developed by DEFA: science fiction (officially referred to as utopian films), adaptations of literary classics and Westerns, drawing attention to a more general evolution in the studio’s attempt to negotiate the tension between audience popularity and state-endorsed social-

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ist realism. GDR audiences always had access to genre cinema, both from imports and domestically produced films, as the previous two chapters demonstrate, and as DEFA broadened its own palette, it accommodated the escapist formulas while seeking to intensify points of contact with global genres that reflected socialist values such as utopianism, social criticism and the virtue of the collective. Fisher concentrates, however, on three genre films produced in the last fifteen years of DEFA’s existence and identifies what he refers to as a symptomatic fade in the engagement with socialist realism. The sci-fi feature Im Staub der Sterne [In the Dust of the Stars, Gottfried Kolditz, 1976], the heritage film Die Leiden des jungen Werthers [The Sorrows of Young Werther, Egon Günther, 1976] and the Western Der Scout [The Scout, Konrad Petzold, 1983] manifest a successive departure from the collective utopianism that characterized the earlier phase of DEFA genre productions. Fisher traces how these late exemplars offer ever stronger individualist protagonists in an ever more diminished collective and consequently draw closer to the pure entertainment format of the global genre models. Sabine Hake extends the reach of the collective as socialist imaginary by investigating the under-researched function of film stars in the GDR, one of the most central and formative aspects of character engagement and viewer identification in the cinema. If basic assumptions about the exceptionality and extraterritoriality of the star do not translate easily into the cultural discourse of the GDR, where values of social equality and cooperation were omnipresent, she nonetheless discounts the official view that denied the existence of stars in East Germany. Three case studies of the male stars Erwin Geschonneck, Manfred Krug and Armin Mueller-Stahl demonstrate that the specific intimacy between popular actors and their audiences is not sufficiently explained with the traditional Hollywood concept of stardom but nonetheless provides a framework for understanding the elusive dynamics linking the personal to the political and the individual to the collective. From this perspective stars functioned in the socialist public sphere to align private with public fantasies and desires and to provide an outlet for marginalized or alternative voices in the absence of open political debate and actual social change. Hake argues for a wider notion of the star taking into account how well-known actors in the GDR served as political role models, manifestations of social types, occasionally symbols of non-conformity and mnemonic devices for several generations of East German movie audiences. Part III acknowledges the diversity of East German cinema by drawing attention to several underexposed and even overlooked areas of DEFA’s history. Larson Powell turns his attention to the relations between the GDR and other Eastern European cinemas. He emphasizes the fact that East German cinema was part of a network of production, distribution and reception within the Eastern Bloc: some directors learned their craft at the film academies in Prague and Moscow; DEFA

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films were shown at international film festivals in socialist countries; the company premiered numerous co-productions with other Eastern European countries; and stars from Eastern Europe were cast. Powell points out, though, that the perspective of DEFA directors played out differently in the divided Germany with its Nazi past. Moreover, Cold War competition and a traditional understanding of (high) culture values meant that references to popular films from the West were more understated than in the New Wave cinemas in the East. Finally, DEFA’s collectivist practice discouraged the self-understanding and political forcefulness of the auteurist directors from Eastern Europe. Comparing two pairs of DEFA and Eastern European films, Powell is able to show how the synergies highlight precisely their distinctive qualities, first of Frank Beyer’s Jakob der Lügner [Jacob the Liar, 1975] and its Czechoslovak intertext, Ján Kadár and Elmar Klos’s The Shop on Main Street [Obchod na korze, 1965], and then of Rainer Simon’s Jadup und Boel [Jadup and Boel, 1981] and Andrzej Wajda’s Man of Marble [Człowiek z marmuru, 1977]. In view of Germany’s troubled past it should be no surprise that the striving for the socialist utopia invested young people with a key role. The following two chapters hone in on how they variously became signifiers of hope for the future or indicators of societal distress. Benita Blessing’s chapter on films targeted at children and on representations of children in films considers a branch of DEFA cinema that earned the state production company international acclaim, including the many adaptations of traditional fairy tales. An early film like Irgendwo in Berlin [Somewhere in Berlin, Gerhard Lamprecht, 1946] exposes the shock of a defeated country and shattered family life and imagines children who play in Berlin’s ruins – less tarnished by twelve years of fascism than the complicit adults – as the catalysts for rebuilding both the economy and stable family life. While DEFA invested more and more in features for children, Wie heiratet man einen König [How to Marry a King, 1969], an adaptation of a tale of the Brothers Grimm about the unlikely marriage between a peasant girl and a king, makes no distinction in its appeal to children and adults. Director Rainer Simon insisted on making a fairy tale about the reality of everyday life in the GDR, that is, a ‘dialectical love story’ for all age groups about women’s rights and equality in marriage. Typical for many films featuring children in the 1980s, Helmut Dziuba’s Sabine Kleist, 7 Jahre [Sabine Kleist, Aged Seven, 1982] looks at adults’ missteps in their dealings with children from the perspective of a self-possessed young girl. A nuanced story of how youngsters and adults must learn to negotiate a world full of uncertainties and possibilities, it does not shy away from the realities of a putative socialist society rife with contradictions. Henning Wrage concentrates on a different demographic, young troublemakers in films of the 1950s and 1960s who are searching for meaning in their

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lives but are endangered by cultural and political influences seeping in from the West. Juvenile delinquents and their youth culture signifiers – leather jackets, checked shirts, blue jeans, distinctive hairstyles, popular music and dance innovations – circulated internationally in cinema productions from Hollywood to Paris to Moscow and Berlin East and West. DEFA’s 1957 Berlin – Ecke Schönhauser [Berlin – Schönhauser Corner, Gerhard Klein] makes explicit these intertextual references as markers for the anxiety of capitalist influence and in the worst case scenario as seductive forms of adolescent behaviour that undermine the values of socialist education. By the early 1960s, during a brief period of more tolerant cultural potential after the Berlin Wall was built, Frank Vogel’s 1965 Denk bloß nicht, ich heule [Just Don’t Think I’ll Cry] no longer employs the signifiers of juvenile delinquency as plot motivation but rather as the lure to attract young viewers into the cinemas for a film story about how the next generation could be integrated into the status quo and their expectations balanced with the responsibilities imposed on them by their elders. The open acknowledgement of generational conflict, however, overstepped the limits of the possible, and Vogel’s film was withdrawn before its release in the wake of the party’s 11th Plenary. Teenagers continued to be a target audience and focus of DEFA cinema, but the schizophrenic split between the personal and the political came to characterize not only the films but also the alienation typical for everyday life in East Germany. Dieter Schumann’s 1988 documentation of music subcultures, Flüstern und Schreien [Whisper and Cry] highlighted once again the political potential of youth culture, capturing the disillusionment and hopes of the young generation in a country that had lost its relevance and vision. Finally, Nick Hodgin embraced the challenge of surveying one of the least known domains of film production in the GDR, the DEFA documentary. Similar to many other countries on both sides of the Cold War divide, official East German views on the function of the documentary were utilitarian: to provide audio-visual evidence that would confirm attitudes and reinforce socialist ideas and practices. This was the goal for the thousands of newsreels, cultural features, industrial and informational films produced by the DEFA Newsreel and Documentary Studio as well as the DEFA Studio for Popular Science. Yet such constraints did not preclude innovative artistic practices, and this is where Hodgin identifies a significant level of international exchange. When Dutch filmmaker Joris Ivens joined DEFA in 1954 and helped launch the Leipzig Documentary Film Festival in 1955, he brought not just two and a half decades of professional experience but also socialist convictions and a network of international contacts, which influenced and helped open doors in the 1950s for East German documentary filmmakers such as Andrew and Annelie Thorndike. Jürgen Böttcher serves Hodgin as a case study for the generation of (documentary) filmmakers who came of age in

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the 1960s under the influence of international avant-garde artists such as Stan Brakhage, Chris Marker, Joris Ivens, and Alexander Rodschenko. Böttcher combined his aesthetic interest in Italian neo-realism with his social concerns, turning his attention to officially sanctioned themes of the worker, the workplace and the everyday life of young people. That his most important films were never distributed, withdrawn or made available only for festival release testifies to the paranoia of cultural functionaries who feared the very referentiality and authenticity promised by the documentary image. In the 1980s Kurt Tetzlaff, another documentary filmmaker who focused on the everyday, followed a different path – one that awakened less scrutiny – by turning his attention to portraits of rural inhabitants. In this sense Hodgin can claim that DEFA’s documentary films may be one of the best sources of what life was really like in the GDR. The chapters in this volume are designed both for readers who are new to East German film culture and for experienced readers who wish to discover a new dimension of DEFA historiography. The authors’ evidence argues that DEFA films were neither just an instrument of political persuasion nor just a reflection of East German life; rather they intersected with international trends at the crossroads of production, distribution, reception and filmic reference. Shifting from a national to an international frame of reference, the volume invites its readers to historicize post-war German cinema in new ways and to take seriously visual media as a global phenomenon.

Part I Extending the Socialist Collective

Chapter 1 Cinema and Socialist Modernity

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Chapter 1 Cinema and Socialist Modernity This chapter addresses the status of modernism and modernity in the cinema of the German Democratic Republic, reading three features, Slatan Dudow’s 1952 Frauenschicksale [Destinies of Women], Frank Beyer’s 1966 Spur der Steine [Trace of Stones] and Egon Günther’s 1972 Der Dritte [Her Third] as paradigmatic films for their respective contexts of East German culture, politics and cinema production. The problematic informing the chapter is the question of modernity in the GDR and the representational forms it takes in the cinema. How do the transformations in post-war East German everyday life become visible on the screen through iconic aspects of modernity like consumerism, sports, fashion and machinery? How are new modes of interpersonal interactions and new ways of shaping social relationships depicted, from class dynamics and gender roles to the role of media itself in modern socialist society, including the role of the party and the planned economy? The chapter asks how DEFA films negotiate the problem of the particularly socialist character of East Germany’s modernity. How do these films link the quotidian to this other political discourse? Through a complex negotiation of class and gender codes, I argue, East German cinema attempts to bring to light the socialist quality of East German life. Seeking to reveal the deeper meaning of the everyday in relation to the construction of a socialist society, these films address many of the same issues and mobilize filmic techniques similar to post-war West German and American melodramas and women’s films, but they do so in the light of very different political agendas and social imaginaries. Examined in this way, the cinema of the GDR allows us to think about other modes of coming to terms with the threats and challenges posed by the modern. This chapter will therefore precede through an affective periodization of the DEFA productions of the 1950s to the early 1970s, when East German film was still centrally preoccupied with registering the social transformations underway in the GDR, asking what kinds of structures of feeling or affective constellations would point to a particularly socialist modern at a given moment in post-war history. Some remarks on what modern or modernity might mean in a GDR context helps frame the film analysis. Various arguments gained traction after the Wende in 1989, in particular about the premodern character of GDR society. These arguments have been widespread in historical and sociological accounts, which – driven by a re-animated totalitarianism theory – focus on the dictatorial aspects of the SED regime and the presumptive lack of functional differentiation within the GDR’s institutional structures and civil society. In her influential work Sigrid

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Meuschel draws attention to the ambivalent character of modernity, granting that the GDR and other state socialist societies were in fact modern and ‘understood themselves as answers to the problems of modernity’, but at the same time lacking the kind of institutional rationality and ‘necessary basis in the observation of rules of rational governance’ that would allow for properly modern social differentiation.1 While Meuschel is sensitive to counter trends in East German society and casts what she calls the ‘thoroughly dominated society’ [durchherrschte Gesellschaft] within the modern, the GDR is finally not of the modern in this account. Of course, in recent years historians and cultural critics have argued for the essential modernity of the GDR’s cultural, political and sociological landscape, based largely on the enumeration of features like bureaucratic administration, mass mobilizations, industrialization, social mobility, ruptures in gender relations and the medicalization of society.2 More interesting is perhaps how we understand the difference of a socialist modern. Here we are in the territory of another modernity, or as Pence and Betts term it, a Gegenmoderne or counter modernity that dispensed with much of the ‘eighteenth-century political vocabulary of the liberal state’. Nevertheless, they write, ‘the structural features of the economy, social life and gender relations, as well as the look and styling of East German material culture, may be seen as aspects of the GDR’s distinctive alternative modernity’.3 Indeed, from the point of view of GDR public discourse, East Germany’s socialist modernity was essentially a corrective to the exploitative, class-based character of capitalist modernity and democratization of its promises. In the realm of culture Wolfgang Emmerich makes the argument about the vexed relationship to modernity most famously in an article published shortly before the Wende. The GDR, he tells us, was ‘a premodern country into the 1960s’, with a ‘likewise decreed, premodern literature’.4 He sees GDR culture as cut off from the main streams of post-war high modernism, with culture reduced to the mechanical reproduction of ideology and wedded to a crude form of reflection theory and a narrowly construed vocation of social pedagogy.5 There is for Emmerich an East German modern, but it will come later, in the 1960s, and even then

1 Sigrid Meuschel, Legitimation und Parteiherrschaft in der DDR. Zum Paradox von Stabilität und Revolution in der DDR 1945–1990 (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1992), p. 24. 2 Socialist Modern, East German Everyday Culture and Politics, ed. by Katherine Pence and Paul Betts (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2008), p. 17. 3 Ibid., pp. 11–12. 4 Wolfgang Emmerich, ‘Gleichzeitigkeit. Vormoderne, Moderne und Postmoderne in der Literatur der DDR’, in Die andere deutsche Literatur. Aufsätze zur Literatur der DDR (Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1994), pp. 129–50 (p. 136). 5 Ibid., p. 137.

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it will be an endangered one, only to break into the postmodern in the wake of the Biermann expulsion in 1976.6 There are of course serious problems with this periodization, not the least of which is a conflation of modernity as a historical moment and modernism as an aesthetic, but no less serious is the conflation of modernism with a particularly Western and post-war iteration of high modernism. Thus, Emmerich cast modernity as an epoch of crisis produced by a growing ‘asymmetry between experience and expectation’ under the pressures of industrialization, urbanization and rationalization.7 The aesthetic modern is construed as ‘the adaptation, executed through artistic means, of the modern in general in a state of crisis’.8 This implies the dissolution of the ties between individual subjects and objective social forces and a break with mimetic, figural representation.9 Even if post-war GDR culture could be considered premodern in these terms, it is a premodern culture that has passed through modernism, since 1950s East German cultural idioms are largely rooted in the 1930s aesthetics of socialist realism and the Popular Front, which, as critics as diverse as Boris Groys and Michael Denning have compellingly argued, are both determined responses to the various impasses and crises of classical modernity.10 Furthermore, both can be seen as what Miriam Hansen has termed ‘vernacular modernisms’, complicated responses to the transformations of everyday life and sociality, giving rise to ‘different forms of mimetic experience and expression, of affectivity, temporality, and reflexivity’. A capacious definition of modernism, then, must not only account for modernist aesthetics, but also those ‘cultural practices that both articulated and mediated the experience of modernity, such as the mass produced and mass consumed phenomena of fashion, design, advertising, architecture and urban environment, of photography, radio, and cinema’.11 Both socialist realism and the aesthetics of the Popular Front were deeply concerned with precisely this vernacular function of culture, with appropriating in productive political fashion the new media and intervening in the mass modes of cultural reception that were developing in the mid-twentieth century.

6 Ibid., pp. 139, 142. 7 Ibid., p. 132. 8 Wolfgang Emmerich, ‘Für eine andere Wahrnehmung der DDR-Literature. Neue Kontexte, neue Paradigmen, ein neuer Kanon’, in Die andere deutsche Literatur, pp. 190–207 (p. 196). 9 Emmerich, ‘Gleichzeitigkeit’, p. 133. 10 See Boris Groys, The Total Art of Stalinism. Avant-Garde, Aesthetic Dictatorship, and Beyond, trans. by Charles Rougle (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992); and Michael Denning, The Cultural Front. The Laboring of American Culture in the Twentieth Century (London: Verso, 1997). 11 Miriam Bratu Hansen, ‘The Mass Production of the Senses. Classical Cinema as Vernacular Modernism’, Modernism/Modernity, 6.2 (1999), 59–77 (p. 60).

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Rather than recount an empirical case for the GDR’s modernity, however, I return to Emmerich’s own definition. In a later essay he is yet more specific about his understanding of modernism. Following Foucault, he writes that both literary criticism and literature itself is adequate to the modern when it takes up less the construction of meaning than the work of ‘carving out crises in meaning’.12 For Emmerich, of course, these are the great crises of language and representation articulated by high modernism.13 Relating this thesis to East German literature, he writes, ‘GDR literature becomes modern in the sense that it reflects the total social process of modernization (here in its specific real socialist, exponential deformation) in a state of crisis and, answering back, makes conscious its immanent pathology’.14 The positive, that is, critical modernism in GDR culture becomes those works that can be integrated into a ‘context of international modernism’, which is to say, a largely Western canon. David Harvey ascribes these crises to the breaking up of traditional life worlds under the onslaught of spatial and temporal compression driven by capitalist accumulation through its various stages.15 For him, capital is the key to understanding modernity as a tremendous and uneven process of creative destruction in which older communities, ways of life and ideologies are torn apart and rearranged in new and often chaotic, fragmentary fashion.16 But is not creative destruction an apt term for the tremendous social transformations taking place in post-war East Germany? After all, they did not confine themselves only to building the new – new cities, new factories, new ways of living together – but also to tearing down the old – land reform, the renegotiation of gender roles, the breaking up of all sorts of cultural, political and educational hierarchies. This is the very stuff of East German socialist realism, which often, just as Emmerich claims modernism ought to, breaks through the limits of its own doctrines of closed form and realist representation to grasp the crises of the vernacular modern. If, as Fredric Jameson insists, modernity is less a concept than a narrative category, one that marks a more or less violent break with a past that it constructs itself, can we not see post-war East German culture as doing just that, attempting to imagine the new by abjecting its own various images of the old?17 But in East

12 Emmerich, ‘Für eine andere Wahrnehmung’, p. 199. Italics in the original. 13 Ibid., p. 201. 14 Ibid. 15 David Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity. An Inquiry into the Origin of Cultural Change (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1990), p. 265. 16 Ibid., pp. 16, 106. 17 Fredric Jameson, A Singular Modernity. Essay on the Ontology of the Present (New York: Verso, 2002), p. 40.

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German culture these crises are not events per se; rather, as Georg Lukács puts it in The Historical Novel, they are properly epochal, and the task of socialist realism would be to discern the systemic transformations of a massive social transformation of everyday life: ‘show how the direction of a social tendency becomes visible in the small, imperceptible capillary movements of individual life’.18 Henning Wrage has argued that a core problem of East German culture is the very social imaginary of historical periodization and its socialist realist precepts: All of the demands for the typical and the truthful, for positive portrayal and so forth […] represent a claim on art and through art to motivate ‘in a kind of jubilatory bustle’ the present for the benefit of a distant goal and in a certain sense to formulate this goal (art as prescription and pre-written [Vor-Schrift]) for the first time.19

From this perspective socialist realism is directed towards a kind of ‘world creation’, attempting to evoke the anticipated future as much as the prescriptive break with Germany’s capitalist and fascist pasts through the description of the present.20 The difficulty of this task of cognitively mapping the emergence of the future is apparent when one examines the most orthodox of East German literature, the Aufbau or industrial novels of the 1950s. The disarticulation of the mediated relationship between everyday life and more abstract social categories such as the mode of production expresses itself in their remarkable inability to achieve narrative closure. One need only mention the confusing and meandering character of such massive yet formally helpless novels as Maria Langner’s Stahl [Steel] or Hans Marchwitza’s Stalinstadt chronicle, Roheisen [Pig Iron]. In this sense socialist realism is modernist in spite of itself, as the construction of meaning is revealed to be nothing less than the formal failure to grasp the crisis of social meaning that marks modernity as such. Similarly attempts to write the great social novel of the GDR by writers such as Werner Bräunig, Brigitte Reimann and Franz Fühmann in the 1960s and 1970s all remained fragmentary and incomplete. If many East German novels are characterized by a mode of narrative failure, and this is a generalization, I argue that East German films strain at the boundaries of cinema conventions in order to come to terms with the problem of affective periodization described above. The DEFA cinema found itself caught between German, Soviet and American filmic conventions on the one hand and the need to

18 Georg Lukács, The Historical Novel, trans. by Hannah and Stanley Mitchell (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983), p. 145. 19 Henning Wrage, Die Zeit der Kunst. Literatur, Film und Fernsehen in der DDR der 1960er Jahre (Heidelberg: Winter, 2009), p. 33. 20 Ibid., p. 38.

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develop specifically socialist visual vernaculars and narrative conventions on the other. In an article asking whether or not there is a specific DEFA film aesthetic, Detlef Kannapin answers no, but isolates six ‘principle aesthetic currents’: expressionism, melodrama, socialist realism, critical realism, poetic realism and pathos.21 He tends to arrange these currents in terms of a periodization, as DEFA’s emphasis moves from one to the next, but it might be productive to think of these currents as force fields that exert pressure to varying degrees within each moment of DEFA’s history as well as within individual films themselves. Formally and thematically varied as DEFA film production was, a thematic kernel amongst a number of films attempts to confront the problem of reading the present for traces of the socialist horizon. One might argue, as Anke Pinkert has, that the status of women was a major index for representing the capillary movements of individual life that Lukács mentions. Discussing Konrad Wolf’s 1958 film Sonnensucher [Sun Seekers], she writes, Wolf’s Sun Seekers attests to how much the cinematic imagination of social stability and future progress hinged on women’s successful integration into the public realm as active and responsible citizens. According to these films, not only did a socialist society provide the crucial precondition for emancipation of its female members, but the success of socialism itself depended on the social engagement of women.22

Pinkert’s work takes this insight in a psychoanalytic direction, but one might also think of the role of women in terms of cinematic conventions. If the role of women is an index of social transformation, what are the forms through which this can itself be represented in an intelligible and vernacular fashion for East German audiences?23 Given the politicized character of daily life in the GDR, the twists and turns of individual experience become themselves allegories of the larger process of socialist transformation. In many ways the films I discuss seem to be treading similar territory to the classical Hollywood melodrama. We find the fraught relationship between what can be represented and the excess of meaning invested in it, the focus on the things and relationships of everyday life and a concern with the experience of women as a register for social possibilities and contradictions. Yet they are not melodramas, certainly not in the sense of early post-war films like Kurt Maetzig’s Ehe im Schatten [Marriage in the Shadows], and in fact the DEFA

21 Detlef Kannapin, ‘Gibt es eine spezifische DEFA-Ästhetik?’ in Apropos Film 2000. Das Jahrbuch der DEFA-Stiftung, ed. by DEFA-Stiftung (Berlin: Das Neue Berlin, 2000), pp. 142–64 (p. 147). 22 Anke Pinkert, Film and Memory in East Germany (Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 2008), pp. 131–32. 23 See Pinkert’s comments on gender in chap. 5.

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melodrama continued to labour under its identification with the UFA style of the Third Reich. Nevertheless, these films partake of what Peter Brooks famously described as the melodramatic imagination, staging ‘a drama of the ordinary’.24 In its own way each of these films constructs a ‘mode of excess’ to present a particularly socialist version of the ‘moral occult’, which Brooks describes as ‘the hidden yet operative domain of values’ within the quotidian.25 If the moral occult is a function of the lack of totalizing values in a post-secular society, it acquires a new valence under the conditions of socialist construction, becoming, I argue, explicitly political and public, but at the same time ineffable. To paraphrase Benjamin Robinson, the problem becomes how to recognize and convey what is socialist about East German daily life, or as he puts it, ‘how then do the relentless quantities of daily routines precipitate suddenly into a socialist quality?’26 In their desire to ‘express all’, these films each mobilize ‘the things and gestures of the real world as kinds of metaphors […] for latent moral meanings’, or in this case political meanings.27 As reconfigurations of the melodramatic imagination itself, they reveal the utopian anticipation that remains legible beneath even the most Stalinist of East German cultural productions. If, as Thomas Elsaesser notes in his famous essay on Hollywood melodrama, this is a cinema of desire and impossibility, of a world that is closed and of characters who are either destroyed or diminished through confronting the systems of constraint into which they are sutured, these DEFA films gesture towards an opening of the world, towards the release of socialist modernity.28 Thus, I am not suggesting that the films discussed below are melodramas in the conventional sense, though they do in each case mobilize typical melodramatic narrative and formal conventions. Like the melodrama, they use women’s quotidian experience to stage this narrative break into modernity by representing the possibilities of and impasses to the desire to escape from the mode of constraint that shapes the melodrama. Of the three films under discussion Slatan Dudow’s 1952 film Frauenschicksale is most directly invested in the representational mode of excess. The story of five women in post-war Berlin who are each in turn brought low by the mustachioed

24 Peter Brooks, The Melodramatic Imagination. Balzac, Henry James, Melodrama, and the Mode of Excess (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976), p. 14. 25 Ibid., p. viii. 26 Benjamin Robinson, The Skin of the System. On Germany’s Other Modernity (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009), p. 241. 27 Ibid., pp. 4, 9. 28 Thomas Elsaesser, ‘Tales of Sound and Fury. Observations on the Family Melodrama’, in Home Is Where the Heart Is. Studies in Melodrama and Woman’s Film, ed. by Christine Gledhill (London: BFI, 1987), pp. 43–69 (pp. 55–6).

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lothario Conny Lohmüller, a failed lawyer and smuggler from West Berlin, it has all of the makings of the melodrama, but in each case the new possibilities opened up on the socialist horizon save the heroines from ruin. The film references both Italian neo-realism in its many shots of war-torn Berlin as well as the Weimar modernism of films such as Walter Ruttmann’s 1927 Berlin – Die Sinfonie der Großstadt [Berlin, Symphony of a City] and Dudow’s own collaboration with Bertolt Brecht, Kuhle Wampe (1932).29 The opening sequence provides a Ruttmannesque panorama of the awakening city, as the streetcars begin running, then the camera cuts to a series of shots of women being roused by alarm clocks before focusing in on Barbara, one of the film’s protagonists, as she dresses and sets off for the university, where she is studying to become one of the GDR’s first female jurists. Formally Dudow is attempting to integrate the Weimar tradition of the socially critical proletarian film into a visual aesthetic that would be acceptable to the constrained aesthetic discourse of early 1950s socialist realism in the GDR. As Kannapin points out, this earlier tradition was difficult to develop in the GDR, not only for a lack of filmmakers (Dudow was the only prominent director in the GDR who had made such films in the Weimar Republic), but also because the ‘unadorned filmic representation of social problems and conflicts from the perspective of the lower and middle classes’ was seen as anachronistic in a socialist society and fit poorly with the affirmative orientation of socialist realism.30 Indeed, a 1952 resolution of the SED’s Politburo on the question of film openly declared that critical realism had been superseded by the ‘higher’ level of socialist realism.31 The opening sequences of Dudow’s film, which are scored by upbeat and hopeful extradiegetic music, ameliorate the stark imagery, while at the same time capturing metaphorically a society awakening into a space of new possibilities. Narratively the opening scene with its cityscapes and multitude of private rooms and everyday lives portends the film’s epic structure: organized through multiple strands that brush up against one another without becoming truly entwined, nominally linked through Conny but also through the women’s participation in the socialist project. Dudow was heavily criticized for this narrative complexity, for amongst other reasons because it impoverished the representation of the key socialist realist criterion of the typical. A review in the SED’s daily organ Neues Deutschland explained,

29 See Vera Stegmann, ‘Frauenschicksale. A DEFA Film Viewed in Light of Brecht’s Critique of the Opera and Eisler/Adorno’s Theory of Film Music’, German Studies Review, 28.3 (October 2005), 481–500. 30 Kannapin, ‘Gibt es eine spezifische DEFA-Ästhetik?’, pp. 144, 152. 31 Cited in ibid., p. 153.

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[…] in Comrade Dudow’s film the ‘typical’ is equated with the statistical mean. This is however not a realistic, but a mechanical reflection of reality. If one proceeds in this mechanical fashion, one will never represent typical characters under typical conditions, since one does not uncover the tomorrow in today, the kernel of the new.32

The Demokratische Frauenbund Deutschlands (DFD), the GDR’s mass organization for women (which plays a prominent role in the narrative), echoed this criticism in their official stance on the film, insisting that typicality would require not the women’s struggles but representations of determined and convinced socialist women consciously building new lives and a new society. The objections to the lack of the positive hero are essentially formal ones. The review in Neues Deutschland pointed out that this epic framing of the destinies of women by necessity excludes the figure of the positive hero as an integrating and exemplary function of the narrative. ‘The conflict between the Old and the New must be victoriously fought out in one main character’, the reviewer asserts, ‘because exactly this is demanded by reality, and exactly this is demanded by the aesthetic law of the unity of the work of art’.33 But the multiplicity of indirectly connected individual destinies is central to the film’s problematic, which is how to imagine happiness as a collective project. In a mea culpa to the readers of the cultural journal Sonntag, entitled ‘Conny Exists!’, Dudow responds to the criticisms of the multiple narrative strands, pointing out that this method is used by both Maxim Gorky and Gerhart Hauptmann, and asking ‘why […] does one wish to renounce the wealth of a dramaturgy that owes its existence solely to the new social points of view and plays a singular role in the discovery of a large layer of society’.34 Indeed, precisely through the multiple and layered narratives he does address the problem of portraying ‘tomorrow in today’. Given the quintessentially melodramatic scenario of Conny as the seducer and the ruined lives of women he leaves in his wake, the epic narrative formation allows the film to break out of the conventions of cinematic melodrama. As Kannapin points out, melodrama is usually concerned with the crises of the personal and the private. Once the melodramatic conflict is explicitly translated into a social one, we are no longer entirely on the territory of melodrama.35 Dudow’s film shifts to the territory beyond melodrama precisely in the ways that the characters support each other indirectly through their integration into socialism.

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R. Rh, ‘Sind diese Schicksale typisch?’, Neues Deutschland, 12 December 1952. Ibid. Slatan Dudow, ‘Den Conny gibt es!’, Sonntag, 24 July 1952. Kannapin, ‘Gibt es eine spezifische DEFA-Ästhetik?’, p. 149.

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This escape from melodrama comes to the fore in each story, but as the film progresses, the tale of Renate Ludwig increasingly folds the other plotlines into itself. Fearful of losing Conny to a déclassé baroness he has taken up with in West Berlin, Renate inadvertently smothers her brother in the process of stealing money from her mother for a blue dress prominently displayed in the window of an exclusive West Berlin boutique. Renate’s trial affords the film an occasion to state its main thesis. Asked why it was precisely this dress upon which her desire settled, Renate responds by asking, ‘but what’s wrong with wanting a pretty dress? Don’t I have a right to a little happiness?’ The court’s answer recasts the question, as the jurors reply, ‘no one begrudges you the right to a pretty dress, much less the right to be happy. Do not millions of other women also have the right to a little happiness?’ When Renate protests that she has nothing against the happiness of others, she is told ‘not minding isn’t enough. You have to work for it’. Indeed the closing speech of the presiding judge, also a woman, asserts, This is not about Renate Ludwig alone. Many are taking the same road without actually committing a crime. Dazzled by the false glitter of a doomed social system, Miss Ludwig refused to choose the new life. She too was tempted by the lure of ‘you only live once’. This is not the failing of an individual but of a whole world.

Happiness is not something private. It is a public project. Behind this socialist humanist rhetoric one sees a theme that will emerge more forcefully in Spur der Steine and Der Dritte, which is how to conceive of happiness and fulfilment without sacrifice, either of oneself or of others. This is, however, also a matter of form, since happiness in the cinematic idiom is usually anchored in the individual opposed in some way to the social whole. It is a question taken up in a favourable review by the author Wolfgang Joho in Sonntag. The film’s achievement, he writes, is to provide a different and new imagery of happiness from the one projected by capitalist mass culture: ‘The struggle for real joy and human happiness is the true grounding theme of Frauenschicksale. This stands in opposition to the cinematic and penny dreadful luck that drops whatever the fairy prince desires into his lap or allows it to fall from heaven.’36 Conny is himself the figure of this false, mass commodity happiness, as Dudow points out in his defence of the film, a man who sees himself as a dashing screen star and who interpellates women into these dime-romance scenarios: ‘One cannot forget that Conny derives his appearance not only from life, but also from the kitsch films familiar to the women where he appears as a well-cultivated cavalier. Here is one reason for his success

36 Wolfgang Joho, ‘Der Kampf um unser Glück. Zu dem DEFA-Film Frauenschicksale’, Sonntag, 15 June 1952.

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with women.’37 In other words both Conny and his victims watch Hollywood movies. The other or ‘real’ happiness, by way of comparison, is neither individual nor contingent, neither a matter of luck nor of personal achievement, but collective and planned. It is notable, though, that this happiness – when it is described in the film – is very concrete. The DFD functionary Herta Scholz describes a vision of what liberation from the Nazis might mean in terms of Fordist modes of consumption, ‘a nice apartment, and we’ll buy nice furniture, a radio […]’. The question is how to tie this quotidian constellation of desire to a collective project.38 From this perspective there are two key scenes. The initial one presents two contrapuntally arranged musical numbers. The first, with Conny and the baroness in a West Berlin night club, dancing frenetically to boogie-woogie music under the gaze of racially coded, tuxedo-clad chimpanzees, is summed up in Conny’s characteristic declaration, ‘You only live once!’ This scene, as the film’s epitome of capitalist anomie and hedonistic nihilism, is followed by a choreographed sequence of steel smelting scored with Bertolt Brecht’s ‘Lied vom Glück’ [The Song of Happiness], which intones: ‘Thus zealously move your hands / Do it with all your heart / Happiness needs to be fought for / By itself it will never start.’39 Neither of these scenes is precisely extra-diegetic, but both are excessive in terms of the narrative frame. This is especially the case in the steel mill, where the choreography of the labour exceeds realist representation to gesture at some occluded socialist quality to this hard industrial work. As Vera Stegmann has pointed out, this sequence introduces a Brechtian separation of the elements, not illustrating the labour depicted but rather commenting upon it and emphasizing the ‘contrast between the filmic images of hard factory work and the serenity, simplicity and harmony of the song’.40 The film uses the distance between the depicted labour and the song as a means of reading the imagery, of interpreting it for the viewer, but less in the manner of a heavy-handed lesson than as a revelation of the concealed horizon of personal happiness in collective work. In other words this scene seeks to answer the question of the difference of socialism and to appeal to the affect of socialism as a ‘new, infectious feeling for life’, as Brecht put it in the 1950s.41

37 Dudow, ‘Den Conny gibt es!’. 38 Raymond Geuss provides an interesting discussion on happiness as a political project. ‘Happiness and Politics’, in Outside Ethics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005), pp. 97–110. 39 Cited in Stegmann, ‘Frauenschicksale’, p. 491. The original lines read: ‘Drum rührt geschäftig die Hände / Legt euer Herz hinein / Will doch das Glück erst erkämpft sein / Kommt es doch nicht von allein’, see Bertolt Brecht, Werke, ed. by Werner Hecht and others, 30 vols (Berlin and Frankfurt am Main: Aufbau and Suhrkamp, 1993), XV, p. 256. 40 Stegmann, ‘Frauenschicksale’, p. 496. 41 Bertolt Brecht, ‘“Katzengraben”-Notate’, in Werke, 25, p. 423.

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Fig 1.1: Frauenschicksale (1952) seeks to answer the question of the difference of socialism and to unleash the ‘pleasure of productivity’ from the apparent alienation of industrial labor.

The song as commentary thus sutures the imagery of the scene into what Wolfgang Engler calls the metaphysical character of labour in early East German culture, which combines the remaking of society, the built environment and the self through the collective figure of the homo faber: In so far as he broke through the resistance of material and conditions, he created productive works, which admittedly stood in no relation to the work that he himself embodied as one who had broken through the greatest resistance, overcome the greatest hindrance – himself; beyond his own needs, the deeply rooted egoism – and arrived at humanity.42

This dramatization of bodily work is an attempt to represent the becoming collective of socialism, the break with the individualized desire of the commodity, but at the same time the process of becoming collective can only move through individuals and by responding to their needs, a notion gestured to by the familiarity and

42 Wolfgang Engler, Die Ostdeutschen. Kunde von einem verlorenen Land (Berlin: Aufbau, 1999), p. 28.

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intimacy of Renate’s cigarette breaks with Helmut, her new class-conscious suitor. The second key scene at the film’s end presents an excessive bit of Stalinist pageantry that similarly overburdens the surface of the representation. Here Renate, wearing an exact replica of the dress for which she killed her brother, produced now in the GDR and purchased for her by the steelworker Helmut, watches in dumb amazement as the procession of people and flags of the World Festival of Youth passes down the Stalinallee. On the one hand, this scene betrays the indeterminacy of socialist desire, since it is after all the same dress. On the other hand, the dress is designed by the seamstress Anni, another of Conny’s jilted lovers, who has found a home in East Berlin where she can work and her child is cared for, and it is affordably mass produced, because, to quote Anni, ‘if working women don’t deserve pretty dresses, who does?’ Confronted with this dress, Renate is obviously perplexed by the lack of difference. The film itself seems to be uncomfortable with the dress, and quickly moves to the jubilant crowd scene on the Stalinallee, as if to use, again, these images of public celebration as a commentary on Renate’s private happiness. As the procession of people, banners and traffic passes by, we see reflected in her face that socialism, as Marx puts it, ‘goes beyond the phrase’: the bounded world of her experience erupts into this unprecedented spectacle of socialist plenitude that she cannot interpret but that portends an entirely new world of which she is, in some sense yet to be fixed, a part.43 Following on the heels of the banned ‘rabbit films’ of 1965,44 Frank Beyer’s Spur der Steine avoids the modes of visual excess of Frauenschicksale and other films from the early 1950s but is no less striking in its panoramic cinemascope shots of the construction site setting. Indeed, Karen Rouff Kramer has argued that Beyer’s film can be read as an ‘Eastern’, using the tropes of the Western film but dwelling on the populist manliness of the socialist workspace rather than the mythic freedom of the American plains.45 Like the high plains, the construction site becomes an allegorical space for working out national and political imaginaries. This aesthetic is particularly suited to the film, which dramatizes the fraught

43 Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (New York: International Publishers, 1963), p. 18. 44 On the 11th Plenary, see particularly Kahlschlag. Das 11. Plenum des ZK der SED 1965, Studien und Dokumente, ed. by Günter Agde, 2nd edn (Berlin: Aufbau, 2000); on the banning of Spur der Steine, see Joshua Feinstein, The Triumph of the Ordinary. Depictions of Daily Life in the East German Cinema (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002), pp. 188–91. 45 Karen Ruoff Kramer, ‘Representations of Work in the Forbidden DEFA films of 1965’, in DEFA. East German Cinema 1946–1992, ed. by Seán Allan and John Sandford (New York: Berghahn, 1999), pp. 131–45 (p. 137).

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Fig 1.2: The bounded world of Renate’s experience erupts into a spectacle of socialist plenitude, which portends an entirely new world in Frauenschicksale (1952).

relationship between the hard-living, hard-working Balla and his Brigade on the one hand and the SED Party Secretary Horrath, brought in to restore order on the Schkona construction site. Although the two eventually become allies in their mutual concern for conditions on the Schkona site, the resulting harmony on the construction site quickly runs aground on Horrath’s secret relationship with the young engineer Kati Klee, who is pregnant by him. When Horrath finally confesses to the affair, he is stripped of his post and replaced by the dogmatic Bleibtreu, while Klee leaves Schkona to start a new life elsewhere. The film itself is adapted from Erik Neutsch’s popular and sprawling industrial novel of 1964 and uses the party hearing about Horrath’s case as a framing device for the film’s narrative, which is told in a series of flashbacks. This structure highlights the distinction between sujet and fabula, in so far as the film’s events are being told as stories by various characters and from various viewpoints, which the party itself will have to collectively arrange into some sort of serviceable narrative that could answer the question of what has actually happened at Schkona. This foregrounding of the uncertainty of events can be read against the impasses of industrial production, culture and the public sphere in the mid-1960s.

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In the years immediately following the building of the Berlin Wall, the SED initiated a series of social and cultural reforms, raised living standards and facilitated an atmosphere of relative cultural openness, which was reflected in the socially critical but ultimately affirmative character of many of the ‘rabbit films’.46 During the same time the dogmatic interpretations of socialist realism imported from the Soviet Union in the late 1940s and early 1950s diminished in influence. ‘In the 1960s’, Werner Mittenzwei claims, ‘writers in the GDR sought their own definition of socialist realism’, re-interpreting and opening up the socialist realist canon, criticizing the category of decadence that had been central to the anti-formalism campaign in the 1950s and re-introducing elements of the suppressed socialist avant-garde, often against the resistance of the older generation.47 Likewise, as Katie Trumpener suggests, many of the films of this period were characterized by attempts to update socialist realism and respond to trends in Western European new waves, ‘represent[ing] not only a break with or challenge to the established GDR aesthetic tradition but also a logical extension […] of its underlying critical tendencies’.48 As Engler points out, however, the modernization process unleashed by the party was beset by an internal contradiction. The SED’s notion of modernization was primarily economic, as embodied by the New Economic Plan (NöS), and it remained hostile to the more open and spontaneous habitus inspired by the social and existential security of socialism after the building of the Berlin Wall. The increasing social freedom, in realms of relationships, lifestyles and patterns of consumption challenged established Communist notions of morality and social norms. Engler suggests that the SED ‘wanted modern conditions without modern people’.49 This contradiction was particularly acute where the realms of labour and personal experience came together in East German culture, in the literature of the Bitterfeld Movement and the ‘rabbit films’ with their emphasis on criticism of bureaucracy and their defence of individual claims to self-expression within the socialist collective. By the mid-1960s the SED’s discomfort with this sort of cultural production turned to outright repression, as exemplified by the notorious 11th party Plenary. Spur der Steine is thus a transitional film, bearing traces of the promises of the early 1960s on the one hand and anticipating the disintegration of social alliances

46 Engler, Die Ostdeutschen, p. 61. 47 Werner Mittenzwei, Die Intellektuellen. Literatur und Politik in Ostdeutschland 1945–2000 (Leipzig: Faber and Faber, 2001), p. 203–5. 48 Katie Trumpener, ‘La guerre est fini. New Waves, Historical Contingency, and the GDR “Rabbit Films”’, in The Power of Intellectuals in Contemporary Germany, ed. by Michael Geyer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001), pp. 113–37 (p. 127). 49 Engler, Die Ostdeutschen, p. 61.

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that bonded together the Party, workers and intellectuals. The film’s key question is how to integrate into the socialist labour process and into the discursive frame of the party characters like Balla, representing a recalcitrant working class, and Kati Klee, standing not only for the female labour force but also for a generation of idealistic young intellectuals. As Joshua Feinstein has pointed out, this is not only a question of material production but also one of social reproduction, as alluded to by the uncertain fate of Klee and Horrath’s child.50 Like the ‘rabbit films’, Spur der Steine raises this question, but cannot answer it. The figure for this integrating vocation of socialist labour and daily life in many films of this period is ‘Vertrauen’, an intangible trust, familiarity, dependability and mutuality.51 This word is very much at stake in the film. Thus, the frame narrative dealing with Horrath’s demotion is essentially an exploration of the dynamics of Vertrauen on the one hand and discipline on the other, the question of where trust is properly or improperly placed. Similarly Horrath’s attempt to gain the trust of Balla and his brigade, against the advice of the District Party Secretary, who wants ‘the TexasKing’ thrown off the site, is based on a notion of honesty grounded in discipline: ‘We must tell them what we think’, he says, ‘and mean what we say’. To this the District Secretary wearily replies with the maxim of the great socialist pedagogue Makarenko, ‘people become good through trust’. Nevertheless, Balla is ultimately convinced by Horrath’s determined struggle with the site bureaucracy for a realistic plan and reliable supply of construction materials. The relationship between Balla and Horrath is in this sense metaphorical, of course, for that between the working class and the party, and involves an interesting interplay of masculinities. Balla’s gruff, proletarian manliness must be tempered by Horrath’s technocratic elegance, and vice versa.52 This encounter, however, is grounded in their mutual interest in production. Production in Spur der Steine is a category that cuts across the boundaries of personal and private, since both the public world of work and production and the private realm of interpersonal relationships are, according to the film’s logic, now to be rethought in terms of autonomy, cooperation, trust and problem solving. Engler argues that ‘the highest promise of East German modernity in the 1960s is this collective experiment with the conditio humana, with the possibilities of expression between human beings: immediacy, but no tyranny of intimacy; invulnerability of the person, but not on the basis of

50 Feinstein, The Triumph of the Ordinary, p. 188. 51 Erika Haas, ‘Heimat und Vaterland. Beobachtungen und Überlegungen zum Stellenwert im Werk von Anna Seghers’, Argonautenschiff. Jahrbuch der Anna-Seghers-Gesellschaft, 8 (1999), pp. 117–30 (p. 129). This is the title of Anna Seghers’s last novel, her 1968 portrayal of the events of 1953, from Stalin’s death through the uprising of 17 June 1953. 52 Manfred Krug starred in the role of Balla; see Sabine Hake on Krug in chap. 9.

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power, possession and titles’.53 If we think of this film as an ‘Eastern’, then at stake here is less the establishment of order per se than the elaboration of a network of trust and reliability, a mutual commitment to dealing with the problems of socialism and a shared interest in production. If the Western is about the installation of the order and hierarchies of capitalist modernity to the frontier, the (unrealized) horizon of the Eastern is the installation of Vertrauen, a kind of respectful familiarity. Horrath’s badly concealed relationship with Klee, which Balla quickly discovers, upsets the network of trust. Initially their mutual attraction to Klee provides libidinal gravity to Horrath and Balla’s interactions and alliance, just as Klee and Horrath come together by their mutual commitment to improving the conditions of labour. Once Klee has become pregnant, her condition becomes the occasion for gossip, political intrigue and suspicion at Schkona. Horrath is unwilling to come clean for fear of losing his position and endangering the progress he has made at the site, and he ends up conducting the party interrogation of Klee for her violation of ‘socialist morality’. The clarity of this socialist morality is shown to be untenable in the face of the party’s need to preserve discipline and provide a moral example. The conflation of morality and the political is explicitly questioned when Balla confronts Horrath about his illegitimate son. Horrath explains that, as a party member, he thought he had known ‘how a communist ought to be. Clean and virtuous at all times. Also in his private life’. Those who err personally are politically unreliable. Without challenging the basic overlap of the public and the private, he bemoans the tendency to govern the private through resolutions. Nevertheless, opening the gulf between public and private happiness marks an important difference from the films of the 1950s, where private happiness was envisioned as arising from its own inscription into a larger public project. Here, that project threatens to dissolve back into private ambitions, jealousies, resentments and frustrations, into careerism and political intrigue. In this respect we have here an inverted melodrama, as the petty crises of the private begin to foreclose the possibility of a socialist public sphere, precisely because that socialist public sphere has no mechanism for dealing with these personal contradictions. Herein lies the importance of Horrath’s party hearing in the film. The party attempts to construct a narrative of the film’s events, to create a discursive frame for adjudicating public and private claims for happiness, arriving at the conclusion that Horrath made a mistake and has accepted the consequences. Were it not for Kati, the District Secretary concludes, this could be the end of it. Ultimately, however, as the film reaches closure, Klee’s letter of farewell, de-

53 Engler, Die Ostdeutschen, p. 130.

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Fig 1.3: The party attempts to construct a narrative of the events and create a discursive frame for adjudicating public and private claims for happiness in Spur der Steine (1966).

claring that she ‘must free [herself] of memories of things [she] couldn’t cope with’, causes this discourse of reconciliation to break down, leaving the film’s characters at an impasse. The uncertain closure parallels the important thematic shift in DEFA productions after the 11th Plenary from the Gegenwartsfilm (topical film) to the Alltagsfilm (everyday film). Feinstein notes that the Gegenwartsfilm of the 1950s and 1960s reflected the quotidian as part of a strong, historical progression towards socialism, whereas the Alltagsfilm emphasizes daily life as particular, repetitive and ahistorical. Egon Günther’s Der Dritte also takes up this impasse of the personal and the public. The story of Margit, a mathematician and single mother who is pursuing her colleague Rolf Hrdlitschka after two unsuccessful relationships, explicitly poses the contradiction between the organization of labour on the one hand and the texture of interpersonal relationships in the GDR on the other. Underlying the protagonist’s attempt to find a third partner is her break with the logic of purpose and fulfilment based on self-sacrifice. This thematic is worked out in two key scenes. The first is the moment when a young Margit decides to leave the convent in which she has found refuge after her mother’s death. ‘Society is only as good as

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the way it treats its weakest members’, she is told, and replies only with ‘I can’t’. Following a six-month probationary period working in a factory after she is implicated in an affair with one of her fellow students, she meets with her Mother Superior to discuss her future. Asked about her intentions, Margit replies that she would like to continue working and studying. The Mother Superior sums up these desires, ‘new things, people, the world?’ Her speech that follows echoes in certain respects the logic of socialist political commitment: Is that not what we give you? Useful work? Every minute of your life, good honest work? The world? Who’s trying to take that away from you? It isn’t that great. Personal development is good […]. Although sometimes I fear that most people put themselves first. They’re so busy developing, they forget why they’re doing it. And for whom they’re doing it. As if it were just for themselves […]. It’s hard to forget about yourself, but that is true virtue […]. We must live our lives for a higher purpose.

At this last sentence, Margit removes her habit. She refuses a notion of fulfilment that is rooted in a mode of social engagement from without, a renunciation of openness to the social, intervening in the world from behind the cloistered wall, not to change it, but to comfort the suffering it produces. At the same time this notion of useful labour is the logic of self-renunciation. The question at stake in the film, then, will be one of escaping this ethical stance that is at once ascetic and melodramatic. Leaving the convent, Margit studies and becomes a computer engineer. The ethos of professional work in the GDR is shown strikingly in the film’s documentary-style opening sequence and other scenes that portray the workplace as a zone of respectful familiarity. The modernity of social relations in production, however, is belied by the persistence of archaic norms of behaviour in private relationships. The film underlines this contrast through the score, which sets scenes in and around the workplace to a pleasant and cheerful xylophone, while highlighting the still archaic qualities of personal relationships through an imposing religious chorus. This is the substance of Margit’s monologue at the close of the film. ‘I think and feel under the conditions of the scientific-technological revolution’, she explains to Hrdlitschka and her daughters, ‘but when I like a man, when I need him in my life, when I want to have him, then I would no doubt, even now, make myself ridiculous if I told him so […]. [H]e, only he, may allow himself that. Just like in grandmother’s times’. But this time, Margit is mistaken. Hrdlitschka allows himself to be chosen, and the film ends with the couple’s wedding. In a contemporary review, Camilla Warnke asks the question of what is specifically socialist about this plot. She answers that no one is forced to play the pursuer or the pursued. ‘No one is deceived or conquered’, she writes, ‘here there is no battle of the sexes. The point is rather the opposite: overcoming the antagon-

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ism of the male-female relationship in the immediate sphere of love’. More concretely, Warnke writes, Margit refuses to play the traditional role, ‘but rather breaks its limits, moves beyond it’.54 One might say the same of the film, which seems bound to return Margit to the convent, or some similar form of resignation and withdrawal, but instead bursts through the fourth wall, as she breaks briefly from diegetic space to address the camera and ask ‘what shall I do?’55 If, as Feinstein argues, the Alltagsfilm of the 1970s and 1980s did indeed mark a turning away from the understanding of the present as a dynamic moment in the historical movement towards socialism, Der Dritte nevertheless invests the everyday with the potential of modern, reasonable, unencumbered intersubjective relations, and the question of what Margit should do ultimately reflects the fact that she has the agency to pose the question in the first place. This is a break as well with the established narratives of intimacy, one that points to a new moral occult in socialism, to return to Peter Brooks. If there is in fact a tragic dimension to all of this, it is that the nascent habitus of respectful familiarity and the hope that the impasses of private life could be solved collectively was strangled by the inertia of the GDR’s own increasingly foreclosed public sphere. That we see a return of melodrama in DEFA films as the 1970s and 1980s unfold is perhaps no coincidence. The flood of late DEFA melodrama after 1989 is certainly no coincidence, as capitalist social relations return, and along with them the systems of constraint and impossibility with which we are all familiar.

54 Camilla Warnke, ‘Aber wenn mir ein Mann gefällt …’, Forum, 9 (1972), 9. 55 Johanna Isaacson in conversation.

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Manuel Köppen

Chapter 2 Emplotting Antifascism: Heroes, Scoundrels, Traitors Zero Hour – Rotation (1949) It begins with a close-up: the rollers of a newspaper printing press are rotating. Slowly the camera pans back and opens the view onto the shop floor. The night edition of the newspaper Der Angriff with the headline ‘The Battle for Berlin’. On the soundtrack the noise of the machines blends with explosions, while a cloud of dust obscures the view. A dissolve reveals lettering on a prison cell wall. We read ‘For freedom’ and below names paired with execution dates. Motionless a man in prison garb stares at the inscriptions until dust obscures this scene too. This is the final battle for Berlin. A long shot down a street in ruins with a burning double-decker bus, an older woman hurries to a bakery and is killed by a grenade on her way back; the camera pans over a burning food warehouse as soldiers charge past; a train pulls into a bombed out train station as another direct hit collapses the façade of the reception hall. The catastrophe is staged in a triad, the ‘zero hour’ is not far away, even though a poster announces: ‘We will never surrender’! The scene cuts to an underground first-aid station in the Potsdamer Platz subway terminal. In slow movements the camera explores the terrain crowded with civilians while we hear the Wehrmacht Bulletin reporting the status at the front. At the news that the fighting has reached Moabit a close-up appears of a woman’s horrified face as she desperately tries to reach the exit. A street sign bent sideways with the inscription ‘Alt-Moabit’ bears witness to the battles and simultaneously indicates the site of the following image, an image that leads back to a close-up of the prisoner in front of the wall bearing inscriptions – incarcerated in Berlin’s central prison located in the Moabit district. Fade to the caption ‘It began twenty years ago’. Wolfgang Staudte sets the frame for the story with telling effect. The turning of the rotary press establishes an initial visual leitmotif. The figure of the prisoner and the woman in the subway station are mysterious. In addition the name of the subway station encodes terrors to come. The exposition leads directly to the crisis; at best it allows us to guess at the prehistory of the protagonists while it predicts impending calamity. Suspense – even though the scenario lay only a few years in the past. The point was to make history exciting. With Rotation (1949) Staudte

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wanted to issue a warning. At a time when the development of both German states was becoming more polarized and with the ‘incipient restoration’ that he observed in the West as a background, the film was intended to recall past mistakes. ‘I thought the warning was important’, said Staudte, ‘not to let this evil spirit start all over again’.1 DEFA had already produced critical examinations of the National Socialist past, but Staudte was the first to provide a story about an individual’s fate that followed the development of National Socialism from the Weimar Republic up to the final catastrophe in 1945 and contained a message for the future. It was the first film in the service of the GDR’s founding myth as a nation based on the tradition of antifascism. While the FRG was the legal successor to the Third Reich, the GDR invoked the resistance to fascism. It was a historical construction that exonerated on the one hand. Anyone who contributed to building the GDR could view themselves as part of an alternative tradition because it was oppositional. On the other hand this was a Manichaean construction because between the hero and the scoundrel there remained only one plausible intermediate position: the traitor. That is why this archetypical constellation, characteristic of all Shakespeare’s plays, pervaded both the plotting of DEFA films with historical content as well as films with contemporary themes – as long as there were protagonists who represented the West. With its antifascist foundational myth the GDR was more or less born of the drama of history, and from then on fought for the good cause with socialist heroes. The GDR – unlike the FRG – understood itself fundamentally as a heroic society that could claim to belong to history’s victors. The antifascist narrative would henceforth belong to the core elements of DEFA productions. Although this narrative gave shape to the quintessence of DEFA films, it was not entirely independent of influences from international filmmaking, whether in competition with the Western zone or in its orientation towards models from within its own camp. I will invoke the constellation of heroes, scoundrels and traitors from three different points of time with examples from around 1950 and from the 1960s and 1970s in order to demonstrate that as the foundational myth gradually erodes, the positions of the figures within the conformist state narrative become insecure. Staudte tells the story of metalworker Hans Behnke, who discovered in the person of Charlotte his personal good fortune twenty years earlier at a railway crossing gate on the outskirts of Berlin. But the prevailing circumstances are not propitious for happiness. Both are unemployed, and when Charlotte becomes

1 Staudte, ed. by Egon Netenjakob, Eva Orbanz and Hans Helmut Prinzler (Berlin: Volker Spiess, 1991), p. 134.

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pregnant, they face an uncertain future. Behnke tries to provide for Charlotte and his infant son Hellmuth with temporary jobs. Their life is limited by bars, as one sequence visually emphasizes. At an age when he can barely crawl, Hellmuth finds himself in a playpen. Bars separate Behnke from the lives of the rich, shut him out of the factory premises and take away his freedom when he ends up in prison after a demonstration. Even the windows of his basement apartment are barred. He wants to liberate his family from this ‘rat hole’. But unlike his communist brother-in-law Kurt Blank, Behnke remains indifferent to politics. Even when the headlines read ‘Hitler Seizes Power’, he worries only about his family, although he does help repair the deadbolt lock of the young Jewish couple next door, albeit in secret. Then things begin to improve. The Behnkes move up to the fifth floor. He is employed as a skilled worker at a newspaper rotary press and dreams of the possibility of a family vacation sponsored by the official Nazi programme for recreation. But the regime begins to cast the shadows. The Gestapo is everywhere, investigates his private life and is searching for his brother-in-law who has left for Czechoslovakia. Finally Behnke is forced to join the party. Soon there is a party badge on his lapel, and a portrait of Hitler hangs in his living room, while his son Hellmuth blares along with the Hitler Youth, ‘Today Germany belongs to us / And tomorrow the whole world’. In the meantime Behnke’s apartment has been badly damaged by a night airraid. ‘It could have been worse’, Hans says to Lotte, cuing the warning figure from the underground who unexpectedly steps out of the darkness into the living room illuminated by the glow of the burning city. ‘It will get much worse, you can count on it’, says Kurt, catalyzing the central dramatic dialogue about responsibility and guilt with Behnke, the Nazi fellow traveller. ‘You’re to blame for this’. With a gesture towards the burning city, Kurt accuses the printer, who operates ‘a goddamned lie machine’. It is necessary to stop the senseless mass slaughter of German soldiers: ‘You have to love humanity! That’s our battlefront. And where do you stand? At your goddamned rotary press’. In the end Behnke does help print pamphlets for his brother-in-law. At the same time Hellmuth is caught ever more tightly in the clutches of the Hitler Youth leader, who demands absolute ‘vigilance’. At this point in the plot everything turns into a crisis. The Jewish neighbours are deported. Behnke learns that his brother-in-law has been murdered in a concentration camp and smashes the picture of Hitler in the living room. Hellmuth sees him and denounces his father. The confrontation between father and son takes place in Gestapo headquarters, accompanied by a radio programme that a poster in the newspaper office had advertised: ‘Symphony concert for your break. Ludwig van Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony’. The ‘Symphony of Fate’, which pursues the programmatic idea ‘through night to the light’, accompanies the confrontation between father and son and also provides a prelude to coming events.

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With a dissolve from the son to the prison wall of the opening sequence we are back in the present.2 Fate takes its course. During the final battle the Wehrmacht blows up the subway tunnel under the River Spree, which results in apocalyptic scenes at Potsdamer Platz. Torrential waters pour like Noah’s flood into the underground station. Drowning people cling to the grate of an air shaft. Finally a birdcage floats by until even the little bird drowns. These images are emblematic because the bar motif, which had been associated with the apolitical fellow travellers, here makes its moral lesson clear. The people, so inoffensive that they had offered no opposition, are responsible for their own destruction. In a parallel montage the film tracks the fates of the ruptured family. Charlotte tries to reach Moabit and dies in a grenade explosion. Hellmuth, carrying a bazooka and still surrounded by bars, is left in the lurch by his Hitler Youth leader. At the last minute the Red Army rescues Hans Behnke from imminent execution. The image of the prisoner standing motionless in front of the wall with inscriptions appears three times in this montage: commemorating those who died in the antifascist resistance and as an admonition for the future. Biblical motifs resonate: the son’s act of betrayal with Judas, the apocalypse with final salvation, and the parable of the ‘prodigal son’ at the film’s conclusion. After imprisonment and months of hesitation Hellmuth finally finds his way back to his father, who welcomes him and in a symbolic gesture gives him his own old suit to replace the uniform. Thus he formulates the film’s message and interprets its central image: In my cell there were names on the walls. Not just names. The fates of people like you and me. There were French, Poles, Italians, Dutch and Germans. All of them suffered torture, unimaginable. Yes, they died because they did not want to be culpable. Look, to leave those who come after us a better world, a world in which there are no more dangers and no hardship. […] I believe that is the key.

The final sequence completes the film as parable. Hellmuth has just fallen in love and meets his Inge at the same railroad crossing where Hans and Charlotte’s happiness once began. Hellmuth and Inge, the new generation, will do everything better and achieve what late Uncle Kurt had urged twenty years ago: they will prepare a better future for the generations to come. As their summer Sunday comes to

2 On Staudte’s film Rotation, see Marc Silberman, ‘The Discourse of Powerlessness’, in German Cinema: Texts in Context (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1995), pp. 99–113; and Ulrike Weckel, ‘The Mitläufer in Two German Postwar Films. Representation and Critical Reception’, History and Memory, 15.2 (Fall/Winter 2003), 64–93 (especially pp. 72–76 on Hans Behnke as a Mitläufer or Nazi fellow traveller).

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Fig 2.1: Hans Behnke gazes at the prison wall, the record of his legacy. Rotation (1949).

an end, Hellmuth and Inge too find themselves at the same crossroads in the Berlin forest where Hans and Charlotte had strolled years ago, but with one significant difference. At that time the pair pursued a seldom-used path to the right. The new generation single-mindedly follows the main path to the left towards a secure future. Staudte stages more or less obliquely his partisan position against reactionary tendencies in the West and for a better world in the spirit of antifascism. Perhaps it was meant as an assist for the GDR’s new cultural officials, since the antifascist hero’s message requires a ubiquitous line of demarcation. He stands on the front line of love for humanity. Its appeal to ‘humanity’ as fundamental moral standard ties Staudte’s film to West German productions such as Helmut Käutner’s In jenen Tagen [In Those Days, 1947]. At the same time, however, Staudte anticipates the identification of antifascism with humanism that would define GDR cultural policies. In addition Behnke’s commemoration of all those who ‘didn’t want to be culpable’ laid claim to an International of resistance born of the humanistic spirit. On the one hand that may have been too neutral from a partisan perspective. On the other Staudte rubbed people the wrong way with a message that was

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far too pacifistic. Originally the reformed father was supposed to burn the son’s uniform accompanied by the words, ‘And that was your last uniform’! Release of the film was blocked for three-quarters of a year until it could appear in an edited version. With the beginning of the Cold War both firm political partisanship and defences were required. The film also remained neutral on the hero question. Kurt Blank with his descriptive surname is the role model beyond reproach: courageous, determined and always prepared to sacrifice himself. But this kind of picture-book hero, who appears to admonish more than to act, hardly awakens empathy. The real hero of the story is Hans Behnke, the reformed fellow traveller. In view of all that his own generation must answer for, when he and the son who had betrayed him meet again, he murmurs, ‘My boy, you have to forgive’. The figure of the traitor, who appears here in the guise of Hellmuth as the victim seduced by National Socialist indoctrination, is excused accordingly. The scoundrels are always the Nazis, the opportunistic Hitler Youth leader prime amongst them. The front runs between the Nazis and the people. Even the Wehrmacht is absolved, since Kurt justifies his struggle against ‘Hitler’s war’ by saying he wants to save the lives of ‘German soldiers’. Rotation was a film with a message. It was directed at all who were ready to assume the legacy of the resistance fighters and to work for peace and socialism in the future. Six months later in his IG-Farben feature Der Rat der Götter [The Council of the Gods, 1950] Kurt Maetzig demonstrated how the story of a Nazi fellow traveller could be told both in conformity with the system and at the highest level of contemporary ideological expectations. Central to the message was the interconnection of (American) big business with fascism. Georgi Dimitrov’s 1930s thesis that fascism was the dictatorship of the imperialistic elements of finance capital was reactivated. Thus the claim could be made that fascism was still alive in the West, and as the successor state of the Third Reich, the FRG was brewing revanchist plans with U.S. help. But there was still no antifascist hero to serve as principal role model. During the second SED party conference in July 1952 the politburo criticized the fact that many DEFA films inadequately fulfilled the task of ‘ideational transformation, of educating the working class in the spirit of socialism’.3 At the film conference that followed, socialist realism was declared mandatory with the proviso that the positive sides of socialist society – what was new and thriving – should be shown. The ‘positive hero’ was on the agenda. The shining example was identified in Ernst Thälmann, the communist party leader ar-

3 Für den Aufschwung der fortschrittlichen deutschen Filmkunst. Resolution des Politbüros des ZK der SED, Juli 1952 (Berlin: Dietz, 1953), p. 10.

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rested by the Nazis in 1933. Willi Bredel, who moved up into the Central Committee of the SED two years later, wrote the scenario. Maetzig, who had been awarded the National Prize First Class for Rat der Götter, was given the job of director.

Representing the Interests of the State – Ernst Thälmann (1954/55) The ‘most important creation of German cinematic art’, was how Walter Ulbricht praised the first part of the Ernst Thälmann epic.4 The models were from the Soviet Union. Mikheil Chiaureli, the man who paved the way in film for the Stalin cult, had crowned his oeuvre in 1949 with a very expensive two-part film: The Fall of Berlin [Padeniye Berlina]. Stalin is portrayed as a wise leader and a military genius. He defies the German generals, who openly acknowledge his superiority and are therefore generally portrayed in a positive light. And he also defies a scheming Churchill, who wants to rob him of the reward for his military efforts, the capture of Berlin and the associated territorial claims. The climax of the film is the apotheosis of Stalin as father figure. In Riefenstahl’s Triumph des Willens [Triumph of the Will, 1935], Hitler had descended from the clouds to the Nazi party rally in Nuremberg. The Fall of Berlin shows a flight formation that conveys Stalin to the steps of the (recreated) Berlin Reichstag, where he appears as secular saviour, welcoming the Russian troops and liberated concentration camp survivors. German ‘film art’ could not really get away with this kind of hero concept, but a leader from the past who appeared similarly unshakable was acceptable. And in the Thälmann version of the historical feature Germany’s conquest had to be converted into Germany’s liberation. In Chiaureli’s film the Red Army storms the capital in a cinematic battle to the accompaniment of symphonic poems by Dmitri Shostakovich. In the German version the heroic action focuses on a Thälmann Brigade’s rather modest contribution to victory, which is nevertheless effectively staged and accompanied by the DEFA symphony orchestra. The German production budget was just an approximation of the Russian model, but the result was still a sensation, filmed in Agfacolor, with massive numbers of extras and a hero without inner conflicts. In the first part, Sohn seiner Klasse [Son of his Class, 1954], he is the very thing heralded by the title of the second part: Führer seiner Klasse [Leader of his Class, 1955]. Thälmann in the film is so steadfast in his

4 Walter Ulbricht, ‘Ernst Thälmann – Sohn der Arbeiterklasse’, Neues Deutschland, 12 March 1954.

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strength of character and confident in his leadership that only an act of treachery can endanger his position, and his political opponents are made laughable in order to elevate the figure of the leader. In this kind of unqualified heroic legend, the pose is more interesting than the person. What matters are the catchphrases that convey total confidence in the future. Ernst Thälmann – Sohn seiner Klasse tells the life story of the labour leader from the 1918 November Revolution to a revolt in Hamburg in 1923. During the trench warfare on the western front in 1918 he recognizes the meaning of a historic moment when he hears about the sailors’ revolt in Kiel: ‘Turn your guns around, soldiers’! After his fellow combatant Fiete Jansen has thrown Captain Quadde in the mud and Thälmann rips the epaulettes off Major Zinker, he chants, ‘Long live the revolution’! To represent the November Revolution, the film offers crowd scenes in front of the Berlin cathedral. Liebknecht proclaims the Free German Socialist Republic on the historical site. The founding party conference of the German Communist Party in 1918 receives an equally opulent staging, while a certain Mr. Fuller, a representative from the American President Wilson, urges government leaders to crush the Spartacist uprising. This too supports the Dimitrov thesis, which remained central to the self-legitimation of the SED leadership. To prove that the GDR was more than just a state by the grace of its Soviet brothers, the enemy that was operating unremittingly in the history of the class struggle needed to be identified. In addition the November struggles were indispensable from a dramaturgical perspective in order to present Thälmann as the successor to Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg. A pan down to the Landwehr Canal, in which Luxemburg’s body had been dumped, dissolves to a pan upwards where Hamburg harbour, the hero’s field of operation, appears. He picks up the ball immediately, acting as leader when the grieving shipyard workers spontaneously strike. ‘The reactionaries are going all out’, he shouts to them, and finishes with the phrase ‘Despite everything!’ (‘Trotz alledem!’) – a Liebknecht quote that the film attributes to its hero as a leitmotif. But Thälmann is not just a speaker. He reads, all night long. In his smartly appointed living room he familiarizes himself with Lenin’s State and Revolution. Even though Fiete Jansen protests that they had already studied it six months ago, Thälmann insists: ‘That is really a good book. Here, give it another try’. Fiete and Änne Harms provide the subplot in the heroic epic. Änne, as if alluding to Delacroix’s painting Freedom Leads the People, had operated the siren calling the workers to the commemorative protest. Their love story mobilizes the private emotions within the historical drama but with no trace of conflict in their relationship. Conflicts arise only through the social struggle. ‘Clean-cut girls, strong comrades’: these figures hark back to proletarian novels of the 1920s and 1930s, where the comrade’s actions are always partisan and the partner supports him in

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the struggle.5 The further plot developments are equally clichéd, with Thälmann leading the way during the 1920 Kapp Putsch against the traitors in the Social Democratic Party and the villainous Freikorps troops led by Major Zinker. But the workers’ fists are effective even against heavily armed troops, and international solidarity is victorious across the board. ‘How you behave towards the Soviet state is the touchstone of whether you are a revolutionary or not’, Thälmann quotes Lenin and steps courageously onto the deck of a ship sent by the labour union in Petrograd to help the suffering workers in Hamburg. There follow scenes of fraternization. Indeed, whenever labour leaders meet, the ambiance is informal. In Moscow the German KPD leaders (Thälmann, Walter Ulbricht, Clara Zetkin and Wilhelm Pieck) have a private audience with Lenin despite his busy calendar. The counter-image to this harmony is provided by scenes of the bourgeois high life in Berlin; if they hear the pop of a champagne cork, they panic that the red hordes are attacking. In accordance with the theory of social fascism the political adversary is still social democracy in cahoots with military and capital. Back in Hamburg Thälmann calls for an armed uprising against the ‘monopoly capitalists’. In front of the painted backdrop of Hamburg, after all this pathos, a suspenseful plot develops with an attack on a police station, the construction of barricades and the tactical exploitation of the Hamburg sewer system. Thälmann is the strategist of the underground who directs every action. Above all he is waiting for Änne, who was sent out to find the arms shipment promised by the comrades in Dresden. But she returns bearing news that the uprising in Saxony has collapsed. Even at such a moment the leader retains his historical perspective: ‘The day will come when we will be victorious […]. Despite everything’! And above all, he knows about the scoundrels: ‘Brandler and his clique have acted like traitors.’ Here he is referring to Heinrich Brandler and August Thalheimer, KPD leaders and ‘rightists’ who hardly appear in the film but who are later blamed within the party for the uprising’s failure. An earlier scene with German President Ebert and an officer of the Reichswehr had hinted that reactionaries had infiltrated the KPD’s Central Committee with paid spies. The film ends with a partial victory. Fiete was able to kill Major Zinker, the Freikorps officer shown in the film as responsible for the murder of Liebknecht and Luxemburg. For this Fiete has been condemned to death, but the workers of Hamburg are unified in their resistance and, led by Thälmann, go on strike. This is a demonstration of power that even the justice system cannot evade, and the death sentence is revoked. In a final address to the masses Thälmann sums up: ‘You were fighting for a better

5 Michael Rohrwasser, Saubere Mädel – Starke Genossen. Proletarische Massenliteratur? (Frankfurt am Main: Roter Stern, 1975).

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Germany’. The struggle ended in defeat ‘only because traitors and opportunists stabbed us in the back’. With its clichéd elaboration of the friend-enemy constellation, the film can be characterized as hagiographic. This was politically desirable in order to anchor the young East German republic in a tradition in which Ulbricht and his Central Committee could be sure they were included in a long line of heroic resistance to evil in the world – including American imperialism. On the other hand the film reflects the paranoid structures of thought and behaviour that Stalinism had generated. The price of being certain they belonged to the ‘victors of history’ was constant fear of being betrayed by those within their own ranks. The figure of the traitor in the heroic epic is needed not just to produce suspense and explain defeats but above all to confirm the conditioning experienced by the first generation of antifascists who had returned from Moscow with Ulbricht and now controlled the fate of the country. The traitors remain mostly invisible in the film, but they are more dangerous for that very reason.6 Creating legends in the spirit of socialist realism requires some revisions of the historical record. Thälmann could hardly have been on the western front at the time of the Kiel mutiny because he had already deserted after a home leave in October 1918. During the Kapp Putsch he was involved in the labour union and did not play a leading role in the political conflicts. And he certainly had nothing to do with organizing the uprising in Hamburg. The military leader of the uprising was Hans Kippenberger, a former lieutenant who would later build the secret police of the KPD. He was also responsible for the idea of using the sewer system for the fighting but fell victim to the Moscow purges in 1937. Using the biography of a man who had been liquidated after a secret trial to provide details for Thälmann’s heroic legend – as Bredel’s scenario did – bears the mark of Stalinism. Biographies could be erased or rewritten with equal ease. It is interesting to note that the film itself was sanitized in 1961 by eliminating Stalin’s appearance in it.7 Führer seiner Klasse, the second part of the heroic legend, drags even more from a dramaturgical perspective because this was intended to become finally a cinematic memorial. The crowd scenes with Thälmann as speaker and later with

6 On the negotiations of fiction and reality in this film, see Hunter Bivens, ‘9 March 1954: Ernst Thälmann – Sohn seiner Klasse Marks High Point of Socialist Revolution’, in A New History of German Cinema, ed. by Jennifer M. Kapczynski and Michael D. Richardson (Rochester: Camden House, 2012), pp. 347–52. 7 See also Russell Lemmons’s article on the biographical background to Maetzig’s bio-pic: ‘“Great Truths and Minor Truths”. Kurt Maetzig’s Ernst Thälmann Films, the Antifascist Myth, and the Politics of Biography in the German Democratic Republic’, in Take Two. Fifties Cinema in a Divided Germany, ed. by John Davidson and Sabine Hake (New York: Berghahn, 2007), pp. 91–105.

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the Red Army and its invincible armoured brigade ‘Ernst Thälmann’ are strung together like a series of tableaus with no arc of suspense. The film begins in 1930 and ends with the political leader’s murder in 1944, which does not take place, as it did in historical fact, in Buchenwald Concentration Camp. In the film Thälmann emerges from his cell in Bautzen Prison, his head held high, for his final walk as the background image changes to a waving red flag: a final idealization of Thälmann as a martyr of his class. The historical falsifications appear even more flagrant because in this version the SPD’s refusal to join a united front against fascism was responsible for Hitler’s seizure of power. The KPD on the other hand had recognized as early as 1930 that the main enemy was on the right, and Thälmann tried tirelessly to create ‘unity of action’. The character Robert Dirhagen, a member of the SPD, is introduced to illustrate the SPD’s betrayal. He is forced to recognize at the last moment that the party leadership consciously intends to allow Hitler to come to power so that he can ‘bring about his own ruin’. Of course that corresponded exactly to Moscow’s ideas, according to which fascism, as the final phase of capitalism, would necessarily lead directly to its collapse. The film pursues a rhetoric of inversion, ascribing to the enemy the very ideas with which the historical Thälmann was kept on a leash in his effort to support a united front. In other respects the film links to the characters in part one. Fiete goes underground after Hitler takes power, fights in Spain with the ‘Ernst Thälmann Brigade’ and later with the Red Army. Änne participates in the resistance in Germany, is arrested and dies during an allied bombing attack in a dramatic scene in which Thälmann in the prison building opposite serves as eyewitness. The resolution of this plot line leaves a certain aftertaste, especially since American capital as represented by Mr. Fuller, a sort of historical revenant, is still pondering the distribution of world markets with German capitalists as the Wehrmacht stands before Moscow. Afterwards only the armoured troops of the Red Army appear as liberators – with scenes of fraternization between Soviet soldiers and well-nourished German concentration camp prisoners that take on the aura of a folk festival. Liberation ensues with the energetic support of the ‘Free Germany Committee’ as represented by Wilhelm Pieck, whose pithy words mark the role of the GDR leadership in the historic victory. The aesthetic model of the Soviet epic film is apparent at every level. The twopart structure, the pervasive pathos, the idealization of the leader paired with opponents who are made ridiculous, the tableau effect of the mise-en-scène and the obvious falsification of history in the spirit of the Cold War: all of this is present in The Fall of Berlin as well. Even Maetzig’s hero in his unwavering calm reminds us of the great leader in the Soviet Union – with the difference that Thälmann remains a hero of the heart, close and human, while Stalin in Chiaureli’s film is stylized to superhuman heights. Above all Thälmann stands for the concept of

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‘Despite everything’; he is the sacrifice that guarantees it and thus legitimizes the GDR and its representatives – even vis-à-vis the great leader Stalin. DEFA’s counterpart to this victor is a heroic victim. Here the constellation in which heroes, scoundrels and traitors meet has aspects of a state neurosis that would not reappear in such a striking form in later DEFA films. But at the same time this constellation formed the matrix used to measure the level of conformity or divergence in later films, for the hagiography of Thälmann presented nothing less than the official party view of history, which placed the state and with it every one of its citizens into a heroic tradition.

The Resistance Experienced – Fünf Patronenhülsen (1960) The Thälmann epic was a meta-narrative intended to justify a myth. It was followed by films that continued the work on the foundational myth in a more nuanced way. One example is Frank Beyer’s Fünf Patronenhülsen [Five Cartridges], a film that oscillates between models from the East and the West. Its expressionistic visual design is a response to the trends in Soviet film during the post-Stalinist thaw. In its configuration of space and the challenging situations faced by its solitary hero in a hostile landscape, the affinity to the American western is obvious, even if Beyer always denied such borrowings. Fünf Patronenhülsen stages a heroic epic from the ‘prehistory’ of the GDR, the Spanish Civil War. The film presents a portrait of the International Brigades and in its symbolic narrative style is also intended as a parable for social conditions in the GDR. Filmed in Bulgaria and the German Harz region, members of a brigade are fighting their way through the rocky landscape of the Iberian range, surrounded by enemies and about to die of thirst in the burning heat, in an attempt to reach their fellow troops on the other side of the Ebro River. The canted images in the opening sequence show the towering crags of the mountain range accompanied by the solemn pathos of the song ‘On the Rio Jarama’, which celebrates a defensive battle outside Madrid in February 1937. Both a heroic landscape and a heroic event are to take shape here. The song sets the style for the editing: slow, deliberate and determined. The same sound track underlies the introduction of the protagonists with an indication of their nationality: Wasja, Soviet Union; José, Spain; Willi, Germany; Pierre, France; Oleg, Poland; Dimitri, Bulgaria. The point is to make the internationality clear. The plot is simple. Commissar Heinrich Witting is supposed to provide cover for the retreat of a battalion that includes the volunteers introduced in the opening credits. He succeeds, but now the suicide squad is surrounded. Doubts are

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pointless: ‘If you bend, you break. You’re communists!’ says Witting. He soon leaves to search for the missing Wasja and is wounded. As he lies dying, he transfers his responsibility to the five survivors in the form of a purported deployment plan for the enemy troops. Torn into five parts and hidden in five cartridge shells, the plan includes an assignment for each of the soldiers. Not a single one can be left behind – Witting, the old Spartacus fighter and father figure of the group had already demonstrated that in his search for Wasja. But it is a long hard road. We see a landscape that in its aridity and bleakness puts extraordinary demands on the five good men. There are oases in the desert of stone: solitary farmsteads or villages with wells. But they are occupied by the enemy that has deployed two battalions to look for the stragglers. And in this landscape there are many borders controlled by the enemy: a gorge, for example, that can only be traversed if they seize a bridge. At the end of all the tests lurks another border, this one the antithesis of the earlier ones: the Ebro, a barrier of water in this parched terrain. It is a landscape for proving oneself, a landscape in which the enemy is ubiquitous, and at the end of the tests at least four of the partisans have reached the goal. Pieced together, the slips of paper from the cartridge cases reveal not a deployment plan but instead Witting’s last command: ‘Stay together and you will survive’. The message of the film is as clear as the landscape is symbolic. Surrounded by enemies, only those who stick together can survive in extremis. Anyone who goes off on their own, as Pierre does when he secretly gives his cartridge to a buddy and leaves the group shortly before arriving at the riverbank, dies in a hail of enemy bullets. The film tries to convey its message symbolically. The plot begins after the opening credits with a close-up of a burning kerosene lamp associated with Witting. Before it goes out at his death, it hung on a cave wall and illuminated another message written by José: ‘Soldiers on the other side, why the hell are you fighting for the capitalists and fascists against us. You’re workers and farmers too. José Martinez. Miner. Now soldier of the Republic. No more tobacco or ammunition’. The inscription links to Witting’s handwritten message to form a permanent legacy, and the reference to the lack of tobacco hints at another chain of motifs. Witting asks the major who had ordered the retreat for a ten-pack of tabaco for each man in his group, although in the end the cigarette packs are exchanged for cartridge cases. Similarly the burning candle on the major’s desk substitutes for the kerosene lamp; it represents the life light of the lost soldiers. The major, who has taken Witting’s place in the genealogy of good fathers, is banking on their rescue. By linking writing and light, the film alludes to sacral motifs. Even brand names play a role in the politics of this kind of symbolism. At the point where the fascist troops have almost caught up with the partisans, the fascist commander tosses a bag filled with chocolate and cigarettes to them as a bribe to capitulate.

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Fig 2.2: The message on the cave wall in Fünf Patronenhülsen (1960).

The bag contains a pack of Lucky Strikes, the American brand with an expressive name. In the end they receive a pack with Cyrillic letters and an image of a German shepherd as a bonus for having survived. It is the Russian cigarette brand ‘Drug’, which means ‘friend’; the ten-pack is coloured red. The contemporary audience surely understood the message, even though the film was in black and white. ‘Why can a communist live for days without water in the blistering heat and we can’t’, asks one of the fascists thoughtfully. ‘The film gives the answer’ was the response in the SED newspaper Neues Deutschland.8 The film does in fact demonstrate the superiority of both the communist and of a principal: the international solidarity that opposes the fascists’ misanthropic conduct of war. Beyer’s drama set in Spain is a successful action film with an antifascist message. Here historical memory is projected parable-like on the reality in the GDR a year before the construction of the Berlin Wall. The message is to stay the course like they did in Spain. Although the others, the fascists, may have unlimited resources, we must

8 Anon., ‘Helden unter spanischem Himmel’, Neues Deutschland, 4 November 1960.

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stay together to reach the safety of the riverbank and the friends’ camp. This plot had no need for scoundrels. Anyone who does not stick with the collective dies because he leaves it. The surmounting of enemy borders in the film has the effect of a veiled plea to finally set some borders so that terrible fates like that of Pierre can be avoided in the future. The film also speaks to the generational model. The song about the Jarama Front is resumed at the end of the film, and we see the faces of the survivors fade to that of the dying Witting, the Spartacus fighter whose message enabled them to survive. Unlike Sam Wood’s For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943), Beyer’s plot manages without a woman. It is a purely masculine melodrama that invokes the genealogy of antifascist fighters as examples for the current generation.9

Victorious Socialism – He, Du! (1970) The basic antifascist consensus remained binding. It was the cement that was supposed to hold society together, but socialist progress behind the Wall needed to be made visible. A new centre was planned for the Alexanderplatz in East Berlin that would complement the adjacent gingerbread style of the former Stalinallee with an architectural concept that would herald progress by using contemporary concrete construction. After an architectural competition in 1964 the new design of the plaza was determined: its immense surface area was modelled on Moscow’s Red Square, it was intended to broadcast architectural modernity with its perimeter development, and the Television Tower was intended to be its landmark. Film comedies in particular show evidence of this development. Confident of belonging to history’s victors in the realms of morals as well as presumably economics, filmmakers could tell about successes in a light tone as Rolf Römer does in He, Du! [Hey, You!], his comedy with erotic overtones. In the opening sequence a view of the imperial Prussian capital Berlin in the eighteenth century is followed by images of demolition: buildings that have to make way for the new plaza, which is heralded by an image of the newly constructed Television Tower, all accompanied by Baroque music. The newly constructed plaza is staged again and again as the film’s protagonist. As an emblem of modernity and of the determination to rebuild, it provides a yardstick for the characters’ actions.

9 On the gender politics of Maetzig’s film, see Sabine Hake, ‘Political Affects: Antifascism and the Second World War in Frank Beyer and Konrad Wolf’, in Screening War: Perspectives on German Suffering, ed. by Paul Cooke and Marc Silberman (Rochester: Camden House, 2010), pp. 102–22 (especially pp. 114–15).

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Fig. 2.3, 4, 5: The teachers’ collective witnesses the construction activity on Alexanderplatz. He, Du! (1970).

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Romantic relationships are also affected. Ellen, a teacher who has been involved for years with Horst, also a teacher, wants to break up with him, although in bed everything is working perfectly fine for the two of them. Horst seems satisfied with successes on the ‘educational front’, but Ellen is bothered by unsolved problems. The next school day reveals what that means, as Ellen acts as a substitute teacher. Pictures of classical writers Schiller, Lessing and Goethe are hanging on the classroom wall as she goes over Bruno Apitz’s antifascist novel Nackt unter Wölfen [Naked among Wolves] with the class. One pupil appears well informed but thoroughly bored, as if they were talking about a classical writer. This has consequences for both the pupil and for his teacher Irene. Ellen knows that both need help. Home visits reveal that the boy smokes and drinks because his father is often missing from the otherwise sheltered home. He is away building factories in socialist sister country Bulgaria. Irene’s ‘case’ is more problematic: she doesn’t want to cooperate. At the film’s happy end Ellen manages to have a ‘teachers council’ help her colleague and guide her to the correct path, that of commitment to actively teaching antifascism. Ellen’s romantic choice is also exemplary. She meets Frank. Earlier in his life he was just a worker, but now he is the leader of a work team at the Alexanderplatz while pursuing an engineering degree through correspondence courses – a hero on the labour front. Furthermore, Ellen comes from a humble background. She is a foundling who was caught up in the post-war chaos and owes everything to socialist children’s homes. A perfect match, except that the end of the film reveals problems in their first night together, and we see a completely depressed Frank on the following morning standing on the brink of an open pit brown coal mine that will soon reach his parents’ property – an image that is diametrically antithetical to the erectile modernism of the Alexanderplatz. But Frank manages to say something reassuring: ‘We’re switching to oil in any case’. And his parents’ house, an old Bohemian brewery, was taken over from an old Nazi, so that the inevitable demolition can also be interpreted as an act of purification. The film, which takes place a few weeks before the end of 1969, possesses a highly developed semantics of space. It is a narrative of the centre city with the signifier on the Alexanderplatz. That is the point where journeys begin. While Ellen, her girlfriend Ulli and a group from the teachers collective are cavorting in snowy Thuringia to celebrate the New Year, Frank is flying to Budapest with his work team as a reward for their achievements. Frank ends up in bed with the crane operator Jutta on New Year’s Eve, but that has no consequence except a hangover the next morning, since he is in love with Ellen. In the end the ubiquitous cinematic tourism leads Ellen to her tenth high school reunion at an inn in Moritzburg, a town in Saxony that owes its name to a Baroque hunting lodge of the former nobility. She is traveling with Bernd, an actor by trade, in his Wartburg

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car: ‘The sheet metal is too thin, the motor is too loud, the suspension is too soft, all the seals are unsealed, 16 rust spots, but otherwise brand new and a really first-class car.’ A table set for a king awaits them, and around it gather their former schoolmates who have all become valued members of society: major, judge, doctor, auto mechanic, council president, teacher, journalist. Even ‘beautiful Antje’, mother of three children, is working as a civil engineer. The perfect idyll is interrupted by two guests from the West who arrive late not only in a BMW but also with shopping bags full of inappropriate gifts in the form of Western alcoholic beverages, chocolate, perfume and coffee – as if those things hadn’t been available for years in the GDR. One of the Westerners is Ellen’s heartthrob from the past, Dr. Ralf Lindberg, who distinguishes himself right away by asking inappropriate questions: ‘Princely magnificence and communist sensibility, how do you combine those? Preservation of the national cultural heritage?’ No answer is necessary, since the answer was presented in the opening sequence. By passing through an intermediate phase of demolition that disposes of the detritus of German history, the GDR is able to link to the glory of earlier days, providing a clandestine expansion of the national heritage through antifascism to the tradition of the prince-elector. One message of the spatial model is that the GDR is self-sufficient within its network of socialist sister countries. The other is that interference from outside is unwelcome, especially coming from those, who like Ralf, have left the construction of socialism in the lurch. The border is drawn when political questions arise. Ralf thinks politics is something ‘dirty’: ‘My participation in politics is limited to casting my vote’. When he asks Ellen if she is a party member, her answer precludes any further rapprochement: ‘Yes, and I suppose that’s the difference between us’. Partisanship here means antifascism, and it both defines insurmountable divides and requires commitments that are motivated primarily by generational factors. Through her approach in the ‘Irene case’ Ellen supports the influence of the older teacher in the collective. Karl is retired but still active. As a teacher with his own experience of suffering for the cause of antifascism, he helps Ellen’s cause achieve a breakthrough even before the teachers’ council meeting begins. He points out to his younger colleagues that they are mistaken in assuming that ‘… children are not emotionally responsive to the issue of war and fascism’. If you don’t emotionalize the issue, you cannot nurture ‘young revolutionaries’. Karl is the living example. As Ellen says to her friend Ulli, he can ‘explain everything much better to the boy. He just tells a story from his own life and that’s it. But all the same, it’s our turn now. It’s like a relay race’. The film conveys a cheerful attitude of insularity spiced with erotic freedom, as long as the romantic choice is politically correct. In a celebration of the present like this one there are hardly any real scoundrels or actual traitors. There are only

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derivatives of the basic model: the scoundrel who “went West” but gets nowhere with his Western status symbols any more, and the deviationist in the teacher collective who can be brought back to the right path of learning about and teaching antifascism if the appropriate measures are taken. At most there is one enemy to confront: inner laxity in your own camp. He, Du! rebuts May Spils’s Zur Sache, Schätzchen [Go for It, Baby], a low-budget comedy production of the New German Cinema that created a furore in the West in 1968, attracting 6.5 million viewers. The same generation is portrayed as in He, Du!, but here the hero stylizes his listlessness as the melancholy lifestyle of an antibourgeois rebel. Borrowing from Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless [À bout de souffle, 1959], laxity and refusal to conform to society’s norms are life principles. He, Du! presents the opposing narrative. The new generation optimistically wades right in, serving the goals of peace and socialism in conformity with social norms. They owed their confidence in victory primarily to a constellation which permitted GDR citizens, in view of how the young people in the West were rebelling, to assure themselves that they were on the right side of history. This is shown by Ellen’s attendance at a concert where she runs into her actor classmate Bernd. He gives a pathos-laden translation of the lyrics of the blues song ‘Jungle City, USA’ sung by Etta Cameron. The new Berlin is neither an American-style ‘jungle city’ plagued by racial discrimination nor does it have anything in common with a pop-bohemian Munich before the rebellion of 1968.

Heimat in the GDR – Die Flucht (1977) The pop culture of May Spils’s film proved successful. The film belonged to the forerunners of ‘new subjectivity’, a trend that shaped the West German cultural scene in the 1970s and that also affected the GDR. Above and beyond any binding normative political concepts, film narratives could emphasize private happiness within socialism. At the same time the parameters for addressing problems in real existing socialism were expanded. Roland Gräf’s Die Flucht [The Flight], produced after Wolf Biermann’s expatriation, deals openly with the lack of economic resources and new technologies. In addition the border, a visual forbidden zone in earlier DEFA films, can be admired in every detail of its security installations. He, Du! had been conceived in the certainty that the socialist camp would be victorious; Die Flucht presents a narrative in which the ethical test of withstanding the temptations from the West is what matters. The film tells the story of Dr. Schmith, who works as senior physician at a paediatric clinic and hopes to move forward with his research on the reduction of

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mortality in premature infants. His project is rejected due to lack of funds, a fact that strengthens Schmith’s determination to push ahead with his escape from the GDR, particularly since he has been offered a position as chief physician in a paediatric clinic in the West. He signs a contract with a West German smuggler, but shortly thereafter his research project is approved and in addition he falls in love with his new colleague Katharina. He would rather stay, but the smuggler presses him to abide by the contract. He sees as his only recourse an escape with Katharina, although he has not confided his plans to her. The catastrophe takes its course. At the decisive moment Katharina refuses to accompany her lover, while the smugglers, fearing they may be betrayed, beat to death the man who wanted to escape. The final image shows the parking lot on the transit route where Schmith’s body is found. The scoundrel in the film is the West German ‘human trafficker’ who is not named and who acts purely out of greed for profit. From the perspective of the woman doctor who heads the clinic, Schmith is a prospective saboteur; she indicates what she thinks of a colleague who, like Dr. Wendt at an earlier point, was captured during an illegal border crossing: ‘In my view anyone who leaves is a traitor’. On the other hand Schmith fits the stock character of the tragic hero who is too weak to make a decision and thus gets ever deeper into trouble. Because he clings to his profession as his vocation, he believes submitting to the escape agent’s threats is his only recourse. He fails to recognize that even the prodigal son will be integrated into the community, as the example of Dr. Wendt shows. The stock character of the pure hero is missing from this film, and the binding social force of antifascism has also gone missing. The border still runs between the two camps, but now only the resources available in the West threaten the East. The opening sequence makes this clear. At a rest stop on the transit route, Schmith meets the escape agent who offers his services for one-third of the annual salary Schmith would earn in the West German clinic – a real bargain. In the background members of the official East German youth group are singing the song of the Soviet Communist Party youth group Komsomol: ‘On the banners you could read / Soviet Union – country to visit! / Let’s go to the Soviet Union! / Come along and see all the things / the members of the Komsomol are doing / in the Soviet Union’. Antithetical travel options are invoked; the former is morally reprehensible, the latter is a moral model. At the same time the GDR is presented as a country open for travel – at least for its cadres. ‘Hello, I just arrived from New York and I’m hungry as a bear’, is how Dr. Zeiske greets the clinic collective, again offering them inappropriate gifts. When Zeiske answers Schmith’s question to the ‘world traveller’ about how imperialism is doing, the viewer cannot miss the irony of his laconic answer, ‘It’s rotting, in accordance with Marxist principles’. The United States and the West in general set the standard for scientific and technical

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progress. ‘Keep calm’, a colleague says to Schmith when his research proposal has been rejected. ‘In five years either our friends or the Americans will do it’. The film does demonstrate how such a research project can succeed despite limited resources – by working together with friends such as the colleagues in Prague. Schmith can travel wherever he needs to on official business: to a conference in Cologne, for example, where he can even allow himself a little side trip to his prospective West German employer. Meanwhile longing for travel is an obsessive motif. The film begins with an image of the transit route, the title Die Flucht fades in, and the image is frozen to a still. It is a prophetic reminder when we see Schmith again and again on the road in his Wartburg, accompanied by musical motifs based on Mussorgsky. There is constant talk of crossing borders. When Wendt announces that he will go on vacation in Hungary, Schmith recommends a swim in Lake Balaton. His colleague, who hopes to escape, announces, ‘I’ll finally pass my freestyle swimming test’ – a reference that Schmith understands very well. As he confronts the decision of fleeing with Katherina, both dream about unlimited travel possibilities: ‘Just to drive wherever you want’. Longings like this need counter-images to strengthen ties to the socialist camp. The ties that bind now come from home, from the Heimat, not from being on the front lines of antifascism. The worker collective, always demonstrating solidarity, also plays a role in conveying qualities linked to Heimat; even the Stasi appears in the form of an official who seems to exercise fatherly care rather than control. However the promises of a private idyll are more crucial – the little house in which Katharina lives, for example: ‘a cozy nest for surviving the winter’. When problems arise in the clinic, she flees to her parents’ farm to work in the fields together with her six siblings. This romanticizing of the native soil acquires its real point due to the closeness of the border. As Katharina and Schmith look from the top of a hill at the panorama of the border installations with a check point in the valley, she says that her father’s birthplace is on the other side of the border. ‘As a child I was there a few times. Grandmother did quite a bit of farming. Later she sold everything. My father didn’t want to go back’. For the generation of thirty- to fifty-year-olds portrayed in the film, Heimat is the landscape and the society in which they grew up and which constitutes their identity. A Greek doctor working at the East Berlin Charité hospital accompanies Schmith on his trip to Cologne. He has lived in Berlin for thirty years and during his latest visit to Greece he never had the feeling ‘of being at home’. Schmith’s father, who appears almost intertwined with his little carpenter’s shop, also exemplifies the meaning of Heimat. ‘I won’t leave, ever’, he answers when his son suggests that he follow him to the West after he succeeds in escaping. In the end he refuses to take his son’s personal documents for safekeeping. Schmith disposes of his memories, including photos from his youth, on a garbage dump. Flight means extinguishing his own identity.

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The film may be true to party principles, but it also breaks taboos by admitting that the GDR is playing scientific and technological catch-up in competition with the West. It also addresses the topic of flight from the GDR, portraying border installations and showing the ritual of passport inspection in trains crossing the border. It also talks about the longing for unlimited travel. Breaking these taboos, however, signals a generational shift from the unity created by the antifascism narrative to the paradigm of Heimat. The scoundrel remains identifiable, but with these terms of reference the traitor alternates with the tragic hero. These were signals that elicited a positive response in the socialist camp. The film won several prizes. But Armin Mueller-Stahl, the star of the film, had already applied for an emigration permit by the time filming began. The antifascist narrative was tied to the heroes of the first generation. The passing of the baton in the relay race may have been often invoked, but the GDR was a society that clung dogmatically to its foundational myth without taking actions to keep it alive and therefore correctable. Economic problems aside, this approach led of necessity to a rupture that called into question the social consensus between the generations. In the 1950s primarily Soviet models lent themselves to adaptation, but after the Berlin Wall was built, it became important to examine competitive patterns from the West. This effort would help determine the quintessential elements in a narrative designed to provide self-assurance. But it becomes clear when we look at examples from the 1970s that the heroic antifascist narrative increasingly lost its binding force, and therefore the stereotypical roles of hero, scoundrel and traitor that had once provided a foundation for an intergenerational pact also began to erode. Translated by Victoria Hill

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Chapter 3 Divided Loyalties: Technocrats and the Working Class in DEFA Films During the second half of the twentieth century Germany’s international image was marked by the cultural traumas of the Second World War, Nazism and the Holocaust.1 Yet as the twenty-first century is marked by globalization and such shared European traumas are placed into a broader context, Germany may more likely be regarded as a source of science and technology than as the source of its dialectical opposite: technologized destruction. The history of the GDR brings these topics together, and they are also provocatively intertwined in DEFA films. This chapter will thus focus on films that deal with intellectuals in the GDR, specifically narratives about the technical intelligentsia. Such narratives connect to the two defining traumas in light of which German and international history is so often narrated: the Second World War and the Holocaust on the one hand and nuclear weapons and the Cold War arms race on the other. This chapter will address two issues also central to studies of GDR history and culture: the ideology of the working class as the leading force in history and the parallel importance of Marxism-Leninism as a means of interpreting history and social processes, as well as the role of the USSR as ideological fountainhead and the dominant power. Its achievements in the fields of physics and astronomy, nuclear weapons and space exploration made the USSR the GDR’s touchstone for technological as well as ideological reasons.2 From a Western perspective during the Cold War it appeared that a constant preoccupation of literature and culture in the GDR was the relationship of intellectuals to the state: Geist und Macht, knowledge and power. Literary figures and texts were often – if not primarily – analyzed as terrain where the individual’s liberty and self-fulfilment were negotiated vis-à-vis the more oppressive sides of a communist state. For this reason works concerned with the history of intellectuals during the

1 I owe a debt of gratitude to a number of colleagues for their help in making this essay possible; especially Evan Torner, Sky Arndt-Briggs, Hiltrud Schulz and Victoria Rizo Lenshyn at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Miriam Mai at Progress Film-Verleih GmbH provided invaluable support. 2 The Soviet technological achievements of the mid-twentieth century are often underrated: the launch of Earth’s first man-made satellite with Sputnik in 1957, Yuri Gagarin’s space flight in 1961, and the development of nuclear weaponry parallel to the United States in the mid-1950s.

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GDR generally emphasize their mediating role, both during the early period when it seemed that Marxist-Leninist socialism would endure and was only in need of liberalization (the various attempts to create a ‘socialism with a human face’) and the later period with those frustrating cases of even pro-socialist critics who were purged, silenced or expelled.3 Since the end of the GDR, however, this emphasis has shifted to the failure of these same intellectuals either to be more urgently critical of the socialist state’s inability to fulfil its own promises of prosperity, freedom or equality – let alone the desires of its populace – or to understand and sympathize with the population’s immediate preference for unification with the West. My attention here is rather towards a different definition of the intellectual, not the artists, philosophers and writers but the more scientific and technical groups who had key roles in propping up socialism and also enjoyed, like many authors and cultural figures, relative privileges where standard of living and particularly travel were concerned. Even more than cultural figures, perhaps they stood as icons of socialist progress in the Cold War’s competition with the West. They were also actively recruited away by the West, so that ‘attracting’ them was at least as important as keeping artists, writers and philosophers. Their loss would not only have meant a loss of prestige but also of technological and thus economic potential. With cultural elites the question of their role in the GDR and since has revolved around the connection of their intellectual pursuits and politics. But for the scientists and engineers (as with the military, as a matter of fact) expertise and politics diverge.4 In this chapter, then, we will look at how film has represented the topic of technical intellectuals and power as well as issues of social class and gender. In this context the GDR’s film history is of interest not only for aesthetic reasons but also as part of the intellectual history of East Germany and the history of intellectuals in Germany.5 We will focus on paradigmatic

3 Prominent examples of such incidents involving pro-socialist citizens include the expatriation of writer Wolf Biermann, the house arrest of chemist Robert Havemann and the incarceration of philosopher Rudolf Bahro. 4 One sign that the GDR had a high international standard in regard to science is revealed by studies of education after German unification. In non-political subjects (such as biology, physics or chemistry) former GDR students showed better test results than their Western counterparts. See Bernhard Thomas Streitwieser, ‘Pedagogical Challenges in Post-Wende East Germany’, in Globalisation, Educational Transformation and Societies in Transition, ed. by Teame Mebrahtu, Michael Crossley and David Johnson (Oxford: Symposium Books, 2000), pp. 81–98 (p. 92). 5 The obvious category of scientists excluded by my analysis here are those who work in the medical profession. The tension between research and a concern for humanity is of course also suggested by the role of a medical doctor, and the ‘Arztfilm’ could be the subject of a separate study entirely. See Jennifer Kapczynski, The German Patient. Crisis and Recovery in Postwar Culture (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2008).

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films from three decisive stages in GDR history, all contextualized within larger cultural, political and cinematic frames. The late 1940s and early 1950s – the ‘Aufbau’ years or years of reconstruction – will be represented by Der Rat der Götter [The Council of the Gods, 1950], directed by Kurt Maetzig with a script by Friedrich Wolf. The transitional years of the mid-1960s to mid-1970s are marked by contradiction: the consolidation of the GDR’s political and economic system and recognition by the United Nations and yet also the building of the Berlin Wall and a mid-1960s crackdown on social and cultural liberalization. Here the scientist figures will be discussed from the landmark TV series Dr. Schlüter (director Achim Hübner, author Karl Georg Egel, 1965) and the even more prominent cinematic achievement Der geteilte Himmel [Divided Heaven, 1963], directed by Konrad Wolf and based on the novel by Christa Wolf. From the 1980s to the end of the GDR and unification with West Germany in 1990, the sense of stagnation and seeming inevitability of unification with the West, which questions the specificity of the roles of those involved in science and technology, will be considered through the lens of Peter Kahane’s film Die Architekten [The Architects, 1990] and Rainer Simon’s Die Besteigung des Chimborazo [The Ascent of the Chimborazo, 1989]. Each of the films will be discussed according to the following questions: What type of science or technology is represented and what is its purpose? Who are the scientists and what motivates them in their profession? How do science and technology relate to either the antifascist legacy of the GDR on the one hand or to the goals of socialist progress on the other? What roles do social class and gender play? The early post-war period is characterized by two enduring aspects of German and GDR culture: technological progress as an unquestioned value and an overcoming of the Nazis’ misuse of such progress in their unleashing of the Second World War and engineering the Holocaust. An antifascist transformation of society was to be led by the working class, with the victorious Soviet Union as a model. The betrayal of technical innovation and science in the service of Nazism is blamed on reactionary, elitist and bourgeois forces, which the GDR opposed in its own society, and on what were perceived – in Cold War terms – as vestiges of Nazi influence in Western capitalism. Thus film plots consistently interweave the following themes: the crimes of Nazism, the alliance of capitalists with these crimes and the technocrats’ or scientists’ need to see that their proper role is to ally with the working class to build socialism on this modern base, not the capitalist route. Although this ideological basis for film narrative persisted throughout most of the history of DEFA, the technological and socialist progress as the foundation of socialism came into question starting in the 1960s, and such doubts clearly

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grew through the 1970s and 1980s.6 One clear difference in the later DEFA films is thus the shift in emphasis of the terms and content of the ‘revolutionary’ scientist/intellectual with regard to issues of class (and increasingly of gender) and social context. In the early years after the Second World War the emphasis was on the unity between the working-class, antifascist resistance and right-thinking scientists. The Cold War terms of this ideology were modified by a series of scientific successes in the Eastern Bloc in the fields of, for example, physics and astronomy. So by the midpoint of the GDR’s history, the origins of the technical elite in the working class/antifascist resistance were less an issue than the negotiation of their roles in GDR society and international cooperation, both amongst the Comecon countries of Eastern Europe – with a strong emphasis on the Soviet Union as source of knowledge and technology as well as political legitimacy – and nonaligned countries or the West itself. This dynamic is quite consistent from 1945 until the 1970s, when both German states were internationally recognized and admitted to the United Nations. But by 1980 at the latest, following the NATO ‘Doppelbeschluss’ [Double-Track Decision] and resulting alarm about stationing nuclear weapons in Europe or the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in 1986, doubts had increased about both the justifiability of the arms race and the future of science in a nuclear age. Yet the GDR never (officially) gave up its aspirations to compete at the highest level of technology in the attempt to create a socialist Wirtschaftswunder [‘economic miracle’], a term otherwise exclusively applied to the West German economic boom of the 1950s and 1960s. Even at the Leipzig Film Festival the year before the fall of the Berlin Wall, a prominent DEFA documentary celebrated the creation of a 1-megabit microchip, technology very soon much more cheaply and easily obtained from Japan and elsewhere.7

6 Although anathema to the GDR’s more orthodox Marxism-Leninism, Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno’s Dialectic of Enlightenment (1947) clearly would have had an impact on GDR thought through its unofficial distribution, especially after the West German reissue in 1969. Christa Wolf’s Kassandra (1984) is perhaps the most powerful literary expression of such doubts about rationality and progress. 7 On the dubious nature of the GDR megabit chip project, see Kristie Macrakis and Dieter Hoffmann, Science under Socialism. East Germany in Comparative Perspective (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999), pp. 118–20.

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A Clear Anti-Fascist Choice: Der Rat der Götter Some of the most remarkable DEFA films featuring scientists are the most aggressively ideological, for which Der Rat der Götter will serve as our example from the early phase. This film portrays progress as inherently good; in its essence progress is not tainted by Nazism. Rather, the plot emphasizes the Faustian bargain – the pact with the devil – that scientists’ and engineers’ involvement in and support of the Nazi state represented. The treatment of science in Der Rat der Götter is almost resolutely backwards-looking, reviving the 1920s class dynamics and political conflicts of the Weimar Republic but envisioning a new outcome: the GDR. There is little emphasis on the film’s setting at the beginning of the atomic age, nor is there any recognition of the fact that the relation between Nazism and intellect had ushered in anything new, as Jeffrey Herf has argued in the case of engineers, for instance.8 The film’s political argument suggests that (apolitical) scientists are faced with the same dilemmas as in the 1920s – when they sided with the Nazis and their supporters amongst the powerful elites – and this time make the right decision: to side with the organized working class. The choices and depictions remain largely the same. This ideological attempt at ‘Wiedergutmachung’ (restitution) also accounts for the film’s setting and the social relations of its main character. The industry is chemistry, allowing for the film sets to be composed of vast networks of pipes, valves and meters. These were all familiar sights in the GDR of the late 1940s, or easily constructed in the studio, and all reminiscent of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927). The social relations also recall the Lang film: the Master of the factory lives in opulence and has a bird’s eye view of the entire plant, as well as a nearly seamless surveillance network. The workers perform repetitive, dangerous tasks, and their bodies stand for the cost of warfare. Weaponized chemicals such as dynamite and Zyklon B gas produced for Auschwitz’s crematoria constitute both occupational hazard and refined product. Dr. Hans Scholz, the chemist, has family connections to the organized working class. These are manifest in a number of family scenes but become truly embodied by the figure of Uncle Karl in the context of the drama surrounding chemical production. The choice between serving the capitalist and later Nazi masters, while being aware of the option of siding with the workers, is consistent

8 Jeffrey Herf, Reactionary Modernism. Technology, Culture, and Politics in Weimar and the Third Reich (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1984). Sociologist Alvin Gouldner argued that post-war booms would lead even further away from nineteenth-century industrial patterns in society and produce a ‘new class’, also not evident in this film. See Alvin Ward Gouldner, The Future of Intellectuals and the Rise of the New Class (New York: Seabury Press, 1979).

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Fig 3.1: Dr. Scholz (Fritz Tillmann) and Uncle Karl (Albert Garbe) in Der Rat der Götter (1950), directed by Kurt Maetzig, author Friedrich Wolf.

with scriptwriter Friedrich Wolf’s own biography. As a communist, physician and playwright, the context of his work in Weimar Germany had been allied with leftist workers’ movements. The film’s director Kurt Maetzig had trained as a chemist in Nazi Germany and worked in film labs there. But he had also sided with the underground Communist Party by 1944, despite his bourgeois class background. The chemist is thus able to undo the mistakes of the 1920s by siding after the Second World War with the left, repeating the role of Freder in Metropolis as the mediator between the Head and the Heart. But this time the ending is reversed: instead of reconciling the masses and the leaders under a more enlightened and gentler form of the earlier domination, the industrialist’s cynical unconcern for the welfare of the workers and determination to secretly use science to develop the weapons of war are exposed and condemned. The leadership envisioned at the end is not the obedient formation of marching workers below the cathedral – as in Metropolis – but the masses marching into the future with their protest banners. Aside from the warning that science for its own sake, without the corrective of a political guide, would lead to the gas chambers, Der Rat der Götter emphasizes the decadence and lust for power of capitalists in

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general and the United States in particular. Thus the film dramatizes the scenes where U.S. military officers and leaders of international firms cynically discuss their exploitation of both war and peace in lavish and opulent film sets. There is some consistency here with the visual culture of Weimar Germany, especially with the rivalry framed between aristocratic elegance on the one hand and working-class modern culture on the other. But in the GDR the working class tended not to look as ‘modern’ as the opulent elites. Here it is implied that the GDR could not compete on the one hand with the consumerism that was a part of the Nazis’ initial appeal for a broad public and on the other hand the West’s greater attraction for ordinary Germans during the Cold War. In reaching back to Lang’s Metropolis for the film language necessary to link together international capitalism, scientific innovation and Nazism, Der Rat der Götter reveals DEFA’s attempt to both stoke the fires of this purported alliance as a propaganda trope and to develop an alternative ‘socialist’ model of the intelligentsia that was to be organically and politically derived from the workers’ and peasants’ state. Such a project continues in DEFA films over decades. There appear to be so few early films that deal with science and technology because the focus of the early phase of reconstruction was so emphatically just that: rebuilding.9 It is also striking that the two images from 1945 most often associated with the traumas of the twentieth century: the victims of the Holocaust or the explosion of the atomic bomb, are both virtually absent from GDR cinema.10 The indirect depiction of the Holocaust in Der Rat der Götter thus deserves attention, since the production and development of the gas Zyklon B is the central moral dilemma of the film’s main character, Dr. Hans Scholz. But instead of focusing on the Nazis’ horrific misuse of this chemical discovery, the film shifts the emphasis to the postwar period, where the West denies both responsibility for cooperating with the

9 Konrad Wolf’s intentionally neglected film Leute mit Flügeln [People with Wings, 1960] might be instructive here, since it too looks back at the war effort as an origin of both technological expertise and political lessons, as well as visible attempts to develop a uniquely GDR model of applying them. The film became inopportune when the idea of developing any airplane manufacturing in the GDR was dropped. 10 Regarding nuclear research, the Soviet film Nine Days in One Year [Devyat dney odnogo goda, 1962] seems to stand as a striking exception throughout the Eastern Bloc in this regard. In the case of the Holocaust, the absence of disturbing images is not the same as a lack of attention to the concentration camps. For the GDR, however, such narratives emphasized the victimization of communists over that of Jews and otherwise treated the concentration camps as more mundane signs of Nazi oppression rather than as the endpoint of European civilization. Often produced by survivors themselves, such works focused on the resistance within the camps, escape from them and liberation (generally by the Soviets). On this latter development, see Anne Barnert, Die Antifaschismus-Thematik der DEFA. Eine kultur- und filmhistorische Analyse (Marburg: Schüren, 2008).

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Nazis in their economic and military exploits and also secretly continues to use scientific know-how for military means. This post-war emphasis is made clear by two juxtapositions: one is of the horror of Zyklon B first being demonstrated via an experiment shown to Dr. Scholz through a window into a gas chamber. The film viewer sees small farm animals gassed to death, framed by the window of the experimental chamber. Later such a frame is repeated when at the Nuremberg Trial a film of the concentration camps is screened before the jurors and defendants. A curtain frames the film screen on which images of victims are briefly projected, both as survivors and as corpses. The import of this is to place moral emphasis on the post-war context and – in order to shift the ethical dilemma closer to home by forcing an implicit choice between East and West – not to explore the full guilt and responsibility of science and the scientist. The film’s final scene further shifts the ethical choice to one of using technology for the ‘right’ cause rather than questioning the relationship of science to power. The scientist’s heroic act here is not to develop a new technology but to catch the factory owner in a lie: an explosion has cost a number of workers’ lives, and the industrialists’ wish is to excuse it as an unavoidable accident. But with the simple evidence of the explosion’s cloud of smoke, the scientist reveals that the factory was developing explosives and not less-threatening chemicals. For a third time a frame is used. The masses outside the window are indicated by Dr. Scholz as his allies in counter-balancing the power of the war-mongering industrialists. And here, instead of animal subjects or Holocaust victims, the masses are active and organized. The frame through the office window at the factory leads to a montage of demonstrating workers, marching into a future where science and working class interests will presumably work together for peace. In Dr. Scholz’s case there is initially little ethical problem in whether he works for capital or not, since in the 1930s it would not have been an option. If his working-class uncle gives him a sense of a political alternative, only the GDR and its post-war development – here seen solely as potential based on the mass demonstrations – will provide a socialist context in which to apply his talents.

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Modernity and Cold War Ambiguity: Dr. Schlüter and Der geteilte Himmel A developed, technological and industrial socialist state is the context for two films which will be the basis for analysis of the middle phase of GDR history, Dr. Schlüter and Der geteilte Himmel. They represent a divide between the sense of optimism in regard to technology itself and the social contradictions within socialism that come to impact those involved in scientific professions, along with millions of others. Dr. Schlüter could in many ways be seen as a longer and thorough remake of Der Rat der Götter, leading more decisively to the conclusion that the narrative’s resolution must show the protagonist necessarily joining a successful, GDR scientific establishment. Like Der Rat der Götter, Dr. Schlüter begins in 1933 and ends with the GDR as the logical consequence of the scientist’s realization that Nazism and its capitalist successors are a destructive trap. The fourpart television film emerged from a unique format: a novel for television or Fernsehroman, as written by Karl Georg Egel. It follows the career of a charismatic and brilliant chemist played by Otto Mellies. While the class origins of Dr. Schlüter are not as strongly connected to the workers as in Der Rat der Götter, the uncertainty of his origins and his allegiances – and his wish to remain apolitical – make him susceptible to influence from leftist sources as well as from the Nazi side. But in his case the attraction to Nazism is merely an opportunity for Schlüter to develop his career and explore his ideas, far from the reactionary modernism to which Jeffrey Herf refers.11 At several times in the narrative, as well as in literature on the film, his alliance with the Nazis is compared to a Faustian bargain: an open pact with the devil. His Mephisto is the character of Junkers, who first encourages him to marry Felicia Vahlberg as a way to gain entry to the family behind the Linox chemical empire and launch his illustrious career. After serving in the Wehrmacht as a chemist in charge of a soap factory at Auschwitz, Schlüter becomes a prisoner of war in the Soviet Union, where he is able to further his scientific career under socialist auspices. This puts him under suspicion when he returns to West Germany years after the war’s end (as a ‘Spätheimkehrer’ [late returnee]), especially since he refuses to account for the rather mild conditions of his capture by the Soviets and the aid he has provided them as a scientist for the incipient Cold War. With the deaths of Schlüter’s protector, the senior Vahlberg, and Schlüter’s wife Felicia, he makes a further pact at Junkers’ urging, this time to go to the GDR to work in the former Vahlberg chemical plant there, at Thalstadt. The hidden (or not-so-hidden) agenda

11 Herf, Reactionary Modernism.

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of Junkers is for Schlüter to act as a kind of mole on behalf of the Western capitalists, providing information to them and being at the ready when the presumably ill-fated attempt to create a socialist chemical industry collapses. Schlüter goes along with it, still professing his political detachment and purely intellectual motivations. The Cold War attempt to use him as a scapegoat in a case of international industrial espionage brings the film to a dramatic conclusion, providing the geopolitical resolution to match the personal one to be discussed below. The counterpart to the working-class position represented by worker activists or family members in Der Rat der Götter and many similar works, finds a new version of the ‘mediator’ between advanced science and technology and the history of the working class in the 1960s: Soviet leadership in these fields is seen both as a realization of the historic mission of the international working class and as the morally superior place to practice science and develop technology. There is apparently no discernible disadvantage in material terms on this front. This latter point is striking when one looks at the films: humble images of working class origins are replaced by settings of sparkling, well-designed modernity and accompanied by film music and costume worthy of fashion and popular music catalogs anywhere. Where the German working class is represented in scenes that look back to Weimar Germany or even the resistance against Nazism, this is seen either as a sentimental reminder of how far the GDR has come or an outright critique of the German (that is, GDR) working class as unwilling or unable to adapt to modernity and follow the Soviet lead into a new (post-) industrial era. The choice of class in Dr. Schlüter is thus of great significance and symptomatic for the GDR’s optimistic belief in technology and its ability to compete internationally. Thomas Beutelschmidt places the film narrative in the context of the post-Wall attempt to retain scientific talent by taking their dilemmas seriously: The choice of such a bourgeois biography corresponded with efforts of the GDR leadership to modernize in the middle of the 1960s. As part of that, they were forced to rely on the corresponding labour force that was essential for reconstruction. As the unexpected audience resonance proves, the well-cast television novel could also reach these target audiences. The material worthy of discussion tied in with comparable experiences of the generation that had experienced the war.12

Indeed, the attractiveness of the star-studded cast, the opulent production values and the broad sweep of exciting plot turns and socially relevant if not controversial topics have seldom been surpassed in international television history. Otto Mellies as the chemist Schlüter and Hans-Peter Minetti as his communist col-

12 Thomas Beutelschmidt, Dr. Schlüter. DVD pamphlet. Munich: ARD-Archiv, 2010.

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league Demmin have all the requisite leading man qualities, as do their female counterparts Larisa Luzhina and Eva-Maria Hagen. No expense was spared on sets, costumes and landscapes. Schlüter’s West German rivals visit his GDR lab in Thalstadt in their Mercedes, but he himself has arrived in a Porsche. Both of Schlüter’s principal female lovers in peacetime drive convertibles and wear the latest fashions and modern hairstyles, even if seeming anachronistic, given some of the 1930s and 1940s settings. Both the high production values and the star quality of the leads may be a response to the James Bond series, which had recently had such great success in the West. And the introduction of the ‘novel for film’ format itself was a modern innovation in which the DEFA quickly advanced in its media competition with the West. Gender plays a new role in this film, consistent with its own modernity as a film and its gesture towards Soviet international leadership. Here a conventional heterosexual love story is overlaid with an international, nearly pro-feminist plot, all embodied by two characters played by the same actor: Eva/Irene. Felicia, on the other hand, is consistent with the condemned femme fatale of the 1920s, now transformed into a playgirl, who is as destructive and cynical as she is selfdestructive. Asking what Schlüter sees in Felicia raises the question whether a less-than-consistent commitment to heterosexuality is also implied as a sign of the scientist’s susceptibility to Western ‘decadent’ influences. After all the film would appear too simplistic if her only function were to provide Schlüter with his alliance to the Vahlberg family of aristocratic industrialists. There is always much more going on, since she has to marry someone merely to get out of trouble with the law, and Schlüter agrees to play the ‘beard’. His pseudo-friend Junkers urges him on in this course of action, arguing that in any such contract or marriage amongst the elite, one pretends to agree and then does what one wants. The fact that these two men have more scenes together and reveal more skin in them than any heterosexual couple in the film is suggestive. Since both Eva and Junkers are inappropriate partners for Schlüter – attractive only due to ambition and narcissism in her case, and suggesting unexpressed homosexual desire in his – the return to the stability of the nuclear, heterosexual family at the end of the film confirms that socialism’s victory and conventional narrative resolution were the goal. The excesses of visual imagery and character motivations remain as excess or as a surplus, which then needs to be consigned to the West. It is also revealing that the approved heterosexual attractions for Schlüter later in the film are both in the East and thus mediated in the first instance by the ideology of antifascist partisans. Lyuba is by turns an office worker assigned to Schlüter in Auschwitz, a love interest with whom he shares a passionate swim in a lake and a partisan who resorts to weapons when required. She even shoots the star of the film in the arm to save her band of partisans. Later in the film, when Eva reappears

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in the character of her daughter Irene, Schlüter rediscovers her scientific merits and attractiveness as a love interest at a scientific installation in the Soviet Union. But her expertise in chemistry comes from the communist father and training with Soviet researchers, not from Dr. Schlüter, the Nazi war machine or the German elite. Irene is driven by love to follow Schlüter back to the GDR. And as a chemist, she resolves a dilemma that is holding up Schlüter’s research on an innovation in plastics by introducing a linking metallic ingredient in the formula. Soviet metal is apparently needed to leaven GDR plastic, so as to make it both strong and suitable for mass production. That the film ends not with the chemical triumph of Irene’s and Schlüter’s union, but with the announcement of her pregnancy, provides a double roundness for a heterosexual family plot that has led in many other directions over the course of the series’ nearly eleven hours of screen time.13 Schlüter’s motivation for doing science is more carefully thematized than in other DEFA films and is profoundly provocative, since it is revealed in dialog with the Russian Jewish scientist Tairow at Auschwitz. Tairow agrees to cooperate with Schlüter for the sake of intellectual inquiry, although as a prisoner of the Nazis who is later deported and presumably murdered, he would logically do anything in his power to keep the Auschwitz factories from working. The scene of their bonding on the basis of intellectual inquiry, which later builds into trust and collaboration, is but one of the film’s striking examples of visual character transformation. At first Schlüter is wearing his Wehrmacht uniform, but when they set out to collaborate on technical matters, he has changed not only to civilian clothes but to a stylish V-neck sweater that would not be out of place in the 1960s of the film’s release.14 As Schlüter convinces Tairow to work with him on a challenging chemical formula, he offers the following justification:

13 The shift from German science to Soviet and international cooperation is consistent with the trend in films after the 1960s. From here on the moral and technical alternative in general is not presented by a personal or familial connection with a German worker but by the USSR and its leadership in an international network of technologists – from Asia etc. Iris Gusner’s Wäre die Erde nicht rund [Were the Earth Not Round, 1981], a film about a marriage between an East German and a Syrian geologist who meet in Moscow, depicts one example of this emergent global intelligentsia. And the German working class, like the German petty bourgeoisie and bourgeoisie, are seen here more and more as creatures of the past. In the latter case they actively resist progress, in the former they are simply unable to adapt to it. 14 Tairow, for his part, has the frameless wire spectacles and goatee that has become familiar as the sign of a dignified intellectual, since Walter Brennan’s role as the heroic antifascist Professor Novotny in Fritz Lang’s Hangmen Also Die! (1943). The goatee may also be a nod towards the party leader Walter Ulbricht, although the fact that Daniel Brenner’s architectural mentor in the 1990 film Die Architekten also has this appearance seems to underscore its intellectual associations, not this political homage.

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Schlüter: ‘Why did slaves sculpt works of art for their tormentors? Certainly because of force, torture, hunger! But art, which a man cannot be forced to make, or scientific discoveries?’ Tairow, quietly and bitterly: ‘Do you know now?’ ‘Yes’, Schlüter says, apparently delighted, ‘because the artists and scientists are not constantly thinking of their tormentors, because the process of creation gives one joy. The curiosity to solve a riddle. The greatest seduction and the greatest corruption, Tairow, is this: to give a person an interesting task to perform.’15

Egel’s novel calls this a torture Schlüter inflicts on himself and Tairow, seeking company in his guilt. Tairow suggests the idea that scientific creativity is motivated by its usefulness to humanity, while Schlüter counters that he had only contempt for those in whose service he conducted his research: ‘I did it because my brain is compelled to prove itself in this direction. And that is why you are sitting here, Tairow. Anything else would be self-deception.’ ‘You must have drunk a lot of poison’, is Tairow’s reply.16 In a film culture with so few explicitly Jewish characters it is indeed striking that Tairow plants the seeds for Schlüter’s later rehabilitation, so as to find a place in the GDR that both satisfies his intellect and yet employs it towards useful and not destructive ends. Der geteilte Himmel provides an important counterpoint to Dr. Schlüter from the GDR’s middle phase, partly because it too has thematic and biographical connections to Der Rat der Götter. Although the film predates both Dr. Schlüter and the crackdown staged at the 11th Plenary, it raises issues of the ‘allegiance’ of intellectuals to the working-class state as opposed to historical links to Nazism or contemporary ones to the capitalist opponent in the West. In contrast to Dr. Schlüter the intelligentsia’s potential unreliability is highlighted by the more solid foundation of working-class industrial labour, which is also, however, fraught with contradictions that become both productive in a narrative sense and revealing in terms of GDR history and ideology. In Der geteilte Himmel the main character is not the scientist but rather Rita Seidel, whose relationship with – and separation from – the physicist Manfred Herrfurth provides the narrative substance of both the novel and the film adaptation. The film begins with Rita’s collapse at a railway car factory where she is doing her obligatory service before completing her teacher training. Whether she has attempted suicide or not is unclear. The fragmentary narrative of both novel and film is composed of flashbacks during her convalescence after the incident, until the film’s final scenes point again towards present and future. Against this personal narrative – a heterosexual relationship that may be a love triangle or even more complicated – the aspects

15 Karl Georg Egel, Dr. Schlüter. Filmerzählung (Berlin: Verlag der Nation, 1966), p. 119. 16 Ibid., p. 120.

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Fig 3.2: Chewel Buzgan as Tairow and Otto Mellies as Schlüter in Dr. Schlüter (1965), directed by Achim Hübner, author Karl Georg Egel.

already discussed in regard to the other films are all present. Manfred and his friend Martin Jung are scientists motivated by ambition and intelligence. The plot dilemma that also becomes a personal dilemma arises from the GDR’s hierarchical planning structure that rejects a chemical process they propose to develop, while West Germany is perfectly willing to accommodate them. Since the construction of the Berlin Wall takes place in the middle of the plot, this provides both the film’s title as well as a sense of depth and finality to the couple’s romantic dilemma. Manfred’s decision in favour of science and career forces Rita to decide between socialism and love. The fact that Manfred’s allegiance to socialism is a much less central aspect of this film than the others is indicative of both the inner logic of the scientist characters of all the films and the later period in GDR history. Whether Manfred believes in socialism would not be an issue – either for him or the state – if he would just stay in the GDR and do his research. But as a kind of free-floating intellectual, he can voice criticism, both of German society and of the GDR. His class background proves relevant here: his parents are members of the middle class and have been able to adapt to both Nazism and socialism by following the rules and keeping their heads down. This model, as well as Manfred’s alienation from his conformist father, makes him loath to sign on to any belief

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Fig 3.3: Renate Blume as Rita Seidel in Der geteilte Himmel (1964), directed by Konrad Wolf, based on the novel by Christa Wolf.

system other than his intellectual pursuits. As for society, he says, ‘The sediment of history is always the misfortune of the individual’. A key sequence that brings the backwardness of the German working class together with advanced Soviet know-how – and Rita as symbol of the GDR future – is the train car test. As with many other scenes in the films under study here, the philosophical dialog about intellectual enterprise and the possibility of progress takes place between two men: the cynical scientist Manfred Herrfurth and the pragmatic, earthy factory manager Wendlandt. They parry back and forth with Herrfurth’s cynicism about socialist ‘progress’ and the State’s ‘vigilance’ countered by Wendlandt’s attempt at restraint and pragmatism. Meanwhile, Rita is framed uneasily between them. Her close-ups, more frequent than for other characters, also set her apart and frame her face with industrial backgrounds – electrical wires, the train and smokestacks. But the director Konrad Wolf provides a parallel dialog via film technique that is separate from the two men’s discussion, comments on it and potentially catapults it to a different level. The setting for the discussion is, to start with, the testing of one of the railway cars on which Rita had worked. The speeding train is intercut with images of a Soviet space ship, documentary sounds of radio transmissions and still images of space scientists, including women, seated at their control panels. But the new train’s brakes take too long to stop on an open stretch of track, and the discussion of big ideas of progress and pessimism take place on the side of the track while the train is prepared for a repeat test. This German narrative of industrial setbacks is suddenly interrupted by a man on foot who brings the news – already presented to the film audience in previous shots – that the Soviets have a man in space. Instead of showing the

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reaction of the three main characters or having this historical event be introduced into the discussion of science and progress, the film instead intervenes extradiagetically. After the earlier intercutting of documentary footage, an even higher level of abstracted intervention is introduced: a poem about the farmer’s son who ploughs the heavens. The poetic language is then repeated, also with extradiagetic sound in the form of Rita’s thoughts, suggesting that her character alone reconciles the German working class with Soviet history, industrial-age failure with space-age success. Although Rita is silent throughout most of this scene, her narrative shapes the film. Thus the film’s voice becomes an implicitly female one: insisting that socialism will indeed progress, resolve the contradictions of industrial past and technological future and, despite the conflicts marked by gender relations, walk confidently into the unknown as Rita does in the film’s final shot. Although she is a teacher figure and not a scientist, Rita’s optimistic image is consistent with that of most professional women characters in later GDR films. Women’s advancement as scientists is usually not seen as problematic at all, except for men, perhaps. On the other hand the working-class male character sometimes plays a sacrificial role, much like the John Wayne characters in John Ford’s Westerns. Rugged masculinity was needed in the past to tame the forces of nature – or heavy industry in the GDR case – but it no longer fits in the modern world it helped to create; Moses cannot enter the Promised Land.

The Limits of Intellectual Optimism: Die Architekten and Die Besteigung des Chimborazo Peter Kahane’s Die Architekten is one of DEFA’s last attempts to depict the technical intelligentsia on film. The choice of architects rather than scientists involved in pure research or applied technology reflects the narrative’s true subject: not the dilemma over the uses of science but the irony of GDR socialism’s ‘success’ in reaching a certain stage of comfort and predictability. This is visually represented by the endless stretches of high-rise, prefabricated modular housing. As in many professions, the dilemma of the group of architects is not whether they will employ their skills in the service of socialism, but whether the planned economy will afford them any substantial professional opportunity before they reach middle age. A special ‘youth collective’ is formed under the direction of Daniel Brenner and charged with designing an ambitious collection of social amenities to anchor a housing development: supermarket and stores, restaurants, entertainment

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venues, public spaces. All of them are in their late thirties, and this is their first opportunity to see any of their designs actually built. This was a dilemma in many professions in the GDR, including film directing. The scriptwriter Thomas Knauf’s initial intention had been to write about a group of frustrated young professionals, while the director Peter Kahane introduced the idea of architecture as the visual context for the story. The film’s narrative arc proceeds from initial optimism about the project to its abandonment and concludes with Brenner’s ability to partially resurrect it by appealing to one of the sponsors of the youth collective concept, the Free German Youth.17 Brenner’s intense involvement is his professional chance of a lifetime, which turns out to be ‘successful’ in a limited, nearly pathetic way, and leads to his wife’s intensified sense of alienation from him. Wanda, who has been unable to become a medical doctor for unstated reasons, works as a physical therapist. Unlike most female characters in DEFA films, she is seen mainly in the role of mother and homemaker. Seeking diversion in concerts and theatre while her husband is working fails to compensate for the emptiness of her life, and she files for divorce and seeks to emigrate to Switzerland with the couple’s young daughter. The bitterness of the film is thus not related to technical skill or the intelligentsia as such but arises from the inability of the planned economy and bureaucratic structure of socialism to satisfy longings for either creative outlet or innovation. The resolution offered as almost utopian by Dr. Schlüter has turned into a dead end. The social centre that the remaining designers in Brenner’s group will build is not much different, after all, than its countless predecessors in faceless housing estates. In the meantime Brenner has received a party medal as ‘Aktivist der sozialistischen Arbeit’ (activist of socialist labour) and an offer of promotion but has lost his family to the West. He represents an ironic completion of the charge repeatedly imparted to Dr. Schlüter by his communist friend Demmin that he should ‘govern’ as well as devote himself to science: ‘forschen und regieren’ (research and govern). By holding out despite setbacks, accepting drastic reductions in his project and interference from the party, Brenner is able to ‘govern’ within his small field, but too little, too late. What remains is not a scene of success but a mockery of the terms of congratulations and a mournful survey of the huge cost that has been paid in the loss of his family, lives unlived and frustrated creativity. This mockery of receiving a ‘labour activist’ award in the face of total disillusionment and impossible working conditions is one of the very few references in the film to the actual existence and

17 FDJ, the official GDR youth organization, had a considerable range of enterprises including press and radio and ‘served’ citizens up to age 40.

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history of the German working class. The other is the officials’ protestations over the depressing nature of the public art the young architects propose: a bronze ensemble entitled ‘Family in Stress’. The party representatives argue that ‘unsere Werktätigen’ [our working people] do not want to return home and pass by sculptures that are not uplifting but rather an affront to the dignity of their labour and struggle. In retrospect Die Architekten is from the ‘late’ GDR because its narrative could have taken place anywhere. Professional frustration and fatal compromise to further one’s career, the loss of a loved one who moves far away, taking a child along: these issues are not specific to the GDR. The only national concern is the happiness and social anchoring of the GDR’s intellectual elites, not the actual intellectual content, philosophical portent or even international status of their professions. Socialist ideology provides nothing better than alternatives that might be available elsewhere, and the ominous threat that working in the West is to serve enduring legacies of fascism has worn out and disappeared. One could ask at this point whether the narrative depictions are at all reflective of social reality. Both technical and cultural intellectuals seem to be dependent on state-socialist conditions for their identity, while the historical working class and the general petty bourgeois strata of GDR society much more readily accepted unification with the West as a goal of their personal and social ‘Realpolitik’. If some scholars claim that the gulf between GDR intellectuals and the broader population hastened the collapse of the state, or even made rapid unification inevitable, the survey of these films provides evidence that this alienation of the GDR cultural and scientific elites has a long history. If almost all the films cited here represent reason, intellect and technical or scientific progress as an unalloyed good, there is at least a suggestion of doubt in one other large-scale, ambitious production near the end of DEFA’s history: Die Besteigung des Chimborazo (1989), directed by Rainer Simon and based on the novel by Paul Kanut Schäfer. The film follows Alexander von Humboldt, the legendary German ‘natural philosopher’ and explorer, on a journey that mirrors those of all the intellectual figures treated here. He begins in the mines of Germany, conducts scientific experiments even on his own body, seeks out male collaborators and sets off to accomplish a grand task: the ascent of the volcano Chimborazo, the highest mountain in Ecuador. The end of the film is strikingly parallel to that of Die Architekten. The scientist is intent on gathering scientific data at this rare altitude, but it is questionable whether the instruments will work or the information will be of any use. Humboldt is shown in moving attempts to communicate with the indigenous people on the mountain, but this too is more gesture than substance, questioning rather than establishing social scientific ‘progress’. And the film’s final images, when Humboldt does not in fact reach the top of the mountain, underscore the majesty and almost violent power of nature

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and the futility of this attempt at human mastery.18 A minority in GDR culture stressed such Romantic or even postmodern doubt about the superiority of reason, explored psychology rather than Marxist historical analysis and raised the voice of Cassandra as Christa Wolf and other authors and playwrights had. But in Die Architekten, as in most of GDR cinema, the idea of building a better future is not challenged as an idea. By the time the film was completed in 1990, however, the GDR had exhausted itself in the pursuit of such progress.

18 Seán Allan discusses the importance of the Enlightenment, German idealism and philosophical figures in relation to Humboldt and DEFA’s fraught engagement with German intellectual traditions in Seán Allan, ‘Kosmopolitische Fiktionen. DEFA und die Globalisierung der europäischen Aufklärung’, in DEFA International. Grenzüberschreitende Filmbeziehungen vor und nach dem Mauerbau, ed. by Michael Wedel and others (Wiesbaden: Springer VS, 2013), pp. 45–69.

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Chapter 4 Representations of Art and the Artist in East German Cinema DEFA’s Künstlerfilme, films about artists both real and imaginary, offer film historians a unique insight into the changing socio-political agendas of the studio during the history of its existence. In the late 1940s these films reflected the efforts of filmmakers in the East to engage with the traditions of German classical humanism; in the 1950s they promoted the concept of a united socialist Germany by portraying the GDR as the true guardian of the nation’s cultural heritage; in the 1960s they were exploited as a discursive space in which questions of modernist aesthetics and the role of art and the artist in contemporary socialist society could be debated; and in the 1970s and early 1980s they played a key role in internationalizing East German cinema by positioning it in dialogue with a series of films that had started to emerge from the art-house cinemas of both Eastern and Western Europe from the late 1960s on. Although the 1970s saw the release of some of the most important Künstlerfilme including Ralf Kirsten’s Barlach-film Der verlorene Engel [The Lost Angel, 1966/1971], Konrad Wolf’s Goya – oder der arge Weg der Erkenntnis [Goya, or the Hard Way to Enlightenment, 1971] and Horst Seemann’s Beethoven – Tage aus einem Leben [Beethoven – Days from a Life, 1976], DEFA’s engagement with questions of art and aesthetic creativity dates back to the earliest days of the studio’s existence and the founding of the newsreel, Der Augenzeuge [The Eye Witness]. Released on 19 February 1946, the first edition included an extended report on an exhibition commemorating the work of artist Käthe Kollwitz, and throughout 1946 and 1947 the newsreel almost always ran at least one bulletin on some aspect of the arts. These included reports on the return of exiled German artists such as the conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler and novelist Alfred Döblin, news of the restoration of sites symbolizing the cultural legacy of German classical humanism such as the recently re-opened Academy of Music in Weimar, reviews of exhibitions by modernist artists whose works had been banned as ‘degenerate’ during the Nazi era, and reports focusing on popular culture, including the much heralded return of Circus Barley to Berlin in 1946. However, the newsreel’s coverage of the writers and artists conference held at the Deutsche Staatsoper in March 1946 brought the issue of the artist’s ethical responsibility most sharply into focus, for there the antifascist novelist Ernst Wiechert launched an attack on those writers and intellectuals who had turned their back

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on politics during the Third Reich, accusing them of complicity in the German catastrophe.1 The significance of Wiechert’s accusation was not lost on the then thirty-five year-old editor of Der Augenzeuge, Kurt Maetzig. While questions of guilt and individual moral responsibility lie at the heart of almost all of the feature films Maetzig went on to direct for DEFA, it is striking that in two of his earliest works, Ehe im Schatten [Marriage in the Shadows, 1947] and Roman einer jungen Ehe [Story of a Young Couple, 1952], the ethical dilemmas are played out specifically within the artistic milieu of the pre- and post-war Berlin theatre. Nonetheless, as the different fates of the respective actor-couples in each film underline, both the conceptualization of the relationship between art and politics in the fledgling GDR and the relationship of socialist filmmaking to emerging concepts of modernist aesthetics were to change very radically in the intervening five years. Based on the lives of the popular actor Joachim Gottschalk and his Jewish wife, the actress Meta Wolff (both of whom committed suicide during the Third Reich), Ehe im Schatten attracted large audiences in all four sectors of occupied Berlin when first screened in October 1947. Through its depiction of the tragedy that befalls the fictional couple Hans Wieland and Elisabeth Maurer, Maetzig’s film explores the impossibility of withdrawing into a supposedly ‘transcendent’ realm of art and ignoring the contingencies of political life. During one sequence set in the Baltic Sea resort of Hiddensee shortly before the Reichstag fire of 1933, Fehrenbach, the fictional director of the actors’ troupe, utters the fateful words, ‘as long as we are here together, we’re artists and don’t need to worry about politics’. As the film underlines, however, such a withdrawal from politics amounts, quite literally, to a death sentence for Elisabeth. Banned from performing in public and confined to her home, she dies a quasi-Schillerian Liebestod (love-death) orchestrated by Hans, who poisons the tea from which first she and then he himself drinks. In this way the film invites the viewer to draw a parallel between the tragic fate of the lovers Ferdinand and Luise in Schiller’s tragedy Kabale und Liebe [Love and Intrigue] and that of Hans and Elisabeth. Just as in Kabale und Liebe Ferdinand’s aristocratic background blinds him to Luise’s class-bound predicament, so too in Ehe im Schatten Hans’s Aryan origins prevent him from grasping the threat of violence to which his Jewish wife is exposed until it is too late. Deprived of any sense of personal autonomy both by the political system in which they operate and by the well-intentioned (but misguided) behaviour of their would-be male protectors, Luise and Elisabeth discover that the only way of escaping the impasse with which they are confronted is to renounce life and seek ‘fulfilment’ in death.

1 Der Augenzeuge, 1946, No. 3 (‘Zu neuen Ufern’).

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While the film was celebrated in some quarters as one of the first post-war German productions to touch upon the issue of anti-Semitism during the Third Reich, Ehe im Schatten remains steeped in the melodramatic conventions of the UFA studio and, as a result, fails to provide a coherent analysis of the role of racial theory in National Socialist ideology. Brecht dismissed the film as ‘terrible kitsch’,2 and even Maetzig himself conceded that ‘genuine expressions of emotion have, at least in part, been obscured by a quite unnecessarily melodramatic style of acting. The imprint of UFA is clearly visible’.3 But it was not simply the film’s reliance on the sentimental conventions of 1940s melodrama that undermined its critique of those artists who sought refuge from politics in a utopian realm of art. For in basing the plot of Ehe im Schatten around Schiller’s idealist drama Kabale und Liebe, Maetzig’s team found itself committed to a late eighteenth-century notion of renunciation that contributed to the film’s failure to provide anything more than an essentially emotional response to a political problem. In part Maetzig’s reliance on Schillerian pathos should be seen in the context of the activities of the Kulturbund zur demokratischen Erneuerung Deutschlands (Cultural League for the Democratic Renewal of Germany) and the hope, so clearly articulated in the early years of Der Augenzeuge, that the unity of post-war Germany might be preserved by re-embracing the values of German classical humanism. In an address of 1945, the leader of that organization, Johannes R. Becher, had argued that: Now is the time to ensure that the rich legacy of classical humanism and the working class movement shines forth with conviction like a beacon and is unambiguously reflected in the political and ethical attitude of the population as a whole. The era of classical humanism was never followed by a similar approach in the sphere of politics. On the contrary, our behaviour on the political stage has always been at odds with the legacy of our greatest thinkers. We have never managed to find a form of political expression that would accord with their magnificent achievements in the sphere of art and culture.4

By the early 1950s, however, the onset of the Cold War, the division of Germany and the progressive Stalinization of the ruling SED in the East had prompted many to question the redemptive potential of German classical humanism – a loss of faith that is evident in Maetzig’s 1952 Roman einer jungen Ehe.

2 See Martin Brady ‘Discussion with Kurt Maetzig’, in DEFA. East German Cinema, 1946–1992, ed. by Seán Allan and John Sandford (Oxford: Berghahn, 1999), pp. 77–92 (p. 82). 3 Kurt Maetzig: Filmarbeit. Gespräche, Reden, Schriften, ed. by Günter Agde (Berlin: Henschel, 1987), p. 36. 4 Johannes R. Becher, ‘Ansprache’, in Manifest des Kulturbunds zur demokratischen Erneuerung Deutschlands (Berlin: Aufbau, 1945), p. 40.

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Constructed around a series of East-West binary oppositions in a manner typical of many DEFA productions of the early 1950s, Roman einer jungen Ehe follows the fortunes of a (fictitious) young actor-couple in the theatre, Agnes Sailer and Jochen Karsten, as they negotiate the cultural politics of post-war Berlin. Brought together by a production of Lessing’s Nathan der Weise [Nathan the Wise] staged in the West (Agnes plays the part of the adopted Jewish girl Recha, while Jochen is cast in the role of the Templar Knight), both are forced to recognize the limitations of Lessing’s classical drama in combatting the legacy of fascism. Following the appearance of the anti-Semitic film director Hartmann (a figure clearly modelled on Veit Harlan, the infamous director of the 1940 anti-Semitic box office hit Jud Süß) at the premiere of their production of Nathan der Weise, both they and the director Möbius are compelled to reflect on the paradox inherent in extending the hand of enlightened humanism to those whose very raison d’être is grounded in an ideology of intolerance. Seen from this angle, the sequence focusing on the performance of Nathan der Weise might be read as a critical commentary on the function of Schiller’s Kabale und Liebe in Maetzig’s earlier film Ehe im Schatten. As the action of Roman einer jungen Ehe unfolds, both Agnes and Jochen discover that the concept of humanism to which those in the West subscribe, and which is enshrined in both Lessing’s eighteenth-century drama and more contemporary works such as Carl Zuckmayer’s Des Teufels General [The Devil’s General, 1947], is an essentially bourgeois notion fundamentally at odds with the East’s materialist interpretation of the concept. ‘We live in the same city’, Jochen reflects, ‘and yet it feels like we inhabit different worlds’.5 The film’s critique of liberal humanism is extended in a sequence in which an over-zealous continuity announcer from a radio station in the West introduces a broadcast of Das siebte Kreuz [The Seventh Cross, 1942] in such a way as to portray Anna Seghers’s antifascist novel – a canonical GDR work – as an attack on communism. This, together with the failure of the liberal-minded theatre director Möbius to secure a theatre in the West where he can stage his work, serves as a reminder that, far from constituting a transcendent realm, art and aesthetics are cultural products reflecting the ideological interests of those in power, and that ownership of the means of (cultural) production is everything. In Roman einer jungen Ehe Maetzig goes out of his way to debunk both classical and contemporary notions of bourgeois humanism while at the same time endorsing an often crude concept of socialist realism that, paradoxically, runs contrary to many of his early writings on film art.6 Although some years later he

5 ‘Man lebt in einer Stadt, und hat das Gefühl, in zwei Erdteilen zu leben.’ 6 Kurt Maetzig, ‘Probleme des realistischen Filmschaffens’, in Auf neuen Wegen. 5 Jahre fortschrittlicher deutscher Film, ed. by Deutscher Filmverlag Berlin (Berlin: Henschel, 1951), pp. 30–39 (pp. 36–37).

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distanced himself from the film, the numerous references it contains to international developments in post-war art and literature make it a fascinating document of the cultural politics of the Cold War. Nowhere is this clearer than in the sequences focusing on The Russian Question [Russkij vopros, 1947], a polemical critique of the American news industry by the Soviet dramatist Konstantin Simonov, and Jean-Paul Sartre’s Dirty Hands [Les mains sales, 1948]. Both writers had been the cause of considerable controversy in post-war Germany. Productions of Sartre’s The Flies [Les Mouches, 1943] in Düsseldorf and Berlin prompted both the high-ranking party functionary Anton Ackermann and the Soviet cultural officer in East Berlin Alexander Dymschitz to condemn the work of the French existentialist playwright; likewise, the decision to stage Simonov’s play at the Deutsches Theater in East Berlin in 1947 led to an official protest by the then head of the U.S. Military Government in Berlin, Colonel Frank Howley. In Roman einer jungen Ehe, though, we are left in no doubt as to where the GDR stood on such matters: Agnes turns down a role in a production of Dirty Hands in the West on the grounds that the play is an attack on the East and accepts a part in a production of The Russian Question instead. It is hardly surprising that the world of the theatre should feature so prominently in both Maetzig’s films and the cultural politics of the post-war period; for ever since Schiller’s description of the stage as a forum for moral debate (‘Die Schaubühne als eine moralische Anstalt’) in 1784, theatre in Germany had always been regarded as one of the most important discursive spaces in the public sphere – a tradition that was continued in the GDR up to and beyond 1989. Although Roman einer jungen Ehe is often cited as an example of Stalinist aesthetics, it is important to remember that theory and practice did not always neatly coincide at DEFA. During a discussion in July 1951 Maetzig was heavily criticized by directors Slatan Dudow and Falk Harnack as well as the studio’s head of production, Alfred Wilkening, for the inclusion of a sequence of mass celebrations marking the completion of the first phase of the Stalinallee urban housing development in East Berlin – a sequence they regarded as one of the weakest in the film.7 At an earlier production meeting with the studio’s chief dramaturge Wolff von Gordon on 28 September 1950 Maetzig had also been warned that the film’s uncompromising stance regarding the situation in post-war Berlin might be seen as presenting a case for – rather than against – the division of Germany and was

7 See ‘Diskussion Roman einer jungen Ehe. 24.07.51’, Archiv der Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Kurt-Maetzig-Archiv, 245.

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Fig 4.1: The sequence depicting the mass celebrations on Berlin’s Stalinallee in Roman einer jungen Ehe (1952) was heavily criticized by the studio management.

advised to assume a more neutral position.8 Nonetheless, Maetzig’s objection that adopting a liberal standpoint would facilitate rather than minimize the threat of further global conflict shines through even in the final print. His reluctance to pursue a more pragmatic approach together with the film’s lack of appeal for contemporary cinema audiences goes some way to explaining why this otherwise exemplary embodiment of socialist realist aesthetics was excluded from the list of films singled out for praise at the GDR’s Second Film Congress in September 1952. Although the 1950s saw a number of Marxist-inspired adaptions of literary classics, DEFA’s only feature film based on the life of an artist from the German past was Helmut Spieß’s Tilman Riemenschneider (1958), a film that, as Sabine Hake has argued, draws heavily on the aesthetics of the Nazi Geniusfilm genre of

8 See ‘Aktennotiz über die Besprechung vom 28. September 1950 um 13.30 Uhr in der Möwe zwischen Herrn Dr. von Gordon und Dr. Kurt Maetzig im Beisein von Günter Reisch. Thema: Ideen zum Film “Ehe im Westen”’. Archiv der Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Kurt-Maetzig-Archiv, 166.

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the 1940s.9 During the first half of the 1950s, however, the DEFA newsreel and documentary studio was actively engaged in the production of a series of documentaries, most of them timed to coincide with major anniversaries of German writers, artists and composers including Bach, Beethoven, Händel, Schiller and the painter Adolph Menzel. Following the Goethe celebrations of 1949, the bicentenary of Johann Sebastian Bach’s birth in 1950 and the 125th anniversary of Beethoven’s death in 1952 presented the two states with an early opportunity to assert their respective claims as the rightful heir to the nation’s cultural heritage. Addressing the East German Parliament (Volkskammer) on 22 March 1950, Prime Minister Otto Grotewohl argued that German culture transcended the political divisions of the post-war period: ‘Our concern is German culture itself, something that cannot be divided. Our aim is to preserve and develop a truly elevated form of national culture’, before adding that ‘those in the West belong to that nation too.’10 This concept of a German Kulturnation and the acknowledgement of progressive factions in the West reflected the East German government’s hope for a united socialist Germany, an aspiration enshrined in the GDR constitution up until the early 1970s. Yet for all the superficial rhetoric of inclusion, East German cultural theorists argued that ‘cosmopolitan’ tendencies in the cultural politics of the Federal Republic represented a threat to the integrity of German culture. Redefined in the East German Duden of 1951 as ‘an ideology that appeals to a concept of world citizenship [Weltbürgertum] in order to enslave nations for the benefit of Anglo-American imperialism’, the term cosmopolitanism soon acquired the same negative connotations as formalism in the protracted aesthetic debates of the 1950s.11 Portraying the Federal Republic’s tolerance of both formalist and cosmopolitan tendencies as an act of cultural betrayal (Kulturverrat) in which optimistic and progressive forms of cultural expression were replaced by what were termed aesthetic embodiments of futility, pessimism and barbarism served two functions: on the one hand it supported the notion of the Federal Republic as a colonized state stripped of its own cultural identity; and on the other it appeared to legitimize the ruling SED’s rejection of modernist aesthetics in favour of a highly orthodox version of socialist realism. In their attempt to shore up such a monolithic concept of realist aesthetics, cultural theorists in the GDR turned to the works of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century writers and artists; however, rather than celebrate the cosmopolitan, transnational character of the Euro-

9 Sabine Hake, German National Cinema, 2nd edn (London: Routledge, 2007), p. 102. 10 Otto Grotewohl, ‘Die deutsche Kultur ist unteilbar’, Neues Deutschland, 23 March 1950. Reproduced in Dokumente zur Kunst-, Literatur- und Kulturpolitik der SED, ed. by Elimar Schubbe (Stuttgart: Seewald, 1972), II, p. 136. 11 Anon., ‘Sprache: Duden – Neuer Wortschatz’, Der Spiegel, 50 (1968), 182.

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pean Enlightenment, they focused instead on the national aspirations of those figures most closely associated with it. One of the earliest opportunities for the SED regime to bolster the standing of the GDR on the wider global stage was the bicentenary of Bach’s birth in 1950. As the education minister Paul Wandel noted in a letter to Walter Ulbricht, music was an internationally understood language and one that could be exploited to reach out to a wider international audience.12 Nonetheless, the need to reconcile the religious dimension of the composer’s music with the demands of the GDR’s explicitly secular agenda was to present both the GDR’s Kulturbund and the filmmakers at DEFA with a formidable challenge and one that Ernst Dahle sought to resolve in his thirty-four-minute documentary Johann Sebastian Bach released on 27 July 1950. Accordingly, the three-minute sequence in Leipzig’s Thomaskirche is shot in a manner that studiously avoids evoking any specifically religious connotations and depicts the church not as a place of worship, but as an architectural monument and historical backdrop for musical performance. The voiceover reinterprets the religiosity of Bach’s music in terms of a quasi-Romantic lyricism: ‘His music expresses much more than the texts for which it was composed. Regardless of the theme, what matters most is articulating the deepest human feelings’. At the same time the composer is celebrated as a progressive figure whose groundbreaking work The Well-Tempered Clavier owes at least as much to his grasp of developments in musical technology as it does to artistic genius. Finally, Bach’s position as a pivotal figure in the GDR’s materialist conception of history is underscored by a sequence in which the enthusiastic members of an FDJ (Free German Youth) orchestra remark that rehearsing the Peasant Cantata has given them a new understanding of the composer. Most strikingly the circumstances of the composer’s life and, in particular, the legacy of the Thirty Years’ War are presented in a way that could hardly have failed to resonate with contemporary audiences in the aftermath of the Second World War: Fear, suffering and the strictures of war laid waste to the unhappy nation, fragmented as it was by aristocratic rivalry. The people were hungry, bled dry, and the nation was more divided than ever before. How could any form of national culture flourish in such circumstances?

There is nothing cosmopolitan about the film’s presentation of Bach; instead the events of his life are creatively reimagined as an opportunity to launch a veiled protest against the presence of U.S. forces in the Federal Republic.

12 Letter from Paul Wandel to Walter Ulbricht of 24 November 1949. BArch, DY 30/J IV 2/3/70.

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Two years later another major anniversary loomed large on the cultural horizon – the 125th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven’s death, and in 1954 DEFA marked the occasion with the full-length (ninety-five-minute) documentary Ludwig van Beethoven directed by Max Jaap and based on a script by Stephan Hermlin. Like Bach, Beethoven was another iconic figure whom the SED leadership could use to articulate its opposition to the division of Germany; ‘Beethoven’s œuvre’, we are told in an SED policy document of 1952, ‘is an integral and enduring part of our national culture. Its preservation and creative development is a matter for the whole German nation’.13 In Beethoven’s case, however, the difficulty with which East German musicologists were confronted was not religion, but the need to demonstrate how music that by and large had been composed for and dedicated to the composer’s aristocratic patrons could be realigned with the progressive forces of history and reclaimed for a working-class audience. The agenda was set early in 1952 with a bulletin for Der Augenzeuge covering a Beethoven evening at the Gröditz steelworks – just one of five features on the composer carried by the newsreel that year. Released two years later, Max Jaap’s documentary also went out of its way to portray Beethoven as an artist whose roots lay primarily in vernacular culture. Every reference to the patronage of Prince Lichnowski or Count Razumovsky is complemented by a voiceover emphasizing Beethoven’s enduring interest in the Volkslied (folksong) and reminding the viewer that, despite the composer’s dependency on his aristocratic patrons financially, he never adopted a position of moral or aesthetic subservience. Somewhat predictably the film draws to a close with a sequence in which industrial workers listen attentively to a concert of Beethoven’s music. Yet what makes Jaap’s documentary so memorable is not its formulaic approach to the course of early nineteenth-century European history, but rather its role as a showcase for GDR musical talent. Throughout the film we are presented with lengthy extracts from Beethoven’s major works conducted by the likes of Franz Konwitschny, Heinz Bongartz and Hermann Abendroth (a figure often portrayed as the East German Furtwängler). All three were, of course, former members of the NSDAP whose professional careers had been rehabilitated in the GDR; but what matters, at least for the purposes of Jaap’s film, is their international standing. The opportunity to observe these conductors on the podium together with the interpolated footage

13 ‘Zum 125. Todestag Ludwig van Beethovens am 26. März 1952. Stellungnahme des Zentralkomitees der Sozialistischen Einheitspartei Deutschlands’, Musik und Geschichte, 8 (1952/53), 72–74 (p. 72). For an overview of Beethoven’s reception in the GDR in this period see Elaine Kelly, ‘Composing the Canon. The Individual and the Romantic Aesthetic in the GDR’, in Contested Legacies. Constructions of Cultural Heritage in the GDR, ed. by Matthew Philpotts and Sabine Rolle, Edinburgh German Yearbook, vol. 3 (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2009), pp. 198–217.

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of such global stars as Yehudi Menuhin, David Oistrakh and Arturo Toscanini was to play a key part in boosting the appeal of Jaap’s documentary beyond the GDR. Praised at international film festivals in both East and West, it was, quite exceptionally for an East German documentary of the 1950s, distributed in Switzerland and Japan before being screened by the BBC in 1956. By the mid-1960s and early 1970s the reverent, self-assured approach to icons of national culture underpinning the format of both Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven was increasingly being called into question. In part this was prompted by the desire of a new generation of directors in both East and West to embrace developments in modernist aesthetics and redefine the place of art in society by making films based on the lives of painters and musicians. In the Soviet Union perhaps the most obvious example of this tendency was Andrei Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublev (1966/71), a vital source of inspiration for many East German directors including Konrad Wolf.14 In the GDR one of the first attempts to remodel the Künstlerfilm along modernist lines was Ralf Kirsten’s Der verlorene Engel, a film about the Expressionist sculptor Ernst Barlach. Barlach had always been a controversial figure in the GDR, and during the 1950s the extent to which the modernist aspect of his work was at odds with the prevailing aesthetic of socialist realism had been underlined by the premature closure of an exhibition of his work organized by East Berlin’s Academy of Arts in January 1952. Kirsten’s attempt to rehabilitate the sculptor in the mid-1960s reflected not only a new spirit of political optimism but also the growing impact of new paradigms of New Wave cinemas on the directors working for DEFA. Der verlorene Engel abandons the conventional format of the 1950s artist documentaries and presents the artist’s development almost entirely via a voiceover spoken by the sculptor himself. Narrated in the form of an interior monologue, this process of retrospective self-analysis is triggered by the artist’s realization that no one has intervened to prevent the Nazis’ removal of his allegedly ‘degenerate’ sculpture Der schwebende Engel [The Floating Angel] from Güstrow Cathedral. By portraying Barlach as a victim of Nazi persecution and showing how his distinctive style evolved out of the experience of war and the loss of his son, Kirsten’s film sought not only to rehabilitate Barlach in the GDR, but also to mobilize modernist aesthetics in the service of an antifascist agenda. These hopes were soon dashed, however, as Der verlorene Engel was one of a number of films banned following the infamous 11th Plenary of the SED’s Central Committee in December 1965. Reviewing the film in the summer of 1966, the now hyper-cautious

14 See Larson Powell, ‘Breaking the Frame of Painting. Konrad Wolf’s Goya’, Studies in European Cinema, 5.2 (2009), 131–41.

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Hauptverwaltung Film (the state-run Film Bureau responsible for approving films for general release in the GDR) argued that the film was ideologically confused, appeared to criticize state intervention into artistic matters and, worst of all, seemed open to multiple interpretations.15 Although Der verlorene Engel was rescued in 1971 at the request of the Soviet Union and screened as part of a series of events to mark the centenary of Barlach’s birth, Kirsten’s film never achieved quite the recognition amongst the wider cinema-going public that its groundbreaking agenda deserved. Nevertheless, Konrad Wolf, who had been appointed president of the East Berlin Academy of Arts just two months before the 11th Plenary, was well briefed on the fate of Kirsten’s film. Having made his own controversial contribution to what might loosely be described as the beginnings of an East German New Wave with Der geteilte Himmel [Divided Heaven, 1964], Wolf was concerned that the fallout from the Plenary would cut DEFA off from developments in modernist cinema and confine it to the margins of European filmmaking. In his public role as president of the Academy, he had little option but to accept the SED’s criticism of those filmmakers whose works had been banned; and in his address of 2 March 1966 he criticized those who posited a radical separation of the artist and mainstream society as the sine qua non for true art.16 But in attacking the more extreme conceptualizations of existentialist aesthetics (some of which were to resurface in the very last years of the studio’s existence), Wolf was anxious to ensure that filmmaking in the GDR could keep pace with cinematic developments in both Eastern and Western Europe. Given the context, it is hardly surprising that Wolf turned first to the tried and trusted genre of the antifascist film as embodied by Ich war neunzehn [I Was Nineteen, 1968] in an attempt to bolster DEFA’s position within the emerging paradigms of cinematic modernism. However, in 1971 with his screen adaptation of Lion Feuchtwanger’s antifascist novel Goya – oder der arge Weg der Erkenntnis, Wolf attempted to produce a Künstlerfilm of international standing that could take its place alongside the work of directors such as Igor Talankin and Andrei Tarkovsky. Although Wolf did not start work on Goya until 1969, DEFA had been negotiating for the rights to Feuchtwanger’s novel since the early 1960s. Even in its earliest stages the project had been conceived as a prestige production that would appeal to an international audience and enhance DEFA’s standing. In addition it

15 ‘Stellungnahme zu dem DEFA-Spielfilm Der verlorene Engel’. 16 August 1966. BArch, DR 1 MfK-HV 49/71. 16 Konrad Wolf, ‘Plenartagung am 2.3.1966’. Akademie der Künste, Archiv der Akademie der Künste der DDR, ZAA 423.

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was hoped that a successful production would lead to other important works of twentieth-century German literature (in particular those of Thomas Mann) being filmed in the GDR rather than in the Federal Republic.17 Yet to make a film that would appeal to audiences outside the Eastern Bloc meant recruiting actors from the West and paying them in convertible currency, an undertaking which, as tentative enquiries regarding the cost of hiring Marlon Brando or Anthony Quinn revealed, was beyond the studio’s financial resources. Despite protracted negotiations with Artur Brauner’s Central Cinema Company in West Berlin about a potential coproduction, DEFA was never able to reach an agreement with a partner in the West and opted for a coproduction with the Soviet film studio Lenfilm instead. Shot in the new 70mm format (DEFA’s answer to CinemaScope), Goya was a hugely expensive undertaking. Wolf’s film traces the development of Goya’s art, beginning with his position as court painter to King Carlos IV and ending with the Black Paintings of the 1820s. En route we witness the execution of such works as King Carlos IV and His Family, Nude Maya, The Caprichos and The Disasters of War. Goya’s rejection of the conventional genre of court portraiture is prompted by his increasing engagement with the vernacular culture of the Spanish peasants and townsfolk as well as his refusal to ignore the violence of their struggle for political emancipation. Inspired by a series of female muses, notably the Duchess of Alba, the condemned heretic Maria Rosario and finally his elderly mother, Goya rejects the genre of conventional court portraiture so despised by his loyal assistant Estève and embraces an aesthetic that at times borders on the quasi-surrealist. As the unflattering capricho Volaverunt, depicting Goya’s former muse Alba, demonstrates, ultimately the real inspiration for Goya’s creativity is not the marginalized perspective of the female Other, but that of the class Other. In a manner that calls to mind Barlach’s development in Der verlorene Engel, Wolf’s film accounts for the increasingly modernist elements in Goya’s art not in terms of the artist’s withdrawal into an abstract aesthetic realm, but on the contrary as the result of his active engagement with the Spanish Volk and its culture. The lasting significance of Goya for the development of the East German Künstlerfilm can be seen most clearly in its treatment of revolutionary art. While there is nothing particularly startling about Goya’s rejection of the conventions of bourgeois portraiture, his reluctance to imitate Jacques-Louis David’s monumen-

17 ‘Entwurf eines Informationsbriefes für den Genossen Hager betr. Goya-Film und Dienstleistungen für CCC-Film Artur Brauner’. Archiv der Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Konrad-WolfArchiv, 597. In 1964 the West German director Rolf Thiele had released a film adaptation of Thomas Mann’s novel Tonio Kröger.

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talism can hardly have failed to resonate with contemporary cinema-goers in both the GDR and other Eastern Bloc states. When the revolutionary Jovellanos berates Goya for excessive experimentation, his critique sounds like a rerun of the anti-formalist polemics of the 1950s. Accordingly it is left to the more politically minded Estève to point out that the rejection of monumentalist (socialist) realism need not entail a rejection of radical politics – a point that Wolf had been arguing long before the 11th Plenary. Nevertheless, Goya’s experimentation with the grotesque and other forms of aesthetic representation invites a more pluralistic approach to interpretation that leads him into conflict with the Inquisition. For readers of Feuchtwanger’s novel in the early 1950s the Inquisition inevitably evoked memories of the Third Reich and the McCarthy era;18 some twenty years later the extended sequence of the auto-da-fé in Wolf’s film conjured up a new set of associations, notably the show-trial of Rudolf Slánsk) in 1952, the trial of Walter Janka in 1957, and last but by no means least, the ‘trial’ of the GDR’s writers and filmmakers at the 11th Plenary in 1965. Despite its lavish production values and the vibrant performance of the Lithuanian actor Donatas Banionis in the title role, Goya failed to provoke the wider debate on art and aesthetics that Wolf had hoped it would. Disappointed by the response of those East German cinema-goers in the GDR who saw the film simply as a costume drama, Wolf set out in his next film, Der nackte Mann auf dem Sportplatz [The Naked Man on the Playing Field, 1974], to explore the obstacles that stood in the way of a genuine understanding of art and aesthetics in contemporary socialist society. If Goya represented perhaps DEFA’s most ambitious attempt to position itself internationally, then Der nackte Mann auf dem Sportplatz, a film set in the GDR of the 1970s and dealing with a fictitious forty-year-old artist in crisis, was by contrast one of the studio’s most introspective productions. In the episodic Der nackte Mann auf dem Sportplatz the viewer follows the sculptor Herbert Kemmel as he seeks to widen not only his own aesthetic horizons, but also those of the everyday people he encounters in the course of his daily life as an artist. As he discovers, their ability to grasp what he is trying to achieve as an artist is crippled by an inability to think beyond the categories of an essentially naturalistic aesthetic deployed to celebrate the heroic achievements of the great and the good. When Kemmel persuades Hannes, the leader of a construction brigade, to act as a model, the latter’s response makes it clear just how restricted his view of art is: ‘Emperors and kings …, horses and lions, or Lenin … I can see why you’d do that. But my head? I wonder if that’s really necessary’.

18 See Goya. Vom Roman zum Film. Eine Dokumentation zum Film von Konrad Wolf, ed. by Ruth Herlinghaus. Arbeitshefte der Akademie der Künste zu Berlin, No. 7 (1971), p. 21.

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Fig 4.2: Hannes’s involvement in Kemmel’s project prompts a dialogue on the role of art in contemporary socialist society in Der nackte Mann auf dem Sportplatz (1974).

This is by no means the only obstacle to an appreciation of art; during the sequence in which the self-styled bohemians Klippfisch and Fräulein Fritze visit Kemmel’s studio, Wolf’s film seeks, albeit gently, to poke fun at the mythologization of art as an exotic activity carried out by an other-worldly figure. What connects such seemingly disparate episodes is Wolf’s emphasis on the importance of approaching art and aesthetics as a process of constant creative renewal and his reminder that the artist must resist the temptation to reproduce the aesthetic categories of the past. Any set of aesthetic principles, no matter how innovative and radical they may once have been, are liable to be reduced to a set of empty conventions when constantly recycled. As the film makes clear during the sequence with the two interior decorators whose speciality is monumental mosaic depictions of workers with hammers and mothers with children, the aesthetic principles underpinning socialist realism may once have embodied a new and revolutionary approach in the antifascist struggle; but in the GDR of the 1970s these categories have lost their original meaning and degenerated into a set of empty, conventional forms. Hence, as Kemmel searches for a form that would capture not only the natural beauty of the ravine but also the horror of the massacre of Jews at Babi Yar, his fascination with the memorial created by Will Lammert and Fritz Cremer at the Ravensbrück concentration camp serves as a reminder not only of the crucial role of modernist aesthetics in the political struggle against fascism, but also of the difficulty in finding new aesthetic forms capable of provoking an active, ethical engagement on the part of the beholder.

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Both Goya and Der nackte Mann auf dem Sportplatz played a key role in reshaping the DEFA Künstlerfilm of the 1970s, insofar as they highlighted the progressive role of modernist aesthetics in socialist film art. At the same time both sought to demythologize the concept of the artist and depict art as an integral part of a progressive, materialist concept of society. This process of demythologization is also evident in another major production of the 1970s, Horst Seemann’s Beethoven – Tage aus einem Leben. Whereas in 1952 the anniversary of Beethoven’s death had been exploited to bolster the cause of German unity, by 1970 (the bicentenary of his birth) the demise of West Germany’s Hallstein doctrine aimed at isolating East Germany from the West and the growing international recognition of the GDR had rendered such an approach largely obsolete. In addition, 1970 was marked by another major anniversary in the socialist calendar, the centenary of Lenin’s birth; and the Russian revolutionary’s much quoted remark on the impact of listening to Beethoven’s Appassionata – ‘What marvellous things human beings can achieve!’ – provided the perfect opportunity to link the two events. Accordingly the 1970 celebrations were designed to promote a specifically East German concept of cultural identity by situating the composer’s work within a teleological model of history in which certain progressive tendencies in eighteenthand early nineteenth-century art, literature and music were portrayed as paving the way for twentieth-century socialism. Although Seemann’s Beethoven – Tage aus einem Leben was not released until 1976, preliminary discussions about the project began in the early 1970s. Developed in conjunction with Günter Kunert, the film seeks to contextualize Beethoven by focusing on the material conditions (and contradictions) of artistic production in bourgeois society. A critique of the cult of genius and corresponding emphasis on the contradictory aspects of the composer’s life are anticipated in an essay of 1973 by Kunert in which he writes: ‘our task is not to show that Beethoven composed his works in spite of his supposedly “contradictory character”, but rather that these “contradictions” constituted the creative inspiration for them’.19 As Kunert observed, existing biographies of Beethoven had often portrayed the composer as a larger-than-life ‘genius’ whose sublime musical talent was interpreted as a corollary of his detachment from everyday reality, a detachment symbolized both by his deafness and his failure to establish lasting relations with the opposite sex. A similar sentimentalized view of the composer underpins such films as Abel Gance’s The Life and Loves of Beethoven [Un grand amour de Beethoven, 1936], Walter Kolm-Veltée’s Eroïca (1949) and

19 Günter Kunert, ‘Beethoven – zu einem Film über ihn’, in Warum schreiben? (Munich: Hanser, 1976), pp. 36–42 (p. 37).

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Georg Tressler’s The Magnificent Rebel, a two-part production made for Disney in 1962. Beethoven – Tage aus einem Leben abandons any attempt to present a conventional biography of the composer and offers instead a series of exemplary episodes, each introduced by a quasi-epic subtitle such as ‘Understanding art’, ‘Happiness remembered’ or ‘Art and the dawn of technology’ that is designed to provoke the viewer to reflect on the dialectical relationship between the process of artistic creativity and the prevailing structures of bourgeois society. Not until seventeen minutes into the film do we see and hear Beethoven; and during the opening sequences our knowledge of the composer is restricted to that mediated via the contrasting perspectives of those in his immediate circle. As the title of one review, ‘Nachdenken über Ludwig B’ [‘The Quest for Ludwig B’] suggests, the rejection of a chronologically structured biopic should be seen in the context of emerging new paradigms of literary modernism in contemporary East German fiction.20 In the world of film production, however, such an approach was a much bolder undertaking. A report from the studio’s script advisors dated May 1975 criticized the film’s episodic character on the grounds that it ‘would merit filming if what is great about Beethoven’s life were a little more obvious […] what we see instead are primarily his weaknesses’;21 and the report concluded (incorrectly as it turned out) that the film would struggle to find an audience. In part such misgivings were prompted by the fear that the demythologization of Beethoven’s iconic status might move too far in the direction of Mauricio Kagel’s experimental Ludwig van, a film that had been released (in the West) in 1970 and that particularly troubled the consultant musicologists employed by DEFA to advise on Seemann’s project. Inspired by the spirit of the 1968 student movement, Kagel’s avant-garde film emphasized the radical character of Beethoven’s work: ‘this way of composing calls into question everything that had existed hitherto’ the Argentinian-born director explained to Der Spiegel;22 but it did so by means of a systematic deconstruction of all forms of cultural authority in a way that would never have been acceptable to the studio management at DEFA. Like the central protagonist of Konrad Wolf’s Goya (1971) or the fictional sculptor Herbert Kemmel in Wolf’s Der nackte Mann auf dem Sportplatz (1974), Seemann’s Beethoven is depicted not as the titanic genius of popular imagination,

20 Rosemarie Rehan, ‘Nachdenken über Ludwig B’, Wochenpost, 11 November 1976. The title of the review is an allusion to Christa Wolf’s modernist novel Nachdenken über Christa T. [The Quest for Christa T., 1968]. 21 Report of 6 May 1975, signed Klaus Richter-de Vroe. BArch, DR I MfK-HV 133. 22 Mauricio Kagel, ‘“Beethovens Erbe ist die moralische Aufrüstung”. Spiegel-Gespräch mit dem Komponisten Mauricio Kagel über Beethovens Musik’, Der Spiegel, 37 (1970), 195–96 (p. 196).

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but as a finite being of flesh and blood with all the strengths and weaknesses that implies. However, the characterization stops well short of the radical subjectivism of Kagel’s Ludwig van. At one level the film offers a telling critique of a society in which art is undervalued and regarded primarily as something decorative. When Beethoven visits the doctor hoping for a cure to his deafness, the grotesquely exaggerated materialism of this self-styled La Mettrie – ‘Man may be a complicated machine, but for all that he is still a machine’ he says – is rendered almost comic by the composer’s insistence that his life is meaningless without music. At the other end of the spectrum the pretentious aestheticism of Beethoven’s aristocratic patrons is ruthlessly exposed as a privilege of the upper classes during the episode ‘Understanding art’: Count Razumovsky claims that Beethoven’s music can lead any human being to a higher state of freedom, only for the camera to draw back, revealing an army of servants maintaining the beautiful gardens of Schloss Schönbrunn. Amusing as it is, the episode merely underlines the contradictions of the bourgeois world in which the composer’s desire for individual autonomy – ‘I must be free for art so that art itself can be free’ – is an illusion, confronted as he is with a three-way choice between poverty, aristocratic patronage and the commercial rewards of the commodification of art embodied in Johann Mälzel’s panharmonicon. Portrayed throughout as a vigorous opponent of both Napoleon Bonaparte and the restorative politics of the Metternich regime, Beethoven’s fate underlines just how limited the political impact of the artist is in a society in which art remains an essentially marginalized activity, for as Metternich observes, ‘nobody takes seriously what an artist says about politics’. However, it is left to Beethoven’s devoted secretary Schindler to point out the illusion to which his master is subject when he remarks that ‘you’re confusing artistic freedom with political freedom’. Seen in the context of the New German Cinema of the Federal Republic and Straub/Huillet’s Chronik der Anna Magdalena Bach [The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach, 1968), a film shot partly in the East by the DEFA cameraman Hans Kracht, it is not hard to imagine how in the West a film like Beethoven – Tage aus einem Leben might be read as a pessimistic commentary on the conditions for arthouse film production under capitalism. While Seemann’s film does highlight the contradictions with which the bourgeois artist is confronted in Viennese society, it also goes a step further and invites the viewer to reflect on the conditions of artistic creativity in contemporary socialist society. In the East Seemann was known primarily as a director of films set in contemporary GDR, and it is thus hardly surprising that the film ends with an anachronistic sequence in which Beethoven is portrayed on the move once again, only for the camera to pull back and reveal him walking against a background that is not Vienna but East Berlin’s Alexanderplatz in the 1970s. The ambivalence of this sequence is further underscored by the

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Fig 4.3: Beethoven – Tage aus einem Leben (1976) contributes to the debate about the legacy of Romanticism. Here Beethoven arrives in contemporary East Berlin.

transition on the soundtrack from the uplifting strains of the 9th Symphony’s ‘Ode to Joy’ to the more melancholic tones of Sonata No. 8 (Pathétique) as the location shifts from Metternich’s Vienna to Honecker’s East Berlin. Just how nervous the DEFA studio was regarding the film’s ending is evident in their protocol of June 1976: ‘The film’s closure seems, however, somewhat undermined by the final sequence. The proof that Beethoven’s oeuvre is an integral part of our cultural heritage could perhaps have been achieved using a different artistic approach.’23 Rosemarie Rehan’s review for the Wochenpost articulated what all those who viewed the film feared but dared not express directly: ‘My feeling is that Beethoven is out on the street not just for his own cause, but to challenge the viewer, and the public in general, to look after those artists whose lot it is to embody a unique, fragile humanity.’24 Developments in the political sphere soon underlined that the film’s plea had fallen on deaf ears; for hardly one month after its premiere at the Kino International in Berlin, the GDR leadership announced that the dissident singer/songwriter Wolf Biermann had been stripped of his citizenship. It is no coincidence that the Künstlerfilm peaked in the GDR during the 1970s, for it was during the early part of that decade, following Erich Honecker’s ‘No ta-

23 ‘Stellungnahme zu dem DEFA-Spielfilm “Beethoven Tage aus einem Leben”’, signed S. Heinemann and dated 11 June 1976. BArch, DR I MfK-HV 133. 24 Rehan, ‘Nachdenken über Ludwig B’.

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boos’ speech of December 1971 that the prospects for a liberalization of film policy in the GDR seemed brighter than ever. At the same time it is striking that in the Federal Republic too the young filmmakers of the New German Cinema looked to the German cultural heritage as a way of establishing new aesthetic positions. Films such as Straub/Huillet’s Chronik der Anna Magdalena Bach (1968), HansJürgen Syberberg’s Kleist adaptation San Domingo (1970), George Moorse’s screen version of Büchner’s novella Lenz (1970) and Helma Sanders-Brahm’s Kleist portrait Heinrich (1977) all bear witness to the importance of German Romanticism for those directors in the West who, in their quest for artistic autonomy, had to negotiate the demands of state subsidy on the one hand and the commercial cinema on the other. In the East DEFA’s output was dominated by a series of films depicting contemporary life in the GDR, many of which were shot in a quasi-documentary style. Only in the very last years of the studio’s (post-unification) existence does the Künstlerfilm resurface in productions such as Dieter Hochmuth’s study of a would-be filmmaker in Motivsuche [Location Hunting, 1990], Jörg Foth’s reflections of the demise of the GDR as seen through the eyes of two clowns in Letztes aus der DaDaEr [Latest from the Da Da R, 1990] and Herwig Kipping’s poetic meditation on utopian Romanticism in Novalis – die blaue Blume [Novalis – the Blue Flower, 1993]. The very last film to be released under the DEFA brand, Kipping’s portrayal of the Romantic poet Novalis, is infused with nostalgic yearning for a lost utopia that is powerless to resist the onslaught of prosaic reality. Filmed in an anachronistic style whereby the love affair between Novalis and the youthful Sophie Kühn is played out against ghostly images of the East Berlin television tower in the background, Novalis – die blaue Blume seems to embody precisely those elements of Romantic art – above all the radical separation of artist and society – that Konrad Wolf had warned against in his address of March 1966 to the East German Academy of Arts. The films of Kirsten, Wolf and Seemann had been predicated on a concept of aesthetics in which the Romantics’ rejection of naturalistic representation and corresponding emphasis on the multiplicity of perspective were seen as a forerunner of twentieth-century modernism and shown to be compatible with socialist aspirations; by contrast Kipping’s film, like so many during the last years of DEFA, saw Romantic art in its most reactionary guise as an essentially pessimistic commentary on the impossibility of ever attaining the Ideal in the reality of the here and now.25

25 I would like to acknowledge financial support of the DEFA-Stiftung and the help of the following in preparing this article: Herr Nicky Rittmeyer (Akademie der Künste, Berlin), Frau Ute Klawitter (Bundesfilmarchiv), Frau Birgit Scholz (Filmmuseum Potsdam) and former DEFA dramaturge Herr Dieter Wolf.

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Chapter 5 Family Feelings: Kinship, Gender and Social Utopia in DEFA Film This chapter attends to family affairs on the East German screen. More than any other cinematic trope, imaginary families engage in essential human practices that call the spectator back ‘home’.1 Raised in East Germany with an ease towards gender, I have been struck since the fall of the Berlin Wall how adamantly critics and especially those with a feminist orientation have insisted that women’s emancipation failed in the socialist countries of Eastern Europe. Backed by scholarship, post-1989 accounts generally suggest that patriarchal structures continued to exist under communism leading to the incorporation of women into the work sphere, organized by a calculating party state, while the conventional model of the family and associated gender roles regarding domestic labour tended to remain intact.2 Part and parcel of a larger discursive shift and redistribution of power following the collapse of socialism, this ideological trend in the scholarship of the last two decades fits perhaps all too neatly with a posthistorical investment in the hegemonic narrative of democratic victory. Notably, countries in Eastern Europe were groundbreaking in providing support for families and children as well as educational and medical services that surpassed preceding models in bourgeois societies.3 As scholars have also shown, it was after 1989, in the postcommunist transformation of the Eastern Bloc countries, that women (and men) were required to adjust to altered material conditions and discursive realities imported by the West, which privileged more traditional family arrangements and reassigned functions formerly delegated from the public domain to the private sphere.4

1 Murray Pomerance, ‘Introduction: Family Affairs’, in A Family Affair: Cinema Calls Home, ed. by Murray Pomerance (London: Wallflower Press, 2008), pp. 1–12 (p. 8); Margrit Frölich, Reinhard Middel and Karsten Visarius, ‘Vorwort der Herausgeber’, in Family Affairs. Ansichten der Familie im Film, ed. by Margrit Frölich, Reinhard Middel and Karsten Visarius (Marburg: Schüren, 2004), pp. 7–9 (p. 9). 2 Donna Harsch, Revenge of the Domestic. Women, the Family, and Communism in the German Democratic Republic (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007), p. 2. See also Gunilla-Friederike Budde, Frauen der Intelligenz. Akademikerinnen in der DDR 1945–1975 (Göttingen: Ruprecht, 2003). 3 Sabine Hering, ‘Introduction,’ in Social Care under State Socialism (1945–1989), ed. by Sabine Hering (Opladen: Barbara Budrichs, 2009), pp. 11–24 (p. 12). 4 Eva Kolinsky, ‘Introduction’, in Social Transformation and the Family in Post-Communist Germany, ed. by Eva Kolinsky (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1998), pp. 3–23 (p. 18).

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With this notion of the family as an ideologically contested construct in mind,5 I approach DEFA films produced in the Soviet Occupation Zone and the GDR as part of modernity’s longstanding and still incomplete engagement with visions of gender equality.6 Rather than assuming that East German cinema’s primary role was to illustrate a party ideology where the ‘family only formed the backdrop to the drama of class, politics and production’,7 this chapter proposes that DEFA played a crucial role in shifting concerns with gender and family into the foreground of East Germany’s modern socio-historical imaginary. The specific socialist utopian vision of fostering greater social justice by integrating women into the work sphere put considerable pressure on traditional conceptions of the family.8 This tension produced innovative, sometimes disorienting and often tenuous ways of imagining the relation between stabilizing modes of the nuclear family and newly emerging gender roles, and it achieved its most vivid form in DEFA’s exploration of the female single parent, whose self-empowered subjectivity is no longer tempered by economic dependency or overly fragile emotions.9 From the start the GDR had inherited a historical understanding of the family, recognizing that kinship relations, positioned at the intersection of the private and the public sphere, assumed changing forms and functions over time.10 According to the state’s self-presentation in international promotional material of the 1960s, the socialist transformation of material conditions and consciousness in the GDR had created the possibility for a new attitude of individual family members towards each other and towards society as a whole. Echoing Friedrich Engels’s earlier claim that familial arrangements in postcapitalist societies would still be sustained by a personal desire for monogamous relations in which the

5 Scholars have emphasized family as construct in different ways: Pomerance, ‘Introduction: Family Affairs’, p. 5 (narrative), p. 7 (ideological); Murray Pomerance, ‘The Look of Love: Cinema and the Dramaturgy of Kinship’, in A Family Affair, pp. 293–303 (p. 294, performative); Frölich, Middel and Visarius, Family Affairs, pp. 7–9 (p. 8) (social und imaginary construct in film and psychoanalysis, symbolic representation); E. J. Tincknell, Mediating the Family. Gender, Culture and Representation (London: Hodder Arnold, 2005), especially p. 4 (discursive); and Nina Clare Leibman, Living Room Lectures. The Fifties Family in Film and Television (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1995), p. 10 (myth). 6 Tristram Hunt, ‘Introduction’, in Friedrich Engels, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State [1884] (New York: Penguin, 2010), pp. 3–30 (p. 27). 7 Harsch, Revenge of the Domestic, p. 1. 8 Budde, Frauen der Intelligenz, p. 307. 9 For the productive tension in family representations in American and British film and media, see Tincknell, Mediating the Family, p. 2. 10 Harsch, Revenge of the Domestic, p. 198.

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state should not interfere,11 the GDR’s political discourse of the 1960s emphasized a shift from the family as economically driven institution to a personal and social space organized by principles of feelings and ethics. Rather than eroding or fading as a safe realm of care – a prediction initially made by critics in the West12 – the family in the East was viewed to be fully and more properly realized as an affectionate community based on the mutual love of equal partners and the nurturance of their children.13 As critics have pointed out, the persistent promotion of marriage and family both in the Soviet Union and in the GDR attests to a conservative orientation towards the personal sphere in the countries of Eastern Europe.14 The flipside, however, of insisting on reciprocal love and trust as the foundational force of matrimony was the newly emerging possibility for a much greater flexibility of gender and family relations (also impacting associated issues of sexuality, parenting, reproduction, domestic tasks and material welfare). As Engels put it aptly: ‘If only the marriage based on love is moral, then also only the marriage is moral in which love continues [to exist].’15 The centrality of affirmative affects such as love, care and tenderness as the crucial, if precarious binding elements of familial and gendered spaces in the social imaginary of the East places DEFA films in the larger modern context of cinematic concerns with interpersonal receptivity, captured in the title of this chapter as ‘family feelings’. On the one hand this stresses that the family itself plays a historically contingent role as mediator of emotions through which interpersonal bonds, intergenerational differences and changing gender relations are negotiated. On the other hand conceptions about family, including values, beliefs and practices, are highly mediated across a range of textual and visual forms, and these productions of meanings, perhaps due to the close tie of kinship with the intimate realm, tend to be dominated by ‘structures of feelings’.16 With its longstanding explorations of melodrama as privileged genre for family narratives, the

11 Budde, Frauen der Intelligenz, p. 308. 12 Wolfgang Plat, Die Familie in der DDR (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 1972), p. 15; and Kolinsky, ‘Introduction’, p. 11. For the Western projection echoed and refuted in the GDR’s domestic and international self-promotional material, see Walter Ulbricht, ‘The Family Code – Part of the Great Legal Work of the New Germany’, in A Happy Family Life. The Concern of the Family Code of the GDR, published by the Ministry of Justice of the GDR (Dresden: Verlag Zeit im Bild, 1966), pp. 7–13 (p. 11); and Karl-Heinz Beyer and Lilli Piater, Die Familie in der DDR (Potsdam: Druckerei Märkische Volksstimme, 1971), p. 6. 13 Ulbricht, ‘Family Code’, p. 10; Engels, The Origin of the Family, pp. 111–15. 14 Gesine Obertreis, Familienpolitik in der DDR, 1945–1980 (Opladen: Leske and Budrich, 1986), p. 30. 15 Engels, The Origin of the Family, p. 114. 16 Tincknell, Mediating the Family, p. 2.

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cinema has traditionally assumed an important function in shaping, altering or reinforcing ideas about the domain of the home and interpersonal bonds through the circulation of cinematic emotions.17 Given that in 1946 DEFA set out to develop film as an educational, socially transformative medium and, at least nominally, de-emphasized the orientation of classic cinema towards more privatizing, emotional modes, the overall reconfiguration of the family into a more decidedly public concern in the East required the renegotiation of various cinematic forms and traditions.18 Nevertheless, scholars have largely overlooked the family as an interpretive framework for the critical analysis of DEFA films. This oversight roughly squares with a tendency in cultural and film studies to focus on gender per se, particularly with regard to sexuality and the production of subjectivity, rather than on family discourse and its interrelationship with historically mutable gender roles. Perhaps because the family has been bound up more persistently with ahistorical timelessness and ideals of social conformity, related to monogamy and hetero-normative practice, the study of kinship relations has been clustered in the more socially oriented disciplines of history, sociology and anthropology.19 In contrast, the focus in this chapter lies with the affective as well as ideological and discursive production of family in DEFA’s post-war and post-Wall cinema. Instead of reifying the family as a single institution or a wholly natural formation, the films themselves engage in an ongoing exploration of the meanings and feelings associated with ever changing familial and gender constellations. Rather than providing a comprehensive overview (for example, neither children’s and youth films nor generational perspectives are included here), I spotlight a selective number of films to foreground three specific familial configurations – shattered kin, companionate marriage and single motherhood – that emerged in DEFA’s imaginary at particular political and cultural junctures in the 1940s, 1960s and 1980s respectively, configurations that are closely related to competing and complementary trends in Western and East European cinema. Each cinematic articulation of kinship arrangements puts historically specific pressures on the normative ideal and powerful ideological figure of the nuclear family that began to emerge in the eighteenth century with the formation of bourgeois society and persisted under socialism as the preferred institutional framework for everyday living (despite earlier attempts in the Soviet Union to eliminate

17 For the concept of ‘cinematic emotions’ involving both affective (bodily) appraisal and emotional (discursive) evaluation, see Tarja Laine, Feeling Cinema. Emotional Dynamics in Film Studies (New York: Continuum, 2011), p. 2. 18 Anke Pinkert, Film and Memory in East Germany (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008), pp. 19–26. 19 Tincknell, Mediating the Family, p. 3.

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domestic needs and desires in favour of collectively organized production).20 Most important here for my concern with ‘family feelings’, each configuration privileges a range of mediated affects related to notions of belonging, love and apprehension/hope respectively. Since the materialist, production-oriented model of gender transformation in the GDR made relatively little room for the intangibles of personal relations, which are in fact the most difficult to transform, film as affective practice potentially had the capacity to draw the spectator towards the more imperceptible qualities of feelings and the inter-subjective sharing of experience.21 DEFA’s family imaginary – increasingly alternative and pluralistic, maternal and feminist in orientation – expressed the ambivalent emotional meanings attributed to the continual performance of vanishing/absent men. If they were still watching by the 1980s, male viewers might have perceived that they were about to be left behind.

Belonging – the 1940s/1950s Founded in the Soviet Occupation Zone in 1946, shortly after the end of the Second World War, DEFA saw its primary mission in developing film as a means of reeducating the German population, especially the youth, while also ameliorating an acute sense of crisis.22 Although the family as historically contingent social construct was not on the political agenda of the SED until the mid 1960s, early DEFA films of the forties and fifties, similar to other post-war cinemas including American and Italian movies, foreground the impact of the war and the historical transformation after the collapse of the Third Reich on kinship relations and domestic arrangements.23 Drawing on stabilizing conceptions of family and home in response to this historical rupture, DEFA’s early productions perform the important preparatory work of providing the emotional scaffolding for the newly emerg-

20 Frölich, Family Affairs, p. 7; Kolinsky, ‘Introduction’, p. 15; Harsch, Revenge of the Domestic, pp. 2, 4; and Hering, ‘Introduction’, p. 24. 21 Laine, Feeling Cinema. 22 For an outline of DEFA’s tasks, given by Colonel Tulpanow in 1946, see Seán Allan, ‘DEFA: An Historical Overview’, DEFA. East German Cinema, 1946–1992, ed. by Seán Allan and John Sandford (New York: Berghahn, 1999), pp. 1–22 (p. 3). 23 Mike Chopra-Gant, Hollywood Genres and Post-War America. Masculinity, Family and Nation in Popular Movies and Film Noir (London: I. B. Tauris, 2006); Leibman, Living Room Lectures; Kaja Silverman, Male Subjectivity at the Margins (New York: Routledge, 1992), pp. 52–124; and Brent J. Piepergerdes, ‘Re-envisioning the Nation. Film Neorealism and the Postwar Italian Condition’, ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies, 6.2 (2007), 231–57 (p. 242).

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ing dominant fiction of greater communal and more publically organized modes of belonging. These films displayed families shattered by the traumatic experience of war violence and loss, for example, Die Mörder sind unter uns [The Murderers Are Among Us, Wolfgang Staudte, 1946], Irgendwo in Berlin [Somewhere in Berlin, Gerhard Lamprecht, 1946] and Rotation (Wolfgang Staudte, 1949). Filling the symbolic void related to millions of German men who had perished in the war or were missing, the displaced and in many cases physically or mentally impaired male returnee shaped the early elegiac film culture. Just as American films such as The Best Years of Our Lives (William Wyler, 1946) and The Guilt of Janet Ames (Henry Levin, 1947) attempted, yet ultimately failed, to provide seamless ideological and narrative solutions for male re-entry into post-war civilian society (often related to marriage and work),24 filmmakers in the Soviet Occupation Zone set out to explore their own historically specific representational strategies of repair and reaffirmation. At the centre of DEFA’s post-war imaginary in the 1940s was the attempt to contain and transform a precarious sense of masculinity through antifascist and increasingly socialist conversion narratives that modelled the successful integration of men into the collective project to build a new society. These cinematic efforts to strengthen the weakened paternal signifier enabled narrative and performative strategies that stabilized traditional notions of family and associated issues of care, home and labour. Tapping into idealizations of kinship inherited from the Third Reich,25 DEFA initially relied on the tenuous solutions offered by the generic conventions of melodrama in order to promote a reassignment of women to the domestic sphere. Although women outnumbered men by one third after 1945, and many, as single head of the household, were solely responsible for the financial security of their families,26 the increasing rifts between men and women, including high divorce rates, prostitution, fraternization and venereal disease (Straßenbekanntschaft [Street Acquaintances, Peter Pewas, 1948]) remained in the recesses of DEFA’s stabilizing family constructions. Early post-war films supported the socio-political reinforcement of paternal structures by linking cinematic affects associated with female warmth and compassion to the private domain. Already DEFA’s first film, Die Mörder sind unter uns, highlights the domestic quality of the female lead character Susanne, who recently returned from the concentration camp. Carefully staged shots repeatedly show her engaged in housework in her makeshift home, while the troubled returnee, Hans, roams the streets of post-war Berlin. Here the suturing of Susanne’s

24 Silverman, Male Subjectivity, p. 54. 25 Budde, Frauen der Intelligenz, pp. 307–8. 26 Kolinsky, ‘Introduction’, p. 16.

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well-lit face with close-ups of her hands touching bread, for example, underscores the film’s undeniable and often symptomatic efforts to create the cognitive and affective connections between femininity and nurturance that would enable the impaired returnee to eventually heal through a renewed sense of domestic belonging. As DEFA’s post-war films perform the exclusion of those debilitated males who were not able to reintegrate into society – the permanently damaged males either die as in Irgendwo in Berlin or commit suicide as in Unser täglich Brot [Our Daily Bread, Slatan Dudow, 1949] – the cinematic imaginary begins to foreground the normative model of the rehabilitated male antifascist citizen who fulfils his obligations as both father and new political agent. The final sequence of Irgendwo in Berlin, a film which draws on the modern aesthetics of Weimar realism and Italian neo-realism, uses a low angle shot to affectively inscribe the spectator into the cinematic process of elevating the male protagonist, who had returned from the war in utter depression, now on top of a rubble heap surrounded by children, including his son, and about to rebuild the city. That the affirmation of post-war male agency no longer needs the conventionalized loving gaze of the wife/mother in this scene indicates the beginning of a greater shift in the ways early DEFA films conceptualize intersubjective attachments and affiliations (Rotation). No longer just in the domestic sphere, sustenance and care can also be found in the engagement with new social forms of community. Within this context the final scene draws on a new iconographic archive that displaces matrimonial, romantic or maternal bonds with symbolic generational modes of transmission. The shifting interrelation between the cinematic fantasy of stabilizing family arrangements and the dominant fiction of collective renewal is also at the centre of the GDR’s first production, Unser täglich Brot. Released in 1949, soon after the official founding of the state, the film’s focus on the post-war reconstruction of an extended family in the changing landscape of Berlin provides a new template for the intersecting (rather than competing) emotional economies of kinship relations and social bonds. Unlike the earlier, small-scale constellations of families shattered by war, this film involves an extensive and partially hybrid kinship structure, comprised of remarried parents, young children, married and single (step) children and distant cousins, who all interconnect, regardless of the family’s internal conflicts and hierarchies, in the private sphere of one home. The central space in the mise-en-scène around which Dudow organizes the film’s emotional core of belonging is literally the kitchen table where the various displaced members of the large family, whose different stories of post-war recovery shape the cinematic narrative, gather for meals and share the rare provisions of bread. Despite the film’s efforts to mark the kitchen as a transit space in a rapidly changing world, the sparse use of sound in many of these scenes underscores the

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Fig 5.1: Sharing a rare provision of bread, members of the displaced family experience a sense of belonging in Unser täglich Brot (1949). Photograph Erich Kilian © DEFA-Stiftung.

historical timelessness of the domestic interior (tied to maternal care), invoking a feeling of calm and respite against the accelerated montage shots and punctuated modernist sound track associated with the public realm. Over the course of the film, however, the viewer is asked to shift the precarious feelings of domestic belonging across the increasingly porous boundaries between the private and the public sphere into the domain of socialist production (connected chiefly to the success of the model antifascist son). A horizontal order associated with the public sphere rather than the initial circular arrangement of the family around the kitchen table concludes the film. The camera pans the crowd on the side lines celebrating the inaugural production of the factory (symbolized by tractors, producing the eponymous ‘daily bread’) and, accompanied by an upbeat music score, the various family members, including the initially resistant father, are now shown as jubilant workers. Not unlike the cinematic operations in the West German Heimat film genre of the 1950s,27 the end of the film signals how the family per se (or the resolution of father-son conflicts) no longer strengthens the possi-

27 Johannes von Moltke, No Place Like Home. Locations of Heimat in German Cinema (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), p. 16.

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Fig 5.2: Women’s integration into the public sphere turned into the lynchpin of the new social order, as portrayed in Roman einer jungen Ehe (1952). Photograph Erich Kilian © DEFA-Stiftung.

bility for collective renewal but inversely how the formation of an (almost) all-inclusive Gemeinschaft, the collective, can mend broken kinship ties and a precarious sense of post-war displacement. By the 1950s this stabilizing – reciprocal and mutually supportive – imagining of traditional and innovative forms of home and social belonging around the paternal signifier risked erosion. As women’s integration into the public sphere turned into the lynchpin of the new social order,28 DEFA’s early socialist woman’s films became more attentive to the pressures put on traditional conceptions of the family, as seen in Roman einer jungen Ehe [Story of a Young Couple, Kurt Maetzig, 1952], Frauenschicksale [Destinies of Women, Slatan Dudow, 1952] and Sonnensucher [Sun Seekers, Konrad Wolf, 1958]. From the start female employment took centre stage in the GDR’s socialist project of transforming a society based on private property relations. Drawing on progressive social democrats, such as August Bebel and Clara Zetkin, who at the turn of the century had shifted Engels’s discourse on the family and class oppression more decidedly into the so-called ‘women’s question’, the GDR also

28 Kolinsky, ‘Introduction’, p. 16.

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proclaimed that the historical progress of socialism must be measured by the degree to which the state assures gender equality. Thus, in 1949 the GDR broke with the discriminatory laws of earlier German regimes, which had legalized patriarchy and the confinement of women to the domestic sphere, by constitutionally guaranteeing equal rights for men and women. A year later single mothers and their children were granted the same status and rights as married couples and their offspring.29 Although the SED had abandoned earlier attempts in the Soviet Union to communalize households and socialize the family,30 the woman’s films of the 50s utilize a blend of Weimar’s dynamic film aesthetics, small-scale neo-realism and emerging, Soviet-inspired socialist realism to privilege new, more heterogeneous and collectivizing structures of belonging in which women’s mobility created a sense of autonomy and change. Slatan Dudow’s Frauenschicksale, an episodic narrative about four female protagonists who are all loosely connected to a womanizer from West Berlin, showcases that, as in American films a few years earlier, men are either absent, especially as strong father figures (Notorious, Alfred Hitchcock, 1946; Saratoga Trunk, Sam Wood, 1945), or, underscored by a dandified appearance and theatrical, performative modes, they are construed to be domestically unreliable (Two Years Before the Mast, John Farrow, 1946; The Jolson Story, Alfred E. Green, 1946).31 In Dudow’s post-war landscape of changing gender codes, this crisis of more reliable and muscular male ideals leads to the emergence of reconfigured, overlapping and at times competing family arrangements (for example, war widow as head of household, childless professional married couple, maternal party leader, young single mother), all of which are constructed, however, around the centrality of women’s agencies and their engagement in the new socialist work sphere. As Joshua Feinstein has pointed out, the GDR celebrated the role of the single, independent woman in socialist society, whereas commentators in the West during the 1950s saw such women as a troubling reminder of the demographic gender imbalance resulting from the war.32 Dudow’s cinematic investment in the GDR’s political cause, including its orientation towards greater gender equality, extended back into the 1920s when he participated in the production of several communist documentary shorts. Drawing from Weimar’s radical culture as well as tapping into an earlier representational archive of the Soviet avant-

29 Harsch, Revenge of the Domestic, p. 62. 30 Ibid., p. 4. 31 Chopra-Gant, Hollywood Genres, pp. 65–78, 98–111. 32 Joshua Feinstein, Triumph of the Ordinary: Depictions of Daily Life in the East German Cinema 1949–1989 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002), p. 132.

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garde that resisted family melodrama,33 Dudow incorporated extensive scenes where the female protagonists perform and embrace new, collective roles within the changing public realm and sphere of production. While the visual work and homey socialist music score of a sequence capturing industrial labour resonates with a milder version of the revolutionary pathos familiar from Eisenstein’s pioneering use of montage, brief small-scale, semi-documentary shots of a kindergarten at the women’s work place echo the desire for a more low-key and felt authenticity espoused by neo-realism. Capturing a group of children at play in the common shower area, this segment foregrounds the innovation of public, socialized day care systems, which drew on earlier attempts in the Soviet Union to increasingly align familial care with state supervision of the children.34 Creating an affective economy of collective belonging that associates in the end all of the female protagonists with the project of socialist renewal (highlighted in the final scene where the youngest actress walks in step with marching youth, while another recently converted female character looks on) the film shifts emphasis away from the paternal signifier of the GDR’s antifascist vision and towards the alignment of agency amongst women. However, the final sequence also re-secures the stabilizing function of matrimonial bonds by spotlighting each of the two women with a prospective mate by their side whose function it is to prefigure the 1950s ideal of the mature and resolute male comrade.35 (See Figure 2 in chap. 1.) Here, despite the prevalence of single mothers on the screen in the 1950s (Frauenschicksale, Sonnensucher, Berlin – Ecke Schönhauser [Berlin – Schönhauser Corner, Gerhard Klein, 1957]),36 DEFA’s family imaginary begins to pick up an emerging discourse that by the 1960s inscribes the modern socialist woman into a hetero-normative constellation of the nuclear family, now no longer bound by economic dependency but rather by mutual affection and love.

33 Julie A. Cassiday, ‘Alcohol Is Our Enemy! Soviet Temperance Melodramas of the 1920s’, in Imitations of Life. Two Centuries of Melodrama in Russia, ed. by Louise McReynolds and Joan Neuberger (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2002), pp. 152–77 (p. 153). 34 Obertreis, Familienpolitik in der DDR, pp. 29–30. 35 Feinstein, Triumph of the Ordinary, p. 132. 36 The percentage of children born out of wedlock increased dramatically right after the war, it declined soon, but stabilized at relatively high 13 percent throughout the 1950s (Harsch, Revenge of the Domestic, p. 202).

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Love – 1960s/early 1970s After the post-war woman’s films of the 1950s indicated a new and potentially more radical (production-oriented) female agency emerging under the changing conditions of socialist society, DEFA’s so-called ‘contemporary’ or topical films of the 1960s and early 1970s relocate the familial imaginary in an exploration of more domestic and private emotional economies. This shift is part of DEFA’s larger reorientation towards the interpersonal and generational impacts created by the modern transformation of socialism after the building of the Berlin Wall and in the long aftermath of war traumas and losses. Starting with Berlin – Ecke Schönhauser, this group includes for example Der geteilte Himmel [Divided Heaven, Konrad Wolf, 1964], Jahrgang ’45 [Born in ’45, Jürgen Böttcher, 1965/1990] and Spur der Steine [Traces of Stone, Frank Beyer, 1966/1989]. Rather than resuscitating earlier conventions of melodrama or the romance genre, the DEFA films of the 1960s, similar to the various New Waves in Western and Eastern Europe at the time, explored disparate modernist strategies, especially episodic narrative structures and documentary aesthetics, in order to respond to the lingering crisis of traditional kinship arrangements. Even if the New Waves of Eastern Europe, including Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and the Soviet Union remained more vulnerable to local reprisals and dependent on the mood of local governments, they shared with the New Cinemas that arose in France, Italy, Britain and Canada a renewed belief in filmmaking as a committed, socially critical activity. As Katie Trumpener has pointed out, representing a truly international phenomenon that crossed many geopolitical divides, the films of the New Waves were at the same time concerned with their own national histories and with a specific national shaping of political, institutional and historical questions.37 Locating a crisis of private bonds at the intersection of the war’s aftermath and the newly emerging gender emancipation, East German films of the 1960s examined ‘the family in process’ as a precarious space for happiness and love.38 In some cases censored or forbidden, the films draw on and to a certain extent alter and resist the stabilizing, affective, ethical core of the SED’s formulaic sociopersonal imaginary, which was articulated more fully in the GDR’s family code of 1965. If in the early post-war period the family remained a historically changing institution in the background of political debates, now the SED responded to the

37 Katie Trumpener, ‘La guerre est finie. New Waves, Historical Contingency, and the GDR’s “Rabbit Films”’, in The Power of Intellectuals in Contemporary Germany, ed. by Michael Geyer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001), pp. 113–37. 38 Tincknell, Mediating the Family, p. 2.

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perceived mismatches between the integration of women into the work force and the persistence of gendered social roles in the family households by recommending that parents should share the domestic tasks fairly between them.39 This effort at greater gender equality was buttressed by a political discourse in the 1960s that stabilized the institution of marriage and viewed harmonious interpersonal bonds (love, mutual respect and faithfulness) as the foundation for the nuclear family in the GDR’s socio-cultural imagination. The Preamble of the GDR Family Law created in 1965 stated: ‘The family is the smallest unit of society. It is based upon marriage, concluded for life, and upon the particularly close ties resulting from the emotional relations between husband and wife and the relations of mutual love, respect and mutual trust between all members of a family.’40 While aiming to prescribe emotional stability within the modern family as the essential condition for sustaining personal and collective well-being, state directives were ultimately not able to control the gender gaps, generational rifts and conflicting desires that continued to riddle the realities of domestic arrangements and the fictionalized representations on the screen. A nuanced, even poetic exploration of strained matrimonial love is at the centre of Jürgen Böttcher’s 1965 avant-garde film Jahrgang ’45. Focused on a young couple, Li and Al, who are in their early twenties and who contemplate a divorce to end their brief marriage, the film probes the capacity for love to function as the formative fabric for intersubjective relations in the context of modern everyday life and, in particular, within the practices of an emergent, decidedly Western youth culture. Often compared to the early work of Godard, the film’s selfreflexive, semi-documentary style records public spaces, daily routines and arbitrary encounters with other dislocated youth, as the straying husband meanders through the reconstructed city of Berlin on the day before the couple’s impending divorce court date. At the same time, however, in the less frequent scenes where the characters do come together, much of the visual work is devoted to the indexical quality and rhythms of their silent postures and physical movements. This establishes the more subtle interior space for the dynamics of intimacy and desire that in many ways became symptomatic for the films of the 1960s. Already in the mildly self-reflexive opening scene, where we see the two protagonists waking up in the morning and Al engaged in the markedly sensuous play with a free-floating feather as his wife sleeps nearby, the viewer is drawn into the film’s inner, affective dynamics that attempts to transpose into the realm of the domestic a more

39 Plat, Die Familie in der DDR, p. 16; Kolinsky, ‘Introduction’, p. 13. 40 ‘Family Code of the German Democratic Republic of 20 December 1965’, in A Happy Family Life, pp. 37–86 (p. 39).

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erotic quality associated with desire and bodily communication. Rather than essentialist or normative dispositions (reflected in the state’s newly released family code), the film wishes to highlight more flexible notions of love, where love is also a performance that always starts over and where roles may be easily swapped and characters substituted.41 While Böttcher’s cinematic meditation on strained matrimonial relations is interested in poetic codes and systems of intimacy, other films of the 1960s turn to the exploration of the inner lives and feelings of women who are straddling conflicting private desires and public roles. Frank Vogel’s remarkably contemporary and often overlooked film Das siebente Jahr [Seventh Year, 1968] introduces a female heart surgeon, Dr. Barbara Heim, who re-evaluates the success of her marriage and family life on the occasion of an upcoming wedding anniversary. Shot also in the fictionalized semi-documentary style characteristic of the 1960s avant-garde and told through an episodic narrative structure, the film examines women’s struggles to fulfil multiple roles from the subjective perspective of the female protagonist, whose voiceover interjects interiority into the narrative and constitutes the testing ground for the viewers’ emotional and cognitive evaluation of their own ‘family feelings’ and loving preferences.42 Although a contemporary reviewer noted regretfully that the professionally overcommitted protagonist appears to lack the warming support of matrimonial domesticity, invoking a more conventional ideal of the homemaker wife in the West,43 the couple in many ways fulfils the criteria of the modern socialist family constructed through the 1960s public discourse: they both have successful careers (in an inversion of typical gender codes the husband is an actor); they appear despite the stress of daily demands bonded by mutual love, respect and intermittent sexual desire; and they share the arguably minimal responsibilities of household duties and child raising, even if some gendered attitudes remain. Through the emulation of ‘Western-style’, small-scale documentary authenticity the film illustrates the GDR’s groundbreaking achievements with regard to family support and nearly free medical, day-care and educational services, while also emphasizing how this social laboratory produced new forms of repression.44 Even as social problems were supposed to be solved under socialism by implementing a model of greater equality and justice, much of the film’s episodic narrative, dialogue and subjective voiceover is used to enact and work through the

41 42 43 44

Laine, Feeling Cinema, pp. 125, 134–35. Ibid., p. 10. Budde, Frauen der Intelligenz, p. 351; Kolinsky, ‘Introduction’, p. 17. Hering, ‘Introduction’, p. 12.

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Fig 5.3: Despite the stress of daily demands the modern socialist couple seeks a bond based on mutual respect, love and desire in Das siebente Jahr (1968). Photograph Waltraut Pathenheimer © DEFA-Stiftung.

protagonist’s doubts with regard to her multiple roles as wife, mother and professional, indicating that in the GDR, as in Western society, pressures put upon altering constructions of family come from both external and internal struggles.45 The carefully mediated insert of quasi-documentary footage from an Asian labour camp, where two characters (a husband and a wife) search for each other, creates an eerie echo within DEFA’s family imaginary of the 1960s. The segment might pass as an overt signification of cinematic self-reflexivity (on the narrative

45 Patricia Pisters and Wim Staat, ‘Introduction,’ Shooting the Family. Transnational Media and Intercultural Values, ed. by Patricia Pisters and Wim Staat (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2005), pp. 7–21 (p. 7).

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level Barbara’s husband and a colleague produce the German synchronization of a foreign film), but the repetition and placement of this sequence in response to the protagonist’s analysis of her own struggle charge it with affective and symbolic valence. The sequence cuts unexpectedly from a medium shot of Barbara in the public space of the clinic where she works to a full-frame documentary image of a Vietnamese woman whose head painfully reaches out of a prison door, repeatedly calling her husband with the words ‘I’m here. It is me your wife …’ and the insertion of the husband’s disoriented reply ‘Where are you?’, produced with a small temporal delay by the German-speaking actor, Barbara’s husband, and a female colleague.46 The juxtaposition symptomatically exposes repressed issues of visibility and failed communication that seem to belong as much to the detained couple in the inserted footage as to the matrimonial relation of the East German protagonists explored in the film. The ghostly presence of ‘love turned anguish’ transmitted though the film’s modern imaginary of the socialist nuclear family indicates the beginning of a deeper engagement in DEFA films with an exploration of matrimonial or increasingly quasi-marital bonds as the precarious stabilizer of the social order, which requires compromises in women’s sense of integrity and well-being. Vogel’s film still ends on a tentatively affirmative note, in line with the GDR’s vision and self-representation of the 1960s: the female narrator’s voiceover stresses the possibility and fantasy of a happy family life between her, her husband and her daughter in which the modern demands of professional fulfilment are not obstacles to familial intimacy and love. But as we see only Barbara and her child in the final scene (and notably as they are on their way to the public day care centre), the optimism of the voiceover is considerably tempered. While the self-reflexive, ambivalent ending of Vogel’s film suggests a lingering disconnect between men and women in the GDR, DEFA attempted in the early 1970s, albeit only briefly, to remedy these rifts in gender relations by putting men’s romantic and domestic role centre stage. Echoing the procedures of precarious male domestication performed in the more formally ambitious, modernist films of the mid 1960s (Der geteilte Himmel, Jahrgang ’45, Spur der Steine), a set of more accessible, genre-based movies began to circulate new, idealized notions of a softer masculinity that challenged the less favourable depictions of opportunist males conforming to the state. Heiner Carow’s popular film Die Legende von Paul und Paula [The Legend of Paul and Paula, 1973], for example, deployed the aesthetic codes of romantic realism in order to illustrate the transformation of the story’s male protagonist from a career-oriented socialist citizen, bound in an un-

46 The scene is credited at the end of the film as an excerpt from ‘Nguyen van Troi’, Film Studio Hanoi.

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fulfilled marriage, to a passionate lover and caring single father. The film concludes with a shot that shows Paul in the domestic sphere of his home, surrounded by three children – one from his ex-wife, one he has with his lover, Paula, and one she had with another man. This heterogeneous paternal / familial constellation emerges as the result of Paula’s romantic but fatal attempt to bear her lover’s child, and as some critics have noted, this kind of relationship purely motivated by romantic love (exposing falsehood and deception) was not necessarily condoned in the GDR’s literary and cinematic traditions.47 More important, the film also indicates that the new, transformative role of men as emotional and parental caretakers and the possibility of viable romantic, quasi-matrimonial love can only be achieved at a risk. Cinematic representations of men in DEFA’s familial imaginary around 1970 begin to map out changing gender roles and performative identities, whether within the constellation of the nuclear family (Das siebente Jahr), as widowed father of (non)biological children (Die Legende von Paul und Paula) or as a fulltime housekeeper (Der Mann, der nach der Oma kam [The Man after Oma, Roland Öhme, 1971]). Despite persisting stereotypes, these films attempt to connect men and notions of masculinity more closely with the domestic sphere. In the end, however, the cinematic reinforcement of women’s capacity (and obligation) to reconcile the demands of a career with their role as wife and sole caretaker of the household prevailed in such films as Liebeserklärung für G.T. [Love Declaration for G.T., Horst Seemann, 1971] and Leben mit Uwe [Life with Uwe, Lothar Warneke, 1973]. Reclaiming the home as an emotional reservoir, these films affirmed for viewers the more conventional notion that ‘a woman who is solely focused on work is only half a person’.48 At the same time the audience noted that the cinematic ideal of the working woman as caring mother and wife was reconsolidated through all too easy programmatic solutions. Starting in the early 1970s, the state began to remedy the unequally shared responsibilities in East German households with family policies that foregrounded reproductive rights and provided support for domestic care specifically targeted at women.49 Notably the more radical, structural transformations of gender relations based on foundational, mutual love, respect and shared labour, involving both women and men – envisioned by female party officials in the mid 1960s50 – had not taken place, nor were they any longer perceived at this point as viable or needed.

47 Rosemary Stott, Crossing the Wall. The Western Feature Film Import in East Germany (Oxford: Lang, 2012), p. 214. 48 Budde, Frauen der Intelligenz, p. 338. 49 Harsch, Revenge of the Domestic, p. 10; Stott, Crossing the Wall, p. 209. 50 Budde, Frauen der Intelligenz, p. 314.

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Apprehension and Hope – late 1970s/1980s Buttressed by women-centred welfare policies, in the 1970s and throughout the 1980s the GDR continued to imagine the (nuclear) family as social stabilizer.51 DEFA films during that period, however, such as Der Dritte [Her Third, Egon Günther, 1972], Bis dass der Tod euch scheidet [Until Death Do Us Part, Heiner Carow, 1979] and Das Fahrrad [Bicycle, Evelyn Schmidt, 1982], create a contingent family imaginary that renders the breakdown of matrimonial and domestic structures visible. Even as these later, studio-based productions return to more conventional narratives and visual codes, the formal influences of Weimar cinema and the post-war New Waves remain often palpable in the heightened sense of realism associated with newly emerging and pluralizing family constellations. Similar to the cinemas of other advanced societies, DEFA’s social imaginary reflected and shaped the transfiguring role of the family by emphasizing a representational landscape of heterogeneous arrangements, involving minor plotlines and brief snapshots of multiple divorces, childless couples, patchwork families or multichildren homes. Because the family remained a central real and imaginary space, especially within East Germany’s niche society of the 1980s as more and more people retreated into their private, protected spaces, DEFA films produced a range of meanings with regard to radically changing domestic modes and kinship structures. In alignment with an overall shift towards a more maternal core in the GDR’s social imagination,52 DEFA foregrounds an exploration of ambivalent and increasingly liberatory feelings, structuring female subjectivities in the context of single parenthood. After a brief hiatus (coinciding with the SED’s enforcement of a decidedly more ritualized, stabilizing family discourse), two DEFA productions of the late 1970s provide liminal cases that indicate an acute sense of crisis: Heiner Carow’s domestic drama, Bis dass der Tod euch scheidet, shatters the symbolic role of matrimonial commitment through a focus on violent death – intended or not, the wife at the centre of the narrative does not prevent her abusive husband from accidentally killing himself; Roland Gräf’s Die Flucht [The Flight, 1977], a film about the taboo issue of the GDR’s high infant mortality rate, contains a minor story about a young woman without a partner who is faced with the death of her new-born child. The protagonists’ sense of silent grief and isolation challenges the earlier, precariously affirmative dramatizations of the nuclear family validated by matrimonial love and affectionate care for children.

51 Kolinsky, ‘Introduction’, pp. 14–16. 52 Harsch, Revenge of the Domestic, p. 11.

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Although cinematic representations of nuclear families continued to underscore the significance of stable domestic structures, if often from the critical perspective of the teenage child as in Insel der Schwäne [Island of Swans, Hermann Zschoche, 1982], in the early 1980s DEFA turned more deliberately towards examining the emotional and social impact of divorce on family and gender relations. In response to financial incentives and material advantages (rather than to moral concerns or traditions), most East Germans took for granted that they would marry young and have children and that private relations would figure prominently in their lives despite the ideological commitment to the collective. While the family and marriage retained an important social role as a preferred framework of living, in the early 1980s the divorce rate in the GDR was amongst the highest in the world.53 Especially in the context of the screenings of the American divorce drama Kramer vs. Kramer (Robert Benton, 1979), which in 1980 was shown for weeks in sold-out cinemas and reportedly moved many viewers to tears, issues of gender relations, family and here especially the parental involvement of men emerged in the public sphere. Since the Hollywood movie focused on a father’s custody battle for his child, reviewers acknowledged that the reversal of traditional gender roles appeared to be new for films screened in the GDR.54 The depictions of divorced men who stay in contact with their children or who in rare cases care for them as single fathers were reserved for smaller films such as Seitensprung [Escapades, Evelyn Schmidt, 1980] or Rabenvater [Bad Father, KarlHeinz Heymann, 1985] and minor narratives in movies such as Die Alleinseglerin [The Solo Sailor, Herrmann Zschoche, 1987] or Die Beunruhigung [Apprehension, Lothar Warneke, 1982]. That one of the male characters in Die Beunruhigung explains his situation with reference to the American divorce drama – ‘like Kramer vs. Kramer, just not in colour’ – attests to DEFA’s small-scale fascination with this topic (possibly in response to the popular success of the U.S. film), regardless of the fact that more substantially changed attitudes towards men’s parental role and post-marriage familial and gender relations were only slowly evolving. Although the authorities exercised strict control over the distribution of Western products in the GDR, a total of eighty-one American films were imported in the 1980s. In an attempt to present a unified and prescribed way of looking at the world, film selectors focused on movies with archetypal themes, such as gender relations and family (Terms of Endearment, James Brooks, 1983, GDR: 1985), often combined with critical accounts of U.S. national politics, war efforts and foreign policy. Mainstream American cinema had newly embraced this trend towards

53 Stott, Crossing the Wall, p. 211. 54 Ibid., p. 215.

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progressive filmmaking around 1980 (Coming Home, Hal Ashby, 1978, GDR: 1982; Missing, Costa-Gavras, 1981, GDR: 1982) and, even if short-lived in terms of production, these examples of New Hollywood became important components of East German film distribution and programming. In addition social conscience films with an undeniably socialist inflection, such as the theme of work and worker’s politics (Norma Rae, Martin Ritt, 1979, GDR: 1980; Silkwood, Mike Nichols, 1983, GDR: 1985) reached East German audiences. These American imports with strong female leads and narratives examining union activity and shady corporate practices provided a good match for the GDR’s prominent genre of feature films centred on women’s experiences.55 In contrast, however, to the American imports at the time, DEFA’s overall concern in the 1980s underscored an exploration of female (maternal) subjectivities, often associated with single mothers and their shared sense of a special obligation to negotiate multiple roles and to take care of themselves and their children.56 Picking up on an earlier undercurrent in DEFA film, single mothers on the East German screen of the 1980s tend to be construed as modern female subjects who deal with the challenges of negotiating child care, work and education; who appear confident in their bodies and with their sexuality; and who are sustained by the bonds they form with other woman in and beyond the work place. Yet despite the unselfconscious embrace of emancipated attitudes in all these films, a palpable sense of disquiet or unease engages the viewer in an affective and cognitive evaluation of shifting and increasingly hybridizing familial arrangements. Often these darker tonalities are associated – in some cases normatively, in others more critically – with the absence or elusiveness of men and with the difficulty women experience in forming or sustaining new stable, romantic, domestic partnerships. Lothar Warneke’s reflective, episodic black-and-white film, Die Beunruhigung, which is vaguely based on Agnes Varda’s French New Wave feature Cléo from 5 to 7 (1962), chronicles the day of a woman in her late thirties who re-evaluates her life, including a relationship she has with a married men, when suddenly faced with a potential cancer diagnosis. Working as a professional psychologist at a marriage-counselling clinic and caring for her teenage son, the divorced female protagonist, Inge Herold, seems in control and fairly content with her life, but the impending surgery leaves her grasping for greater connection. When her lover does not appear by the end of the night, she remains outwardly collected, but the static, intermittent sound of the late-night television in her apartment, marking time, gradually gains an unsettling intensity and spreads over the scene (as the empty screen turns full frame). Creating an affective atmosphere that alarmingly 55 Ibid., pp. 95–112, 186. 56 Harsch, Revenge of the Domestic, p. 7.

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Fig 5.4: When faced with a potential cancer diagnosis, Inge, a single mother, reevaluates her life in Die Beunruhigung (1982). Photograph Norbert Kuhröber © DEFA-Stiftung.

confronts the spectator with the psychological interiority of the female character, the segment highlights Inge’s feelings of apprehension with respect to her diagnosis and the uncertain future of her single parent family. Both Warneke’s Die Beunruhigung and Evelyn Schmidt’s fictionalized portrayal of a single mother in Das Fahrrad provide vaguely optimistic endings in which the female protagonists appear to create new, more fulfilling relationships with male partners. Although the affective dynamics of the 1980s films still attach women to the desire, need for and possibility of romantic relationships, Hermann Zschoche’s Die Alleinseglerin, concluding the 1980s, provides an alternative, transformative solution. Centring on a single mother, Christine, who reluctantly takes on a dissertation project about the role of women in socialist society, the film from the outset engages the impasse of a family and gender politics in the GDR that, despite significant advancements, perpetuated paternalistic structures by exclusively focusing on women. In a move that echoes Donna Harsch’s notion of women’s subtle modes of resistance as the ‘revenge of the domestic’,57 the film’s

57 Ibid.

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narrative is driven by the protagonist’s passion for the labour-intensive restoration of an old sail boat, which she inherits after her father’s death and which takes her away from fulfilling the demands to advance her academic career. Unwilling also to compromise her sense of integrity by settling for partnerships with men, who – by now in the 1980s – appear to be romantically and domestically viable,58 yet ultimately self-involved, the protagonist pushes through the impasse created by conflicting demands and desires (literally marked by a cut to the boat from a moment of emotional anguish about the disconnection of women from men). This alignment of female subjectivity with an indexical reality of the everyday that bypasses the recognition of the male other confirms the earlier symptomatic statement of Christine’s friend: ‘Isn’t it wonderful to be without men!’ This sense of freedom is underscored by the ending of the film. The final scene opens into an expansive visual field of a large lake.59 As the camera pans over the water in fast circular motions, underscoring meanings associated with flow and fluidity, the film’s lyrical theme music, hovering between the subjective and the non-diegetic, picks up and builds with feelings of effervescent joy until we see Christine riding in the sailboat boat against the wind. She loses control and by the end appears in the distance sitting on top of the toppled boat in the middle of the unbound visual field of water where the beams of sunlight reflecting on the surface create a strikingly permeable, almost meditative presence. Echoing the final shot of the resurrected antifascist father on top of a mount of rubble surrounded by children in Irgendwo in Berlin (1946), here at the vanishing point of DEFA film the paternal signifier is transformed into a vaguely maternal one (a previous scene had shown the protagonist with her son on the boat). In this altered cinematic imaginary the initially conflicting meanings of family and social utopia in the early GDR are now transposed into the radical notion of an individualist, female subjectivity, based in self-discovery. As the narrative and affective openness of the final scene suggests in tentatively hopeful terms, within this constellation women as single mothers have agency and they can choose to withstand, tap into or traverse the ever-shifting landscapes in which pleasure and purpose converge with hybrid and flexible configurations of romantic, domestic, familial, matrimonial, monogamous, serial or simply sexual relations. Two years after the release of Die Alleinseglerin the Berlin Wall fell. Despite considerable liberation from state oppression, more conservative notions of family arrangements were reintroduced, while the relative ease associated with more hybrid, pluralizing familial and gender constellations in the East was hampered.

58 Budde, Frauen der Intelligenz, p. 344. 59 For the cinematic affective quality of water, see Laine, Feeling Cinema, pp. 40–41.

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As new power relations moved into place, normative discourses were produced, including by Western feminists, about the oppression of women in the GDR. In contrast and exposing the rifts and discontinuous spaces between modes of collective memory and personal autobiography, my own familial archive contains a grainy, black-and-white photograph of a young man and woman, both college students and their child, clipped from a local East German newspaper in the late 1980s, which celebrated the achievements of progressive family politics in the GDR. Now yellowed by time, the distant snapshot belonging to a bygone era renders a ‘reversal’ of traditional gender roles: the mother studies at a desk, as the father attends to the child. That I only notice this in hindsight, through the epistemological frameworks privileged after 1989, attests to a subjective experience, a feeling confirmed by many ‘patchwork biographies’60 of East Germans that the changing identity configurations in the late 1980s were in the most liberatory sense often no longer perceived through codes of gender. As personal recollections continue to slip and recede within the larger, more normalizing efforts to create a post-1989 cultural memory that is invested in a more conservative refashioning of gender and familial transformations in the GDR, DEFA’s imaginaries invite spectators today into a process of new, alternative and open-ended co-creation.

60 Peter A. Berger, ‘Individualisierung und Armut’, in Einmal arm, immer arm? Neue Befunde zur Armut in Deutschland, ed. by M. M. Zwick (Frankfurt am Main: Campus, 1994), pp. 21–46 (p. 25), cited in Kolinsky, ‘Introduction’, p. 18.

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Part II Expanding the Reach of Entertainment

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Chapter 6 Not Only Entertainment: Sights and Sounds of the DEFA Music Film A common thread of film musicals is the tension between contrasting music cultures that animates their narratives and organizes the mise-en-scène. The most self-reflective of the music film genres, revue films and backstage musicals highlight programmatically this struggle over what counts as cultured entertainment. The East German film industry generated only a small number of films with ‘putting on a show’ scenarios, but these exceptional productions point to the symptomatic ideological conflicts around the meaning of entertainment in the context of education-oriented cultural policies. Hans Heinrich’s Meine Frau macht Musik [My Wife Sings, 1958] occupies a unique position amongst DEFA’s behind-thescenes musicals as perhaps the last music film conceived for a common German audience. Not yet the projection of a collectivist utopia of social and technological progress of the kind that DEFA would start producing in the early 1960s, it engaged the revival of the revue film in 1950s West Germany and Austria while deploying its own hybrid strategies for staging musical entertainment.

Musical Attractions on East German Screens Music films played a major role in entertaining East German audiences. Over the course of the GDR’s history more than four hundred classical musicals, musical comedies, revue films, film operettas and other movies with musical interludes and themes played in East German cinemas and on television.1 The vast majority of these features were not DEFA productions, which comprised only around 10 per cent of the total number of titles, but imports and German music and revue films of the late Weimar and Nazi eras inherited by the GDR after 1945. In fact the

1 The following statistics for music film starts in the GDR are comprehensive but not complete. They were compiled by cross-referencing entries in Filme in der DDR 1945–1986. Kritische Notizen aus 42 Kinojahren, ed. by Herbert Janssen and Reinhold Jacobi (Bonn: Katholisches Institut für Medieninformation, 1987); Lexikon des internationalen Films, ed. by Horst Peter Krull and others (Frankfurt am Main: Zweitausendeins, 2002); the online database of Progress Film-Verleih (http://www.progress-film.de); www.filmportal.de and listings of popular German and Austrian music film productions from the 1930s and 1940s onward.

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latter legacy of old German films comprised over 25 per cent of the music film starts in East Germany, and in most years these post-war revivals outnumbered all other releases in this genre of film entertainment, regardless of their country of origin. Operettas were particularly prevalent, and nearly all of the features starring the popular duo of Johannes Heesters and Marika Rökk were screened in GDR cinemas, amongst them Der Bettelstudent [The Beggar Student, 1936], Gasparone (1937) and Hallo Janine (1939). With their production dates frequently obscured, even wartime classics such as Romanze in Moll [Romance in a Minor Key, 1943] and Große Freiheit Nr. 7 [Great Freedom Nr. 7, 1944] were dusted off to entertain East German music film fans. Beginning in the second half of the 1950s, many of these UFA-era films served as ready-made programming for the GDR’s fledgling television station, DFF. In the following decades these legacy films became a staple of television entertainment, generally bypassing cinemas and going straight to GDR living rooms.2 A relatively narrow selection of about forty West German and Austrian music films also competed with DEFA productions on GDR screens in the early years and through the 1960s. The offerings of West German border cinemas, which provided discounted tickets to patrons from the GDR until the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961, also ensured that East German music film fans had access not only to films made in Hamburg and other West German production sites, but also to Hollywood classics of the 1930s and big-budget MGM productions of the 1950s that were not released in the GDR. Since none of Elvis Presley’s movies were picked up for distribution in Germany’s eastern half, fans of his rock ’n’ roll films had to make the journey to West Berlin to see Love Me Tender (1956) [Pulverdampf und heiße Lieder, 1957] or Jail House Rock (1957) [Rhythmus hinter Gittern, 1958]. Only in the 1970s and 1980s did Hollywood musicals begin to penetrate the East German market in a noticeable way, with releases of Hello Dolly (1968, GDR 1972), Funny Girl (1968, GDR 1970), West Side Story (1961, GDR 1971) and Cabaret (1972, GDR 1975), serving as ice-breakers for the later import of films such as Breakin’ (1984, GDR 1990), Beat Street (1984, GDR 1985), Cotton Club (1984, GDR 1987) and Dirty Dancing (1987, GDR 1989). The importance of old German music films for cinema and television programming remained pronounced throughout GDR history. When DEFA’s production of musical films reached an all-time low in the 1980s, the state archives dusted off thirty German films from the UFA-era for postwar television premieres. Despite a relaxation of import policies for U.S. films

2 On the history of GDR television programming, see Deutsches Fernsehen Ost. Eine Programmgeschichte des DDR-Fernsehens, ed. by Rüdiger Steinmetz and Reinhold Viehoff (Berlin: Verlag für Berlin-Brandenburg, 2008).

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during this period, which led to an unprecedented number of GDR screenings of Hollywood musicals (more than all previous years combined), new releases of old German music films still outnumbered their Hollywood counterparts by a ratio of two to one. In 1983, for instance, fans applauded Roy Scheider and Jessica Lange in All That Jazz (1980) in the cinemas; at home they tuned in to DFF for the popular ‘Montagsfilme’ (Monday Night Movies), which were broadcast weekly at eight beginning in the 1960s. Symptomatic of a pragmatic approach to entertaining East German viewers, two of the last music films transmitted by DFF before the broadcaster went off the air in December 1991 were the Hollywood teen-pic Starlight (1988) and a film produced more than a half a century earlier, the Tobis/UFA production Ein steinreicher Mann [A Tremendously Rich Man, 1932].

Babelsberg Melodies Across subgenres and including features commissioned by East German television, DEFA produced over the course of its history in excess of fifty full-length music films and other movies with substantial musical content.3 In terms of the sheer number of films and audience statistics DEFA music films out-performed even the studio’s remarkable run of ideologically reengineered Westerns, which have generally been regarded as the studio’s most successful entertainment film undertaking.4 Still, despite the potential for mass appeal relatively few directors had the inclination or fortitude to specialize in this perpetually contentious area of movie entertainment. Rather than taking risks with projects that were bound to draw charges of concessions to the ideologically suspect practices of Western film industries, DEFA directors with music film interests gravitated to the safe haven of operettas and opera adaptations, which were a staple of the studio’s produc-

3 DEFA music film statistics by decade: 1940s (1), 1950s (8), 1960s (24); 1970s (14); 1980s (6). These statistics include the whole range of music films, including feature-length DEFA productions made for television and DEFA’s few musical coproductions, amongst them the GDR/USSR coproduction Soviel Lieder, soviel Worte [So Many Songs, So Many Words, Julius Kun, 1976] with Dean Reed and set against the backdrop of the 1973 World Festival of Youth and Students in Berlin. 4 According to statistics compiled by insidekino.de, of the fifty top-drawing DEFA features music films sold over seventy-three million tickets as compared to GDR Westerns at about sixty million. Since few foreign Westerns were imported to the GDR, audiences would have had far more exposure to music films. For the cinema-going statistics, see http://www.insidekino.de/ DJahr/DDRAlltimeDeutsch.htm. See also Jaimey Fisher’s comments on the GDR Westerns in chap. 8.

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tion programme through the 1950s in particular. Directors of entertainment films earned less than those working in more serious genres and were ignored when it was time to pass out national film awards.5 Music films also typically placed high demands on the studio in terms of production costs, technical complexity and securing talent with the necessary combination of screen and vocal skills. The availability of the catchy pop songs suited to music films was another problem, since the most popular tunes were usually under copyright in the West and thus financially out of reach for DEFA, which had only a limited capacity to make purchases in hard Western currency. A final impediment to a more consistent output of original film musicals was the lack of supply from the stage in the manner that Broadway provided adaptable content for Hollywood. Time and again directors approached the task of producing GDR-specific music films with the sense that they were pioneers in the genre, but directors such as Günter Reisch, Gottfried Kolditz and Joachim Hasler never abandoned the endeavour completely.6 Despite such obstacles and a modest total production when compared to West Germany, DEFA turned out an astonishing variety of musical films that has not been fully appreciated. In addition to the several operetta adaptations of Mozart, Nicolai, Strauss, Carl Millöcker, Jacques Offenbach and Albert Lortzing, the studio produced atmospheric romances with musical interludes such as Kahn der fröhlichen Leute [The Merry Barge, 1950] and Alter Kahn und junge Liebe [Love and an Old Barge, 1957], musical biopics of Beethoven, Strauss and Schubert, revue films, teen musicals, compilation and concert films, and period musicals, like Komödianten-Emil [Emil, The Comedian, Joachim Hasler, 1980], set in 1930s Berlin. Banking on the drawing power of actor-singer Manfred Krug, the studio tried its luck with a musical road movie, Wie füttert man einen Esel [How to Feed a Mule, Roland Oehme, 1974], which featured musical appearances by several Eastern European rock bands. DEFA even indulged in an unlikely singing cowboy parody starring Dean Reed, the most exotic of DEFA performers – an American with socialist ideals who had chosen the GDR as his home.7 There were also a few made-for-television musical features like Titel hab’ ich noch nicht [No Titles Yet, Ulrich Thein, 1964], a love story between a Berlin boxer and a Polish pop singer,

5 See Andrea Rinke, ‘Eastside Stories: Singing and Dancing for Socialism’, Film History, 18.1 (2006), 73–87 (p. 75). Rinke refocuses these themes in ‘Film Musicals in the GDR’, in Film’s Musical Moments, ed. by Ian Conrich and Estella Tincknell (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2006), pp. 183–94. 6 See Michael Hanisch, ‘Wo bleibt das Heitere? Quadratur des Kreises. Musikfilme aus Babelsberg’, Film-Dienst, Sonderheft 10 (2006), 47–49. 7 See Chuck Laszewski, Rock ’n’ Roll Radical. The Life and Mysterious Death of Dean Reed (Edina, MN: Beaver Pond Press, 2005).

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as well as shorts and non-narrative music shows that aired on DFF but did not generally have theatrical releases.8 GDR television produced a few feature-length music films of its own, some of which played in cinemas as well. These include Das Mädchen auf dem Titelblatt [The Girl on the Front Page, Fritz Bornemann, 1961], a music-embellished subject involving a West German scandal sheet, and Oh, diese Jugend [Oh These Kids, Georg Leopold, 1962], a young people’s drama revolving around an amateur theatre production.9 Over half of the music films produced between 1950 and 1960 were adaptations of classical operettas, and DEFA would go on to complete ten such films beginning with Georg Wildhagen’s Figaros Hochzeit [The Marriage of Figaro, 1949], a reworking of the Mozart opera in which actors stand in for the singers. Typical for DEFA’s appropriation of classical works, the film neutralizes the opera’s affirmative representation of the aristocracy, emphasizing instead its corrupt and nefarious nature.10 Teaming up again with cameraman Eugen Klagemann and his production manager from the previous film, a year later Wildhagen followed up the studio’s first opera adaptation with a similarly conceived interpretation of Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor, based on Otto Nicolai and Salomon Mosenthal’s operatic rendition of the Shakespeare comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor. The film starred Sonja Ziemann, who featured the same year in the West German Heimatfilm classic Schwarzwaldmädel [Black Forest Girl, 1950], and was Wildhagen’s last production for DEFA. Wildhagen remained true to his music and costume-film inclinations upon settling in West Germany and was also able to parlay the experience he had gained in politicized production contexts at DEFA into a directing engagement in Soviet-administered Vienna.11 The early 1960s marked a shift in DEFA’s music film production and the launch of an unprecedented number of original musical entertainments with con-

8 The latter two categories included Musik dringend gesucht [Desperately Seeking Music, Wernfried Hübel, 1963] and Die Chansonreise [Chanson Journey, Fritz Boeck, 1971) with Gisela May and Angelika Domröse amongst others. DEFA Disko 77 (Heinz Thiel and Werner W. Wallroth, 1977) was the feature film studio’s one-time contribution to the long-running music series produced by the separate documentary film studio. 9 Das Mädchen auf dem Titelblatt, an Austrian coproduction directed by Fritz Bornemann, had a screenplay by Georg Kilb, the author of vehicles for Marika Rökk and West German teen pop stars Conny Froboess and Peter Kraus. The titles are included in the appendix to Das große Lexikon der DEFA-Spielfilme, ed. by Frank-Burkhard Habel (Berlin: Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf, 2000), pp. 746–47. 10 DEFA’s musical biopics employed a similar practice of selectively representing figures from the classical tradition to highlight their historical progressiveness; see Seán Allan in chap. 4. 11 The Austrian film was Komm in die Gondel [A Night in Venice, 1953), based on a Johann Strauss operetta.

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temporary settings. Even before the fortification of the inter-German border, the studio had begun to look for alternatives to its costume films and reliance on adaptations of classical subjects. Having over the course of the late 1950s progressively broken with filmmakers who could not be persuaded to commit to DEFA and relocate to the GDR, the studio was forced to come up with a new entertainment film strategy that did not involve enlisting outside specialists to do the ‘dirty work’ of producing genre films. The first examples of this new wave were Günter Reisch’s Silvesterpunsch [New Year’s Punch, 1960] and Richard Groschopp’s Die Liebe und der Co-Pilot [Love and the Co-Pilot, 1960]. Three more music films were released in quick succession: Guten Tag, Lieber Tag [Good Day, Dear Day, Gerhard Klingenberg, 1961], Eine Handvoll Noten [A Handful of Music, Otto Schneidereit and Helmut Spieß, 1961] and Auf der Sonnenseite [On the Sunnyside, Ralf Kirsten, 1961], a vehicle for all-round entertainer Manfred Krug, a rising star and interpreter of international pop and jazz tunes. His Dixieland-inspired ‘Auf der Sonnenseite’, accompanied by the Jazz Optimists, was released by the GDR label Amiga to coincide with the premiere of the eponymous music film in 1962. On the b-side Krug offered his rendition of the Gershwin-Heyward classic ‘Summertime’. Centred on a Deutsche Lufthansa crew – the GDR airline would fly as Interflug beginning in 1963 – Die Liebe und der Co-Pilot is representative of DEFA’s efforts to modernize its rather dated entertainment film productions of the previous years with musical embellishments and themes geared towards a younger audience. Projecting the vision of a dynamic society characterized not only by technological progress but leisure time, entertainment and travel as well, the film follows the co-pilot lead’s amorous exploits en route to the Black Sea vacation destination of Varna (Bulgaria) from his base at East Berlin’s Schönefeld Airport. Although Die Liebe und der Co-Pilot skimped on musical numbers – a common failing of DEFA productions advertising themselves as music films – it featured a subplot concerning the composition of a pop song, a catchy arrangement of Heinz Kunert’s ‘Stewardess im blauen Dress’ [Stewardess in a Blue Uniform] and vocals by one of the GDR’s most successful pop singers, Helga Brauer. She performed the first number one hit on the new GDR charts in 1958 and was enlisted by culture officials to promote the so-called ‘Lipsi’ step, a GDR dance innovation intended to provide a wholesome alternative to the provocations of Western rock ’n’ roll dancing.12 DEFA took this

12 Wer war wer in der DDR. Ein Lexikon ostdeutscher Biografien, ed. by Helmut Müller-Enbergs and others (Berlin: Ch. Links, 2010). Online version: http://www.bundesstiftung-aufarbeitung.de/werwar-wer-in-der-ddr-%2363 %3B-1424.html?ID=398.

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Fig 6.1: Die Liebe und der Co-Pilot (1960) featured music by GDR pop singer Helga Brauer and the song ‘Stewardess in a Blue Uniform’ sung aboard a GDR-manufactured Ilyushin Il-14P. © DEFA-Stiftung.

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incorporation of musical numbers a step further with Geliebte weiße Maus [Beloved White Mouse, Gottfried Kolditz, 1964], the hit-heavy Reise ins Ehebett [Journey to the Wedding Bed, Joachim Hasler, 1966] and perhaps the best-known DEFA musical of all, the clean teenpic Heißer Sommer [Hot Summer, Joachim Hasler, 1968]. The wave of DEFA music films based on original material continued through the 1970s, and in accord with international music film trends increasingly employed non-diegetic songs, displacing onscreen performances from the diegesis.13 Rolf Losansky’s musical comedy Hut ab, wenn du küßt [Hats Off before You Kiss, 1971], in which an engineer and test driver must come to terms with the career ambitions of the woman he loves, was followed by Heiner Carow’s cult classic Die Legende von Paul und Paula [The Legend of Paul and Paula, 1972]. While not a music film in the narrow sense, the unconventional love story prominently featured music by the GDR rock group ‘Die Puhdys’ for whom the film provided a breakthrough and also staged a critique of the GDR’s cultivation of the classical music tradition. Songs from the film, such as ‘Geh zu ihr’ [Go to Her] became GDR hits for the band and composer Peter Gotthardt. The same year, Joachim Hasler completed his Heißer Sommer sequel, Nicht schummeln, Liebling [No Cheating, Darling, 1972], featuring the same pop duo of Chris Doerk and Frank Schöbel and adding a sports theme to the previous film’s song and dance performances and battle-of-the-sexes conceit. Like his earlier film, Nicht schummeln, Liebling serves up a non-stop succession of pop songs and choreographies that merge musical and dance styles. Rock ’n’ roll rhythms segue into romantic love songs and back; wild dance numbers with exuberant thrashings of hair are interrupted by ballet episodes. Thus, whereas the narrative resolves a rather inane conflict between the genders that spectators are not really intended to take seriously, the film’s ideological project – typical of film musicals of all kinds – concerns the status of musical entertainment itself. The film opens up a utopian space in which popular music can erupt onto the streets at any moment, infecting everyone from chimneysweeps and children to policeman and city officials. Anything is possible, as the refrain of one song would have it, when young people put their minds to it. The youthful energy of the films’ protagonists is partially recouped through the parallel narrative on the betterment of the town of Sonnental, whose financial struggles remain an ongoing concern until the conclusion. Intertwined with the film’s gender conflict, the theme of self-realization in socialist society – frequently

13 Jane Feuer, The Hollywood Musical (Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1993), pp. 130–31.

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female self-realization and self-determination – remained central to DEFA’s music film production, surfacing again in Konrad Wolf’s Solo Sunny (1979), which follows the struggles of a fiercely independent, young pop singer in conflict with her surroundings. Perhaps the final music film innovation in DEFA’s last decade was the production of two period musicals in the wake of the 1975 GDR release of Bob Fosse’s influential Cabaret (1972). The first was the aforementioned Berlin costume film, Komödianten-Emil (1980), the last musical attraction by genre-film specialist Joachim Hasler. Set on the brink of the Nazi’s assumption of power like Cabaret, the film follows the career of performer and master of ceremonies Emil Damaschke and his efforts to keep the show going at the Kabarett Ecke Rosenthalerstrasse. As compared to his counterpart in the Fosse musical, who is confined to the stage as a mediator between diegetic and actual audiences, Emil crosses the proscenium to participate in the narrative outside the numbers. As the main character, Emil’s clever evasions and political compromises in the face of violence and extortion ultimately lead to his downfall and the murder of his Hungarian girlfriend Ida. Framed for aiding in the ‘escape’ of his former Jewish boss by the Nazi thugs who have been trying to shut down his cabaret, he makes a final impromptu performance before a packed house. Just before he is taken away by the police commissioner, who has protected him in the past, Emil recites ‘Mein Gefängnis’ [My Prison], by German writer, pacifist and Nazi-critic Erich Mühsam (1878–1934). It is a poem about justice that Emil had previously refused to work into his program of apolitical entertainment and burlesque numbers. Hasler’s debt to the Fosse production is evident on a number of levels, from the formal integration of song and dance numbers into the narrative of National Socialism’s rise to the exploitation of the specular and musical cachet of the Weimar period. The themes of Jewish persecution, sexual promiscuity and homosexuality are present in both films, although less centrally in the DEFA heritage musical. Although both films end on a note of ambivalence, Hasler’s dramatizes the repercussions of political inaction. In Cabaret the futures of the male and female leads diverge as Brian leaves Germany for London and Liza Minelli’s Sally remains behind to follow her dream of breaking into the movies. Emil’s act of political defiance at the end of the film comes too late to have consequences. Although the red carnation he attaches to his lapel before taking the stage gestures to the ‘reds’ that his cabaret has been accused of harbouring, his fate is implicit in his choice of the poem, whose author was murdered in prison in 1934. Like Fosse’s musical, Komödianten-Emil closes back at the cabaret as Nazi brownshirts applaud goose-stepping dancers in lederhosen. Three years later Werner W. Wallroth mounted a second Berlin-themed heritage musical based on milieu painter Heinrich Zille (1858–1929). It was the only

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Fig 6.2: A Berlin-themed heritage musical, Komödianten-Emil (1980) was inspired by Bob Fosse’s Cabaret (1972). © DEFA-Stiftung.

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GDR stage production to successfully make the transition to the screen.14 Adapted from Dieter Wardetzky and Peter Rabenalt’s Der Maler von Berlin [The Painter from Berlin], Zille und ick [Zille and Me, 1983] was a promising effort for the director, who had previous experience in genre films and had directing and writing credits for Hauptmann Florian von der Mühle [Captain Florian of the Mill, 1968], a costume adventure with elaborate music and dance choreographies.15 The famed painter of the urban dispossessed was a nearly perfect subject for DEFA, and the film’s sophisticated montage of reality and dream elements – and correspondingly imaginative use of diegetic and non-diegetic singing – provided a convincing formal concept for transporting the subject to the film medium. Whereas Hollywood experienced during the 1980s a music film revival based in part on the strength of major Broadway productions, the original cinematic adaptation of Zille und ick came too late to have any influence on the history of DEFA’s musical entertainments. It was also out of sync with Hollywood’s rediscovery of the teen musical, examples of which had begun to appear in GDR cinemas.16 The curtain went down on DEFA’s music film production somewhat ingloriously with Maxe Baumann aus Berlin [Maxe Baumann from Berlin, Günter Stahnke, 1987], the final instalment of the popular Maxe Baumann television series. Produced as a made-for-television revue special on the occasion of Berlin’s 750th anniversary, the film’s extensive musical and dance numbers, which include characters breaking into song, large-scale choreographies in public places and local musical performers, feature many of the GDR capital’s sight-seeing locations. Were it not for the doppelgänger narrative and rather garish dream sequences, viewers might have been excused for mistaking it for an off-beat publicity film aimed at tourists.

14 DEFA did film a few opera productions, including Walter Felsenstein’s Othello (1969), and made a satirical operetta-short, Salon Pitzelberger (Horst Bonnet, 1965), based on a Deutsche Staatsoper production. Musikalisches Rendevous [Musical Rendezvous, 1962] is a compilation film arranged by Gottfried Kolditz with excerpts from DEFA operettas. Other notable music films of DEFA’s final decade include: Don Juan, Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 78 (Siegfried Kühn, 1979), a modern adaptation of Mozart’s life with backstage elements; Frühlingssinfonie [Spring Symphony, Peter Schamoni, 1983], a rare German-German coproduction on the life of the young Robert Schumann; and the GDR-Austrian coproduction Johann Strauß – Der ungekrönte König [Johann Strauss – The Uncrowned King, 1986], directed by Franz Antel, a specialist for costume films and musical comedies, featuring an international cast with Audrey Landers, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Karin Dor and Mathieu Carrière. 15 Wallroth had also assisted Heinz Thiel on DEFA Disko 77. 16 On 1980s teen musicals, see Feuer, The Hollywood Musical, pp.130–38.

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Back Stage with Meine Frau macht Musik (1958) The revue film revival that swept West Germany in the 1950s did not have a correlation in the GDR. Although revue films notoriously refrain from realistic representations of the filmmaking process, given the highly politicized nature of cultural production in the GDR and the audience’s knowledge of widespread censorship in the arts, it is perhaps not surprising that filmmakers shied away from bringing backstage narratives to the screen. DEFA produced only three examples of films with narratively developed behind-the-scenes scenarios, all within a period of four years: Hans Heinrich’s Meine Frau macht Musik, Günter Reisch’s Silvesterpunsch [New Year’s Punch, 1960] and Gottfried Kolditz’s Revue um Mitternacht. A follow-up to his 1959 Maibowle [May Wine], with the same cast of characters and actors, Reisch’s Silvesterpunsch turns on the eventful production of an amateur revue for the New Year’s celebration of a chemical factory. Conflicts between worker-brigades with differing opinions about what the final performances should look like are resolved in the end with an ice revue that harmonizes competing forms of leisure-time entertainment and culture with an overarching endorsement of technological progress and the promise of chemicals. A similar staging of the accommodation of popular entertainment to coordinates of socialist culture characterizes Revue um Mitternacht.17 Recalling the scenario of scores of backstage musicals, amongst them Lloyd Bacon’s Footlight Parade (1933), whose artists are confined to the theatre until the show can go on, here a group of reluctant filmmakers is whisked away to an isolated retreat to prepare that most difficult of dishes, a socialist revue film. The product of this forced engagement with a genre considered too hot to handle in one of the film’s early musical numbers is a spectacle of song and dance that promotes the vision of a modern socialist society of consumerist abundance, mobility and cosmopolitanism. Touted as DEFA’s first revue film, Meine Frau macht Musik opened at East Berlin’s Babylon cinema on 3 April 1958. A success with the public, Heinrich’s film would become the second-best drawing DEFA music film ever, ranking just behind the Georg Wildhagen operetta Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor,18 but the

17 Focussing on the West German context, Sabine Hake offers a sophisticated reading of the production of racial Otherness in the revue film. A side glance to Silvesterpunsch and Revue um Mitternacht in the GDR provide a contrastive foil for the complex and problematic deployment of race and ethnicity in consolidating West German identity. See ‘Colorful Worlds. The West German Revue Film of the 1950s’, in The Cosmopolitan Screen, ed. by Stephan K. Schindler and Lutz Koepnick (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007), pp. 58–76 (pp. 72–73). 18 Meine Frau macht Musik. Progress Filmillustrierte 124 (1957). According to inside.kino.de, Meine Frau macht Musik ranks tenth amongst DEFA films in viewer statistics with over six million tickets.

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opinions of East German reviewers were divided. Proponents of DEFA’s experiment with the revue film applauded the production as a well-made if not particularly original musical entertainment and a welcome addition to DEFA’s repertoire of predominantly serious subjects.19 One reviewer compared the production favourably with kitschy Viennese revue films like Georg Jacoby’s Frühling auf dem Eis [Spring on the Ice, 1951].20 For the film’s detractors, however, it was conventional, reminiscent of UFA productions of the 1930s and 1940s and no better than contemporary West German and Austrian distractions – in other words a step in the wrong direction for the development of a socialist form of the screen musical.21 East German film critics hoping for a DEFA version of the irreverent 1956 Soviet musical hit The Carnival Night [Karnavalnaya noch]), which had been released in the GDR as Nun schlägt’s 13! [Enough is Enough!] just prior to Heinrich’s film in July 1957, were also disappointed.22 Eldar Ryazanov’s humorous, thaw-era revue film offered a send-up of socialist bureaucracy, communist party politics and philistinism that reflected a post-Stalinist politics yet to take hold in East Germany. In fact Soviet musicals in general had a relatively modest impact on DEFA. The works of the major Soviet music film figures such as Ivan Pyryev, Grigori Aleksandrov and Isaak Dunayevsky were of course familiar to DEFA filmmakers, and they were sporadically cited in debates around entertainment film at the studio, but more often than not this was a strategy on the part of music film advocates to add ideological credibility to their endeavours.23 By the time DEFA ramped up its production of original music films in the early 1960s, the Stalin-era Soviet musicals of the previous decades were no longer perceived as potential prototypes for a modern reworking of the genre in the GDR context.24

19 Martin Schulz, ‘Meine Frau macht Musik. Der erste Tanz- und Revue-Farbfilm der DEFA’, BZ am Abend, 8 April 1958. 20 Renate Pahl, ‘Meine Frau macht Musik. Erster Revue-Farbfilm der DEFA’, Ostsee-Zeitung (Rostock), 10 April 1958. 21 See W. J., ‘Auf ausgetretenen Pfaden’, Sonntag, 27 April 1958, p. 7; and Klaus Norbert Scheffler, ‘Meine Frau macht Musik. Ein mißlungener Musikfilm der DEFA’, Wochenzeitung (Düsseldorf), 19 May 1958. 22 See, for instance, W. Junge, ‘Meine Frau macht Musik’, Forum (Berlin), 24 April 1958, p. 12. 23 Progress imported about 50 Soviet music films of all types, beginning with Aleksandrov’s iconic Volga-Volga (1938) and Ivan Pyryev’s Cossacks of the Kuban [Kubanskie kazaki, 1949]. Many of these imports were biopics of major Russian composers or operettas. 24 The fact that that Soviet and Hollywood musicals developed a number of structural parallels in the 1930s also complicates the question of influence, particularly in the case of the backstage musical. See Michael John, ‘Die Macht der leichten Musen. Musikfilmkomödien und Sovietideologie’, Osteuropa, 54.11 (2004), 63–74.

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Fig 6.3: Film programme for Meine Frau macht Musik (1958). Critics complained that it promised more music than it delivered, and film officials balked at the participation of performers based in West Germany. © DEFA-Stiftung.

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Meine Frau macht Musik takes up a familiar theme in the tradition of the musical film, namely a domestic clash over the career ambitions of the female lead: Gerda Wagner wants to sing, her old-fashioned husband, Gustl, manager of the music section at a state-run department store, protests. The film is a story of selfrealization for heroine-housewife Gerda, who embarks on a singing career after being discovered by a touring Italian singer. Of course, true to the conventions of the genre, the marital strife around Gerda’s singing is a thin conceit even within the diegesis. Günter Simon, known for serious roles in DEFA’s historical subjects, is brilliantly cast against his screen persona in the comic role of the retrograde husband, and no one really takes seriously his outmoded views about the duties of a wife and mother. Despite the superficiality of this narrative conflict, however, it partially displaces the theme of ‘putting on a show’ that is so central to iconic examples of the genre that emphasize the production numbers and the collective effort to mount the show. In fact critics of Meine Frau macht Musik complained that the long list of quality performers on the marquee had not translated into enough onscreen song and dance.25 Heinrich’s film is not quite the rags to riches story familiar from American and UFA musicals in which provincial chorus girls step up to save the show when the star is incapacitated, yet Gerda, too, embarks on a singing career at the Tivoli-Palast after substituting for a sick performer at a holiday show at her husband’s place of work. This initial performance leads to a professional debut that perfunctorily threatens Gerda and Gustl’s marriage before all is resolved at the end with her performance at the Tivoli. The resolution of this conflict is complicated along the way by the presence of amorous distractions aimed at both spouses. Clearly modelled on contemporary heartthrob Vico Torriani – the singing star of West German films like Ein Herz voll Musik [Heart full of Love, 1955] and Der Stern von Santa Clara [Star of Santa Clara, 1958] – Lorenzo Fabiani is a suave Italian singer who discovers Gerda performing at the amateur show and is only too happy to use his fame to open the doors of the Tivoli for her and to get her alone for some private instruction. Daisy on the other hand is a seductive Tivoli singer who comforts Gustl and his bruised ego between her exotic stage numbers. Meine Frau macht Musik was one of the studio’s last music films to be aimed at audiences on both sides of the German-German border and the West-Berlin-based director’s final commission in the GDR.26 As the studio had successively cut ties with film professionals based outside the GDR, Heinrich’s film drew almost ex-

25 Anon., ‘Meine Frau macht zuwenig Musik’, BZ am Abend, 16 April 1958. 26 For an examination of Hans Heinrich’s work at DEFA, see Stefan Soldovieri, ‘Finding Navigable Waters. Inter-German Film Relations and Modernisation in Two DEFA Barge Films of the 1950s’, Film History, 18.1 (2006), 59–72.

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clusively on DEFA personnel on site. Evelyn Künneke, a Berlin singer, dancer and actress with singing and acting credits going back to the war years, was the only major commuter to Babelsberg for the production; West German pop singer Gitta Lind, known for tours with the enormously popular Torriani and music films like Schlagerparade [Hit Parade, 1953] and Musik im Blut [Music in the Blood, 1955], provided the vocals for female lead Lore Frisch, who had acted in three West German romantic comedies before committing to DEFA. Over the course of the film’s production the participation of Künneke and Lind would prove controversial, prompting cuts and delaying its approval by the Ministry of Culture’s Film Bureau. The production of Meine Frau macht Musik intersected with a struggle over the prevalence of West German Schlager or hit songs in GDR culture at large. A low-to-middle-brow form characterized by sentimental ballads and light pop songs – and sometimes regarded as the German equivalent to country music – the German Schlager remained distinct from rock music until the 1980s. The status of the Schlager, which highlighted the tensions between competing concepts of culture, remained fraught throughout the history of the GDR, but the period beginning in the late 1950s into the 1960s was perhaps the most contentious.27 In 1958 the question of what popular music culture under socialism should sound like came to a head once again, culminating in the issue of legislation to regulate and limit foreign music content in cultural programming.28 By the time the screenplay was completed and approved by film officials in early 1957, culture bureaucrats had already launched a bona fide campaign against Western hits of the sort sung by Künneke and Lind. During the production of the film the publication Junge Welt (journal of the youth organization Freie deutsche Jugend, FDJ) attacked DEFA’s practice of employing ‘foreign’ performers at the expense of supporting young artists from the GDR. The charge was summed up as ‘Schlagerlotterei’ (roughly ‘hit slumming’) – a play on the radio show ‘Schlagerlotterie’ (‘lottery of hits’), a Leipzig-based radio show featuring GDR hit-makers that went on the air in fall 1953 and was cancelled in 1957 following harsh criticisms on the part of Central Committee member Alexander Abusch.29

27 Christian Könne, ‘Schlagerrevue und Schlager-ABC. Hörfunksenderreihen zwischen Partei und Publikum’, in Heißer Sommer – Coole Beats. Zur populären Musik und ihren medialen Repräsentationen in der DDR, ed. by Sascha Trülzsch and Thomas Wilke (Frankfurt am Main: Lang, 2010), pp. 139–58 (p. 139). 28 See ‘Anordnung über die Programmgestaltung bei Unterhaltungs- und Tanzmusik’ of 2 January 1958. Reprinted in Dokumente zur Kunst-, Literatur-, und Kulturpolitik der SED, ed. by Elimar Schubbe (Stuttgart: Seewald, 1972), p. 515. 29 On the history and politics of the Schlagerlotterie and subsequent popular music series, see Könne, ‘Schlagerrevue und Schlager-ABC’, pp. 142–43.

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In Meine Frau macht Musik the Schlager theme is prominently introduced in the exposition. Opening with an urban panorama encompassing a state-run department store, the film quickly sweeps the spectator inside to the music department, dominated by advertising for the GDR’s ‘Amiga’ record label. At a busy counter young patrons request various singles, including an unspecified version of ‘O solo mio’ (perhaps by the Italian pop singer, Fabiani, who is doing an instore promotion in the background), but also titles that would have been very familiar to German audiences, such as ‘Tiritomba’, a number one 1956 West German single by Margot Eskens (800,000 copies sold), and ‘Küss mich, Angelina’, a 1957 hit by GDR pop singer Klaus Gross. The latter song serves as the musical transition to the next scene introducing the aforementioned Italian vocalist. Gross’s brand of clean pop music represented a typically German response to rock ’n’ roll, which was perceived as a threat to German culture on both sides of the border. The new music restrictions attracted Germany-wide attention in connection with Meine Frau macht Musik just as the participation of Evelyn Künneke garnered attention in GDR and West German media. Künneke, whose fame as a pop singer had begun to fade as compared to her successes in the 1940s and in the immediate post-war years, had played a major role in the Austrian production Verlorene Melodie [Vanished Melody, 1952]. One of sixteen Austrian music films produced between 1950 and 1955 during the period of Soviet administration that began immediately after the war, it opened in the GDR on 27 June 1952, even before its Austrian release. In this Nova-Film production Künnecke plays Gloria, a jazz singer who contributes to the artistic crisis of composer Franz and temporarily distracts him from his true love. Singing the percussive ‘Ich hab ’ne Wut im Bauch’ [Burning Inside], Gloria is the syncopated, Americanized foil for the melodic, more ‘serious’ musical ambitions of Franz.30 Künneke’s performance in Verlorene Melodie anticipated her portrayal of Daisy in Meine Frau macht Musik both in her function as a sexual diversion for the hero – she was initially slated to perform her Marilyn Monroe number for DEFA – and as performer of a kind of music that is ultimately rejected in the narrative in favour of a more cultured, indigenous heritage.31 Unlike Gerda’s musical performances, which merge private and stage spheres, Daisy’s singing is confined to an exotic Spanish choreography, in which Künneke’s bared legs play a prominent role. The number was ultimately shortened in postproduction in response to objections to the actress’s status as a West-Berlin-based performer without a genuine commitment

30 Anon., ‘Ich hab ’ne Wut im Bauch’, Der Spiegel, 38 (1952), p. 26. 31 BArch, DR 1 4433, Letter from Pfeuffer to Scheller, 8 August 1957.

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to DEFA.32 Verlorene Melodie was perhaps itself a plausible model for DEFA’s own efforts to accommodate entertainment and cultural politics in the music film genre.33 In the Austrian context, where music films enjoyed a post-war renaissance despite the political pressures of Soviet administration in the filmmaking centre of Vienna, the film connected to a strong national musical tradition that could be positioned as untouched by the Nazi-era and distinct from American culture. As is the case with Meine Frau macht Musik, in Verlorene Melodie Cold War tensions are negotiated primarily on the level of musical styles. Even a polemical reviewer in the FRG publication Der Spiegel noted that the film shied away from an ideological rhetoric of class struggle.34 In the same way that Evelyn Künneke’s Daisy functions to distract Gustl in his marital dispute with Gerda over her singing ambitions, Fabiani confronts Gerda with a romantic diversion that must be rejected. In this way Meine Frau macht Musik reveals a parallelism of character constellations that Rick Altman has identified as a key structure of the American musical.35 During a rehearsal in which she is constantly forced to parry the suave Italian’s advances, Gerda politely objects that the music she is studying – Fabiani’s show-closing waltz ‘In San Remo blüh’n wieder die Rosen’ [The Roses Are Blooming Again in San Remo] – is rather silly. To this criticism Fabiani replies that the text is nothing, ‘Feeling is everything’. Despite the film’s ultimate rejection of Fabiani’s musical performances as UFA-inspired kitsch and extensive cuts to Daisy’s Spanish number during postproduction, Meine Frau macht Musik does not venture a true musical alternative to the exoticized Schlager performed by Fabiani and Daisy. Sung by Gitta Lind, the songs mouthed on the screen by Lore Frisch are hardly less saccharine then those of Fabiani, even if they are valorized in the narrative as more emotionally genuine. The difference seems to be more about the performer than the performance. Fabiani stands for superficial feeling and a lack of authenticity, the former symbolized by the many pictures of young women he has his assistant remove from his suite before Gerda arrives for rehearsal and the latter by the artificial flowers that rain down on his trademark ‘San Remo’ song. Gerda, on the other hand, embodies the deeper capacity for emotion that her last name –

32 BArch, DR 117. vorl. BA 1925, p. 133, Letter Hans Heinrich to Albert Wilkening, 25 September 1958. 33 See Mary Wauchope, ‘The Other “German Cinema”’, in Take Two. Fifties Cinema in a Divided Germany, ed. by John Davidson and Sabine Hake (Oxford: Berghahn, 2007), pp. 210–22. 34 ’Ich hab ’ne Wut im Bauch‘. 35 See Rick Altman, ‘The American Film Musical. Paradigmatic Structure and Mediatory Function’, in Genre. The Musical, ed. by Rick Altman (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1981), pp. 197–207.

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Wagner – conjures up. She is in the words of the Tivoli manager ‘The first real person I’ve met here’. Gerda’s authenticity is of a piece with her aforementioned capacity to integrate the film’s various social spheres. Her performances begin with ‘Vergiss nie die Zeit’ [Remember the Time], which she first sings at her modern suburban home on her wedding anniversary while waiting for her husband to come home. This song is followed by an appearance at the amateur show at Gustl’s place of work with ‘Du bist so schön’ [You Are So Beautiful]. And in the film’s musical finale, Gerda reprises both songs at the Tivoli. Taken together, her performances in the domestic, economic and public realms, suggest a transparency of public and private spaces that none of the other performers achieve. Neither Fabiani nor Daisy breaks into song in private scenarios, but restrict their performances to the stage or publicity events, as in the film’s first scene, where we also observe fans responding enthusiastically to Fabiani’s singing. Thus, unlike the direct address of Gerda’s songs, Daisy and Fabiani’s performances are recurrently objectified by an on-screen audience. The Fabiani character’s potential for upstaging Gerda as a model for popular entertainment had been a concern of the Film Bureau ever since cameras had stopped rolling on 13 July 1957.36 As a consequence, DEFA undertook cuts, dialogue changes and reshooting that continued for months. One of the primary strategies for containing the subversive attractiveness of the Italian heartthrob was the elevation of the relatively minor role of the Tivoli’s stage manager, Pappke.37 Played by character actor Kurt Schmidtchen – a natural choice for down-to-earth, straight-talking Berliners and veteran of previous Heinrich productions – Pappke is constitutionally immune to Fabiani’s charms and sees through the artifice of his stage numbers. Following the changes suggested by the DEFA dramaturge responsible for the production, Marieluise Steinhauer, in the film’s final cut Pappke literally throws back the curtain on Fabiani’s opulent ‘San Remo’ number. Backstage we see the disapproving stage manager let paper roses rain down on the Schlager singer and his female dancers, wondering all the while why people keep falling for his sentimental routines. ‘Take a look at Gerda Wagner’, he says, ‘she doesn’t need all that nonsense, and people like it anyway.’ The director of the Tivoli-Palast agrees. An even more pointed version of this dialogue criticizing Fabiani’s UFA-like number had Pappke refer to Fabiani and his assistant, Francesco, as ‘Schnulzenheinis’ (silly crooners).38 Changes designed to

36 BArch, DR 117 3185/1/91, ‘Solo zu viert’. 37 BArch, DR 117 vorl. BA 1925, ‘Texte für Nachaufnahmen Meine Frau macht Musik’, 14 December 1957, pp. 122–24. 38 BArch, DR 117 vorl. BA 1925, Memo from Hans Heinrich to Wilkening, 25 September 1957, p. 133.

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undermine Fabiani’s star status were also made to the film’s concluding scenes back at the department store, where we now witness Fabiani’s display removed from the counter as Gustl nods approvingly.39 Even these extensive changes to what was supposed to be the final screenplay of 8 March 1957, did not satisfy officials, who compiled an additional list of sixteen changes following a screening of the latest cut of the film on 11 January 1958. The majority of these modifications aimed once again at mitigating Fabiani’s potential impact and diffusing any suggestions that Gerda is responsive to his sexual advances. Other mandated alterations, not all of which are actually reflected in the release version, reveal the concern of culture bureaucrats that the film looked too much like a West German or UFA-era revue. The list of cuts included excising a number with showgirls to be replaced by the shorter, less risqué acrobatic act contained in the theatrical release.40 In terms of production values, complexity of mise-en-scène and length at over five minutes, the major production number in Meine Frau macht Musik is a choreography from the Tivoli-Palast show that encompasses the film’s main final revue numbers. Centred on the figure of Dolly, a display-window mannequin who comes to life, this series of music and dance episodes in a single overarching dream precedes Gerda’s performance of ‘Vergiss nie die Zeit’ (‘Remember the Time’) and her reconciliation with Gustl. The number begins at the stroke of midnight when Dolly awakens and abandons her pose in a department store window. Wearing a nondescript frock, she dances her way up a flight of stairs to a ‘Fashion Department’, where her touch brings other models to life. This ascending movement to a new plane of experience is also marked chromatically in a shift from dark tones and a contrastively lit staircase to the vibrant colours of the fashionable dresses on display. As Dolly’s drab garb is magically exchanged with an elegant pink gown, she is joined by two male dancers who, after a brief routine, accompany her to an elevator that transports her to a ‘Music Department’. Dolly’s dance – a hybrid composition with ballet, tap and modern dance elements – continues against a stylized backdrop of vertical lines suggesting instrument strings. A brief reappearance by a trio of store boys, equipped with harmonicas, introduces the ‘Meine Frau macht Musik’ theme in a jazzy arrangement that provides a new musical accompaniment for Dolly as she and her partners merge into a larger choreography of dancers. A trumpet hitting a high note puts an end to the epi-

39 BArch, DR 117 vorl. BA 1925, Memo from Hans Heinrich to Wilkening, 25 September 1957. 40 BArch, DR 117 vorl. BA 1925, ‘Vorführung des Films Meine Frau macht Musik am 11.1.1958’, 13 January 1958. Another alteration changed the scope of Gerda’s future career plans with the Tivoli-Palast, which would no longer include a ‘European’ engagement, but simply a ‘tour’.

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Fig 6.4: The production of racial otherness in the finale of Meine Frau macht Musik (1958) underwrites its vision of modern musical entertainment.

sode, and Dolly leaves the others behind. Ascending a final set of stairs, she pauses and we share her view on a brief succession of tap steps performed by a darkskinned dancer – possibly a performer in blackface. The background percussion, now amplified and brought into the diegesis by a close-up of dark hands striking the head of the drum, provides the transition to another number-within-anumber entitled ‘Tropical Fruits’, now shot from a perspective coinciding with the diegetic Tivoli audience. This dance number begins as bare-chested black performers unveil female dancers who have been concealed as sacks of fruit. During this mambo – the credits identify the performers as the Ballet Brasiliana – the dancers encircle a matronly woman wearing a headdress of citrus and carrying a basket. The camera perspective then shifts to encompass Dolly again, still seated on the stairs gazing down on the tropical vision. Realizing it has gotten late, the mannequin descends quickly to take her place in the storefront window once again. The circular form of the Dolly number and its dream of an escape from confinement invite a reading of the choreography in the sense of Richard Dyer’s influential appropriation of Jameson’s account of utopia and narrative. The suspen-

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sion of time within the space of the number – when Dolly returns to her display at the end of the sequence, the clock indicates that she has actually gone back in time! – also warrants a reading of the number as a lyrical filmic episode and contained fantasy that does not propel the narrative, but enacts the state of utopian resolution within its ideological coordinates.41 In terms of the theme of escape and self-realization the Dolly number mirrors closely the situation of Gerda, for whom the singing engagements offer a temporary liberation from the domestic role to which she always returns. Her rehearsals and performances on stage serve not only as an outlet for musical self-expression, but allow her to enjoy the flirtations of Fabiani – even if she refuses to succumb to them. These encounters are paralleled and intensified in the Dolly number in the mannequin’s dances with different partners. Crucially the Dolly number revisualizes the frame narrative’s obsessive production of Otherness and the attendant projection of a notion of cultured (German) entertainment. Dolly’s objectifying perspective on the tap dancer, who can be seen as a racialized image of the American musical tradition, as well as the sexualized vision of the folkloristic ‘Tropical Fruits’ number intensify the specularization of the ethnic other that is also generated by the contrast between Fabiani / Daisy and Gerda. Whereas the former stand for superficial attractions and music as uncultured entertainment, the latter represents authenticity and true emotionality. Even Gustl, the department store manager, fits into this dichotomy of the genuine (East) German and the reified Other, when, having drowned his sorrows with Daisy at the Tivoli-Palast bar, he stumbles onto the stage to put a stop to his wife’s performance. Gustl’s drunken comedy ‘routine’ in front of the audience draws roars of laughter, and his work colleagues later compliment him on being a ‘natural’ for the theatre. In terms of the organization of mise-en-scène Gerda’s performances remain programmatically separate from those of Fabiani’s or Daisy’s. As opposing poles of entertainment and subjectivity, they never share the same space of performance. Once again, the Dolly number reproduces and dramatizes the structures of the frame narrative. Dolly never joins in the mise-en-scène of the ethnic other in her fantasy of mobility, consumption and desire. Unable to dance with the Brazilians as she has done with such élan with her white European partners, Dolly’s gaze produces a racialized and sexualized Other, transforming dark bodies into consumable objects. In this sense Meine Frau macht Musik does not perform the ‘[break] with the genre’s problematic reliance on ethnic, racial, and national stereotypes’ that Sabine Hake identifies in DEFA’s slightly later Silvesterpunsch

41 See Richard Dyer’s much-cited account in Only Entertainment (Routledge: London, 2002), p. 35.

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and Revue um Mitternacht.42 On the contrary, the film’s most extravagant production number relies on highly conventional representations and stagings of cultural and racial otherness in its affirmation of a form of popular musical entertainment – one that remains tethered to notions of ‘deep’ German culture. Heinrich’s film does not exploit the potential of the ‘putting-on-a-show’ frame for staging a communal social project after the fashion of DEFA’s other revue films and many of the studio’s future musical productions. Although it implicitly endorses popular musical entertainment as a legitimate mode of cultural expression in a socialist society, it does not link Gerda’s path to self-fulfilment to the communal ethos of the aforementioned films by Reisch and Kolditz. The performance that emerges at the end of Meine Frau macht Musik is not the culmination of a larger, ideologically legible project in the diegesis, but an occasion for Gerda to reprise the very private ‘Vergiss nie die Zeit’, the song that stands for the love she shares with Gustl and that she has been unable to perform during their estrangement. Thus, Gerda’s self-realization coexists uneasily with a musical return to origins symbolized by the song’s appeal to ‘never forget’ a past time of fulfilment and love. Conceived to address the tastes and fantasies of a still connected German audience, Meine Frau macht Musik avoids with few exceptions explicit markers of the GDR. Socialist rhetoric is absent and – despite the controversies around Western Schlager that plagued its production – the film’s musical geography charts a middle course with songs by artists based in both German states. If it does not appeal explicitly to a common German nation, however, Heinrich’s film nonetheless imagines a form of popular, German musical culture that transcends Cold War polarizations between East and West. Drawing on shared strategies for producing ethnic Others, Meine Frau macht Musik projects a form of post-war modernism that is largely indistinguishable from the revue films that were being produced elsewhere in German-speaking Europe. From this perspective it is perhaps not surprising that despite the film’s success with the audience, its staging of musical entertainment could not form the basis for a socialist renewal of the music film in East Germany.

42 Hake, ‘Colorful Worlds’, p. 72.

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Chapter 7 The Trail Runs Cold: DEFA’s Crime Films

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Chapter 7 The Trail Runs Cold: DEFA’s Crime Films Crime films produced by DEFA depict no shortage of wrongdoings: persons are poisoned, women are pushed from cliffs, heroin is trafficked, and even a dog is done in. But the studio’s principled reliance on presenting positive heroes rendered rare depictions of the kind of debasement generally connected with cinema’s most pathological criminals. DEFA films contain relatively few compulsive or wholly unreasonable wrongdoers who do what they do owing to the demands of their lawless minds. Amongst the most prominent films noirs the image of the maniacal killer who sets a city on edge was a relatively common trope. DEFA films, however, have more affirmative heroes, specifically police officers who approach their work with dedication because they believe in law, order and socialism. In opposition to those officers are two types of criminal: those who can be rehabilitated and those who have fallen irredeemably under the influence of Western capitalism. Neither of those two types resembles Peter Lorre’s Hans Beckert, the best-known sociopath of German expressionist film, who was driven to murder by causes of opaque psychological origin in Fritz Lang’s M (1931). Fiends along the lines of Beckert were of less concern to DEFA because of its structural understanding of human behaviour: economism is less interested in psychopathology, and deviance is less frequently understood as a function of class. The activities of aberrant psychopaths can hardly be turned into a foundation upon which one could base norms. Moreover, providing the entertainment that comes from watching a crazed killer on the loose was less imperative than adopting a position as to whether criminals could ultimately be made useful for the project of socialism, or convincing the domestic audience that the West was a relentless source of danger against which one had to remain vigilant.1 Because East German crime films typically centre on police investigators as positive heroes and seldom lose sight of their constabulary protagonists, DEFA’s madmen are generally less prominent than the long shadow cast by the detectives themselves, who act as stand-ins for the state. Most of their narratives are focalized through policemen, and their presence serves as a barometer of the explicit

1 One exception is Gert Gütschow’s Erwin Retzmann in Helmut Nitzschke’s Leichensache Zernik [Zernik’s Murder Case, 1972]. The exploits of a lustful serial killer in that film serve as the backdrop for its depiction of Berlin’s difficulties policing itself in 1948 as an occupied city in the wake of the Second World War.

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and conscious depiction of the law. Although a number of the films’ traits can be called exclusively East German, the genre also comes encumbered by a set of internationally defined expectations. No generic tradition exists in a national vacuum, and the East German depiction of crime imported its influences from outside sources, both past and concurrent ones, particularly from expressionism and the film noir tradition. But the police are stand-ins for the state, and paying special attention to where and how they appear in DEFA crime films throughout the four decades of East Germany’s existence offers insight into the state’s selfimage, its relationship with its subjects and the specific anxieties – sometimes real, yet more often exaggerated – that attended subversive behaviour in the course of the Cold War. There is crime at the culmination of Wolfgang Staudte’s 1946 Die Mörder sind unter uns [The Murderers Are Among Us] – or at least the potential for crime insofar as the protagonist, Hans Mertens, comes close to doing the wrong thing, taking the law into his own hands and vengefully shooting an unarmed man.2 But apart from the prison bars that can be seen closing around the war criminal at the film’s end, the police as such are hardly on display, and occupied Germany appears to resemble a lawless wild west.3 By this standard Werner Klingler’s Razzia [Raid, 1947] is arguably the first of DEFA’s crime films, in part because it centres mainly on its policemen. At that point DEFA had not yet found its signature bearings. The film was made prior to the first national filmmakers’ conference (Film-AutorenKongress) in June 1947, where the studio’s style and aims became more sharply defined. Like many of those early films, Razzia occupies an ambivalent formal position, exhibiting a range of tendencies and influences. As with Die Mörder sind unter uns, which took its name from the planned but rejected title of Lang’s M, Razzia also has roots in Weimar film. It too exhibits traces of attempts to pick up where German film from before 1933 had left off, and Werner Hochbaum’s Razzia in St. Pauli [Raid in St. Pauli, 1932] can be seen as one potential forerunner.4 That

2 Staudte’s original screenplay, bearing the title Der Mann, den ich töten werde [The Man I Will Kill], had Mertens vengefully murdering the war criminal, but Soviet censors requested he change it to avoid the implication that people should take the law into their own hands. See Malte Ludin, Wolfgang Staudte (Reinbek: Rowohlt, 1996), p. 33. 3 On the wild-west motif, see Robert R. Shandley, Rubble Films. German Cinema in the Shadow of the Third Reich (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2001), especially pp. 25–46. 4 Michael Hanisch also makes the connection with Fritz Lang’s films, and he likewise poses the question of whether DEFA began where Lang left off in the early 1930s. See Hanisch ‘Nachrichten aus einem Land ohne Schurken oder In Diktaturen hat der Krimi nicht viel zu melden’, in apropos: Film 2001. Das Jahrbuch der DEFA-Stiftung, ed. by Ralf Schenk and Erika Richter (Berlin: Das Neue Berlin, 2001), p. 194.

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earlier film was socialist insofar as it begins and ends with images of workers, and, as a story centred on the underclass, it is remarkably sympathetic to their miseries. The Nazis had banned Hochbaum’s film for the interest it takes in its criminals, but it also would not have passed muster with DEFA. Unlike Klingler’s film, it lacks positive heroes. In its depiction of Berlin’s rubble-strewn post-war landscape Razzia’s milieu is close to that of Roberto Rossellini’s Germany Year Zero [Germania anno zero], which was made in 1948. At those points where the war makes its way into Klingler’s film, the nation’s wounds appear still raw, like a nerve. Its subject is the contemporary effort to curb the black market in post-war Berlin, and much of the film’s footage of ruins is documentary. The police follow a trail of illegal wares to the Alibaba nightclub, and in the course of the investigation Friedrich Naumann, the senior police commissioner, is murdered. The film narrative then shifts, becoming the story of Karl Lorenz, Naumann’s protégé, who carries on his mentor’s mission, and Naumann’s martyrdom enables the passing of a torch to a younger generation. In this and other ways Klingler’s film is didactic, particularly where it attempts to convince the viewer through argumentation and by lecturing about the evils of the black market. A sequence in which police officers seated around a table discuss the scourge of illegal trade and how to combat it recalls a similar sequence in M in which the police strategize a plan to hunt down the murderer plaguing their streets. Razzia tends towards the procedural mode, following the police as they track the source of unlawfully procured alcohol. The locale where the capitalists gather, the Alibaba, is similar to other haunts in these films that attract Western greed like flies, particularly the joint where the conspirators hang out in Gerhard Klein’s DEFA film Alarm im Zirkus [Alarm at the Circus, 1954]. The sequences in Razzia that centre on the criminals recall the literal and figurative labyrinths of expressionist film, owing in part to cinematography by Friedl Behn-Grund, who had been active in the Weimar period, but even more to Claus Holm’s diabolical villain, Herr Goll, who cuts an unsettling figure similar to that of Bela Lugosi. Holm’s Caligari-esque comportment is reminiscent of Lugosi’s Dracula in Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein, which was produced in 1948. He haunts the secret passageways of the Alibaba as though they were the halls of his subterranean laboratory. After Commissioner Naumann gets too close to the operation and is murdered, both Lorenz, who is set to marry his daughter, and his son Paul have to learn to do the right thing in the older man’s absence. Naumann, played by Paul Bildt, is the moral anchor of the film, but as an actor, Bildt had continued working in the film industry during the Nazi era, making films with Veit Harlan, amongst others. Naumann’s death in the film can thus be read allegorically as a clearing or as a call for a fresh start. Naumann’s son Paul appears as a returned prisoner of war, and, as was the case with Hans Mertens in

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Fig 7.1 Commissioner Naumann’s contorted hand juts out from beneath discarded building materials in Werner Klingler’s Razzia (1947).

Staudte’s film, he is depicted as a victim rather than a perpetrator. Throughout, the focus falls on unmet needs for tobacco, medicine and other goods, as well as on the chance for the young couple – Paul together with Naumann’s daughter – to rebuild. In this respect Razzia is both a crime film and a rubble film. The moment in which children stumble across Naumann’s body while playing hide-and-seek in the ruins is unusually grim; the commissioner’s contorted hand juts out from beneath discarded building materials, and that image recalls the iconography of M, particularly the film’s best-known poster.5 After his mentor’s death Lorenz examines a family photo, and the message is clear: yet another family member has been sacrificed in the same struggle. The war against fascism now includes the fight against capitalism, the black market and corruption. The viewer is presented with a contrast between the good, positive hero in the figure of Lorenz, and his venal, corrupt colleague Heinz Becker, who had been double-

5 The original poster for M can be found here: http://www.filmportal.de/node/20141/material/ 740327.

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crossing his fellow officers by sharing information with Goll. Razzia is dramatic, yet its arguments about the dangers of the black market are not particularly convincing. Illegal trade was hardly the sole source of scarcity, and Klingler’s film participates in an ongoing practice of disavowing the state’s own responsibility for its shortage of goods. DEFA films such as Razzia hardly cornered the market on didacticism. American films noirs from the period such as Alfred Werker’s He Walked by Night – also released in 1948 – are equally moralizing. That film’s voiceover is clearly aligned with the police perspective, and its introduction evokes the well-known introductions to U.S. television series, specifically procedurals with pedagogical functions from Dragnet (a series that originated in He Walked by Night) to the Law & Order franchise. In Werker’s film, as in a number of other films noirs, the ostensibly objective narration is the source of moral orientation, despite the fact that the hallmark of film noir is the risk of viewers identifying with shadowy, psychologically twisted protagonists. Film noir and expressionism are linked, and many of the founders of film noir were of German or Austrian origin, including Lang, Robert Siodmak and Otto Preminger.6 What distinguishes DEFA crime films from films noirs, however, has less to do with DEFA’s pedagogical ambitions than with noir’s emphasis on compulsive and pathological behaviours, most of which were of little use to a cinematic form that insisted on positive heroes.

The Public is Deputized DEFA crime film found its stride subsequent to the workers’ uprising on 17 June 1953. At that point state surveillance shifted from its absorption with enemies in the West to a fixation on subversive forces at home.7 This fixation on opposition at home affected the standpoint of the films: crime films from these years reflect the GDR’s shifting degree of self-scrutiny. Along these lines the films in question also share a number of common characteristics, including a call for increased border security – the tacit, generally implicit case for the construction of the Berlin Wall; an anxiety about Western espionage insofar as the West is generally depicted, sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly, as the source of all crime; but most import-

6 Preminger was born in Wiznitz, which was then in Austria-Hungary. On the relationship between Die Mörder sind unter uns and film noir, see Barton Byg, ‘DEFA and the Traditions of International Cinema’, in DEFA. East German Cinema 1946–1992, ed. by Seán Allan and John Sandford (New York: Berghahn, 1999), p. 27. 7 See Mike Dennis, The Stasi. Myth and Reality (Harlan, UK: Pearson, 2003), p. 30.

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ant, the implicit and pedagogical didacticism concerning the public’s obligation to combat internal enemies hand-in-hand with the Volkspolizei (people’s police). The emphasis on the merits of collaboration directly applies to films such as Alarm im Zirkus, Sie kannten sich alle [They All Knew Each Other, 1958] and Seilergasse 8 [Seiler Way 8, 1960]. In these films the importance of working with the police mirrors the increase in the number of inoffizielle Mitarbeiter (IMs or unofficial informants of the secret police, the Stasi) during the period, especially during the years 1952 to 1965.8 These three crime films in particular directly and didactically dramatize shifting sensibilities regarding the form that unofficial collaboration should take. New guidelines issued in October 1958 for the work of IMs in the GDR introduced strong rhetoric about their important role, making clear that they were ‘das Hauptmittel’ or the chief means in the struggle against enemies of the state.9 Given the rate at which the IMs were being recruited, it was projected in 1954 that by 1963 every second citizen of the GDR would have acted as an IM.10 Crime films from the period not only valorize collaboration with the police, but they also underscore the urgency and necessity of subjecting one’s closest friends and relatives to suspicion. Those who assist the interests of the law, and in particular the work of the Volkspolizei, are championed as heroes. The architecture of disciplinary power is modified such that self-policing goes well beyond mere cooperation. This distinction – between assisting the police and actually being the police – covers over major differences between the lived experiences of individuals and the aims of the state and its laws. They depict a world in which everyone feels at home participating in the penal process. Regardless of any ideological agendas, it is difficult to communicate adequately the melancholy grandeur of Klein’s Alarm im Zirkus. The film is an anomaly insofar as it is set, for the most part, in the Western sector of Berlin, rather than in the East. As with Razzia, it can be described as a rubble film; it was shot amongst the ruins, on film stock generally used for newsreels, and it relied on performances by non-professional actors.11 Max and Klaus, the two adolescent

8 Ibid., p. 90. 9 The document continues, asserting that their patriotism cannot be prized highly enough, because they ‘serve the interests of peace, progress and the establishment of socialism.’ See Helmut Müller-Enbergs, Inoffizielle Mitarbeiter des Ministeriums für Staatssicherheit. Richtlinien und Durchführungsbestimmungen (Berlin: Ch. Links, 1996), p. 197. 10 Ibid., p. 36. Although the number increased, this projection was not met. 11 See Ralf Schenk, ‘Mitten im Kalten Krieg’, in Das zweite Leben der Filmstadt Babelsberg. DEFASpielfilme 1946–1992, ed. by Ralf Schenk (Berlin: Henschel, 1994), p. 130. Schenk documents the influence Italian neo-realism had on the film (p. 130), which is also pointed out by Barton Byg in ‘DEFA and the Traditions of International Cinema’, p. 32.

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boys at the film’s centre, are – as one might expect, because they live in the Western sector – destitute. They lack access to education, have no prospects, and they are unable to afford the single pair of boxing gloves they desperately want. They are practically street urchins, and Klaus’s mother is on the verge of selling herself to her sleazy landlord as a means of paying the rent. As the film presents it, it is no surprise that they fall in with criminal elements. The protagonists’ criminality is by and large inevitable because in these films the West is criminality. Klaus and Max, however, are offered a glimpse of something better when they attend the Barlay Circus in the Soviet sector of Berlin, where they encounter young people who have prospects, and where animals are treated kindly. As adolescents in the West, their only option is to work for the gangster Klott and his henchman Jimmy, who have a plan to steal horses from the East German circus and bring them into the West through a wide gap in the ruins where the sectors are divided. Klott claims he wants to start his own traveling cowboy show, and he is working with a corrupt American military officer who wants to use the horse theft for propaganda purposes, intending to claim that the horses are being liberated from mistreatment. Max and Klaus’s participation in the plan – their help in clearing a path through the ruins – is unwitting. Klaus, however, eventually gets wise to the scheme, and Klott locks him in a basement beneath his nightclub. Klaus finally escapes and, spurred by his good conscience, he tries to report the crime to the police in the West. There he is rebuffed; Western police are alternately corrupt and indifferent. With the help of a young East German girl he met at the circus, Klaus finally makes his way to the Volkspolizei, who save the day. They arrive on motorbikes – their technology is typically outstanding.12 In a contemporaneous review, Neues Deutschland noted: ‘It speaks to the close connection between the population and the Volkspolizei, and the great confidence they have in them, that the entrance of the police onto the scene is again and again met with applause’.13 More notable, however, is how Klaus collaborates with the police. He and Max play a central role in catching the criminals. Klaus rides to the circus stables in a police car, helpfully advising them along the route, and he and Max are on hand as gunfire breaks out, trying their best to save a foal. The two are helpful Mitarbeiter, and the work of the police is shown to extend well

12 This includes communications technology as well as detailed maps, which are the film’s means of signalling the difficulties involved in policing a divided city and maintaining order when confronted with the porous border that separates the East from its neighbouring milieu of corruption and lawlessness. The maps are regularly seen fixtures in East German crime films, especially those that underscore the need for and importance of the Berlin Wall. 13 Cited in Frank-Burkhard Habel, Das große Lexikon der DEFA-Spielfilme (Berlin: Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf, 2000), p. 22.

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beyond those with a badge or uniform; it extends even to young men of conscience in the West. As the film ends, they are rewarded in a ceremony of the type generally reserved for heroic policemen. Before an audience at the circus itself they are presented with the boxing gloves they have long wanted, ones they could never have obtained while living on the other side of the city. Although the city itself is divided, there is no line that divides East German citizens from their state. Alarm im Zirkus, which has been referred to as a Jugendkrimi (youth crime thriller), is didactic: one learns citizenship, or is interpellated, through such a film.14 In this regard it is no different from similarly targeted and marketed youth films in the West. But the importance of collaboration – the concept of the rightness of the laws, of one’s identity with those laws and the case for why the laws need everyone’s assistance – is underscored with even greater clarity in Richard Groschopp’s Sie kannten sich alle from 1958. According to Seán Allan, it was already clear by 1958 that DEFA’s principles were going to return to the dogmatism of 1952, and he points to SED Minister Alexander Abusch’s contemporaneous denunciation of Italian neo-realism. Because it was geared less towards the concerns of the GDR and more towards exposing the irresolvable antagonisms of capitalist society, the Italian style was deemed inappropriate.15 Groschopp’s film no longer resembles post-war neo-realism, and it takes up a more overtly dogmatic position than Alarm im Zirkus. The film’s title already indicates its major theme: it is important to question the honesty and loyalty of those closest to you, those you think you know. The town at the centre of the film’s story, Isenau, is invented, but viewers are told at the beginning that there are many towns like it – it is an example to which everyone ought to relate.16 Following an accident during a test drive at Isenau’s auto manufacturing plant, an accident that results in one death and one serious injury, it emerges that there has been sabotage. When Klausner, the plant’s senior engineer, is interrogated, he explains his difficulty suspecting anyone with the clichéd sentiment, ‘we all know each other’. But because there is a saboteur amongst their number, Klausner is in for a surprise. A fade to black followed by a fade in at an early point in the film takes us from the room in which the police are conducting their investigation at the plant into

14 The term Jugendkrimi is used in Habel, Das große Lexikon, p. 22. 15 See Seán Allan, ‘DEFA: An Historical Overview’, in Allan and Sandford, eds., DEFA. East German Cinema, p.10. 16 Hanisch notes that the real background here is not hard to recognize: the city is Eisenach, where the Wartburg automobile was manufactured starting in the late 1950s, and the film’s story deals with the development of the Trabant (which was actually produced in Zwickau). See Hanisch, ‘Nachrichten aus einem Land ohne Schurken’, p. 204.

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Klausner’s private residence, where he lives with his daughter Herta. The story thus moves gently from the factory to the family home, where Herta, it turns out, is embroiled in intrigue. The pieces gradually come together: Klausner’s daughter is romantically involved with the nephew of the one-time owner of the auto factory, who, partly out of greed and partly out of bitterness, is the source of the sabotage. He lives like a Westerner, he has promised Herta that the two of them will soon be heading to West Germany, and his initials are, suspiciously, H. J., the German acronym for the Hitler youth organization (Hitlerjugend).17 That H. J. Schott is the source of the sabotage is hardly shocking. Noteworthy, however, is how the crime comes to be solved: although the detectives are amongst the narrative’s major points of focalization, most of the key information comes from those who collaborate with them. In this film detective work is hardly left to the detectives. Important tips come from a well-meaning butcher and from a factory telephone receptionist who eavesdrops on a phone call on the chance that it may prove helpful. Brückner, the factory’s trainee, plays the main role of the paradigmatic amateur officer, one whose investigative mind is so acute that he can even be found reading crime novels.18 He is initially a suspect, because he has been at the plant for a shorter time than others. Early on, however, he takes the lead in playing detective. He steals and develops film from the murdered man’s apartment and he goes around like a junior Volkspolizist, wearing smart, modern goggles and riding a motorbike. When he brings his findings to the police, he is warned not to take matters into his own hands, but this warning is given with strangely good humour. Those familiar with contemporary police procedurals would surely recognize the extent to which Brückner’s actions would have tainted the evidence. Here this is of no concern. Amongst his rewards at the film’s end are that the police return his pocket brainteaser, a puzzle he had misplaced. Despite his age – the actor Horst Drinda was nearly thirty years old when the film appeared – the police treat him as they would a cooperative child. Little in all of this well-intentioned help from ordinary citizens can be termed unusual. In Western police dramas tips always come from witnesses, sometimes even from nosy ones. More unusual, however, is Klausner’s inclination to investigate his own daughter. After Herta slips up on the phone, revealing that she may

17 Ralf Schenk takes note of this as well in ‘Mörder unter uns. Die DEFA und der Kriminalfilm: Eine Spurensuche 1953–1971’, in Die Lust am Genre. Verbrechergeschichten aus Deutschland, ed. by Rainer Rother and Julia Pattis (Berlin: Bertz and Fischer, 2011), pp. 41–52 (p. 43). 18 This impression that he is an amateur officer is confirmed by the history of the screenplay: ‘Originally the part of Brückner was conceived as that of an undercover Stasi agent. Shortly after shooting started, however, the administration introduced a new strategy whereby its employees would openly appear in factories’. See Habel, Das große Lexikon, p. 544.

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be implicated, Klausner searches her room. On the heels of Brückner’s search of the dead man’s residence, it reveals a pattern: private individuals are right to engage in police work. Klausner indeed discovers his daughter’s plan to head west, and, when he confronts her with the evidence, she confesses everything. While both this film and Alarm im Zirkus emphasize active cooperation with the police – cooperation that transforms into collaboration – suspicion, in the later film, is turned inward, towards internal enemies; even those in one’s home may be saboteurs. Alarm im Zirkus had depicted the East as a utopia, albeit one that had to be defended against the West. Crime came from without. In Sie kannten sich alle, however, things have changed: crime now comes from within and requires supplementary policing. As it appears in Hans-Joachim Kunert’s Seilergasse 8 from 1960, the city of Rostock is idyllic and inviting. At the film’s opening, however, we find out that there has been a murder in the residential building in which Albert Schirding, a police captain, resides. The death looks like suicide, but it turns out to have been murder by cyanide. From the film’s initial shot of the building, with a number of persons leaning out their windows, it is clear that the residents are in some measure entangled in one another’s lives and that one cannot necessarily expect privacy. Here one may differ with Ralf Schenk, who argues that Captain Schirding ‘quickly learns that the much vaunted solidarity and the helpful participation in the fate of others is merely a chimera: in reality hardly anyone is interested in their neighbours’ problems, concerns and needs’.19 One can count on the fact that these people are deeply entrenched in each other’s business, and for this reason the city is a safer place. Schirding’s own son Peter, who had been romantically involved with the murdered woman, emerges as a suspect. Over dinner Hauptmann Schirding subjects Peter to questioning, but Frau Schirding, defending her son, angrily castigates him for engaging in an ‘interrogation over dinner’.20 Peter is indignant about having fallen under suspicion and he leaves, precipitating a household crisis. Frau Schirding eventually informs her husband that if he does not immediately re-

19 See Schenk, ‘Mörder unter uns’, p. 46. 20 Despite the complaint that he is engaging in an interrogation and that he is accusing his own family members, the film is careful to dissociate Schirding from fascism. At one point on the trail of clues he meets with an old colleague, and they briefly exchange memories about how they used to rumble with Nazis. The moment is fleeting, but it serves to confirm that Schirding stood on the right side of history. It is a line the film walks very carefully, given the difficult situation associated with family members denouncing one another in the Second World War, none of which could have been very far from viewers’ memories. See Manuel Köppen’s discussion in chap. 2 of the son who denounces his father in the Third Reich in Wolfgang Staudte’s Rotation (1948).

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move himself from the case, then she will also leave. Schirding is thus in a difficult position and finds himself taking a long walk down the corridor to speak with his uniformed superior at the Volkspolizei. There, he explains that the trail leads to Peter, his own son. His superior asks him tough questions as to whether he considers it possible that his son is the murderer and whether he fears the truth. The conversation then takes an odd turn: Schirding is told not to be afraid. He likely does not believe his son is guilty, and for this reason he should continue with the case. At the end of the exchange Schirding asks, ‘what if it really was him?’ (‘wenn er es doch war?’), but Kunert then cuts away, rendering the question rhetorical. The conclusion appears to be that if Schirding does not think his son is guilty, he should proceed with the case – he should continue and clear his son’s name; but if he does think his son is guilty, then he should also proceed with the case. Either way, he is urged to stick with it. The exchange seems, of course, peculiar to contemporary sensibilities: no investigator would be told to stay on a case in which a family member is suspect. Such rules, however, seem not to apply, and following through with a suspicion about a family member is officially encouraged. Frau Schirding eventually changes her mind and she too urges her husband to keep at it. She offers the rationale that pursuing his suspicions will restore trust between father and son, something that no ‘outsider-criminalist’ (‘kein fremder Kriminalist’) can do for them. Seated next to one another in a medium close-up two shot, Captain Schirding and his wife seem to appeal directly to the audience for understanding. She asks him whether he is going to give up the case, imploring him not to, for the boy’s own sake. ‘What will become of the boy?’ she asks. She lays the matter out for him: You can’t give up. That would mean that you think your son is the murderer and that you are trying to delay the case. If he is the murderer, then you are doing the wrong thing, and if he’s not, then you are doing the wrong thing as well. […] The suspicion would remain. You have lost faith in one another, and no outsider-criminalist can give that back to you. You must press on.

The dialogue is curious. She urges her husband – without reservation – to pursue a case against their son, and she uses the same language that his superior had used earlier, informing him that he must press on (‘Du musst weitermachen’). The stylized two shot makes an appeal to the audience, and it also indicates that the two of them are now seeking a way to move forward as a couple and head into the future. By the film’s conclusion the perpetrator has been revealed; the killer was an ambitious but lazy medical student who wanted to move to the West and needed to cover up his own relationship with the victim to do so. He committed the murder

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Fig 7.2: Frau Schirding urges her husband to pursue a case against their son in Hans-Joachim Kunert’s Seilergasse 8 (1960).

and deliberately framed Peter. Once the culprit is caught – owing in part to Peter’s involvement and ingenuity – he reveals that he had believed that putting the policeman’s son under suspicion would have led Schirding to give up the case. He had, of course, underestimated the officer’s willingness to disbelieve his own family. Frau Schirding’s assertion proved correct: pursuing the case brought the two of them closer together, and the final shot of the film depicts the men walking home, the father’s arm extended around the shoulders of his exonerated son. This pleasant walk towards the harbour now substitutes for the Hauptmann’s hard and lonely walk down the corridor, seeking the counsel of his superior officer; the father is rewarded for courageously investigating his child. Much in that attitude is certainly similar to that which can be found in the Western crime film – people around you are capable of anything, including violence and espionage – but what differs here is the emphasis on collaboration rather than mere cooperation; if your values are identical with the state, then there is no reason not to embody its laws. The citizens in these films act as unpaid policemen, each of them working to keep Western influence, corruption and espionage at bay.

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Disappearing Detectives Heinz Thiel’s Schwarzer Samt [Black Velvet, 1963], which premiered in February 1964, begins with a train passenger, Alexander Berg, describing himself to the viewer: ‘I am an employee of the Ministry for State Security, but at the moment I am simply a winter sportsman’. The film deviates from prior films insofar as Berg is both undercover and reluctant; we are told several times that he would rather be out enjoying the snow. His ordinariness is made clear, yet it is also clear that he has a responsibility to the state, one that could only be abdicated at a substantial cost. In Thiel’s film the police have discovered a delivery of fake license plates and other documents, and their courier has next been tasked with having to take a particular photograph at the industrial exposition in Leipzig. Berg, because of his skill as a photographer, is assigned the job of going undercover as the courier. The trail opens up a story of espionage including the sabotage of an especially large industrial crane, which is intended to undermine East Germany’s technological progress and facilitate an ambitious engineer’s flight to the West. The necessity to prevent small crimes before they become bigger ones is reiterated many times in the course of the film, and the implicit argument suggests that the police should be pardoned for their zeal. The policeman is still very much the focus of Schwarzer Samt, but a discernible transformation can be seen in Richard Groschopp’s films from this period, Die Glatzkopfbande [The Baldheaded Gang, 1963] and Entlassen auf Bewährung [Released on Probation, 1965]. Both are crime films, but they are fascinated with their perpetrators. The police are only part of the story in the first of the two films, and they are very much at the margins of the later one. Die Glatzkopfbande is a striking depiction of a youth gang, and both its topic and its style recall controversial films about American delinquency, particularly The Wild One (1954) and Rebel without a Cause (1955).21 Although the film’s toughs are threatening, the major crime committed by this leather-jacketed gang of cyclists is their shoddy work on a construction project. Their sloppiness leads to two deaths, prompting an investigation. The gang spends most of their time and money causing trouble for vacationers on the Baltic seacoast, playing their music too loudly and kicking over sunbathers’ sand castles.22 Eventually the police lieutenant becomes the film’s

21 On this point I am following connections made by Byg in ‘DEFA and the Traditions of International Cinema’, p. 34. 22 Hanisch notes that Die Glatzkopfbande was a success with the public, but that official criticism of the film had to do with the perceived powerlessness of the community against the thugs’ disruptive antics. See Hanisch, ‘Nachrichten aus einem Land ohne Schurken’, p. 212.

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narrative focus. Although Die Glatzkopfbande explores issues of peer pressure and other problems amongst the gang members, viewers are meant to identify with Lieutenant Czernik and his faithful dog, who helps him bring down the criminals. When the lieutenant returns home with his pet after solving the crime and catching up with the worst of the perpetrators, the film’s sunny final moments resemble the most affirmative U.S. television shows from the 1950s. Groschopp’s Entlassen auf Bewährung, which premiered two years later, was to some extent a follow-up to Die Glatzkopfbande.23 It picks up not the story of the cop, but rather that of the criminal. Groschopp’s protagonist Konrad ‘Conny’ Schenk is a former biker who has been convicted in a hit-and-run accident. The film begins with the incident, and with Conny’s anguished decision not to throw himself from a high precipice onto the railroad tracks. He serves a year and a half for his crime, and the film details the many obstacles that interfere with his successful parole, which include dealing with the stigma of having been convicted, his problems reconnecting with his old girlfriend and the temptation to become entangled with Hugo Borke, his jovial but criminally inclined former cellmate. The film resembles film noir in its focus on the psychological tribulations of a criminal, and in some respects it shares terrain with American films about ex-cons’ going straight, such as Irvin Kershner’s The Hoodlum Priest (1961). The focus on the criminals leaves little room for the police, and in this respect Entlassen auf Bewährung is much more about self-policing. It attends to Conny’s decisions, yet this choice on Groschopp’s part also represents a reluctance to depict the state’s agents. Showing them meant running the risk of depicting them in a negative light. Both motives – the avoidance of negative depictions of the police and the desire to emphasize Conny’s internalization of the law – appear to be at work. Where Conny’s changing worldview is concerned, Groschopp’s camera is remarkably subjective. When he emerges from the subway station, out of prison and back onto Berlin’s streets, the camera shows us the world through his eyes. The emphasis on Conny’s orientation is underscored by Groschopp’s propensity for canted angles, mirrors and close-ups, all of which thematize his protagonist’s efforts to straighten things out. In this early sequence at the Alexanderplatz shortly after his release Conny attempts to cross the street against the light, but a policeman’s whistle turns him back. Reintegration is a matter of small steps, and much of his success turns on whether his co-workers in the printing shop will be sympathetic to him. They

23 Groschopp’s two films are linked by Erika Richter in ‘Zwischen Mauerbau und Kahlschlag 1961 bis 1965’, in Schenk, ed., Das zweite Leben der Filmstadt Babelsberg, p. 191. She refers to Entlassen auf Bewährung as a kind of continuation of Die Glatzkopfbande.

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Fig 7.3: Accompanied by a policeman, Conny drives an injured child to the hospital in Richard Groschopp’s Entlassen auf Bewährung (1965).

openly discuss the matter, arguing over whether they are obligated to give him a chance, and although many are closed-minded, the workplace is shown as a site of rational debate. The supervisor seems to have the right vision, explaining that they all bear responsibility for the young man, but his floor manager Helga resists sharing her workshop space with an ex-con. Some money is stolen, and Helga is quick to blame Conny, but others are more generous. His girlfriend Ute continues to stand by him, and Conny becomes the film’s positive hero. He is tormented by his co-workers’ suspicions and by his own past misdeeds, but all is overcome when he is coincidentally recruited to help bring a hurt child to the hospital, in the company of a policeman who is given precious few lines and who ends up suddenly and briefly in the back seat of Conny’s car, as though he were a guardian angel. Cooperating in order to save the child helps him see the light, and the film ends abruptly with a shot of him in the street, a member of the socialist collective, and with the implication that he is now on the road to complete rehabilitation. The final image of the film replays his first moments of freedom, but with a difference: Conny crosses the street, the light turns green, and he walks in unison with everyone else, no longer out of step.

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The police did not vanish wholesale from the DEFA criminal film, and Pension Boulanka [Guesthouse Boulanka, 1964] and Heroin (1967), to take two examples, are procedurals with prominently featured policemen. Yet two later films, Einer muss die Leiche sein [Someone Must Be the Corpse, 1977] and Vernehmung der Zeugen [Interrogating the Witnesses, 1987], can be described as criminal films without the cops. The respective decisions to leave the police out of the frame produce unusual investigative patterns so that these films seem more interested in thematizing their protagonists’ personal unhappiness over and above their willingness to adhere to the law. Iris Gusner’s Einer muss die Leiche sein, based on a novel by the genre writer Gert Prokop, begins with a group of vacationers setting out on a boat trip and picnic, moving from their crowded tourist setting on the beaches of Bulgaria to a secluded coastal spot. Once there, a sudden problem with the boat’s motor ensues, and they find themselves stranded until repairs can be made. To pass the time, they play a party game called ‘murder’ in which everyone is a potential murderer. The game becomes real, and Susanne, a vacationer who had been chosen to act as the corpse, is actually murdered, and the other tourists have to figure out who killed her. They decide to assemble and assess the facts. This Agatha Christie-style premise, in which people are trapped together and have to solve a murder, was similar to that of popular films such as Ten Little Indians (1965) or Murder on the Orient Express (1974), both of which had garnered a great deal of international attention.24 This conceit enables the film to proceed in the absence of the police. The amateur detectives, Dieter and Franz, manage to establish that anyone in their group might have been unhappy or desperate enough to commit the crime and that they all might have had reasons to kill a flirtatious, unmarried woman. Many of the men had felt rebuffed by Susanne, and the vacationing women each tend towards paranoia and jealousy. The scenario is grim, which is regularly underscored by the roar of the wind coursing over the landscape. It finally emerges that Hans, one of the vacationers, had been secretly involved with Susanne prior to the excursion and that she had been threatening to expose their affair, potentially spoiling his career ambitions. He had been on the verge of casting her aside in favour of the boss’s daughter and his interest in angling for a promotion to a position in Calcutta. More important than his romance with Susanne was his aim to advance professionally by relying on connections. The revelation of the impropriety would have cost him dearly. ‘Dancing out of step …’ he remarks during his confession, ‘you’ll never land a foreign post that way’. He laments that nothing would have remained for him but to become an insignificant functionary (‘ein kleiner Beamter’). Even though his story obliquely

24 Ten Little Indians was shown in the GDR in 1973 under the title Geheimnis im blauen Schloß.

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corresponds to the strong yearning amongst a significant number of East Germans to get outside of their walled-in existence, especially after the 1976 expulsion of Wolf Biermann, when so many artists and intellectuals were leaving, it here comes across as a small and sad motivation for murder. During his confession he recalls how Susanne yelled at him that he was being a coward, and her cries echo eerily. Gusner’s film then closes with a pan depicting one-by-one the outward gazes of this group of amateur detectives. It first appears that they are staring at Hans, incriminating him for his crime, his petty plans or both, but the subsequent cut suggests that they are simply staring at the water, watching the waves crash against the rocks, and one might conjecture from their nearly devastated expressions that their secluded getaway stands in for the isolated East and that they are not transfixed by the sea, but rather by the spectre of the Wall itself. Based on a story by Inge Meyer, Gunther Scholz’s Vernehmung der Zeugen (1987) is less a murder case than a social case study. It deals with the difficulties and frictions produced when Maximilian, a young man from Berlin, moves to the small town of Volkersdorf with his mother, Beate, who has earned a long-sought position as a doctor at a clinic there. Maximilian runs into trouble when he tries to integrate with his fellow students at school. The problems lead to murder, and the film is, in part, about the disparities between the city and the country, or urban and rural cultures within the GDR. As a crime film, however, it is remarkably disinterested in following the traditional plot turns of the investigation. In the film’s very first moments the killer is identified: Beate leans over Rainer, the victim, who lies not far from the bloody knife that killed him, and says, ‘my son killed him’. The veracity of her statement never comes into question. Even Maximilian’s motives, which include jealousy and adolescent angst, are clear. Of interest here is only whether the crime could have been avoided and how the adults choose to shoulder their collective responsibility. What distinguishes this late DEFA film, which premiered in March 1987, is less the fact that it is not a whodunit than its formal decision to tell the story through flashbacks and to integrate those flashbacks with testimony from fictional witnesses, each of whom stares directly into the camera. Everyone apart from Rainer, the dead young man, gets a turn to speak. A police officer is amongst the first to direct comments at the viewer, and although the implied interviewer may be a police investigator, no interlocutor’s voice is ever heard. The interrogator appears to be the audience in the abstract, and these characters seem as though their statements are being told to and heard by the whole of the film’s viewership. The Volkersdorf policeman unwittingly indicates his share of the responsibility, insofar as he demonstrates that he is hardly objective, referring to Maximilian as a ‘strange bird’. He seems to be amongst those who judge Maximilian and his mother unfairly for having moved there as outsiders and having disturbed the peace.

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Shortly after this first interview, the medical examiner hovers over the victim’s corpse and says that the case is straightforward. The police officer to whom he is speaking then says that for him the work is just beginning, but his statement is misleading: this is the last we see of the police officers. Although Vernehmung der Zeugen is a crime story, it opts not to depict the police. Amongst the most striking examples of how the film, acting as a disembodied investigator, goes about solving – or rather, explaining – its crime, is the somewhat anguished testimony from the students’ teacher. She is young and evidently engaged in serious self-scrutiny as to whether she could have acted more judiciously and thus averted the tragedy. A close-up shot in which she looks straight into the lens appears nearly documentary, but because this is a scripted drama and because the camera gets so close to its subjects, the conceit echoes New Wave films such as those by Jean-Luc Godard and Alexander Kluge in which actors speak directly into the camera. Here Frau Schulenburg acknowledges her own investments and prejudices, which she describes as ‘unpedagogical’ and, as if in a portrait, surrounded only by the dark chalkboard, she reproaches herself for her failed efforts to maintain control and for the extent to which she used the schoolbook as a shield against disorder. She adds, ‘Authority is a complex matter’. The film deals not only with the gap between East Germany’s urban and small-town cultures, but also with the distance between these teenagers and the adults in their lives as well as with the school system’s responsibility to foster solidarity. Much of what led to the murder can be ascribed to social and class differences, which runs counter to the idealized self-image of the GDR as a classless society of workers and farmers. Although Maximilian gradually proves himself with his classmates, winning a swimming race against Rainer, playing guitar around the campfire and endearing himself to Viola, the most desired young woman in the class, some of his peers indicate in their interviews with the camera that he had comported himself with an air of elitism. Maximilian carries around a 1980s Walkman-style cassette player, which makes it appear that he is immodest about his advantages, and he also gives his pet dog away to Viola in an attempt both to show off to her and to aggravate his mother, who paid 600 marks for it. Maximilian gets into trouble for his remark that the drunks at the rural pub are primitive, when one of those drunks turns out to be Rainer’s father. The remark leads to further fighting and embarrassment. Similarly in the film’s most poignant scene Maximilian declaims for the class Goethe’s poem ‘Prometheus’, while at the high point of his recitation students pass beneath the classroom windows wrangling a noisy pig, which diverts everyone’s attention. Maximilian reproaches his fellow students for their lack of refinement, and after class he is again beaten up. While the murder may be attributable to conflict over Viola and to the gaps separating the students’ cultures from one another, it has still another cause. Tes-

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Fig 7.4: Maximilian’s teacher wonders whether she could have done anything differently in Gunther Scholz’s Vernehmung der Zeugen (1987).

timony from Maximilian’s grandmother, who had cared for him much of the time he was growing up, suggests that her daughter Beate had been too careerist. Beate had been raising Maximilian by herself, but her ambition to become ‘Frau Doktor’ left her son without guidance. Even after the murder and her son’s arrest, she still egoistically laments the condition of her career and the large amount of money she has invested in her new house. Maximilian’s grandmother places the blame on Beate, complaining about her excessive feminine ambition (‘Weiber-Ehrgeiz’), and, although she acknowledges that she herself may have been too fixated on the boy, spoiling him, it is difficult not to see how the lion’s share of the responsibility is laid at Beate’s feet. Her bourgeois desires included a career, a house, a new husband and breakfast on the patio. At the film’s end Beate pays a high price: Maximilian is sent off to jail, and Gunnar, the fiancé she had suddenly introduced into their lives, has a nervous breakdown and is unlikely to return to her. A crime is definitely investigated in this film, but the part played by the police is massively reduced. Vernehmung der Zeugen consciously avoids focalizing its narrative through the official representatives of the state, preferring instead to make its central object ordinary citizens’ experience of life, beyond their contact

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with the police. Again, here one should not make a general rule. Many of DEFA’s late criminal films depict policemen, and Die Beteiligten [The Involved, Horst E. Brandt, 1988] even goes out of its way to thematize a conflict between two officers. The grim end of Vernehmung der Zeugen, during which Rainer is buried and Maximilian is sent to prison, also contrasts sharply with that of Für Mord kein Beweis [No Proof of Murder, Konrad Petzold, 1978], which begins with a woman’s body turning up in a lake. The trail leads to a man who had been a concentration camp doctor in Dachau, living now under an assumed name, who committed a murder to cover up his past. The dogged police investigator in that film, Captain Lohm, is asked by the mystified perpetrator once he has been caught, ‘What made you go to all this trouble?’ Lohm does not answer, but we see him step outside the prison, where a montage of images of citizens enjoying their lives answers the question for us. The implied response: dedicated police officers work in the interest of peace and progress. The police have a role in many of these films, but it may be that some of them slowly fell out from the frame because they hardly stood a chance of getting to the bottom of the real crime, which was the lengths to which the state was willing to go in monitoring and interrogating its citizens. The state’s extraordinary level of surveillance is the dark spot at the centre of many of these films. But crime stories are always thrown into a pre-existing world, and insofar as the laws that are broken and the laws that punish are the instruments of state security, crimes are by definition crimes only in relation to the states that give them shape. In his essay on detective stories Ernst Bloch asserts that a degree of darkness precedes the start of any detective story: ‘its sole theme is the discovery of something that happened ante rem. […] If new murders occur in the course of the detective story, they constitute yet another black mark, connected with and augmenting the darkness before the beginning’.25 This, which Bloch describes as the hidden part of the picture puzzle, is in the case of most DEFA crime films the concern that the West will creep in through the doors and windows, threaten the peace and put an end to prosperity. That apprehension is generally prior to and more anxiety inducing than any crime committed in the course of these films themselves.26

25 Ernst Bloch, ‘A Philosophical View of the Detective Novel’, trans. by Jack Zipes and Frank Mecklenburg, in Literary Essays (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998), pp. 209–27 (p. 219). 26 Bloch writes: ‘The problem of the omitted beginning affects the entire detective genre, gives it its form: the form of a picture puzzle, the hidden part of which predates the picture and only gradually enters into it.’ Ibid., p. 227.

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Chapter 8 A Late Genre Fade: Utopianism and its Twilight in DEFA’s Science Fiction, Literary and Western Films Late Genre Demythification, Convergence and Intensification Some six months after the premiere of the 1976 DEFA science fiction film Im Staub der Sterne [In the Dust of the Stars, Gottfried Kolditz], Dr. Joachim Hellwig, the director of the ‘defa-futurum’ working group, reported on its post-release fate. First he registered noticeable surprise and satisfaction at the success and resonance the film had found amongst East German audiences, particularly after a four-year hiatus in DEFA’s sci-fi genre productions. For example, he recounted: ‘In over 30 discussions with very different social groups – with apprentices, with engineers, with medical personnel – we found that more viewers than we expected are interested in the utopian films’, and that these interested parties declared they want something ‘not too realistic, not too everyday’.1 This insight into the desires of enthusiastic audiences points to one of the recurring attractions of genre films in general: the escapism of generic formulas is geared to whisk audiences away from everyday worries, either in space or time or by the sheer repetitions of the genre itself. Beyond confirming this familiar appeal of genre, Dr. Hellwig also emphasized that part of the film’s surprising popularity was how it varied science fiction patterns because it involved not a ‘pseudo-world as flight from the present’ but rather ‘events on Earth with its contemporary problems’, especially those relating to decolonization.2 The apparent contradiction between welcome escapism and contemporary topicality – within a single assessment of the film – underscores the tensions with which these DEFA genre films regularly had to contend. Notwithstanding such contradictions and challenges for East German genre cinema, Norbert Wehrstedt has traced its long tradition from the earliest days of

1 Dr. Joachim Hellwig, ‘Einige Bemerkungen zu dem Film “Im Staub der Sterne”’, BArch, DR 117/26660. 2 Ibid.

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DEFA.3 Although these films sometimes met with official and officious disapproval, genre filmmaking remained a distinct current in East Germany, even if a marginal or minor one, throughout the 1940s and 1950s.4 Rosemarie Stott has confirmed this abiding presence via an alternative, but no less important route – that of film imports to East Germany. If the filmic public sphere is comprised of more than just domestic productions, then she confirms that East German audiences were exposed for decades to genre cinema from around the world (not only from the West, but also, for instance, to crime thrillers from Japan).5 Of course the presence of such features, often with higher production values than the GDR domestic releases, would have only added pressure to produce films domestically in popular genres. Indeed by the mid 1960s and into the 1970s popular genres seemed to have come into their own for DEFA with the emergence of science fiction, Westerns and adaptations of literary classics to a hitherto unknown degree. The Hellwig report reminds us that GDR genre films had to negotiate the Scylla of state-endorsed socialist realism and the Charybdis of audience popularity. Although these two poles were not entirely exclusive, the films did tend to exist in a crucible between socialist realism and the self-referential repetitions of genre. Film critics have usually focused on the earlier genre films in which this balancing act is easiest to track. Here DEFA varied not only the respective genres – as genre films always do, repeating while innovating upon conventions – but altered also the notion of genre itself, insisting on realism and political engagement usually anathema to such audience-indulging products. Wehrstedt tracks the earlier years (1950s and 1960s), especially of crime and political thrillers that tend to lend themselves to self-conscious representations of contemporary society, thus explaining their early emergence in DEFA’s history.6 DEFA’s Westerns, branded as Indianerfilme, began production in the mid 1960s and, as Gerd Gemünden recounts, sought to correct the quasi-history conveyed by the global (especially West German) genre.7 Soldovieri explains how DEFA’s first science fiction film, Der schweigende Stern [The Silent Star, Kurt Maetzig, 1960] was repeatedly

3 Norbert Wehrstedt, ‘Das Genre-Kino der DEFA’, in Der Geteilte Himmel. Höhepunkte des DEFA-Kinos 1946–1992, ed. by Fritz Raimund, 2 vols (Vienna: Filmarchiv Austria, 2001), II, pp. 91–106. 4 Also crucial in this generic aspect was the large number of children’s films, which accounted for as many as one in four DEFA productions. 5 Rosemary Stott, Crossing the Wall. The Western Feature Film Import in East Germany (New York: Lang, 2012), pp. 149–50. 6 Wehrstedt, ‘Das Genre-Kino der DEFA’. 7 Gerd Gemünden, ‘Between Karl May and Karl Marx. The DEFA Indianerfilme, 1965–1983’, New German Critique, 82 (Winter 2001), 25–38.

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rethought and rewritten to make its contemporary message politically more topical.8 In short, as DEFA took up each new genre, it conspicuously moved generic antecedents, be they from the popular cinema of Nazi Germany, West Germany or the United States, in the direction of the socialist realism and politics of the GDR. This chapter, however, examines a later moment in the history of DEFA genre productions, not their emergence and initial negotiation with the official socialist realist aesthetic, but rather the genre films of the mid 1970s and early 1980s. Three case studies of a late feature in each of three prominent genres – science fiction, literary adaptation and Western – reveal that all of these films resolve their tensions differently than the earlier genre films. In a context of declining audience numbers and ossifying politics that characterized the GDR after the mid 1970s, the DEFA genre films depart ever more distinctly from their engagement with realism. As late genre films often do, they enter a genre imaginarium where the parameters and variations on the genre itself occupy centre stage, and the images recede farther and farther from GDR realism and its political commitments. These departures and detachments from realist overtones and subtexts unfold in the tension between the individual protagonist and the collective’s utopianism, a tension inscribed in the underlying syntax of DEFA genres in general. To speak of genre films is to speak of a film localizing – in specific space and time – parameters forged elsewhere and at a different moment. A key aspect of these parameters is the treatment of characters, particularly given the charactercentred cosmos of mainstream narrative cinema. The localization of a global genre makes the type of protagonist a key variable, one that allows the local context to negotiate its generic influences. For example, in the above-mentioned report on Im Staub der Sterne Hellwig foregrounds the audience’s demand for a strong hero at the centre of these sci-fi narratives, for someone ‘not at all average’ – thus at some narrative remove from DEFA’s usual everyman/woman heroes.9 Generic formulas often foreground sympathetic protagonists asserting themselves effectively over their cinematic context. This narrative approach lends itself well to genre cinema in a variety of ways. In terms of genre’s fantasy aspects it offers the popular fantasy of an empowered, agentized subjectivity; for genre’s narrative clarity it offers viewers the consistent internal focalization of protagonist;10 and for genre’s easy

8 Stefan Soldovieri, ‘Socialists in Outer Space: East German Film’s Venusian Adventure’, Film History, 10.3 (1998), 382–98. 9 ‘The viewers expected figures of identification, real “heroes”, not an average team, which was an important point in our conception’, Dr. Joachim Hellwig, ‘Einige Bemerkungen zu dem Film “Im Staub der Sterne”’, BArch, DR 117/26660. 10 On focalization with character, see Peter Verstraten, Film Narratology, trans. by Stefan van der Lecq (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009), pp. 41–43, 74–75.

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marketability it foregrounds a star, crucial to most popular films, easily slotted and sold into the position of this likeable protagonist. Although not all genre films work this way – horror is a notable exception – it is safe to say that it has become part of the basic strategy for the majority of them, such that this kind of agentized, likeable protagonist is a core aspect of the classical Hollywood system in general. In other contexts I have detailed how art cinema, usually contrasted to genre cinema, can nonetheless effectively integrate genre mechanisms in ways too often neglected, particularly by varying and/or complicating the above type of protagonist.11 Such an approach leaves the basic generic semantics in place but varies the narrative syntax enough to compel some reflection on the nature of the genre itself. John G. Cawelti regards this as part of a ‘demythologization’ of a genre, and I would emphasize that it is often realized by varying the strong, transparently likeable protagonist central to so much genre cinema.12 Most of the DEFA genre films, however, do not partake of the dismantling demythologization that Cawelti famously foregrounds. Instead DEFA’s earlier development of genre in the 1960s and 1970s operates in a different mode of deliberate genre interpretation, convergence and intensification, a mode I have explored elsewhere.13 If a demythologizing genre film (say, Werner Herzog’s anti-Heimat film Herz aus Glas [Heart of Glass, 1976]) tends to subvert the genre – to overturn its basic syntax – films that operate with convergence focus instead on points of contact with the genre. They then explore and intensify these points, while leaving the larger generic semantics and much of the syntax in place. This elevation and intensification signal an interpretation of the preceding genre while also moving the later film in a desired new direction. The earlier DEFA genre films of the 1960s and 1970s seem to function in this mode of generic interpretation, convergence and intensification: they leave the genre’s semantics mostly intact, but then find a point of syntactical convergence to elaborate and intensify between the global genre and their own social-realist aesthetic and politics. In many ways, for instance, the Western is left intact in the Indianerfilme. Certainly the semantics are the same, as is the syntax of a strong, likeable protagonist exerting himself (repeatedly male) over landscape, nature, violence and so on. But in some ways the logic is obviously challenged, or more precisely, points of convergence are found and intensified to unfold the genre in a

11 See Jaimey Fisher, Christian Petzold (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2013), pp. 11–20. 12 See John G. Cawelti, ‘Chinatown and Generic Transformation in Recent American Film’, in Film Genre Reader III, ed. by Barry Keith Grant (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1979; 2003), pp. 243–61. 13 See Jaimey Fisher, ‘Demythologization and Convergence: Herzog’s Late Genre Pictures and the Rogue-Cop Film in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans’, in A Companion to Werner Herzog, ed. by Brad Prager (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), pp. 208–30.

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different direction that creates a subgenre. Here the writers and directors elaborate on and foreground the long-running Western motifs like the ‘noble savage’ as well as more minor themes like a fateful friendship between Native American and ‘white man’. Such points of convergence and intensification complicate the generic syntax of race and ethnicity as well as, I would suggest, the relation between individual and collective. Although there have been intermittent investigations of particular genres in DEFA cinema, few scholars, especially Anglo-American scholars, have examined the phenomenon of the manipulation of popular genre more generally. An examination of these three popular genres of science fiction, literary adaptations and Westerns demonstrates an extension of the above-mentioned early genre mechanisms but also some revealing transformations. One of the key syntactical variations of DEFA genre relates to the protagonist and his (in each case his) relation to the social context and ‘collective him’. In the earlier works of the 1960s and 1970s genre wave the films uncovered points of generic convergence to foreground the collective and downgrade the protagonist’s typically extraordinary individualism. These late genre films, however, move in a different direction: they unfold the individual against an increasingly diminished collective. While all the films still thematize a collective of some sort – not least to meet official approval – they also refigure the syntax around their protagonists, which leads to a late-genre recasting of their respective genres as more individualistic and in many ways more in line with genre films around the world.

Im Staub der Sterne or the Death of Science Fiction Utopianism To comprehend this abiding tension between the individual and the collective in DEFA’s late genre films, one could start with East Germany’s particular version of science fiction cinema. Although known throughout the West as science fiction (and Western science fiction was certainly influential for the East), DEFA avoided the phrase ‘science fiction’ in favour of the vaguer but revealing ‘utopian film’ (as in the Hellwig report). This deliberate renaming underscores both the ideological disquiet and political ambition that science fiction aroused in the East. On the one hand ‘science fiction’ seemed problematically far removed from the socialist realism that the regime favoured;14 on the other hand such a renaming imputed to the

14 In its worst moments science fiction even resembled that most intolerable of Western genres for the East, the horror film.

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genre a utopian spirit, one that would recast it in unalloyed political idealism and collectivity. Hence, the earlier utopian films celebrated triumphs of a deliberately international crew, rather like an Eastern-led, escape-velocity United Nations that promised an internationalist future for deep space and its human inhabitants. In the earlier GDR science fiction films such as Der schweigende Stern and Eolomea (Hermann Zschoche, 1972), the utopian intent is clear. As Stefan Soldovieri has argued, Der schweigende Stern offers a deliberately diverse crew to convey a political message palatable to authorities, all the more important in this breakthrough film of the genre. The various iterations of the script that he tracks demonstrate the concerns and care taken with the genre’s political implications and its considerable divergence from realism. Based on a Stanisław Lem story, it concludes with a clearly collectivist, internationalist political message about the persisting dangers of nuclear arms far into the future. Looking quite different at least initially, Eolomea flirts with the kind of individualism and private happiness more tolerated at its early 1970s moment, the time when Erich Honecker had famously declared there were to be no taboo subjects. In its ex-machina ending, however, protagonist Daniel abruptly commits himself to a collectively utopian project that concludes the film. These kinds of approaches to the genre – recasting the global genre locally in an explicitly collectivist direction – led Michael Hanisch to look back at the genre from the East in general terms: The basic pattern in the West, which is still in evidence today: the world of the future is threatened or has already been lost; a brave individual, however, saves everything at the last minute, transporting the mode of the Westerner into the future. In the East, by contrast, the world of the future looks mostly like a peaceful paradise. Only a few bad guys threaten peace but they are vanquished by the united forces of the peaceful nations.15

While this generalization might apply to some of the earlier works like Der schweigende Stern and Eolomea, its fundamental variation, even fundamental inversion, in Im Staub der Sterne demonstrates how the form comes to deviate by the mid and late 1970s. This divergence from the earlier utopian genre indicates why the film has sustained much less critical attention than Der schweigende Stern or Eolomea: its ending is confusing and surprisingly downbeat, a symptom of a series of rewrites that reflect the on-going tension between protagonist and collective in these late genre films. Im Staub der Sterne follows a mission from the planet of Cynro, dispatched to a distant planet Tem 4 from which they had received SOS signals. The film opens in medias res, however, with a dramatic scene of the Cynro ship in dis-

15 Hanisch, ‘Ein ungeliebtes Genre’, p. 13, quoted in Stott, Crossing the Wall, pp. 173–74.

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tress and requesting permission to make an emergency landing on Tem 4. It becomes quickly apparent that the authorities on Tem 4 are not welcoming the Cynro mission, although they also want to avoid appearing overtly hostile. Despite Temian security forces’ attempt to crash the Cynro ship, that ship’s female commander, Akala, guides it to a safe landing. Fearful that open hostility will attract more attention from Cynro, the Temians welcome the Cynro mission with feigned hospitality, including an eye-fetchingly opulent party. The one Cynro crew member left back in the ship, Suko, hears a transmission and begins to suspect some kind of mental manipulation of his comrades when they return repeating identical things about the ‘strange but amusing’ Temians. His suspicions are subsequently confirmed when Suko happens, alone, to discover underground mines where the Temians have enslaved the planet’s local inhabitants, the Tui. The Temians try to keep their Cynro visitors from learning more, primarily by throwing more strange and amusing parties. Ultimately, Suko convinces Akala and her crew that they have to decide whether to return home to Cynro or stay and fight for the enslaved Tui. In his essay on the aborted launch of science fiction in German cinema, Lutz Koepnick cites two absences that undercut the effort to establish the genre in Germany16: first, the relative absence of a long history of genre productions that could be invoked, and second, the lack of generic hybridization crucial to a genre’s progress. In its late genre mechanisms, however, Im Staub der Sterne does demonstrate how both of these were present in German cinema, if in somewhat subdued forms. The second, hybridizing point first, not least because hybridization is symptomatic of late genre works17: from the early sequence after the emergency landing, the narrative invokes that most successful of DEFA genres, the Western, with lingering shots of the wide-open, desert landscapes of Tem 4. It is worth noting that right around the same time Star Wars (1977) similarly hybridized these same genres by combining deep-space strangeness with the cinematically familiar landscapes of the Western. In Im Staub der Sterne the hybridization goes further as viewers see traversing this landscape the Tui woman ‘Chta’, whose iconography (long dark hair, tan coloured dress, Native American-like patterning on that dress) as well as acting (halting and mannered speech, suggesting a foreign language) further cites the Western. Chta’s narrative positioning also invites this association: as viewers learn later, she and her Tui people have been enslaved by the more Western European looking and sounding invaders, the Temians.

16 Lutz Koepnick, ‘The Limits of Futurity: German Science Fiction Film in the Course of Time’, in Generic Histories of German Cinema. Genre and Its Deviations, ed. by Jaimey Fisher (Rochester: Camden House, 2013), pp. 71–90. 17 See Janet Staiger, ‘Hybrid or Inbred. The Purity Hypothesis and Hollywood Genre History’, in Grant, ed., Film Genre Reader III, pp. 185–98.

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Fig 8.1: As in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, a trap door leads to an entirely different world: Im Staub der Sterne (1976).

To Koepnick’s second point about a lack of generic tradition on which to draw, Im Staub der Sterne also, unlike most DEFA Westerns or utopian films, deliberately invokes a specific German forebear: the world’s first science fiction blockbuster, Metropolis (1927). The invocation of this Weimar classic was important for a number of different film constituencies: it was mentioned in various treatments and supporting declarations (Stellungnahmen) as well as celebrated by critics at the time. The references to Lang’s classic likely reflect a way to avoid citing the politically problematic Western sci-fi genre while also adding credibility to the tradition of genre cinema within Germany. It is also likely a late genre corrective in part to Eolomea’s explicit citation of 2001 and Solaris18 – here, the late genre film varies the earlier as one might expect, although it looks inside Germany, to German film history, for a model to lend it credibility. For example, Suko, much like Freder, descends into the literal and social depths of the planet, through a very Langian sort of inexplicable trap door (here a conveniently located, human-sized chimney interrupting the expansive Western landscape). As in many Lang films, this trap door opens up into a second, secret world below the surface, which also provides the most important narrative development in

18 For the influence of those two influential science-fiction works, see Sonja Fritzsche, ‘A Natural and Artificial Homeland. East German Film Responds to Kubrick and Tarkovsky’, Film & History, 40.2 (2010), 80–101.

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the film. Suko finds himself descending an enormous staircase whose breathtaking scale recalls the awesome potential but also disquieting uncanny of the future – a thin line Metropolis walks throughout. When he actually reaches the end of the winding staircase, Suko discovers, much as in Metropolis, an innumerable mass toiling away in inhumane conditions. The expansive wide shots of the labouring, slave-like masses displace the earlier, empty landscapes of the Western: the film loops back to the science fiction tradition to engage the social. Also echoing Metropolis is the way in which Suko is abruptly adopted by these enslaved masses, much as Freder is by the underworld workers. Apparently not amazed at a non-Temian wearing a space suit, the workers abruptly hide Suko from the mine’s security forces. This affords Suko, as with Freder, more time to take in their miserable conditions and to learn some of their history, a history that reveals the seamy underside of the surface harmony that the Temians are careful to project. Although she mentions the influence of Metropolis, Rosemarie Stott does not take up the unexpected late generic consequences of this citation: Im Staub der Sterne is remarkable because it uses its forebear to create a much more dystopian future than that offered in the earlier DEFA utopian films. In this pessimistic vein the influence of Metropolis reveals itself in the later film’s general approach to science fiction aesthetics: here the future is eerily, depressingly reminiscent of the past, of the past’s long history of domination and misery for the masses. Like Metropolis, and at some distance from DEFA’s early utopian films, the production design deliberately mixes the brave new world of the future (space ship, space suits and nifty land buggies) with a past that resembles the history of slavery. Indeed, this hybrid sci-fi aesthetic from Metropolis (the more things change technologically, the more they stay depressingly the same politically) was enormously influential for global science fiction, for example, in Alien (1979), Blade Runner (1982), Strange Days (1995) and Promotheus (2012). Similarly disquieting in Im Staub der Sterne – and against the early utopian inclination and Hanisch’s aforementioned generalization about Eastern Europe science fiction – the Temian aliens are openly hostile to the Cynro crew and revisit the most graphic chapters of violent human history. This is hardly a future, as the utopian film would usually have it, devoid of violence: here the aliens are from first frames to last hardly welcoming and even engage in torture and other graphic violence. This invocation of Metropolis and of its dystopian perspective on the future helps explain some of the more curious characterizations and scenes in the film, including the Temians’ leader and the decadent parties he stages for his planetary visitors from Cynro. Doubtlessly there is an element of genre film titillation in these scenes, in which sparsely clad dancers entertain the Cynro crew. From today’s perspective this mixture of overt sexuality and past decadence –

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Fig 8.2: A Metropolis-like montage of extreme close-ups on eyes introduces a similarly decadent party in Im Staub der Sterne (1976).

snakes figure centrally in the dances, also foreshadowing Blade Runner – might resemble the television series Star Trek, but the model and its message also find their precursor in Metropolis’s Yoshiwara club, where young men are distracted from the larger social realities of their world. Another key Langian figure, the ‘Chef’ is a Mephisto-like villain, a diabolical metteur-en-scène who arranges a spectacle to dupe the unsuspecting. Here, a deep-space villain who clearly loves being bad is played by the Brechtian actor Ekkehard Schall – tellingly cast and indulged, given that the earlier utopian films downplay the dangers of aliens. In terms of genre films drawing on existing narratives and frameworks, the casting of Schall, as documents at the time note, evoked his famous title role as Ui in Brecht’s Der aufhaltsame Aufstieg des Arturo Ui [The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui], which brought him fame around the world.19 Moreover, in Im Staub der Sterne, as in Metropolis, visuality itself figures centrally in the metteur-en-scène’s manipulations: the first party scene even intercuts a Metropolis-like series of extreme close-ups on eyes at the same time Suko hears audio transmissions and discovers the truth about the Temians’ intentions. Like the intertext, the eye-candy of the genre is served up but also critiqued, folded into an anxiety about entertainment distracting from unpleasant social realities.

19 Dr. Joachim Hellwig, Einige Bemerkungen zu dem Film ‘Im Staub der Sterne’, BArch, DR 117/26660.

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In these various ways Im Staub der Sterne hardly fits the model of the utopian film; it seems to be a late genre departure, even a demythologization of the earlier optimism about a future in which political progress and nonviolent alien interaction rule. Concluding with a Metropolis-echoing catastrophic flood, the closure underscores these generic variations of the earlier DEFA utopian films. If Der schweigende Stern ends with a triumphant internationalist message and Eolomea subsumes the individualist protagonist to the collective, Im Staub der Sterne culminates in a considerably more subdued manner: with Suko killed by the Temians – so much for friendly aliens – Akala has to decide whether to stay and help the Tui. Perhaps most revealing in this respect is her choice, which – unlike Daniel’s in Eolomea – does not sublate the individual in the collective. Her decision to stay actually dismantles the collective of her crew, as they inform her that they plan to return to Cynro and abandon, at least for the time being, the Tui to the violent Temians. Although she stays to join the Tui resistance, it is hardly a utopian ending, particularly because the last shot of Akala frames her alone, looking small in the massive landscape with a few of enslaved aliens she hardly knows. A concluding montage offers a series of barren landscapes, devoid of people (let alone a progressive collective).

The Erbefilm Trend and Egon Günther’s Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (1976) Another notable generic development of the 1970s was the trend of Erbefilme, or adaptations of literary classics by authors like Goethe or Thomas Mann as well as biopics of historical personages like Beethoven or Goya.20 The films extend the GDR’s long-term, though sometimes ambivalent, engagement with cultural heritage: from the early post-war period on both cultural and political authorities in the East vied with the West to exploit Germany’s humanistic cultural traditions, for example, in the ceremonies and celebrations around Thomas Mann’s visit for the 200th anniversary of Goethe’s birth in 1949. But DEFA’s production trend of Erbefilme also represents a particular historical moment in DEFA’s engagement with genre film in general. Although adaptation has been a mainstay of German cinema since the 1910s, between 1971 and 1980, there were at least eight such Erbefilme, more than any other decade of the GDR, underscoring the 1960s and 1970s as crucial for the burgeoning of DEFA popular genres. Here again the transnational

20 See Seán Allan on these biopics in chap. 4.

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character of genre is clear: similar to other DEFA genres in this period, the parallel trend of literary adaptation in the West was highly relevant. In her work on these Erbefilme Daniela Berghahn argues that on the surface at least the films manifest the official Marxist-Leninist analysis of these texts and figures. In fact the GDR’s endorsement of cultural legacy handed filmmakers an ideologically conformist archive of narratives from which to draw their plots. But examined more carefully, Berghahn argues, the films also demonstrate how cultural heritage could ‘camouflage’ critiques of these official interpretations and the regime more generally; it could be used to cloak dissonant and even dissident positions on the official ideological line (she quotes Harry Blunk to this effect).21 Berghahn’s bifurcated argument about these adaptations is convincing, but it leads her to leave aside relevant generic aspects that are symptomatic of DEFA’s genre films in this late period. While not aiming to detract from her analysis, I will argue that the approach to adaptation in Die Leiden des jungen Werthers fit the larger pattern in this period in which genre negotiated the abiding tension between individual and collective increasingly in favour of the former. In this context it is important to keep in mind the GDR’s general adoration of Goethe (as in the 1949 bicentennial mentioned above) as well as the 1970s reappraisal of German Romanticism. Poised between these two phenomena, the arc of the Erbefilme followed a correspondingly new tack on traditional culture: in the 1940s through the 1960s, the GDR’s engagement with cultural heritage tended to emphasize its status as heir to the humanistic ideals of Weimar Classicism (of Schiller and the more mature Goethe, for example, in Gustav von Wangenheim’s Und wieder 48! [And 48 Again, 1948]). Yet not coincidentally the heightened subjectivity of the early 1970s I already mentioned was accompanied by a renewed appreciation for Romanticism. The decision to film Goethe’s epistolary novel corresponded to this new direction. Just as was the case with Ulrich Plenzdorf’s Die neuen Leiden des jungen W. [The New Sorrows of Young W., 1976], it aimed to invoke the singularly adored figure in German literature, but in a deliberately dissonant key, one of self-searching, even indulgent interiority more aligned with Romanticism than Classicism. This coincidence with the reappraisal of Romanticism manifests itself in the late genre choice of both Die Leiden des jungen Werthers and the 1984 Hölderlin biopic Hälfte des Lebens [Half of Life, Hermann Zschoche] – they both seem a late genre lurch to interiority and individualism.

21 Daniela Berghahn, ‘The Re-evaluation of Goethe and the Classical Tradition in the Films of Egon Günther and Siegfried Kühn’, in DEFA. East German Cinema, 1946–1992, ed. by Seán Allan and John Sandford (New York: Berghahn, 1999), pp. 225–26.

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Even before the introduction of the eponymous protagonist Werther, a brief prologue and framing device poses questions concerning the depiction to come. One question – why did Werther commit suicide? – elicits a Marxist-Leninist explanation: was it not the ‘entire situation’, thus pointing to the social conditions that would have been favoured in official interpretation? Certainly Egon Günther’s Die Leiden des jungen Werthers still had to toe the Marxist-Leninist line in many ways. Berghahn, for instance, demonstrates how the film affirms the official interpretation, particularly in underlining the social conditions as a key cause of Werther’s woes, despite the camouflaged critiques of GDR functionaries. Berghahn emphasizes the deliberate downgrading of histrionic emotionality both in Werther’s behaviour and in the film’s use of ‘Brechtian’ devices, like Lotte’s Berlin-inflected speech.22 Such devices divert attention from Werther’s individualist emotionality and towards the social conditions, conforming to official expectations. As in Im Staub der Sterne and Der Scout [The Scout, Konrad Petzold, 1983], the late genre moment of the Erbefilme actually foregrounds emotional aspects centred on the individual at increasing odds with his context and the affective fallout therein. Despite the putative emphasis on social conditions, Günther’s film explores individuality and the sentimentality associated with it, particularly Werther’s general sadness and melancholy. The documents proposing the film – some of which do, indeed, highlight the political framework Berghahn foregrounds – nonetheless insist on a balance between the love story and the social analysis. DEFA’s general director, for example, confirms: ‘Werther collapses because of his unhappy love and because of “the whole situation”, as Wilhelm puts it’.23 This balancing of the two emerges after earlier preproduction documents that were trying to win initial approval for moving ahead, including those by the writer Helga Schütz, which tended to highlight the social over the love story: At a time when the German bourgeoisie seeks its salvation in league with social democracy exclusively in the Restoration and in the immobility of conditions and emotions, it is no wonder that authors in 1975 become interested in the story of Werther. Young Werther does demand change apparently only in things of the heart, in love, ethical views, law … The longing for revolution resonates already nine years before the French Revolution.24

22 For example: ‘It is therefore only logical that the film consistently deflects from the emotional intensity and subjectivity of Goethe’s epistolary novel’; and ‘Werther’s sorrows are not primarily of a romantic origin, since neither Lotte nor Werther display[s] any significant emotional depth or passion’, ibid., pp. 231–32. 23 BArch, DR117/26846, dated 5 May 1976. 24 Helga Schütz, ‘Stellungnahme zum Drehbuch “Die Leiden des jungen Werthers”’, dated 4 September 1975, BArch, DR117/30782.

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Fig 8.3: The adaptation opens in the Swiss Alps with a landscape anticipating Werther’s interiority and individuality in Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (1976).

Given that Schütz is emphasizing her contemporary moment of 1975 – she underscores a shared dissatisfaction in waiting for revolution – the later, 1976 assessment, elaborating on the completed production, foregrounds the film’s emotionality along with its social message. The distance from a Brechtian production drained of emotionality – and proximity to a heightened, soon-to-be melancholic individuality – is confirmed by the film’s remarkable introduction of Werther. In one of the visually most stunning sequences of the entire work, Werther crosses the soaring Gotthard pass in Switzerland in a cinematic spectacle hardly becoming Brechtian devices. Shot on location, the film’s first colour images and first images of Werther place him against a breathtakingly expansive and frozen mountain-scape. Although there is some precedent for linking Die Leiden des jungen Werthers to Goethe’s Briefe aus der Schweiz [Letters from Switzerland], this opening is still surprising for most of those (including critics at the time) who knew the epistolary novel.25 Werther is carried by a porter up the snowy mountain with cloud-shrouded peaks encircling them, an emphatically Romantic opening to which he responds with due delight and even shouts of astonishment – the peaks of positive emotionality that will be contrasted to his melancholic state later. Such a surprising and dramatic opening foregrounds the subjective experience of travel, particularly to a place not access-

25 Berghahn, ‘Re-evaluation of Goethe’, p. 244, n25.

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ible to most of the GDR citizens seeing the film: it materializes a more individualistic (vs. collective) escape into mountain solitude, a common theme of the sublime-exploiting Bergfilme of the 1920s and 1930s or of Werner Herzog’s contemporaneous Aguirre (1972) and Fitzcarraldo (1982). This individualistic experience is emphasized not only in the lovely location but also in the staging: a stranger on another porter approaches Werther and tries to greet him in a rapid series of different languages, but he pretends not to hear him, even when the would-be interlocutor switches to German. This interaction demonstrates Werther’s mountain-side escape into himself, into his own sentimentality at the alpine sublime – one hardly occasioned merely by the social conditions, from which this remarkable introduction is far removed. His proclivities to individualistic isolation and extreme emotionality are established early and definitively, marking those as the focus of the film. Another example of how the film recasts the social critique it allegedly foregrounds comes in the court sequences, crucial ones for the approved social understanding of the novel, as Berghahn confirms.26 When Werther can no longer suffer Lotte’s impending marriage to Albert, he flees to a position in the court of a nobleman. There, of course, he is still unhappy, alienated by aristocratic social constraints, particularly when he learns that many nobles were offended by his mere presence at one of their soirees. But in a clear concession to the generic over the social staging of the novel, Werther abruptly has a love affair with a countess. In the novel this friendship with a ‘Fräulein von B.’ plays a minor and less developed role, but in the film it yields a scene in which a naked countess in a candlelit bedroom feels neglected after their apparent lovemaking – a clear updating and concession to contemporary audiences. In the shooting script the scene is very short and does not mention its explicitness, but it sticks out in the finished film for being the sexually most explicit and contemporary, attributes that had become something of a calling card for Günther in films like Der Dritte [Her Third, 1972]. The naked countess is understandably unhappy with Werther’s melancholic fixation on Lotte, and it is hard to regard this kind of contemporary romantic triangle as fortifying the social themes of the novel. His melancholy fixation on a recently lost love while sleeping with another woman suggests a triangle that could have graced a contemporary romance. Like Im Staub der Sterne, the political and generic cohabitate in the actual production, with the latter more prominent in the late iterations of these genres. The ending of Die Leiden des jungen Werthers shows how the film balanced the individualism I have identified in these late films with the camouflaged politi-

26 Ibid., pp. 225–26.

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cal critique that Berghahn emphasizes. The very last scene of the film, as Berghahn suggests, foregrounds Albert’s fussiness. Although Werther has just shot himself, Albert, apparently immediately afterwards, is back at his fastidious work; his obliviousness to the suicide and pettiness in his punctiliousness underline the inhumane apathy of bureaucrats, GDR or otherwise. But, as in the other late genre films I am examining, the staging of his suicide refocuses the film on his fate as an individual. The original script had his father and some of the film’s many children accompany Werther’s coffin in a gesture of generational continuities in which the individual is submerged and as a reminder of the wider social world.27 In the finished film, however, Günther opted for a moving montage of Werther’s last thoughts – an internal focalization of his life flashing before his mind’s eyes, including his playing with children and then a sudden return, a full hour and a half later, to the opening, spectacular peaks of the Gotthard pass. One review called this death montage a Meisterakt (masterful stroke) that concludes the classic with ‘enormer Einsamkeit’ (enormous loneliness).28 Foregoing the closure of the coffin – itself a symbolization and working through of death for those living – the film leaves viewers largely with last impressions that focus on Werther’s emotional state, on the Romantic interiority and emotionality that the film has, at the very least, balanced throughout with social conditions.

A Muted Ending in the West: Konrad Petzold’s Der Scout (1983) The most famous and successful of DEFA’s genre films were the Westerns or Indianerfilme, as they were known in East Germany. Some sixteen were made, averaging initially one per year from 1966 to 1975, but tellingly this cycle too was fading by the late 1970s, so the five later releases were produced only intermittently in the late 1970s and the early-mid 1980s. As Gerd Gemünden notes, the films were both a response and corrective to the Karl May production trend in West Germany, as May – the turn-of-the-century author of dozens of adventure tales for young readers – was seen as too bourgeois and too rooted in the blood-and-soil discourse of fascism for East German politics. Despite this official line the GDR

27 This cut scene is mentioned in the ‘Besetzungsabteilung Babelsberg den 8. August 1975’, BArch, DR117/30782. 28 Rosemarie Rehahn, ‘Warum dieser Selbstmord?’ Wochenpost, 9 September 1976, see http:// www.filmportal.de/node/46079/material/607778.

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seemed to maintain an ambivalent posture towards the writer (for example, establishing his house near Dresden as a museum), and the Indianerfilme do show the clear influence of his work in the regular friendships between Native American and ‘white man’ that echoes May’s blood brothers Winnetou and Old Shatterhand. Also similar to the function of May’s work for their readers and viewers, the Indianerfilme consistently brought their audiences to faraway places, usually in co-productions and location shooting in countries like Yugoslavia and Romania. May was not the only influence in play for the Indianerfilme, however. As noted by Stott, U.S. Westerns were also already in GDR circulation by 1963 (starting with the Magnificent Seven, then Treasure of Sierra Madre and High Noon), so the East German Westerns were also clearly responding to that global genre.29 Der Scout (1983) is one of the least discussed of the Indianerfilme, likely because it came well after the heyday of the one-per-year trend of 1966–1975. But, for our purposes, the film points to another noteworthy moment of DEFA’s late genre films. In the early 1980s Stott notes an effort on DEFA’s part to reignite interest in genre films in order to offer audiences something entertaining after what was selfdiagnosed as several difficult years.30 Such an effort to please audiences seems to have been the basis of Der Scout: most notably and most discussed at the time, it (re)cast Gojko Mitiê as its protagonist. Mitiê was the well-known and beloved star at the centre of the earlier Indianerfilme cycle, brought back after DEFA had produced several less successful Westerns without him such as Blauvogel [Blue Bird, Ulrich Weiß, 1979] and Sing, Cowboy, Sing [Dean Reed, 1981]). Given the competition from the U.S. films in circulation, the West German Karl May television adaptations and the increasing profile of Spaghetti Westerns in the global genre, Der Scout was a late effort to revive the East German genre with its biggest star and an even more distant, exotic coproduction partner and location (in Mongolia). The late genre reintroduction of arguably the biggest star of East German cinema reflects the tension between the genres’ protagonists and the social collectives. Like the term utopian film, the very label Indianerfilm underscores the collective recasting of the global genre; here too DEFA opted for a generic name that emphasizes a utopian collective pitched against the individualism characteristic of the U.S. genre. If the latter frequently foregrounds the loner, individualist cowboy who hesitates to submit to the laws of the (civilizing) group, DEFA favoured the protagonist’s service to a fetishized collective of Native Americans. In the majority of the Indianerfilme Mitiê plays a chief or elite warrior who has to avenge the Native Americans against the invading European-Americans to protect the tribe:

29 Stott, Crossing the Wall, p. 158. 30 Ibid., p. 146.

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the genre’s requisite violence, with which DEFA often had ideological trouble, is here reactive, defensive and in the service of the threatened collective.31 Like Im Staub der Sterne and Die Leiden des jungen Werthers, however, Der Scout recasts this early, collectivist optimism and triumphalism in its late genre depiction. The lateness of its generic moment is immediately established in its opening exposition. It is now, declares the voiceover, the second half of the nineteenth century, and the location is no longer on the Great Plains but rather west of the Rockies, meaning that the U.S. military has made considerable progress westwards. This progression has pushed Native Americans further and further back or, as viewers learn, onto reservations. Echoing earlier Indianerfilme, the camera offers long tracking shots of a village of idyllic teepees whose apparently peaceful existence is immediately interrupted by the shouts and shots of the invading U.S. army. The tribe, the Nez Percés, loses their horse herd to the invaders and makes plans to flee to Canada rather than accept life on a reservation, but such an exodus will require the return of the now lost herd. White Feather (Mitiê) promises the chief that he will get the herd back, and Mitiê’s violence is, as noted above, defensive and in service to the fetishized collective. The chief, however, gives White Feather one telling directive: he is not to harm any white men, because that would only bring further calamity on them. White Feather realizes that he will need to use his cunning to regain the herd, so he poses as a loner dissatisfied with his tribe. This clandestine mission itself isolates White Feather, and there is no image of him again within his tribe, as had been the usual case in the early films. Wearing a U.S. military uniform as camouflage throughout, he becomes not so much a scout as a spy, a thoroughly individualistic pursuit after the years of being an overtly partisan fighter at the head of a collective. In fact, on screen more than White Feather’s own Nez Percés are the Concha, a neighbouring tribe that seems to have kept its horses better. But even with them White Feather negotiates only briefly and is never counted amongst their ranks. He gets to know their plight through a single (again, individual) female Concha he saves from a burning village. In the end she rides off from White Feather and back to her tribe. Der Scout’s ending confirms the diminished collective that one sees in the other late genre films. Although it provides a climactic battle between U.S. forces and Native Americans – this one at the U.S. fort towards which the whole narrative has been driving – it offers in this generic climax a series of diffuse and disjunctive conflicts rather than the clear and pointed confrontations usually concluding Westerns. First, as the U.S. troops pull into the fort, their waiting colonel congratulates them on delivering the herd, and they quickly credit their (still dis-

31 Gemünden, ‘Between Karl May and Karl Marx’, pp. 32–33.

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guised) scout. The colonel calls the scout over, and White Feather’s slow, ominous walk confirms this as a potentially explosive moment, a climactic duel between the film’s commanding U.S. officer and an elite Nez Percés warrior who is about to be unmasked. At that tense moment, however, the unnamed Concha woman steps forward to shoot the colonel – the violence is left to her because White Feather shortly before refused to take the revolver she had offered him. The duel between the colonel and unarmed White Feather is thus routed through the hand-gun-toting woman. Before she can kill ‘the murderer of [her] people’, as she declares him, Sgt. Anderson shoots her firing arm. At that moment White Feather finally reaches for someone else’s rifle to shoot and kill the colonel. In this prologue to the main battle, then, the attack on the colonel is started by White Feather’s potential bride, and the film’s protagonist shoots only after she has been attacked. With this abrupt development and at that moment of his unmasking a viewer might expect White Feather to square off against the troops who have abused both of them throughout the film. Yet it is the moment our hero returns to his habitual hiding. The climactic and concluding battle that now unfolds is not fought by White Feather’s own Nez Percés tribe with him at its charging head but rather by the Concha, whom viewers have not gotten to know because they have remained throughout at the margins of the plot (and frame). During the battle White Feather once again acts only defensively and even hides for much of the actual fighting. After most of the U.S. troops are killed and the Concha withdraw victorious, a wounded Anderson is finally able to confront the unmasked White Feather, aiming his gun at him and insisting ‘the herd stays!’ But for a third time the expected climactic duel is defused: Anderson, with his gun raised to preserve the herd for the Americans, simply expires from his wounds. This ending was actually rewritten a number of times and included in an earlier draft White Feather killing Anderson, so that his mere expiration in the final cut diminishes White Feather’s agency all the more.32 Der Scout dismantles the duel at the core of either the Western’s conventional high-noon shootout or the pitched battle between tribe and invaders of the Indianerfilme. Here the duel is primarily between the invaders and a tribe the viewers hardly know, while the hero tries to stay above the fray. Much of the drama and subsequent triumph is drained away. With the U.S. forces defeated (though not by him) and the Concha heroine riding off (though not with him), White Feather is left alone. He rides off alone, more lonely cowboy than the GDR

32 In earlier endings White Feather shot Anderson to death and created a more pointed duel than that offered in the finished film (one version had him throw a knife at Anderson to disarm him as well). See Gottfried Kolditz, ‘Der Scout. Szenarium mit Ergänzung zu Treatment’, BArch, DR 117/7972; Gottfried Kolditz, ‘Der Scout. Drehbuch’, BArch, DR 117/2023.

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Fig 8.4: The closing images of Der Scout (1983) offer White Feather as a single and singular rider, at the head of not a people but of a great many horses.

genre’s usual partisan fighter. He does lead the herd over the landscape, but the film never bothers to cut back to his tribe, never relocates him amidst the collective for which he (allegedly) fought. In fact, these closing images offer him as a single and singular rider, at the head of not a people but of a great many horses. The Indianer collective at whose heart White Feather/Mitiê served in Der Scout is never reinvoked – he is a lonely rider on the open, barren landscape, fulfilling the individualist rather than collectivist fantasy of the GDR’s late genre films. If genre films, especially by the early 1980s, were seen generally by DEFA as compensation to weary viewers after the 1976 Biermann affair, these late genre films manifest a gnawing lack of conviction about the collective. In proposing Die Leiden des jungen Werthers, screenwriter Helga Schütz had argued that Goethe’s Storm-and-Stress classic would appeal to mid- and late-1970s viewers frustrated with the long wait for revolution – a frustration evident, I think, in the growing individualism of these films’ protagonists. If the early DEFA genre films sought to uncover and intensify points of (collectivist) contact with their global genres – be it the utopian hope of sci-fi, the social critique of the Erbefilme or the collectivist spirit of the Wild West in the Indianerfilme – these late genre films downgraded these collectivist agendas in preference for the individualist protagonist. But as the films’ final barren, even brutal landscapes around their protagonists indicate, the individualism was marked by melancholy at the fading of the collective dreams in the wan and waning years of the socialist republic.

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Chapter 9 Public Figures, Political Symbols, Famous Stars: Actors in DEFA Cinema and Beyond ‘In the GDR, we had no stars’, Erwin Geschonneck declared shortly before his death, looking back at more than fifty years of DEFA cinema.1 Confirming his observation, Manfred Krug concluded in one of his first interviews in the West: ‘In the GDR, we didn’t have a single star. Moreover, I don’t know anyone in the GDR, no matter how popular based on their work as an artist or whatever, who would say about themselves or allow others to say that they were a star.’2 Because of the country’s growing political isolation after the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961, popular actors and their audiences enjoyed what he called a unique sense of Vertraulichkeit (intimacy or familiarity) that has been lost after 1992 – that is, after the closing of the DEFA studio and the disappearance of what, for lack of a better term, might be called the socialist star system. The careers of Erwin Geschonneck (1906–2008), Manfred Krug (1937–) and Armin Mueller-Stahl (1930–), the most famous actors associated with the East German film studio today, allow us in this larger project of rewriting DEFA history to consider the peculiarities of the socialist star system before and after the demise of the GDR and DEFA. All three actors were central to DEFA’s self-understanding as a socialist cinema and continue to play a key role in the critical examination of the studio’s legacy. A few films from the 1960s, including several ensemble pieces, defined the terms against which their later careers have been evaluated and their status as embodiments of generational experience established. Even after the emigration of the two younger men to West Germany in the wake of the 1976 Biermann affair and the 1990 accession of the GDR to the FRG, Geschonneck, Krug and Mueller-Stahl continue to be closely associated with this vanished country – reason enough to pay closer attention to popular

1 Erwin Geschonneck, Bei uns gab es keine Stars, Audio CD (Münster: Polar Film, 2006). I translate ‘bei uns’ as ‘in the GDR’, well aware that it could also mean ‘at DEFA’. All translations are my own unless noted otherwise. I want to thank the editors of this volume for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this essay. The questions by co-panelists and audience members during a panel at the 2012 German Studies Association annual conference helped me to further tighten my argument. 2 Manfred Krug, 1977 interview with Alexander Wesemann, quoted by Heiko R. Blum, Manfred Krug. Seine Filme – sein Leben (Munich: Heyne, 1993), p. 54.

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actors and their multimedia presence within German film history and cultural memory.3 Unfortunately German film studies provides few critical tools for conceptualizing actors as public figures and for considering their contribution to cinema as a site of consensus building and memory-making. This is all the more puzzling in light of the proliferation of star discourse in popular culture. Since unification, the star label has been evoked repeatedly in promoting DEFA as an integral part of the German film heritage, including in the terms of (post)memory associated with Ostalgie (nostalgia for the East). In the preface of Vor der Kamera: Fünfzig Schauspieler in Babelsberg (1995), editor Ralf Schenk asserts that, despite official opposition to Hollywood-like stars far removed from the masses, the Babelsberg studio after 1945 did indeed create Sterne (stars) and Sternchen (starlets).4 At a 2008 public event honouring Geschonneck, former DEFA director Roland Gräf hailed the actor as one of the few ‘real film stars’ of the GDR and in fact all of Germany.5 The desire to integrate the East into an all-German narrative and to validate DEFA as a popular cinema is also apparent in Stefan Soldovieri’s description – in one of the few scholarly articles on a DEFA actor, Manfred Krug – of the studio’s ambitions since the 1960s of ‘developing the star system – in moderation.’6 In the context of fan culture the engagement with DEFA stars remains largely a retrospective affair, as evidenced by the nostalgic tone of the fan website DEFASternstunden (http://www.defa-sternstunden.de/) and of Icestorm Entertainment’s own DEFA Hall of Fame (http://www.defahalloffame.de).7 Book titles such as Lexikon der DEFA Stars and DEFA-Stars: Legenden aus Babelsberg show a heavy

3 The 1976 Biermann affair refers to the expatriation of popular poet-singer Wolf Biermann and the ensuing crisis of legitimization that began with a protest resolution by a group of prominent cultural workers. 4 Vor der Kamera. Fünfzig Schauspieler in Babelsberg, ed. by Ralf Schenk (Berlin: Henschel, 1995), p. 9. 5 Roland Gräf, during a 2 May 2008 lecture at Filmmuseum Potsdam (http://www.filmmuseumpotsdam.de/de/480-2674.htm). 6 Stefan Soldovieri, ‘Managing Stars. Manfred Krug and the Politics of Entertainment in the GDR Cinema’, in Moving Images of East Germany. The Past and Future of DEFA Film, ed. by Barton Byg (Washington, D.C.: American Institute for Contemporary German Studies, 2002), pp. 46–61 (p. 57). For the only scholarly article on Geschonneck, see Claudia Fellmer, ‘The Communist Who Rarely Plays a Communist. The Case of DEFA Star Erwin Geschonneck’, in Millennial Essays on Film and Other German Studies, ed. by Daniela Berghahn and Alan Bance (Oxford: Lang, 2002), pp. 41–62. 7 On DEFA fandom after 1989, see Sebastian Heiduschke, ‘The Afterlife of DEFA in Post-Unification Germany: Characteristics, Traditions and Cultural Legacy’, Ph.D. diss., University of Texas, 2006.

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investment in the proper transition from communicative memory to cultural memory, a process facilitated by DVD boxed sets such as Die großen Stars der DEFA, featuring Geschonneck, Krug and Mueller-Stahl.8 To what degree such retrospection involves (post)socialist attachments can be seen on the Icestorm website and its offering of Grußbotschaften (fan messages) to stars that include stock phrases (e.g. ‘You have enriched the DEFA film scene in a special way’) reminiscent of official party rhetoric. How the posthumous construction of a socialist star system also allows for expressions of mourning and melancholia can be seen in Gesichter der DEFA (2009), a book of actors’ portraits (including of Geschonneck and Mueller-Stahl) by photographer Sandra Bergemann that measures the growing distance to the socialist past through their familiar lined faces and aging bodies.9 All these forms of identification and projection are based on the perceived identity of actor and character associated with the star phenomenon, which has been studied primarily in relation to the Hollywood studio system. But the relationship between screen persona and public persona, to use a more precise terminology, can also be found in the elusive dynamics linking the personal to the political, and the individual to the collective, in the socialist star system. Measured against a narrow definition of stars based on their commodity status, the abovecited statements by Geschonneck and Krug are undoubtedly true. Glamour, sex appeal and celebrity were not central to any of the socialist cinemas emerging after the Second World War. However, the conditions of production in state-controlled film industries did not preclude strong emotional attachments beyond the requirements of character engagement and narrative point of view. Well-known actors served as political role models, personifications of social types and, occasionally, symbols of nonconformity; they also became mnemonic devices for several generations of (East) Germans. In the socialist public sphere cultural practices served two very different functions: to facilitate the alignment of private with public fantasies and desires – in short, to achieve ideological interpellation – and to provide an outlet for marginalized or alternative voices in the absence of open political debate and actual social change. Like writers and artists (and, in a very different context, athletes), actors were Kulturschaffende (cultural workers), expected to support the building of socialism through their artistic performances and public appearances, rewarded

8 See Lexikon der DDR-Stars. Schauspieler aus Film und Fernsehen, ed. by Frank-Burkhard Habel and Volker Wachter (Berlin: Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf, 1999), republished in a revised version in 2002; and Dieter Reimer, DEFA-Stars. Legenden aus Babelsberg (Leipzig: Militzke, 2004). The terms communicative and collective memory are adapted from Jan and Aleida Assmann. 9 See Sandra Bergemann, Gesichter der DEFA (Heidelberg: Edition Braus, 2008).

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for their loyalty with great honours and privileges, but also closely managed by the SED and its proxies in the studio bureaucracy. This strange mixture of nurture and surveillance could also be found in other socialist cinemas but rarely in the heightened terms unique to Germany as a Kulturnation (cultural nation) and, specifically, a culture in which theatre had traditionally provided a surrogate public sphere for a disempowered bourgeoisie. With the theatre defined ‘as a moral institution’ (Schiller), stage actors, and later screen actors, came to embody the resultant contradictions in ways specific to their profession – that is, in performative terms. For that reason David Bathrick’s definition of the socialist public sphere applies equally to the socialist star system where ‘to speak a language of “authenticity” at a moment of crisis’ was inextricably linked to ‘the increasing failures of official ideology in the GDR to provide a sense of value and cohesion’.10 And in ways similar to writers, artists and athletes, popular actors continue to play a crucial role in the afterlife of the GDR, whether in relation to the memory of socialism or the meaning of national identity. For all these reasons it might ultimately be more productive to describe famous DEFA actors through a different terminology: as Personen des öffentlichen Lebens (figures of public life) and öffentliche Persönlichkeiten (figures of public interest) whose (auto)biographies are presented and evaluated against the backdrop of contemporary history and politics.11 After all, the role of ‘the star as national signifier’ (Hayward) can only be conceptualized through recognition of the remarkable range of traditions, conventions and practices that resist easy integration into a Hollywood-dominated star discourse and confirm the endurance of national variants even under conditions of globalization. One manifestation of this national difference is the greater relevance of non-filmic practices (theatre, music, literature, art) to the transformation of the famous actor into a figure of public life; another is the predominance of male actors in fulfilling a function reminiscent of the public intellectual in the bourgeois public sphere. It would require a longer discussion to account for this gendered nature of the legacy of socialist cinema. In the limited space available here two points must suffice: the importance of male-dominated genres such as the antifascist film to the making of GDR history and identity and the specific function of male actors and directors throughout German film history, including its controversies and scandals. The similarities on the level of physiognomy and typology between,

10 David Bathrick, The Power of Speech. The Politics of Culture in the GDR (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1995), p. 24. 11 The significance of actors as public figures in the GDR should not be confused with the contemporary culture of celebrity as described in Graeme Turner, Understanding Celebrity (London: Sage, 2004); and Ellis Cashmore, Celebrity Culture (London: Routledge, 2006).

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say, Geschonneck and Heinrich George and the frequent comparisons in fan discourse between Krug and Hans Albers reveal problematic continuities in the performative re-enactment of national and political identities in masculinist terms. Likewise, Geschonneck’s, Krug’s and Mueller-Stahl’s multimedia presence (i.e. through their literary, musical and artistic work) points to a continued investment in high-culture traditions that distinguishes German cinema from other European cinemas and has no equivalent in the careers of female DEFA stars. My discussion of the otherness of the socialist star system and its relevance for a more historically and nationally specific understanding of fandom and celebrity departs from three observations. First, DEFA promoted collective modes of production that had a profound effect on the self-understanding of actors as performers of the social imaginary; at least in theory ensemble acting was privileged. Second, the identification of the studio with the state favoured patterns of reception in which characters were seen as representative of identifiable social types and specific actors celebrated as extensions of the socialist collective; in such a system individualism was often associated with marginal or subversive positions. Third, the appeal of famous actors and their public biographies was (and still is) inseparable from the generational experiences of audiences on both sides of the East-West divide; this is most apparent in the actors’ postunification status as witnesses to the German division and its aftereffects.12 Their multiple roles as social types, public figures, generational icons and ‘national signifiers’ – performing what Susan Hayward calls the gesturality and morphology of the body13 – can be traced with particular clarity through the historical transitions: from East to West German cinema, from divided to unified German cinema, and, in rare cases, from national to transnational cinema. A number of additional factors influenced the making of the socialist star system: the strong connections amongst theatre, film and television; the many overlaps with literary and musical culture; and the complicated relationship between film and politics. Even today the cult of the ‘great actor’ as the incarnation of specific ideas about (German) character, mentality and habitus is essential to the ways generation functions as a central category of group identification in the making of the star phenomenon.

12 Generational experience is the main element linking the pre-1989 and post-1989 reception of Geschonneck, Krug and Mueller-Stahl; this does not mean that other forms of engagement (e.g. erotic attraction, political agreement) were not equally relevant or even predominant in the early stages of their careers. However, the focus on generational experience, as mediated through forms of masculinity, must be considered the most important one from a postunification perspective. 13 Susan Hayward, French National Cinema (London: Routledge, 1993), p. 12.

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Integral to the politics of culture in the GDR, Geschonneck, Krug and MuellerStahl began their careers on the theatrical stage during the 1950s, appeared in political prestige productions as well as popular genre films throughout the 1960s, worked with equal success in film and television in the 1970s and continued to increase their media presence as Zeitzeugen (historical witnesses) during the 1990s and beyond by experimenting with other literary, musical and artistic forms. Their professional and personal biographies speak to the experiences of those who built or came of age in the GDR and for that reason are often treated as part of the ongoing process of Vergangenheitsbewältigung – that is, of coming to terms with German division and unification. Confirming the performative nature of such forms of embodiment, their respective contribution has been assessed through typologies taken from stage and screen. Thus Geschonneck is described as a Charakterschauspieler (character actor), Krug as a Volksschauspieler (popular actor) and Mueller-Stahl as that rare phenomenon, a German Weltstar (international star). Adding a decidedly political dimension to these typologies, Geschonneck has remained closely aligned with the utopian project of socialism and its foundation on traditional masculinity and class-consciousness. By contrast, Krug and Mueller-Stahl have come to stand for the triumph of individualism over collectivism, with their complementary performance styles, expressive physicality and psychological inwardness, reenacting the disintegration of the unified model of socialist man personified by Geschonneck. Significantly the two younger actors left the GDR in the wake of the Biermann affair for careers in the West, Krug as a West German television actor since the 1980s and Mueller-Stahl in international productions since the 1990s. From a contemporary perspective the three of them can be associated with three approaches to the DEFA heritage and, by extension, memory of the GDR: in the form of an East German socialist narrative (Geschonneck), a German-German national narrative (Krug) and a Hollywood-based transnational narrative (Mueller-Stahl). But in order to fully understand their larger significance, we need first to establish the conceptual terrain on which to map the socialist star system in theoretical and historical terms. Accordingly the three case studies presented in the essay’s second part – based primarily on reviews, interviews and autobiographical writings – are also intended as a reflection on the problems of applying categories such as ‘star image’ and ‘star system’ to the (East) German context without considering the practices and debates through which DEFA and other socialist cinemas set out to develop alternative conceptions of identity, character and personality. How does the socialist star system shed light on a still under-researched part of German cinema, namely that of actors as public figures? The answer lies in the term’s ability to achieve greater differentiation, not least through its resistant

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qualities. In the standard work on the topic, Richard Dyer examines the ways in which the star phenomenon develops out of specific conditions of production and consumption, how the relationship between screen persona and public persona makes possible various forms of identification and how the resultant intertextual and multimedial effects constitute cinema as a public sphere. A product of these overlapping structures and practices, the star image can subsequently be analyzed as a social construction, a form of ideological interpellation and a site of subversive readings and alternative meanings.14 The ideological work done through what Andrew Tudor calls emotional affinity and self-identification tends to aim at the production of consensus, but its goals and effects differ considerably in the capitalist and the socialist dream factory.15 The Hollywood star system, to generalize, translates social problems into individual terms, thereby bracketing the category of the political, whereas socialist cinemas emphasize collective subjectivities and subsume private desires under public needs. However, the decline of the classical studio system since the 1950s resulted in a dramatic transformation of the star system, including the transfer of some of its glamour to the film director as true auteur, which forces us to evaluate the historical changes in the star function during the 1960s and 1970s against both the normative standards set by Hollywood and the alternative approaches associated with art cinema and socialist cinema. Last but not least, the above-cited studies on stardom and fandom, which presume a strict division between politics and entertainment, cannot fully account for the precarious balancing act between art and power required of actors in the state-controlled film industries of the Eastern Bloc and especially pronounced within the film-theatre interface in East Germany.

14 The standard works on stars are Richard Dyer, Stars, rev. edn (London: BFI, 1998); and Stardom: Industry of Desire, ed. by Christine Gledhill (London: Routledge, 1991), especially the introduction. Gledhill offers a good definition of the term and of star studies: ‘The star challenges analysis in the way it crosses disciplinary boundaries: a product of mass culture, but retaining theatrical concerns with acting, performance and art; an industrial marketing device, but a signifying element in films; a social sign, carrying cultural meanings and ideological values, which expresses the intimacies of individual personality, inviting desire and identification; an emblem of national celebrity, founded on the body, fashion and personal style; a product of capitalism and the ideology of individualism, yet a site of contest by marginalized groups; a figure consumed for his or her personal life who competes for allegiance with statesmen and politicians’ (p. xiii). For German studies on the star phenomenon, see Der Star. Geschichte, Rezeption, Bedeutung, ed. by Werner Faulstich and Helmut Korte (Munich: Fink, 1997); and Stephan Lowry and Helmut Korte, Der Filmstar (Stuttgart: Metzler, 2000). 15 See Andrew Tudor, Image and Influence. Studies in the Sociology of Film (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1974), pp. 80–81.

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From the beginning DEFA had a problematic relationship to the star phenomenon because of its historical association with Hollywood as the capital of the global culture industry and its political exploitation by the UFA dream factory during the Third Reich. In a conscious departure from the UFA star cult, film producers, directors and dramaturges at DEFA treated actors as part of a working collective and saw acting as subservient to a film’s story and reality effects. Film reviewers focused on the ability to portray recognizable social types and articulate social contradictions; the close connections between theatre and film were emphasized, as were the proper dramatic skills and correct political views.16 Everyone agreed that the rise of film to the most important mass medium required an actor to be ‘the liveliest mediator’ of ideological positions and to serve as ‘a direct interlocutor’ between films and audiences.17 Nonetheless, pre-war traditions continued to inform the fans’ relationship to their favourites from stage and screen. During the 1950s the VEB Progress-Film distribution company still issued star postcards using formal conventions (e.g. framing, lighting) familiar from the UFA years. Under pressure to compete with foreign films and the new medium of television, the distributor in the 1960s began to make popularity a criterion of evaluation in their Filmkarteikarten (film index cards) prepared for motion-picture theatre owners. The Filmspiegel, the only non-academic film journal in the GDR, always featured popular actors (including from West European countries) on its black-and-white covers and regularly published articles about DEFA actors at work on the set, at play in the capital’s nightclubs and at the film festival in Karlovy Vary in rare glimpses of socialist celebrity culture. Neues Leben, the journal of the socialist youth organization Freie Deutsche Jugend (FDJ), published a book on ‘our film stars’ that validated the community-building aspects of fandom while rejecting its commodity manifestations in capitalist societies.18 In all of these efforts the DEFA studio and the Progress distribution company relied heavily on a new group of younger actors and actresses who offered socialist versions of the beauty and sex appeal of then-contemporary Hollywood stars and the antistars of the European New Waves.

16 Anthologies of GDR film reviews can be found in Spielfilme der DEFA im Urteil der Kritik. Ausgewählte Rezensionen, ed. by Lissi Zilinski (Berlin: Henschel, 1970). For a West German perspective (including on Geschonneck, Krug and Mueller-Stahl), see Heinz Kersten, So viele Träume. DEFA Film-Kritiken aus drei Jahrzehnten, ed. by Christel Drawer (Berlin: VISTAS, 1996). 17 Das Antlitz des Schauspielers. Theater Film Fernsehen, ed. by Günter Kaltofen (Berlin: Henschel, 1963), p. 6. 18 For examples, see Unsere Filmsterne. Schauspielerporträts und Filmreportagen, ed. by Kollektiv der Redaktion Neues Leben (Berlin: Junge Welt, 1962); and the compendium put together by Joachim Reichow and Michael Hanisch, Filmschauspieler A-Z, 7th ed. (Berlin: Henschel, 1989).

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During the golden decade of the socialist star system Geschonneck, Krug and Mueller-Stahl appeared regularly amongst the Publikumslieblinge (darlings of the public) chosen by the devoted readers of Filmspiegel. Yet as a first indication of persistent concerns about the downside of fandom, even its critics remained ambivalent about the star phenomenon. On the one hand they expressed pride about DEFA’s accomplishments and their own part in creating a new star culture: ‘“Do we have no stars?”, Filmspiegel asked in a questionnaire a couple of weeks ago. Yes, we do.’19 On the other they shared the official view of stars as ‘opium for the people’, a dangerous weapon employed by the capitalist film industry to promote a capitalist and anticommunist agenda.20 The system of identifications organized through the star phenomenon addressed audiences as active socialist citizens as well as passive cultural consumers, with the difference between both the first indicator of the degree to which popularity remained a dynamic, dialogic and contested category. Further complicating matters, wider disagreements over the function of entertainment in a socialist society and growing awareness amongst studio functionaries of the importance of popularity sometimes gave some actors a certain degree of freedom, protecting them from excessive interference by the SED. ‘Popularity was sort of my bodyguard’, Mueller-Stahl would explain later.21 In fact he was chosen five times as the most popular DEFA actor and is fondly remembered, in today’s postcommunist memory discourse, as ‘the man most East Germans would like to have a beer with.’22 Showing the endurance of the myth of authenticity even in film aesthetic practices committed to typecasting, Krug became a favourite precisely through roles inspired by his own life and continues to thematize his biography in his writing and commentary. Meanwhile, Geschonneck was voted best GDR actor in 1992 and received the Deutsche Filmpreis for lifetime achievement in 1993, with his postunification reputation obviously unharmed by his unwavering commitment to socialism. More than their colleagues in the West, DEFA actors continued to draw on the special relationship between film and theatre for their conception of dramatic parts and acting conventions. While rejecting traditional Rollenfächer (stock parts) such as romantic hero, youthful naive and femme fatale because of their associ-

19 Anon., ‘Rosen für die Stars’, Filmspiegel, 12.8 (1965), 6. 20 Alexander Wien, ‘Stars: Opium für das Volk’, Filmspiegel, 7.16 (1960), 10; Filmspiegel, 7.17 (1960), 11; and Filmspiegel, 7.18 (1960), 11. 21 Susan King, ‘Armin Mueller-Stahl Talks Stasi and The International’, Los Angeles Times, 13 February 2009. 22 Quoted by Mary H. J. Farrell and Franz Spelman, ‘Emerging from Behind the Iron Curtain …’, People, 34.19 (12 November 1990).

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ation with film genres in the UFA tradition, they maintained the implicit hierarchies – also on the level of social relevance – between character and popular actors and dramatic and comical parts. Coming from the stage, character actors – usually older men – acquired a reputation based on their ability to disappear entirely behind a role and to translate existential human questions into dramatic registers. Working in that tradition, Geschonneck played capitalists and proletarians and Nazis and communists, with the underlying (Marxist) assumption of identity as socially constructed making him the perfect conduit to the grand narratives of history as class struggle. By contrast the typical popular actor, his equivalent in the lower register of folk theatre (and its post-war equivalent, television), excelled in comical registers and regional sensibilities. His appeal originated in the production of similarities that facilitated self-identification within the parameters of everyday life. As such a German Everyman, Krug covered a narrower range of roles than Geschonneck and for that reason required a greater correspondence between screen persona and public persona. Mueller-Stahl occupied a position between the two, resembling the older Geschonneck in the versatility that distinguished him as a character actor, but sharing with Krug the contemporary look and feel that made him recognizable and hence relatable. Beyond these individual differences the men’s acting styles attest to their training in the socialist theatre and film culture built after the Second World War as a laboratory for the new socialist man. Two approaches vied for dominance: On the one hand Bertolt Brecht at the Berliner Ensemble continued to explore aspects of epic theatre, including its antipsychological method, with Geschonneck, who joined the Ensemble in 1949, clearly benefitting from the playwright’s close attention to social habitus as an alternative to psychological motivation. On the other hand Konstantin Stanislavsky, available in German translation since 1952, promoted a ‘method of physical action’ compatible with a socialist (i.e. deterministic) conception of character; the tension between expressiveness and restraint in Mueller-Stahl may be traced back to this tradition.23 Influenced equally by the objective approach to acting identified with Brecht and the subjective one identified with Stanislavsky, many directors showed a strong preference for the kind of ensemble acting showcased in almost programmatic fashion in Fünf Patronenhülsen [Five Cartridges, Frank Beyer, 1960], with Geschonneck as a communist commissar in charge of an international group of young partisans that includes

23 On film acting, see Hugo Fetting, Theater und Film (Berlin: Henschel, 1962) and Sozialistisches Menschenbild und Filmkunst. Beiträge zu Kino und Fernsehen, ed. by Hartmut Albrecht (Berlin: Henschel, 1970). For an example of the extensive reception of Stanislavsky already in the early years, see Konstantin Stanislawski and others, Der schauspielerische Weg zur Rolle (Berlin: Henschel, 1952).

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Krug and Mueller-Stahl. As if commenting on the film, Mueller-Stahl around the time described film acting as ‘detailed knowledge of the partner, the effort to understand him, the development of a language understandable to every member of the collective [… and concludes that] faith in the others and in the shared, same goals, this to me seems to be the meaning of a collective.’24 Through these heterogeneous forces and influences Erwin Geschonneck, the first of the three case studies presented in the essay’s second part, became the incarnation both of the ideal-typical socialist biography and of the idealized father figure against which the generation of Krug and Mueller-Stahl had to assert their versions of modern masculinity. As early as 1953, Brecht concluded that, ‘his [Geschonneck’s] humour, his versatility and his progressive political views make him into one of the most important actors in Germany.’25 Almost two decades later, Ingrid Meyer asked: ‘What does the exemplary socialist man look like in real life’?26 The answer would have been: just like Geschonneck. And to another question – what are the expectations placed on an actor under socialism? – the influential commentator Karl Eduard von Schnitzler would have responded: to understand ‘the importance of consciousness and partisanship (parteilicher Standpunkt).’27 Geschonneck’s overdetermined status at the intersection of art, life and politics is confirmed by the 1964 bronze bust by Werner Stötzer, made for an exhibition in the Nationalgalerie on ‘Unsere Zeitgenossen’ (Our Contemporaries), which captures perfectly the underlying tension between the particular and the universal defined by these statements. Not surprisingly, the actor was honoured repeatedly as a Nationalpreisträger and received numerous prizes, including in 1981 the Karl-Marx-Orden, the highest decoration given by the SED state. His ‘progressive political views’ brought him a position as vice president of the Verband der Film- und Fernsehschaffenden, the professional organization of film and television workers. And as ‘an anchor for generations’, especially those whose ‘hearts still beat on the left side’, to cite two comments on an Internet dis-

24 Armin Mueller-Stahl, quoted by Gabriele Michel, Armin Mueller-Stahl. Die Biographie (Berlin: Aufbau, 2010), p. 116. See also Manuel Köppen on Fünf Patronenhülsen in chap. 2. 25 See the title of ‘Einer der bedeutendsten Schauspieler Deutschlands’ – Erwin Geschonneck, Pankower Vorträge. Arbeitstagung zum 100. Geburtstag (Berlin: Helle Panke, 2007). For two earlier assessments, see Wolfgang Carlé, Erwin Geschonneck (Berlin: Henschel, 1961); and Erwin Geschonneck. Auskünfte und Ansichten, ed. by Hermann Herlinghaus (Berlin: Verband der Filmund Fernsehschaffenden der DDR, 1981). 26 Ingrid Meyer, ‘Zur allgemeinen Bestimmung des sozialistischen Menschenbildes’, Sozialistisches Menschenbild und Filmkunst. Beiträge zu Kino und Fernsehen (Berlin: Henschel, 1970), p. 12. 27 Karl-Eduard von Schnitzler, Meine Filmkritiken 1955–1960. Eine Auswahl (Berlin: Nordost-Verlag, 1999), p. 71. He made the comment in a review of Leute mit Flügeln.

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Fig 9.1: Erwin Geschonneck receives the National Prize from Walter Ulbricht on 6 October 1961. © Bundesarchiv.

cussion board called NVA-Forum that appeals to East German army veterans, Geschonneck still provides a voice to those disillusioned with the realities of unification and opposed to the neoliberal world order. His award in 1997 of the Goldene Henne prize by SUPERillu, the most influential weekly in the eastern states, confirms his role as a projection screen for old attachments to the dream of socialism and, more problematically, new forms of German nationalism (e.g. on the same NVA-Forum).28 Meanwhile, the obituaries written in 2008 after a series of celebratory events at the Berlin Academy of Arts on the occasion of Geschonneck’s hundredth birthday reinscribe this status as an East German legend by either depoliticizing his ar-

28 See www.nva-forum.de/nva-board/index.php?s=80f908708ad8c6afc9d00b2a1acae211& showtopic=9169.NVA refers to Nationale Volksarmee (National People’s Army).

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Fig 9.2: Bronze head of Erwin Geschonneck by Werner Stötzer (1964). © Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden.

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tistic contribution through phrases such as großer Menschendarsteller (great performer of human beings) or belittling his political commitments through the derogatory label Vorzeigeproletarier (model proletarian). Yet for a large number of his admirers, Geschonneck’s class origins and communist biography were, and still are, an essential part of his enduring appeal. From his involvement with the Weimar communist party after 1929 and exile years in Moscow to his SED membership after 1949 and work as an unofficial Stasi informer under the name IM Erwin to his active support of the socialist successor party PDS (Partei des Demokratischen Sozialismus) until his death, Geschonneck’s biography reads like an idealized history of German communism. Obligatory references to his close ties to the Berlin working class – he grew up on Ackerstraße and lived much of his life near Alexanderplatz – have been used to assert the historical force and continued relevance of class as a category of self-identification. Meanwhile, his expulsion from the Soviet Union, imprisonment in concentration camps and almost miraculous survival of the bombing of the Cap Arcona have added to the mythification of Geschonneck as a larger-than-life figure, endowed with the kind of superhuman vitality associated before the war with film stars such as Heinrich George or Hans Albers. Geschonneck started his acting career in earnest around the age of forty after being discovered by Brecht for the Berliner Ensemble. Early roles included politically ambivalent characters in Das Beil von Wandsbek [The Axe of Wandsbek, Falk Harnack, 1951] and Der Hauptmann von Köln [The Captain of Cologne, Slatan Dudow, 1956]. The turning point came with Leute mit Flügeln [People with Wings, Konrad Wolf, 1959], the controversial film that would forever link him to the search for positive heroes in socialist film and submit even his own life to readings that produced ‘biography with more exemplary than individual validity’.29 He worked repeatedly with Frank Beyer on antifascist classics such as the above-mentioned Fünf Patronenhülsen, Nackt unter Wölfen [Naked among Wolves, 1963] and the Jurek Becker adaptation Jakob der Lügner [Jacob the Liar, 1974] and showed off his comic talents as Karbid-Kalle in Karbid und Sauerampfer [Carbide and Sorrel, 1964]. Geschonneck’s status as a role model and public figure became an integral part of his film roles in the 1970s. Cast as a worker activist facing retirement in Bankett für Achilles [Banquet for Achilles, Roland Gräf, 1975], he brought into sharp view the changing nature of the project of socialism. In Asta mein Engelchen [Asta, My Little Angel, Roland Oehme, 1981] he played a security guard at the DEFA studios with an uncanny resemblance to a well-known actor and a great love of Asta Nielsen. And his survival of the last weeks of the Second World War inspired

29 H. U. E., ‘Helden dieser Zeit’, Berliner Zeitung, 30 August 1960.

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the television production Der Mann von der Cap Arcona [The Man from the Cap Arcona, Lothar Bellag, 1982]. Even his recordings of popular songs from the 1920s and 1930s can be interpreted as postsocialist versions of cross-marketing and brand-building that rely on autobiography for creating alternately hagiographic, nostalgic and revisionist effects. The three editions of Geschonneck’s autobiography Meine unruhigen Jahre [My Tumultuous Years, 1984, 1997, 2009] show the continuities in his public persona before and after unification and, together with earlier tributes, reveal the full identification of the actor with the SED state.30 Geschonneck used the preface to the 1997 edition to present his artistic and political choices as ‘defensible’ and then went back to the original text from 1984.31 Thus, about the changed ending of Das Beil von Wandsbek he writes: ‘Such anonymous interference with the work of an artistic collective is not acceptable and not enjoyable; I didn’t think the cut was a good idea’ (p. 194). The delayed release of Leute mit Flügeln prompts the following confession: ‘At the time I very much regretted that the film was not released immediately; I liked it and my work in it, too’ (p. 197). Identifying all of his roles (on and off the screen) with an attitude of ‘straightforwardness, a steadfastness of attitude’, Geschonneck remains unapologetic about his politics: ‘For me the separation of art and life never existed. Whenever I found it necessary and appropriate to speak up in public, I did it’ (p. 201). Then shifting into the present tense, he continues, ‘I know that my popularity, beyond the roles, requires me to do this, that it helps our struggle in the form of public statements and declarations’ (p. 211). Concerned about the growing signs of disillusionment amongst the educated elites, he concludes by demanding that actors, like screenwriters and directors, take an active role in the process of filmmaking: ‘Lets think about how to solve these problems organizationally, and not only organizationally but also ideologically!’ (p. 267). Such statements might have prompted Manfred Krug to conclude ‘that for a long time he [Geschonneck] closed his eyes to what was really going on in the GDR, pulling off some appallingly stereotypical figures’.32 Representing a very

30 Geschonneck’s Meine unruhigen Jahre. Lebenserinnerungen was first published in 1984 by Dietz, only to appear in a revised version by Aufbau in 1997 and another one by Das Neue Berlin in 2009 (i.e. after his death). 31 Erwin Geschonneck, Meine unruhigen Jahre (Berlin: Aufbau, 1997), p. iii. The following quotes are all taken from this later edition. 32 Manfred Krug (interview) in Berndt Schulz, Manfred Krug. Porträt des Sängers und Schauspielers, preface Jurek Becker (Bergisch Gladbach: Bastei Lübbe, 1996), p. 20. In his Geschonneck biography Frank Hörnigk explains the actor’s willingness to compromise with reference to his strong political convictions and his biographically motivated desire for belonging: ‘For a long time he did not step out of his role but in his own way internalized rather than critically ques-

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different generation, the much younger Krug has a classic Cold War biography. The divorce of his parents in 1949 brought him to East Germany where he trained to become a steel worker and acquired his distinctive forehead scar. His public persona was from the beginning defined through an intuitive physical acting style that reconciled seemingly incompatible qualities – macho posturing, tenderness, irreverence and irresistible charm – while remaining the same across different genres, whether antifascist drama, costume film or romantic comedy. Krug made the transition from ensemble player to leading man with Auf der Sonnenseite [On the Sunny Side, Ralf Kirsten, 1962], a story based on his own experiences as a worker turned actor. In his signature role as the carpenter Balla in the banned Spur der Steine [Trace of Stones, Frank Beyer, 1966], Krug developed further his persona of the rebel caught between the needs of the working collective and the demands of party discipline. His second career as a jazz singer, which started with several legendary concerts and recordings for the East German label Amiga, including Jazz und Lyrik (1966) and Jazz-Lyrik-Prosa with the band Jazz Optimisten (1968), and which continued in collaboration with Günther Fischer, provided the context or intertext through which the individualism of his screen roles could be interpreted as an artistic rather than political stance.33 Reviewers have tried to capture Krug’s popular appeal through terms such as Eulenspiegel (merry prankster), Luftikus (happy-go-lucky fellow) and HopplaHopp Held (upsy-daisy hero) – terms that celebrate him as ‘a lovable big boy of our times’.34 Already in Auf der Sonnenseite the identity of role and actor was central to his success, as was the expression of his rebellious side through music. In the words of one reviewer: ‘Manfred really gets Martin [the character]. Not because Manfred (Krug) is an actor who knows how to embody the figure of Martin (Hoff). There exists a certain elective affinity between the young artist and the fictional young steelworker with artistic talent.’35 Beschreibung eines Sommers [Description of a Summer, Ralf Kirsten, 1963], with its provocative perspective on socialist morality, already took full advantage of the actor’s reputation as a free spirit. As one reviewer noted, ‘it is difficult to determine where Manfred Krug ends

tioned it.’ See Erwin Geschonneck – eine deutsche Biografie (Berlin: Theater der Zeit, 2006), p. 31. Similar questions were addressed in a radio feature produced by Thomas Heise dealing with Geschonneck’s time in Dachau, ‘Widerstand und Anpassung – Überlebensstrategie’, which aired on 12 April 1989 on Berliner Rundfunk. 33 For a survey of Krug’s DEFA films, see Manfred Krug. Die großen Kinofilme, ed. by Ralf Schenk (Berlin: Parthas, 1997). 34 hdt, ‘Humor, Liebe, Musik groß geschrieben’, Leipziger Volkszeitung, 7 January 1962. The review refers to Auf der Sonnenseite. 35 ke, ‘Rolle auf den Leib geschrieben’, BZ am Abend, 13 July 1961.

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Fig 9.3: Manfred Krug gives autographs at a bookstore on Berlin’s Spandauer Straße on 12 September 1974. © Bundesarchiv.

und Tom Breitsprecher [the character] begins. They seem secretly to have merged into one.’36 And in the same way that the film adaptation of the famous Erik Neutsch novel Spur der Steine had been announced in 1965 with the headline ‘Manfred Krug as Balla’, the rerelease of the banned film in November 1989 prompted the following remarks: ‘Thinking about Balla means thinking about Krug. Wherein lies his fascination? Why do people continue to love him, no matter whether he gains weight or loses hair?’37 The Biermann affair in 1976 brought to a head Krug’s growing artistic and political disillusionment and resulted in his decision, described in great detail in the bestseller autobiography Abgehauen [Left for Good, 1996], to apply for the required exit permission. He arrived in West Germany as ‘the most famous film star of the other German state’, to quote an article in the influential Zeit from that year.38 His connection to the GDR would henceforth be defined in the very personal terms used by Krug to describe his last DEFA film, Das Versteck [The Hiding Place, Frank Beyer, 1978] as 36 Rosemarie Rehahn, review of Beschreibung eines Sommers, Wochenpost, 26 January 1963. 37 Rehahn, ‘Once Upon a Time. Spur der Steine’, Sonntag, 13 May 1990. 38 F. J. R., ‘Selbstreinigung’, Die Zeit, 10 June 1977.

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the least political film ever made in the GDR, and no one noticed … There are just two [divorced] people who want to try it with each other one more time, and it doesn’t work […]. This film, and these friends, that is the GDR that I find hard to leave.39

Notwithstanding the political implications of such irreconcilable differences, Krug’s symbolic currency in the West from then on lay in representing Germanness outside the antagonistic terms of history and politics. In Abgehauen Krug recounts the tense months between signing the protest resolution in November 1976 and leaving the GDR with his family in June 1977.40 On 20 November 1976 his house became the site of a memorable meeting, secretly recorded by the actor, between Werner Lamberz (member of the Politburo of the Central Committee) and a group of writers that included Stefan Heym, Jurek Becker and Christa Wolf. His description of the meeting shows their continued attachment to the project of socialism and their naive hope to change the dynamics of art and power. At the same time it sheds an important light on the function of the popular actor/public figure in performing the personal/political dyad in the rewriting of German history and identity. In the eponymous 1998 television adaptation of the book directed by Beyer, the sequence starts with the remark by the actor playing Krug in 1976 ‘that the actor Krug and the person Krug are seen as identical’ and then cuts to the much older, real Krug of 1998: The people said: look at that … such types exist … a human being that can be trusted … What will become of the unique relationship, only possible in the GDR, between the audience and myself? This audience, they are not my fans! They are my friends.

The final scene, in turn, introduces yet another version of Krug from his first interview in 1977 with a West German television reporter. Responding to the question about what he left behind, he speaks warmly of ‘the people, the audience … a few personal friends, relatives, nice people’, thereby blurring the boundaries between autobiography, newsreel and fictionalization and guaranteeing the conflation of populism and popularity at the heart of his remarkable success. Benefitting from his Volkstümlichkeit (folksiness), Krug quickly found work in several West German television series produced by the public broadcaster ARD: in Auf Achse [On the Road, 1977–1993] as a trucker, in Detektivbüro Roth [Private

39 Manfred Krug, Abgehauen. Ein Mitschnitt und ein Tagebuch (Berlin: Ullstein, 2005), p. 244. Produced in 1976, the film was released in the GDR in 1978 and in the FRG in 1979. 40 Other autobiographical writings include a group of poems recited with his usual cheeky voice on the accompanying CD, 66 Gedichte. Was soll das? (Munich: Econ, 1999); a memoir of his early life before his admission to a drama school, Mein schönes Leben (Munich: Econ, 2003); and a collection of amusing anecdotes in Schweinegezadder. Schöne Geschichten (Berlin: Ullstein, 2008).

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Investigator Roth, 1986–1987] as a PI, and in Liebling Kreuzberg [Darling Kreuzberg, 1986–1998] as a Berlin-based lawyer; he also became one of the most popular detectives in the acclaimed crime drama Tatort (1984–2001). Evidence of his name recognition, Advocard insurance in the late 1980s ran a television ad campaign under the slogan ‘Advocard ist Anwalts Liebling’ (Advocard is the lawyer’s darling) that referenced the Liebling Kreuzberg series. For his promotion of Telekom stocks during its initial public offering Krug in 2007 apologized to fans after the stock had lost much of its value, calling this endorsement the greatest mistake of his career. Nonetheless, he continued with such lucrative sidelines when he appeared in a 2010 Mercedes Benz Bank print ad that used his trucking adventures in Auf Achse to promote the luxury car brand: a true spokesperson for the triumph of individualism and, it could be argued, of self-interest over political ideology. Krug’s mode of accommodation prompted Armin Mueller-Stahl to observe: ‘I was friends with one eighth of him, the enjoyable, amusing part, the other seven eighths for me were not positive but negative examples of how I did not want to be under any circumstances.’41 Like Krug, Mueller-Stahl belonged to the generation of GDR citizens who were children during the Third Reich, reached adulthood during the 1950s and became politically disillusioned during the 1960s. Within the Oedipal scenarios outlined earlier, the two actors occupied different places within this generational narrative, Krug as a man of the people with strong opinions and simple tastes, and Mueller-Stahl as the quintessential loner, an outsider with intellectual tendencies and emotional ambivalences. Born in Tilsit in East Prussia, Mueller-Stahl grew up in Berlin during the war, trained on the stage at the East Berlin Volksbühne and gained critical acclaim in the antifascist films directed by Beyer, most famously Königskinder [Royal Children, 1962]. Like Krug, MuellerStahl pursued interests outside acting: A humourous poem from 1961 describes a man kissed by several muses: Er macht Picasso Konkurenz; hat musikalisch viel Potenz und dichtet mit Routine. Am stärksten aber – das ist klar – ist er als Film- und Fernsehstar und abends auf der Bühne.42

41 Armin Mueller-Stahl, Unterwegs nach Hause. Erinnerungen (Berlin: Aufbau, 2005), p. 190. Krug (in Abgehauen, p. 230 and p. 233) is equally critical of his former friend, calling him anxious and confused. 42 Dere, Neues Leben, 10 (1961). Thanks to Marc Silberman for help with the following English translation: With Picasso he competes; has strong musical beats / and routinely writes rhymes. / He’s strongest – and that by far – / as a film and tv star / and in the theatre at night times.

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From the beginning Mueller-Stahl was perceived as indefinable and ambiguous, qualities he shared with other actors associated with the European New Waves. One reviewer of Nackt unter Wölfen spoke of a unique tension between the impenetrability of his physical face and the depth of his psychological face.43 MuellerStahl himself explained in an interview from 1963 that ‘I try to be a “positive hero” but no paragon of virtue (Tugendbold)’44 and elsewhere called for ‘absolute honesty in showing the contradictions’ in reality.45 Nonetheless, his nuanced interpretation of antifascist heroes can also be seen as affirmation of their continued political relevance, with one reviewer praising his character in Königskinder as ‘a simple working-class boy who, despite all the dangers, knows where he belongs’.46 Another described him as ‘a figure that the audiences can take with them into their daily lives’.47 Corroborating such points, the actor at the time expressed satisfaction about appearing in films ‘that highlight the historical claims of the working class in our republic to the leadership in Germany’.48 He never joined the SED, cultivating the persona of an apolitical artist instead, and later spoke (disingenuously) of difficulties in getting roles: ‘Not proletarian enough. I was a “Western, descendant type.”’49 Both aspects, his association with highly self-reflexive New Wave sensibilities and his identification with the socialist imaginary at its most didactic, are clearly in evidence in his last DEFA film, tellingly titled Die Flucht [The Flight, Roland Gräf, 1977], about an apolitical East Berlin physician planning his defection to the West. Once again, one reviewer criticized his character’s ‘tortured indecision and stubborn inadequacy’,50 whereas another praised the film’s complex treatment of a difficult subject matter as ‘custom-made for Armin Mueller-Stahl and his role’.51 Having been blacklisted after the 1976 Biermann affair forced Mueller-Stahl to turn to writing as his preferred form of resistance and to cultivate the artistic tal-

43 Review of Nackt unter Wölfen, quoted by Michel, Armin Mueller-Stahl, p. 77. 44 Interview with Mueller-Stahl, Filmspiegel, 10.12 (1963), 24. 45 Interview with Mueller-Stahl, quoted by Michel, Armin Mueller-Stahl, p. 79. The reference is to Rauhreif [Frost], a 1963 television production. 46 Sybill Mehnert, review of Königskinder, Berliner Zeitung, 5 September 1962. 47 Review of Königskinder, quoted by Michel, Armin Mueller-Stahl, p. 68. 48 Interview with Mueller-Stahl, Filmspiegel, 9.8 (1962), 12. He later expressed regrets for having appeared in … und deine Liebe auch [… And Your Love Too, Frank Vogel, 1962], a propagandistic film justifying the building of the Berlin Wall. 49 Scott Roxborough, ‘How German Actor Armin Mueller-Stahl Went from Being Kicked Out of Acting School …’, Hollywood Reporter, 17 February 2011. 50 em, review of Die Flucht, Sächsisches Tageblatt (Dresden), 26 October 1977. 51 Ulli Köhler, ‘Die politische Entscheidung eines “unpolitischen” Arztes’, Freiheit (Halle), 1 November 1977.

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ents that had been part of his public persona from the start. After receiving his exit permission in 1979, he found steady employment on West German television and worked as a Synchronsprecher (dubbing actor) before starting a second career in New German cinema, appearing twice in films by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. His performance as Thomas Mann in the critically acclaimed television series Die Manns [The Mann Family, Heinrich Breloer, 2001] must be considered the highpoint of his post-DEFA career and the clearest expression of his self-understanding as a cultured bourgeois. With greater international presence came an even closer association with the recent German past, including the legacies of Nazism and communism. Not surprisingly his clearest statement as actor, screenwriter and director, Gespräch mit der Bestie [Conversation with the Beast, 1996], draws on his breakthrough role as a former SS officer in Music Box (Costa-Gavras, 1989) and still resonates in his appearance as a former Stasi agent in The International (Tom Tykwer, 2009). In these English-language productions Mueller-Stahl usually plays a German or (vaguely) East European character with a strong affinity for authoritarian structures and traditional values, a creature of Old Europe. His distinctive style – the pursed full lips, piercing blue eyes and raspy dark voice (as well as the accent in the English-language films) – continues to bring out the underlying contradictions, suggesting coldness and compassion, hesitation and determination, ruthlessness and generosity. At the same time the description of his performance as a Vatican insider in Angels and Demons (Ron Howard, 2009) as ‘histrionic professionalism’52 suggests that the legacies of the socialist star system can also take on different meanings in the casting of ethnic and political difference within global Hollywood. Offering a retrospective perspective, Mueller-Stahl’s literary writings from the last decade include personal memoirs such as Unterwegs nach Hause [On the Road Homeward, 2005], collections of short stories and essays and, in the only film-related book, anecdotes and drawings from the set of Die Manns.53 His story of three actors in Verordneter Sonntag [Prescribed Sunday, 1981] represents a rare attempt to capture the strange atmosphere of anger, fear and despair in the wake of the Biermann affair and anticipates some of the points made later by Krug in

52 Review of Angels and Demons, New York Times, 15 May 2009. 53 Armin Mueller-Stahl, Unterwegs nach Hause and Die Jahre werden schneller: Lieder und Gedichte (Berlin: Aufbau, 2010). His collections of short prose texts (often with autobiographical elements and illustrated with drawings) include In Gedanken an Marie-Louise (Munich: List, 2000); Hannah. Erzählung (Berlin: Aufbau, 2004); Venice. Ein amerikanisches Tagebuch (Berlin: Aufbau, 2005); and Kettenkarussell. Erzählungen (Berlin: Aufbau, 2006). His diary from the set of Die Manns was published as Rollenspiel. Ein Tagebuch während der Dreharbeiten zu dem Film ‘Die Manns’ (Potsdam: Strauss, 2003).

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Abgehauen. In fact the excerpts from a diary left to the main character by his friend could have been written by Mueller-Stahl – including his recollection of a party member’s warning to ‘Arno’: [In the Federal Republic] no one would be waiting for a 48-year-old actor, my age would be the greatest handicap. Moreover he was certain that my reasons were political only to a point. I supposedly had achieved everything in the GDR, a star, living like the streusel on the cake and would want the same in the FRG, but the colleagues there would most likely block my professional career.54

While continuing to write short prose, Mueller-Stahl today works primarily as a visual artist honoured with a 2007 exhibition in the Hamburg Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe; returning to his first love, the violin, he also gave a concert at the Leipzig Opera House in 2011. His various creative endeavours have found a small but receptive (older) audience; by contrast, critics have not responded well to his movie successes abroad. For instance, a reviewer in the Süddeutsche Zeitung blamed ‘the virus of Großmimentum (great actor syndrome)’55 for his all too familiar mannerisms in films such as The International. Such typical German resentments concerning native-born actors (or directors) with commercial success in Hollywood did not stop Aufbau, the successor of the famous GDR publishing house, from promoting Mueller-Stahl’s collected works under the heading ‘The Weltstar in an Artistic Overview’. Moreover, as the only former DEFA actor with an international career, he continues to be showered with honours and accolades. On the occasion of his eightieth birthday, two German biographies appeared in 2010, one by Volker Skierka and the other by Gabriele Michel. Mueller-Stahl received an award for lifetime achievement from Progress-Film in 2009 and the Berlinale’s Honorary Golden Bear in 2011.56 The same year he was named honorary citizen in his birth town of Tilsit/Sovetsk and, as a long-term resident, of Schleswig-Holstein. And on the occasion of the 22nd anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, he was honoured in 2011 by the nonpartisan, pro-Europe Deutsche Gesellschaft for his ‘remarkable engagement for a life of freedom and dignity’, another indication of how actors as public figures continue to facilitate the equally important processes of remembering and

54 Armin Mueller-Stahl, Verordneter Sonntag (Berlin: Severin und Siedler, 1981), p. 21. 55 Tobias Kniebe, ‘Macht mal halblang: Schauspieler im Größenwahn’, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 1 February 2009 (www.sueddeutsche.de/kultur/schauspieler-im-groessenwahn-macht-malhalblang-1.479040-2). 56 In addition to Michel, Armin Mueller-Stahl, see Volker Skierka, Armin Mueller-Stahl. Die Biografie (Berlin: Langen and Müller, 2010); Gebhard Hölzl’s and Thomas Lassonczyk’s Armin MuellerStahl. Seine Filme – sein Leben (Munich: Heyne, 1992) is little more than a filmography/biography.

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Fig 9.4: Armin Mueller-Stahl receives the Progress Film Distributor’s Award from Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on 8 February 2009. © Bundesarchiv.

forgetting in the rewriting of post-war German history in national and transnational terms.57 To return to the larger points outlined at the beginning: the development of a socialist star system and its resonances in postunification cinema and television can be reconstructed through the biographies and filmographies of DEFA’s bestknown actors. But Geschonneck, Mueller-Stahl and Krug are not the only ones who have come to personify the continuities and ruptures of post-war history and today function as vessels of generational memory. Prominent theatre families and famous actor couples played a key role in the most serious confrontations with the SED regime in the wake of the Biermann affair, as evidenced by the emigration of Katharina Thalbach and Thomas Brasch (with their daughter Anna), Eva-Maria Hagen (and her daughter Nina), as well as Angelica Domröse and Hilmar Thate. The overdetermined function of actors became even more pronounced

57 See http://www.deutsche-gesellschaft-ev.de/uber-uns/Aktuelles/preisverleihung-2011.

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in the postunification period, most tragically in the legal battles (over Stasi IM accusations) between Ulrich Mühe and his ex-wife Jenny Gröllmann, with their subsequent early deaths suggesting narratives of national guilt, shame and atonement played out at the intersection of art and life. But the postunification success stories of former DEFA actors such as Corinna Harfouch, Henry Hübchen and Katrin Sass also bear witness to the influence of a heavily subsidized theatre culture committed to acting as a dramatic art and sustained through the fluid exchanges amongst theatre, film and television. In this larger context the two most famous personifications of German division and unification continue to add their voices as former socialist stars to ongoing debates on the legacies of the GDR. Recently Manfred Krug, in response to the global financial crisis, talked about ‘what was good and reassuring’ in the GDR, such as the social welfare network and the belief in economic equality.58 And Armin Mueller-Stahl recalled the desire for a more just world that made him a communist believer after 1945; Fünf Patronenhülsen, he observed, could have become a cult film, had it been made in the United States with Hollywood stars.59 Instead, the actors associated with this antifascist classic continue to bear witness to the significant differences between the socialist star system and the Hollywood star system and to show how the productive encounters between both informed their own screen personas and public personas inside and outside the GDR. For that reason alone closer attention to the unique public function of famous actors in German cinema and the overlapping textual, intertextual and contextual practices that facilitate identifications and create meanings is bound to produce a more comprehensive account of DEFA cinema. In ways that hopefully have become clear through the three case studies this methodological challenge might also enable us to gain a deeper understanding of cinema as a public sphere and of actors as figures of public life – perhaps even stars in the broader sense.

58 ‘Manfred Krug und “das Schöne” an der DDR’, Spiegel Online, 24 October 2008 (www.spiegel. de/panorama/leute/0,1518,586328,00.html). 59 Thorsten Schuster, ‘Stasi – wie ich heute darüber denke’, SUPERillu, 22 February 2006 (http://www.superillu.de/leute/Armin_Mueller-Stahl_58880.html).

Part III Enlarging the Map

Chapter 10 ‘Wind from the East’: DEFA and Eastern European Cinema

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Chapter 10 ‘Wind from the East’: DEFA and Eastern European Cinema Only recently have scholars begun to contextualize DEFA within international cinema, largely with a focus on Western European or Hollywood film.1 Yet DEFA was also ‘part of a film distribution and reception circuit which spanned Eastern Europe as well as encompassing various Third World or decolonizing countries’, including prestigious film festivals like that at Karlovy Vary.2 Coproductions with other Eastern European countries were an important aspect of DEFA, and stars from these countries also appeared in DEFA films.3 Nonetheless, they continue to be given short shrift in publications on Eastern European or modern European cinema.4 Katie Trumpener has suggested that this neglect is due to DEFA’s not having been in a ‘dominant’ position in Eastern European cinema, so that it ‘looked for the most part politically and aesthetically orthodox’ relative to the greater freedom of other national film traditions.5 Trumpener’s formulation, however, may result from applying the wrong criteria to DEFA. In particular, the kind of auteurist modernism by which post-war cinema is commonly evaluated is not entirely relevant to DEFA because the directors had a different conception of their work than those in other Eastern European countries. First, the GDR could never define itself as a nation in the same way as could, for instance, Poland, with its long tradition of romantic nationalism. The ‘combination of novelty and nationalism’

1 Thomas Elsaesser and Michael Wedel, ‘Defining DEFA’s Historical Imaginary. The Films of Konrad Wolf’, New German Critique, 82 (Winter 2001), 3–24; Barton Byg’s pioneering ‘DEFA and the Traditions of International Cinema’, in DEFA: East German Cinema, 1946–1992, ed. by Seán Allan and John Sandford (New York: Berghahn, 1999), pp. 22–41, also emphasizes Western European cinema, although with important references to socialist realism (p. 28) and Eastern European New Waves (p. 35). 2 Katie Trumpener, ‘DEFA: Moving Germany into Eastern Europe’, in Moving Images of East Germany: Past and Future of DEFA Film, ed. by Barton Byg and Betheny Moore (Washington, D.C.: AICGS, 2002), p. 92. 3 See Mariana Ivanova, ‘DEFA and Eastern European Cinemas: Co-Productions, Transnational Exchange, and Artistic Collaborations’, Ph.D. diss., University of Texas, 2011. 4 There is not a single mention of DEFA in András Bálint Kovács, Screening Modernism. European Art Cinema, 1950–1980 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), a 400-page history of post-war cinema, although Polish and Czech films receive considerable discussion. 5 Trumpener, ‘DEFA: Moving Germany into Eastern Europe’, pp. 85, 99; see also p. 101 where she sees the comparison of DEFA to other Eastern European cinemas as ‘unflattering’ to the former.

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typical of post-war art film was not only a ‘marketing device’,6 but something built into the films themselves; DEFA could not participate in this equation. Second, a conception of film as Kultur (and actors as ‘cultural workers’) made it harder for DEFA directors to deploy references to popular Hollywood cinemas, as did new wave cinemas across Europe.7 Third, the self-understanding of DEFA directors was not, at least until its last decade, that of auteurs. When Rainer Simon’s Jadup und Boel [Jadup and Boel, 1980/1988] consciously reached for the type of subjective narration typical of art house cinema, the film could not be shown, for Simon’s strategy meant the end of an implicit concordat between DEFA and the GDR regime,8 one regulated also by a deliberately vague notion of Verantwortung or responsibility linking artist and state.9 The distinctive aspects of DEFA will emerge more closely from a comparative look at two DEFA films that are closely linked to Eastern European predecessors. Frank Beyer’s Jakob der Lügner [Jacob the Liar, 1974] not only has a prominent Czech actor as its star, but was filmed in Czechoslovakia to tell a story that happened in Poland. Beyer himself studied at the Prague Film and Television School of the Academy of Performing Arts (FAMU). As will become evident, the film has much in common with one of the best-known Czechoslovak New Wave films of the 1960s, Ján Kadár and Elmar Klos’s The Shop on Main Street [Obchod na korze, 1965]. Indeed, Jakob der Lügner was the only DEFA film ever nominated for an Oscar, and The Shop on Main Street actually won one. Rainer Simon’s Jadup und Boel explicitly modelled itself on Andrzej Wajda’s Man of Marble [Człowiek z marmuru, 1977] and also included the Polish actor Frantiszek Pieczka. Yet although Simon intended his film to be an investigation of the GDR past (like Wajda’s of Stalinism in Poland), it could not be shown until 1988, thereby losing the character of a public intervention that had been so central to Wajda’s film. A closer look at these two films and their Eastern European neighbours will flesh out specific differences. These exemplary comparisons would need to be complemented

6 David Bordwell, Narration in the Fiction Film (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1985), p. 231. 7 Further work is needed on the relation of DEFA to GDR concepts of Kultur. For useful documents on the historical evolution of the GDR concepts of Kultur, see Manfred Jäger, Kultur und Politik in der DDR (Cologne: Edition Deutschland Archiv, 1995). 8 A parallel could be drawn between this break in DEFA and one in GDR literature, which Yvonne Delhey has analyzed in Schwarze Orchideen und andere blaue Blumen. Reformsozialismus und Literatur in der DDR (Würzburg: Königshausen und Neumann, 2004). 9 Siegfried Lokatis, ‘Paradoxien der Zensur in der DDR’, in Der geteilte Himmel. Literatur und ihre Grenzen in der DDR, ed. by Martin Sabrow (Leipzig: Akademische Verlagsanstalt, 2004), p. 98. The same type of ‘responsible’ self-censorship was often at work in the DEFA studios.

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with others, especially with a look at Konrad Wolf’s debt to Soviet cinema. For example, Ich war neunzehn [I Was Nineteen, 1968] responds to Marlen Khutsiev’s I am Twenty / Lenin’s Gate [Mne dvadcat’ let / Zastava Il’icˇa, 1961/1964] as well as to Andrei Tarkovsky’s Ivan’s Childhood [Ivánovo détstvo, 1962]. Not only was Wolf trained in Moscow, with Soviet filmmakers like Mikhail Kalatozov as his classmates, but his entire oeuvre could also be seen as an ongoing dialogue with Soviet film, Tarkovsky in particular.10

Learning to Lie: The Shop on Main Street and Jakob der Lügner It is difficult to find a general stylistic formula for the Czech New Wave. As one commentator has it: There is no such thing as a ‘Czech school’ of filmmaking. The Czech New Wave has no equivalent of the Oberhausen Manifesto […] nor did its members comprise a close group of colleagues with shared and rigorously formulated artistic tastes, as was the case with the critics-turned-filmmakers of the French Nouvelle Vague.11

Although Czech cinema in the 1960s began its movement away from the restrictions of the 1950s with a return to neo-realism, it developed a particular kind of irony or grotesquerie distinct from the former and inseparable from a certain theatricality.12 Characterizations of Czech 1960s film tend to centre on theatrical aspects such as acting: ‘the loosely controlled acting style of professional or amateur actors, including improvised dialogue on a given topic’.13 This technique was familiar in Czech theatre of the time as well. Jarka Burian noted of Czech ‘plays of the middle and late sixties’ that ‘they employ what might be called a flexible realism, or impressionistic realism, and they tend to focus on groups of people rather

10 For Wolf’s relation to Tarkovsky in two other films, see my contributions on: ‘Mama ich lebe. Konrad Wolf’s Intermedial Parable of Antifascism’, Edinburgh German Yearbook, 3 (2009), 63–75; and ‘Breaking the Frame of Painting. Konrad Wolf’s Goya’, Studies in European Cinema, 5.2 (2008), 131–41. 11 Jonathan Owen, Avant-Garde to New Wave. Czechoslovak Cinema, Surrealism and the Sixties (New York: Berghahn, 2011), p. 42. András Bálint Kovács believes this is because ‘these films were not very original in their stylistic conceptions’ (Screening Modernism, p. 323). 12 One French critic saw Forman’s films as being ‘about the ability to smile’ (cited in Kovács, Screening Modernism, p. 326). 13 Ibid., p. 324.

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than on individuals’.14 Alena Vostrá and Jaroslav Vostr) elaborated on this improvisatory ideal: In this comedy we’re dealing with a play [in the sense of game] within a play, […] an activity with no purpose beyond itself […]. In the play of people with other people, it is not unusual to have victims. In fact, the victims in this sort of play [game] may be its own creators: the situation that they provoke may develop in a variety of unexpected ways. It is, if you will, a play-model of every human activity […].15

The Czech word for play, hra, also means game (like the German Spiel). The Drama Club at which this play was put on was one with close ties to film. The Vostr)s add to their comment that ‘the play is inseparable from the context of the theatre in which it was realized’. It is also inseparable from a particularly Eastern European social context. For what the actors are ‘playing’ is, in many of the New Wave films inspired by this theatrical conception, the theatrically self-ironizing consciousness of provincials ruled from a power located elsewhere. Kovács’s description of this predicament is worth quoting at length: […] the approach proposed by the Czechoslovak films was precisely the representation of the ultimate impossibility of overcoming provincialism. Not only do the heroes of these films not have a mental perspective that goes beyond their small community, but they constantly try to generalize their way of being in an attempt to make a superior order out of their provincial mentality and situation. And their pretentions to generalize provincial narrowmindedness is precisely what makes their persona and behavior grotesque and raises them above the quality of realist representation.16

The everyday world of these characters – what neo-realism seeks to chronicle with its quasi-sociological eye – thus becomes in itself fantastic and grotesque, even ritual or ceremonialized.17 In sociological terms this domain of the everyday would be linked to that of interaction (as opposed to organization or society in larger systemic terms). If social modernity has meant an increased decoupling of interaction from the systemic articulation of society, then Eastern Europe has been a region where that decoupling was less thoroughly carried out. Whereas in more modernized societies daily face-to-face interaction ‘can no longer be coupled

14 Jarka Burian, Modern Czech Theatre. Reflector and Conscience of a Nation (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2000), p. 106. 15 Vostr)s quoted in ibid., p. 126. 16 Kovács, Screening Modernism, p. 327. 17 Ivana Koåulibová, ‘The Ceremony of the Everyday. Jiqi Menzel’s Film Adaptations of Bohumil Hrabal’s Prose’, Kino-Eye (5 March 2001), n.p.

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back to social semantics’,18 in Eastern European societies this recoupling of interaction to semantics – via ritual or what Kovács calls ‘generalization’ – is in fact attempted, with simultaneous ironic awareness that such value given to everyday interaction is in fact impossible.19 It is also what historians of everyday life, following Alf Lüdtke, call Eigensinn (obstinacy).20 Attempts at organizing the everyday, at investing interaction with autonomous meaning, cannot help but collapse into what Niklas Luhmann calls interaction’s ‘basal anarchy.’21 There is thus something inherently Sisyphean about the grotesque or tragicomic efforts of Eastern European provincials to give their non-autonomous world meaning.22 The theatrical aspects of everyday life have a particular sharpness in the East European context. Moreover, this tragicomic aspect of the everyday becomes even more acute in time of war or crisis, such as the Nazi occupation. Ján Kadár and Elmar Klos’s The Shop on Main Street transposes mid-1960s Czech theatricality of the everyday into wartime fascist Slovakia and shows the failure of interaction to protect its autonomy in tragicomic terms. Luhmann wrote on the breakdown of the everyday in 1789 as follows: In the French Revolution, the difference between interaction and society emerged very sharply. The course of events was no longer able to be controlled by interaction, and all of Europe looked on. The logic of interaction could not hinder the terror, but rather helped carry it out.23

So too in Kadár and Klos’s small-town Slovakia. The Eigensinn of powerless provincials may slow down the ultimate enforcement of destructive Nazi racial laws but cannot prevent them. The Eigensinn is expressed in the desperate determination of the town’s residents to maintain the normal fabric of everyday life in

18 Niklas Luhmann, Soziale Systeme (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1984), p. 578. Luhmann’s untranslatable term here is Hochsemantik, literally ‘high semantics’, which might be conceived via analogy to ‘high culture’: a domain of cultural meaning linked to stratified societies and their caste orders. 19 This is what Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari called the total politicization of minor literatures in another context; see Kafka: Towards a Minor Literature, trans. Dana Polan (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986). 20 See the glossary in The History of Everyday Life. Reconstructing Historical Experiences and Ways of Life, ed. by Alf Lüdtke (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995), pp. 313–14. 21 Luhmann, Soziale Systeme, p. 575. 22 Benjamin Paloff has linked this situation to the formal aspects of Eastern European literature between the wars in ‘Intermediacy. A Poetics of Unfreedom in Interwar Russian, Polish, and Czech Literatures’, Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 2007. 23 Luhmann, Soziale Systeme, p. 577.

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spite of the pressure of the fascist Hlinka Guards. This determined effort takes the form of a theatricalization of normal routine as a bulwark against the threat of disintegration of society. Theatricality is especially marked amongst the town’s Jewish community, which maintains solidarity and order through mutual support; thus the shop of Rosalie Lautmannová, which has long ceased to generate any profit, is kept open by the charitable donations of the town’s Jews. The shop is a front, its functioning laden with nostalgic and symbolic value, an emblem of a society of face-to-face interaction and trust that has in fact already vanished. The film’s plot narrates the paradoxical integration of Tono Brtko, nominally supposed to be Mrs. Lautmannová’s ‘Aryan’ supervisor, into her traditional Jewish shop-owner’s daily life. By the film’s end, however, he cannot protect her from the enforced deportation of the town’s Jews and hangs himself out of despairing solidarity with her after her accidental death. Mrs. Lautmannová’s age, her ritual soup-cooking, gramophone-listening and prayer, are already anachronistic and marked for disappearance; her physical deafness is also a theatrical ploy, a refusal to recognize the real threat around her. The town itself with its eponymous main street, the locus of ritualized bourgeois promenades and greetings, becomes something of an idyll. The ethnic and religious variety of the world depicted in the film (and of the film’s makers) also requires theatrical ritual to coordinate it: filmed in a small Slovak town, but made in Prague’s Barrandov studio, the film had a Slovak director and main male character, but the female lead, Ida Kaminska, was a Polish Jew famed for her work in the Yiddish theatre of interwar Warsaw.24 The film’s hero, Tono Brtko, a Schwejk-like simpleton, must then learn to lie in order to help keep up appearances: as his older mentor Imre tells him, ‘don’t be a fool by pretending to be a fool’.25 The places where Brtko plays his ritualized, everyday role are accordingly set up theatrically: the old, bearded treasurer for the Jewish mutual relief society emerges through a beaded curtain in Mr. Katz’s barber shop as if from off-stage, and Mrs. Lautmannová’s shop and apartment are neatly divided between front (store) and back (living quarters). As Erving Goffman remarks in his analysis of everyday theatricality, this division ‘distinguishes middle class living from lower class living’.26 Theatricality has specific middle class origins, as Luhmann has noted: the ability to distinguish between framed (theatrical) and unframed contexts was

24 Andrew James Horton, ‘Just Who Owns the Shop? Identity and Nationality in Obchod na korze’, Senses of Cinema, 11 (December 2000), n.p.; online at http://sensesofcinema.com/2000/11/shop/. 25 As Jacques Lacan punningly had it, ‘les non-dupes errent’, those who are not fooled are wrong, that is, one must keep up the fictional appearance on which society depends. This is the title of one of Lacan’s late and still unpublished Seminars (XXI, from 1973–1974). 26 Erving Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (New York: Doubleday 1959), p. 123.

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Fig 10.1: Kuchar explains to Brtko how to keep up appearances in Mrs. Lautmannová’s shop in The Shop on Main Street (1965).

linked to the development of the market in early capitalism.27 When the propped-up theatricality of Brtko’s symbiotic relation to Mrs. Lautmannová finally collapses under the pressure of the impending deportation of the town’s Jews, Brtko falls apart, goes on a drunken binge and runs amok: he no longer has a symbolic social context with which to make sense of his life, for he has – as a Schwejkian idiot or naïf – lacked what Goffman termed ‘role distance’ or irony, and is thus ‘over-involved’ in his role.28 The dreamlike sequence at the end represents a utopia where theatricality would in fact become identical to social life (which it can never be).29 Made almost a decade later, Jakob der Lügner, like The Shop on Main Street, is a story of someone compelled to lie by comically contingent circumstances; like

27 Niklas Luhmann, Die Kunst der Gesellschaft (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp 1995), pp. 277, 299. 28 Erving Goffman, Interaction Ritual. Essays on Face-to-Face Behavior (New York: Doubleday, 1967), p. 122; Erving Goffman, Encounters. Two Studies in the Sociology of Interaction (New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1961), p. 108. 29 Dirk Baecker has made this point in ‘Kein Theater’, lecture at the Zurich Hochschule der Künste, 29 March 2012.

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the Czech film, its narrative has strongly parabolic elements, and performance or role-playing are central here too. Like Brtko, Jakob is a little man unwittingly thrust into the role of an everyday hero in a Jewish ghetto destined to be emptied of its inhabitants when they are deported to a Nazi death camp. He thinks to himself that he must not only lie but also act out his lies in a manner convincing to others: ‘your conviction must be written on your face’.30 Other characters must also play theatrical roles to survive, whether Frankfurter the actor, who, as Becker’s novel has it, ‘acts out his pleasure’ when he smokes his empty pipe (p. 48), or Rosa, who ‘kicked up a fuss’ (‘so ein Theater machte’) about keeping Mischa’s room just as it was before his roommate Fajngold died (p. 179), or Professor Kirschbaum and his sister, who stage a dignified farewell to preserve their self-respect (p. 203). Both films rely on dream sequences near their conclusions; both are fairly traditional in their narrative and filmic techniques.31 Even the films’ music is related: the two main musical elements in both are a richly orchestrated waltz (corresponding to the public sphere) and a melancholic solo violin theme (associated with Brtko in The Shop on Main Street and with a generic Jewishness in Jakob der Lügner). Yet a closer look at the two films also reveals significant differences. Whereas The Shop on Main Street was concerned with the theatricality of everyday life, Jakob der Lügner extends this into a meditation on storytelling and fiction. The everyday Eigensinn of Slovak small-town residents that insists on keeping up appearances of normality shifts to the indirect resistance of fairy tales and fictitious radio broadcasts in the ghetto. Hence, whereas the central ‘lie’ of The Shop on Main Street had intended to shore up the daily life of the traditional small-town community to preserve an insider’s domain against external (Nazi and Slovak fascist) intrusion and disruption, Jakob’s lie maintains a utopian outside to the prison-world of the Łódz ghetto. This gives Jakob der Lügner a theological dimension lacking in its Czechoslovak predecessor. If both films may also be seen as indirect, allegorical criticisms of the communist societies in which they were made,32 Jakob der Lügner adds to

30 Jurek Becker, Jakob der Lügner (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp 1982), p. 101. Becker first conceived of the story as a screenplay in 1968, but when it was rejected by DEFA, he transformed it into a novel, published in 1969. The following references are all to passages in the novel. 31 ‘The film’s poetic appeal is traditional and without any tendencies towards visual and formal experimentation’, notes Lubica Mistriková in ‘A Shop on the High Street’, in The Cinema of Central Europe, ed. by Peter Hames (London: Wallflower Press, 2004), pp. 97–105 (p. 97). As will be shown, Jakob der Lügner is also quite traditional in its storytelling. 32 On this dimension in Becker’s novel, see Alan Corkhill, ‘From Novel to Film to Remake: Jurek Becker’s Jakob der Lügner’, in New German Literature. Life-Writing and Dialogue with the Arts, ed. by Julian Preece, Frank Finlay and Ruth Owen (Oxford: Lang, 2007), pp. 93–106 (p. 95).

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this a dimension of hope. Jakob’s radio is termed ‘a direct line to God’, keeping alive a ‘little flame of hope’; when the electricity returns after the blackout, it is compared to a ‘saviour’.33 This theological hope suggests the patron saint of East German reform socialism, philosopher Ernst Bloch, who is frequently evoked in the secondary literature on the novel. In this respect Becker’s novel – and Beyer’s film – are not only critiques of the GDR, but also attempts at maintaining hopefulness for its reform. The deliberate popular appeal of both novel and film are part and parcel of this strategy. Few of the commentaries on the novel note that Becker’s deliberately ambiguous and subjectivizing narrative strategies derive from Johannes Bobrowski’s Levins Mühle [Levin’s Mill] of only a few years earlier (1964).34 This derivation is, if anything, even stronger in Beyer’s film, which begins with intertitles: ‘Jakob’s story never happened like this. / Most definitely not. / But maybe it did happen this way.’ Bobrowski’s novel begins thus: ‘It is perhaps false if I now tell the story of how my grandfather flooded away the mill, but perhaps it also isn’t false.’35 Christa Wolf, too, participated in this trend towards subjective narrative; it is not far-fetched to see Becker’s and Beyer’s work as contributing to a tradition of reform socialist literature and film inspired by Ernst Bloch.36 Both in Becker’s novel and in Beyer’s film hope translates into the aesthetics of fantasy and fairy tale. Just as the novel derives from the hopeful tradition of Bobrowski and Bloch, so Beyer’s film may be linked to the politics of fantasy initiated not long before by the DEFA film Die Legende von Paul und Paula [The Legend of Paul and Paula, Heiner Carow, 1973]. Lina’s fairy tale visions, in gaudily bright ORWO colour, are cinematically not far removed from the central utopian segment of Carow’s film, where the couple travel down the river on a bed turned boat. Both films in turn incorporate elements of DEFA fairy tale films into other genres (melodramatic love story and Holocaust film respectively).37 The fairy tale element is also connected to the aesthetics of identification: both the narration’s folksy

33 Becker, Jakob der Lügner, pp. 69, 150, 99. 34 An exception is Paul O’Doherty, ‘Fiddler in the Ghetto: The Film of Jurek Becker’s Novel Jakob der Lügner’, in Text into Image. Image into Text, ed. by Jeff Morrison and Florian Krobb (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1997), pp. 307–17 (p. 314). 35 Johannes Bobrowski, Levins Mühle (Stuttgart: DVA, 1999), p. 7. This distinction also refers to Aristotle’s definition of probability or verisimilitude (see Poetics 1448). 36 For a critical view of this tradition, see Delhey, Schwarze Orchideen. 37 On the link between Jakob der Lügner and DEFA fairy tale films, see Susan Figge and Jennifer Ward, ‘“Ich möchte einmal alles erzählen”. The Nazi Era in Three Fictional Tellings and Their Cinematic Retellings’, in Reworking the German Past. Adaptations in Film, the Arts, and Popular Culture, ed. by Susan Figge and Jennifer Ward (Rochester: Camden House, 2010), pp. 80–103 (p. 93).

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simplicity, with its imitation of oral storytelling (which we might also link to the ‘secondary orality’ of the radio), and the use of colour are meant to make us identify with Jakob and his fellow ghetto inhabitants.38 Moreover, not only Jakob’s fairy tale of the sick princess is fantastic, but the entire ghetto milieu as well, which Becker invented to take the place of his own missing memories of childhood. Jakob der Lügner is a film of multiple absences and displacements. Where The Shop on Main Street was filmed on location in a small Slovak town, with one of the main actors (Józef Kroner) a Slovak, Jakob der Lügner could not be filmed in Poland, where the action nominally took place, but had to be shot in Most, a small Czech town. Vlastimil Brodsk) spoke no German and had to be dubbed. These structuring absences – of setting, of native tongue – may be correlated with Becker’s own loss of his Polish mother tongue together with his childhood memories as a result of his post-war displacements. In the absence of those memories the Łódz ghetto is depicted as a shtetl,39 as a fantasy – and one perhaps derived as much from the growing popularity of Fiddler On the Roof-inspired idealizations of the shtetl as from any real memory.40 Becker’s novel repeatedly alludes to this improbability: Probability is not the determining factor for me; it is improbable that precisely I should still be alive. It is much more important that I think it might or should have happened in this way, and that has nothing at all to do with probability, I’ll vouch for that.41

Becker is playing here on the two meanings of Wahrscheinlichkeit, probability and plausibility, an ambiguity which ‘has its root in the ambivalence of ancient rhetoric’, wherein plausibility could either ‘cause truth to appear’ or invent out and out lies.42 The difference between these two meanings is crucial. If The Shop on Main Street was about one dimension of probability – the ‘human need for orientation in the world’ in the absence of absolute certainties,43 then Jakob der Lügner is about a deliberate violation of ethical norms, which can only be justified through a theology of hope. In other words it moves from the mere social ‘fiction’ of The Shop on Main Street to a deeper form of fiction, one not based on mutual

38 Ibid., p. 99. 39 Manfred Karnick, ‘Die Geschichte von Jakob und Jakobs Geschichte’, in Jurek Becker, ed. by Irene Heidelberger-Leonard (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1992), pp. 207–21 (p. 212). 40 O’Doherty, ‘Fiddler in the Ghetto’, p. 313, even points to a similarity between the main violin motif of Jakob der Lügner and that of the musical. 41 Becker, Jakob der Lügner, pp. 44–45; see also pp. 56, 60. 42 Hans Blumenberg, Paradigms for a Metaphorology, trans. Robert Savage (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2010), p. 82. 43 Ibid., p. 83.

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polite feigning in order to keep up social appearances but rather on deliberate deception. Only at the end is this deception undone with Lina’s question: ‘Aren’t clouds made of cotton?’, and the subsumption of Geschichte (actual history) under Jakob’s mere Geschichtenerzählen (storytelling) is split apart.44 As has often been remarked, Beyer’s film did not – with the exception of the opening intertitles – attempt to reproduce the element of narrative reflexivity in Becker’s novel. That this aspect is translated not only into the stylized mise-enscène (what Beyer himself called ‘an elaborate dramaturgy of colour’),45 but also into the acting, has been less frequently noted. Vlastimil Brodsk) had not only appeared in children’s films but was also known in Czechoslovakia as the ‘fairy tale uncle’ named Hajaja in a popular evening children’s radio broadcast. In Jakob der Lügner he did nothing other than stage a radio role he had practiced for years. Central to Beyer’s film is the interaction between Jakob and Lina, which also requires a kind of play-acting on the older actor’s part: Jakob/Brodsk) was successful at gaining Lina’s trust in large measure because he took Lina’s questions seriously. This seriousness pervades his entire performance; it clashes, however, with the ostensive comic performance of Erwin Geschonneck (as Kowalski), who had trained with Brecht. Beyer’s autobiography documents the difficulties he had with coordinating Brodsk) and Geschonneck: ‘it looked as if they were acting in different films.’ After the first rehearsal, Brodsk) said to Beyer: ‘How can I defend myself against this clown [Geschonneck]?’, while Geschonneck commented on Brodsk): ‘Are you really just going to let him not act at all in your film?’46 The difference of performance types here does not map onto national difference precisely as one might have expected. Geschonneck’s acting refers to Brecht’s ostensive-comic tradition, while Brodsk) is – if not quite a Method actor – more restrained. Although Czech theatre was not lacking in ostensive-comic aspects, there were also more understated ones.47 There is something peculiarly Czech

44 Figge and Ward, ‘Ich möchte einmal alles erzählen’, p. 97. 45 ‘Damit lebe ich bis heute. Gespräch mit Frank Beyer’, in Regie: Frank Beyer, ed. by Ralf Schenk (Berlin: Hentrich, 1995), p. 74. 46 Frank Beyer, Wenn der Wind sich dreht. Meine Filme, mein Leben (Munich: List Verlag, 2002), pp. 192–93. See also Sabine Hake’s comments on Geschonneck’s acting style and persona in chap. 9. 47 The Prague Drama Club’s ‘acting was often called cinematic’ in its attention to ‘smaller, subtler, highly revealing physical actions’ (Burian, Modern Czech Theatre, p. 127). Brodsk), however, performed mostly at the Vinohrady Theatre, a mid-sized institution between the National Theatre and the smaller stages where much of the most vital work was done in the 1960s; his links to theatre still need investigating.

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about Brodsk)’s performance that sticks or stands out amid the film’s German (or fictitious Polish) milieu. Brodsk) was called a ‘smutny klaun’ or ‘sad clown’ in Czech; his autobiography was titled To }e jsem já? (This Then Is Me?) – implying an underlying doubt or uncertainty about himself.48 This doubt or hesitation conveys the fundamental tone of his performance, which Geschonneck understood as little as many American reviewers of the time could.49 It is quite apt for the character of Jakob in Becker’s novel, who at one point is described as having a ‘stone face’ (p. 239). Another Czechoslovak film in which Brodsk) appeared was Jiqi Menzel’s Capricious Summer [Rozmarné léto, 1968]. What Milan Kundera wrote of the novel on which the film was based could be applied to Brodsk) as well: ‘He preserves a content smacking of mediocrity, but he confounds it with a deadly serious expression of pathos. This gives birth to […] a sparkling tension between pathos of delivery and pettiness of material’.50 The same ironic contrast may be found in certain acting styles: The faces of certain actors – Brando, Gielgud, Clift, March, Tracy, Bogart – seem to be acutely inner-reflective. These actors seem to be doing a great deal of thinking. Their faces look preoccupied, as if attending to some inner voice, or memory.51

This is an apt characterization of Brodsk)’s performance: he is not only bluffing to hide his lies about his non-existent radio, but also preoccupied with his memories of life before the war and with the growing certainty of hopelessness, which he must hide from everyone. Rather than bluffing with ostensive comic over-acting, like Tono Brtko, in order to prop up the immediate world of social convention, Brodsk)’s Jakob is ironically split between two worlds that he must hold together in one person and with one face: the world of real despair and the fictive world of hope sustained by his radio. In the scene where he mimics the radio for Lina in the cellar, we see him close his eyes, embrace a watering can as if it were his lost love, and yield to his own illusion, while non-diegetic music takes over from his own mimicry of an orchestra: this is the moment corresponding to the final idyllic dream of Tono and Mrs. Lautmannová, almost dancing with each other in the public space of the Slovak main street.

48 Josef Brodsk), To zˇe jsem já? (Prague: Brána, 2002). 49 See John Simon’s review, ‘Well-intentioned, ill-conceived’, New York Magazine, 9 (May 1977), 70–71; Simon explicitly prefers Geschonneck’s acting to Brodsk)’s. 50 Cited in Peter Hames, The Czechoslovak New Wave (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985), p. 180. 51 James Naremore, Acting in the Cinema (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988), p. 71.

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Fig 10.2: Jakob furtively performs a fictitious radio broadcast for Lina in Jakob der Lügner (1975).

Morals and Memories: Man of Marble and Jadup und Boel In the case of Polish film a strong link between the history of the nation and art dates well back into the nineteenth century; Poland’s greatest Romantic poet, Adam Mickiewicz, had lectured on history in Paris during the 1840s, and national history continued to be a privileged topic for novelists from Henryk Sienkiewicz to Stefan Zeromski in the early twentieth century. These historical novels have frequently been adapted for the screen right to the present day, and the mantle of chronicler of the nation could thus be passed on to film directors. Film thus became a concern of the state, in its role as architect of national memory. As a result, in Central and Eastern Europe the politique des auteurs had a particular sharpness about it: it became a politics of the nation in contest with socialist internationalism. And if nationalism, according to Roman Szporluk, was the Achilles’ heel of Marxism, then the auteurist film might be an arrow in this heel.52 Auteurist

52 Roman Szporluk, Communism and Nationalism. Karl Marx versus Friedrich List (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988).

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criticism is today no longer viable in the form it once was; nonetheless Janet Staiger’s suggestion to historicize the author-function for the purpose of a sociology of film production can be helpful for understanding the status of the cinema in socialism, especially for the production and reception of national narratives.53 Andrzej Wajda’s films are a good example of this auteurist tactic. The formation of the Polish School in film, historically linked to Wajda’s Ashes and Diamonds [Popiół i diament, 1958], was inseparable from the political compromise of 1956, whereby Poland was granted a certain amount of freedom to pursue a specifically national variant of socialism. Wajda has directed historical films throughout his career; he continues to make them now (e.g. his 2012 biopic on Lech Wał˛esa). Moreover, his Man of Marble served as a model for an important DEFA film, Rainer Simon’s Jadup und Boel. The differences between the two films, however, indicate greater dissimilarities between Polish and DEFA films’ approach to history, memory and censorship. Simon began his career in the late 1960s with documentary fiction films that reflected the clear influence of the then still-new medium of television. His heroes were either ordinary people (the title of one of his first short films) or outsiders. In Jadup und Boel these two types meet. The film’s structure is clearly modelled on that of Man of Marble. Both are narrated through flashbacks, like their predecessor Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941). Both take the form of an investigation into an enigmatic past. In both witnesses are questioned in order to construct this past. Yet Simon’s filmic style is very different from Wajda’s. In Man of Marble the research efforts of the young filmmaker (played by Krystyna Janda) begin in the film archive. The facts of the life of Mateusz Birkut are materially there, although off limits to the public; they need to be made public. In this Wajda is again following the model of Citizen Kane, and his film may be termed a fictitious biopic.54 With its film-within-a-film structure it contains a dimension of medial reflexivity that Jadup und Boel lacks. Here the investigation, in very German fashion, is purely internal, a matter of conscience. When the film was finally shown, Simon called it a ‘film of honest self-questioning’ (‘ein Film der ehrlichen Selbstbefragung’). He meant with this not only the self-questioning of his hero but also that of the artist and of GDR society as a whole.

53 Janet Staiger, ‘Authorship Approaches’, in Authorship and Film, ed. by David A. Gerstner and Janet Staiger (New York: Routledge, 2003), pp. 27–57. 54 See George Custen’s Bio/Pics. How Hollywood Constructed Public History (New York: Rutgers University Press, 1992). If Hollywood films about ‘great men’ shifted from industrial production to consumerism, then Wajda similarly moved from the bricklayer Birkut to the journalistic activity of the documentarist Agnieszka in the information society of the 1970s.

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Fig 10.3: Agnieszka, the heroic young filmmaker in Man of Marble (1977), astride a Stalinist statue, shooting an investigative film for TV.

The difference from Wajda is especially marked here for he only named himself as the second director in the fictitious documentary of his alter ego Burski, ‘Architects of Our Happiness’. Like a nineteenth-century novelist, he split himself into two characters, that of the successful conformist Burski and the young idealist Agnieszka.55 Paul Coates has aptly commented that in his aesthetically experimental works, like Everything for Sale [Wszystko na sprzedaz˙, 1969], Wajda could include self-criticism, but ‘explicitly political works accorded self-criticism a minor role’.56 This is not the case for Simon. His protagonist is himself implicated in the story, thus himself guilty – which corresponds to the German ‘national’ position after 1945 – and therefore he cannot claim the innocence of Agnieszka. If Simon’s Jadup must ‘purify’ himself through doubt and self-criticism, Wajda’s Agnieszka

55 Sigmund Freud, ‘Der Dichter und das Phantasieren’, Studienausgabe in zehn Bänden (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 1970), X, pp. 169–79. 56 Paul Coates, The Red and the White. The Cinema of People’s Poland (London: Wallflower, 2005), p. 45.

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can simply call out J’accuse! Simon’s self-criticism expresses itself on a level of complex aesthetic stylization. While Wajda’s flashbacks are always (as in Citizen Kane) clearly attributable, so that we always know whose memory is in question, Simon’s happen so rapidly and in such a fragmentary manner that the viewer has a hard time piecing together the flashbacks into a coherent past. At the end Boel’s riddle is not even solved, a typical strategy of what David Bordwell has described as art-film narration, for the main point is Jadup’s moral renewal. Simon’s deliberately blurred images in the flashbacks are more closely akin to the flashbacks in Wajda’s Maids of Wilko [Panny z Wilka, 1979] than those in Man of Marble. This subjective obliquity of narration may also explain why Jadup has never had the success of Man of Marble. The nature of memory in both films is thus very different. If for Wajda memory has a clear claim to being public, for Simon it becomes an extremely private confession. The medium and archive of Wajda’s national memory is a film within a film – namely a film made for television – whereas the medium and archive for Simon is the so-called ‘all-round socialist personality’.57 This paradox characterizes many DEFA films: even the attempts to protest against everyday opportunism and resignation in the name of a subjective engagement or authenticity (the attitude Erich Loest criticized in his 1977 novel Es geht seinen Gang [Business As Usual]) could nonetheless fall back into the self-reference of socialist morality.58 In the language of Niklas Luhmann we have here an unwitting or unintentional instance of the system’s re-entry back into the system. The pathetic heroes of cinematic reform socialism are thus the involuntary heirs of Kafka or Beckett. In Wajda’s case this re-entry may be found in the fact that even Agnieszka’s reform pathos must draw on the heroic rhetoric of socialist realism in order to combat Stalinism. The patron saint of reform-socialist film, whether in Polish or East German form, may well have been Sisyphus. A closer look at filmic techniques exposes more detail of these tensions. For Wajda it is a question of heroic rhetoric: wide angle lenses, shots from below that monumentalize the figures and again recall Welles; rapid travelling shots, an inheritance from the French New Wave, rapid cutting and the driving, emotional music. Wajda was always of the opinion that – as he put it – ‘emotional values’ should be most important and that ‘the means [must be] emotive, in order to be

57 This ideal was first explicitly formulated as a goal of the GDR educational system at the Sixth Party Congress of the SED (1963). 58 Erich Loest, Es geht seinen Gang oder Mühen in unserer Ebene (Leipzig: Mitteldeutscher Verlag, 1977). The scene where Jadup rides on the merry-go-round outside the new shopping centre, bitterly laughing ‘alles im Kreis herum!’, feels like a reference to Loest.

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Fig 10.4: Jadup’s first hazy flashback of Boel and her mother as war refugees in Jadup und Boel (1981).

effective’.59 With this he wrote himself into the rhetorical tradition of Polish Romanticism. The hyperbolic aspects of Man of Marble should also be seen as linked to the reference to television and documentary with its deictic rhetoric of showing. For Simon this kind of rhetoric was out of the question. First, neo-realist aesthetics had a strong influence on DEFA cinema; second, Wajda’s heroic national romanticism was unthinkable in the GDR since its discrediting during the Nazi period; and third, as noted, Simon’s hero Jadup was himself implicated in the events he investigated. Instead of polemicizing against his environment, Jadup follows the thorny path of self-examination. Here is the paradox. On the one hand we may see this process as a homage to the tradition of the modern art film, for which the idea of an ‘inner journey’ was often important.60 But inwardness and

59 Barbara Mruklik, Andrzej Wajda (Warszawa: Wydawnictwa artystyczne i filmowe, 1969), p. 35; see the discussion in Coates, The Red and the White, p. 29. Coates also locates Wajda in the tradition of Romanticism (p. 42). 60 Kovács, Screening Modernism, pp. 103–11.

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individuality are both also forms of social control, particularly in the German context. The paradox in Simon’s film is that his main figure Jadup both corresponds to and exceeds the ideal image of the ‘all-round socialist personality’.61 The idea of the formation of a particular type of character or personality may be traced back to the 1950s. It arose in part for the purpose of forming new cadres that were not supposed to be too ‘elite’ to represent the working class and yet to possess the culture of technocratic-managerial expertise.62 Jadup’s rough and ready manner, perfectly acted by Kurt Böwe, the ‘Columbo of the East’, precisely embodies the ideal egalitarian self-image of the GDR leadership. And the pathosladen speech that he gives near the end to his students is very much in the tradition of the appellative speeches to the public found in DEFA films from Die Mörder sind unter uns [The Murderers Are Among Us, Wolfgang Staudte, 1946] onward: But I believe that the fate of the revolution, of all of us, is bound up with people for whom one can vouch, as Lenin says, that they will never accept a single word merely on faith and will never say anything against their conscience.63

It is not a question of diminishing the quality or courage of Simon’s film, but of elucidating its conditions of production and how they left their traces in the film. Astonishingly the censors would not even accept this clear proof of good will and socialist morality.64 Instead, high cultural functionaries complained that ‘the revolution was reduced to morality’ or ‘left-liberal positions’.65 The very civic engagement that Jadup personifies and that was constantly demanded by the authorities could not be shown in this critical form. By turning all too personally to his public, Jadup broke the normal rules of ‘civil inattention’ – as Erving Goffman put it – and generated a scandal. Even the old form of bourgeois or early modern individualism

61 For the history of this concept, see John Erpenbeck und Johannes Weinberg, Menschenbild und Menschenbildung. Bildungstheoretische Konsequenzen der unterschiedlichen Menschenbilder in der ehemaligen DDR und in der heutigen Bundesrepublik (Münster: Waxmann, 1996), p. 22; and Sabine Dengel, Untertan, Volksgenosse, sozialistische Persönlichkeit. Politische Erziehung im Deutschen Kaiserreich, dem NS-Staat und der DDR (Frankfurt am Main: Campus, 2005). 62 Arnd Bauernkämper and Jürgen Danyel, ‘The Pivotal Cadres: Leadership Styles and SelfImages of GDR Elites’, in Dictatorship as Experience. Towards a Socio-Cultural History of the GDR, ed. by Konrad Jarausch (New York: Berghahn, 1999), pp. 265–81 (p. 268). 63 ‘Jadups Rede’, Weltbühne (1 August 1988), n.p. (in the press archive of the Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen, Babelsberg). 64 Lenin is not quoted in Paul Kanut Schäfer’s novel, of which the film is an adaptation; the quote was added by the director as a gesture of compromise. 65 Horst Pehnert to Hans-Joachim Hoffmann, 6 October 1981, and Hoffmann to Kurt Hager, 4 May 1981, now in BA FA, Fiche 2, Ordnungs-Nr. 2.

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was too much for the GDR censors. In Poland, however, there was an organized counter society: the KOR (Komitet Obrony Robotników, Committee for Defence of Workers) was founded in the summer of 1976, the year Man of Marble was filmed. Wajda’s film could appeal to this public with its filmic repertory of rhetorically persuasive means, and it became an intervention into the country’s political life. In the GDR there was no such publicly organized form of protest, but instead the famous ‘niche society’.66 Simon’s Jadup had to remain confined to this niche of private life. For Wajda we can also find a pendant to Simon’s paradox of internalized socialist morality and inner protest against routine in the famous formulation of civil society (bürgerliche Gesellschaft, société civile), which was so widely discussed before 1989, only to fade rapidly thereafter. As critics have since pointed out, the real power of civil society was overestimated, since the concept was decoupled from the family and state institutions with which it was still intimately bound up in Hegel’s original conception.67 We might link the fact that the model of citizens’ media was not realized in the East after 1989, and that the political power of the media was often exaggerated (especially in the case of Poland) to this hyperbolic medial rhetoric of Wajda’s film.68 Here too the contrast between the two films points to larger differences between two film industries and between two conceptions of nation and national history as mediated by film.69 Jadup und Boel need not be diminished (pace Trumpener) relative to Wajda’s greater popularity and public effectiveness, for Wajda’s strategy was always one of deliberate populism and not one of pure filmic modernism. If Man of Marble used a unique combination of medial reflexivity (which Wajda had already tried out in Everything for Sale) with a

66 Günter Gaus, Wo Deutschland liegt. Eine Ortsbestimmung (Hamburg: Hoffmann und Leske, 1983), p. 115. 67 Colin Sparks and Anna Reading, ‘De-Regulating Television after Communism: A Comparative Analysis of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic’, in Democracy and Communism in the New Europe, ed. by Farrel Corcoran and Paschal Preston (Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 1995), pp. 31–50. 68 Rhetoric is too unstable in itself to underpin specific contents (such as morality); see Niklas Luhmann, ‘Ethik als Reflexionstheorie der Moral’, Gesellschaftsstruktur und Semantik (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp 1993), pp. 387–88. 69 In the discussion of a previous version of this paper in Wrocław, objections were raised that Polish and GDR concepts of the nation were too dissimilar to enable a comparison. Yet precisely the futurity of the GDR as a nation, which I have analyzed elsewhere (Larson Powell, ‘Gattung, Geschichte, Nation: Konrad Wolfs Ich war neunzehn’, in Konrad Wolf. Werk und Wirkung, ed. by Michael Wedel and Elke Schieber [Berlin: Vistas, 2009], pp. 125–44), shows some structural kinship with the ideal conception of the Polish nation; on the latter see Andrzej Walicki, ‘The Political Heritage of the Sixteenth Century and its Influence on the Nation-Building Ideologies of the Polish Enlightenment and Romanticism’, in The Polish Renaissance in its European Context, ed. by Samuel Fiszman (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988), pp. 34–57.

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strongly appellative and identificatory rhetorical pathos, Simon aimed to profile himself as a filmic auteur with an international modernist art film. The poetic, subjective, dreamlike aspects of the flashbacks in Jadup und Boel situate the film in the vicinity of Bergman’s Wild Strawberries [Smultronstället, 1957]. The specifically national aspects of his ‘work on memory’ had thus to be more soft-spoken and muted than in Wajda’s film, painted in half- and undertones. The art film public was just as small a niche as that of unofficial GDR culture. And the larger public of Wajda’s Solidarity films has been blown away by the winds of globalized capitalism as completely as those niche societies or publics.

A Distanced History The comparison of Beyer with Kadár and Klos and of Simon with Wajda reveals common aspects and divergences. DEFA films share with other Eastern European films larger, over-arching tropes of irony and pathos used to narrate complex stories from the national past, whether from the Second World War or Stalinism, in a reflexive manner. Where DEFA differs most obviously from its Czechoslovak or Polish neighbours is in a more muted, less histrionic dramaturgy, one that appeals less directly to emotional identification. Several reasons can be adduced for this. One is that, although many DEFA actors worked in the theatre, not many DEFA directors had the protracted engagement with theatre of an Eastern European director like Wajda, who alternated between film and the stage throughout his career.70 Another is the enduring mistrust of pathos and emotional identification in the wake of Nazi cinema, an implicit taboo only partly broken in the 1970s. This resulted in a prevalent mode of oblique understatement both in acting and directing that made later DEFA films persistently difficult to access for non-specialist viewers. Third, DEFA directors did not understand themselves as self-dramatizing auteurs, as could their colleagues in Poland, Czechoslovakia or Hungary. Finally, DEFA’s oblique and muted performance style was also linked to a different view of history, one less anchored in a secure metanarrative of the Nation. Understanding DEFA properly requires coming to terms with these specific differences in further detail.

70 Beyer had been interested in the theatre in his youth (Schenk, ed., Regie: Frank Beyer, p. 13) and was banished to the Dresden Theatre after the censoring of Spur der Steine, but he saw his work in Dresden as less than entirely satisfying (Ibid., pp. 62–64). Neither Simon nor Konrad Wolf ever did important work for the theatre. The relation of DEFA to GDR theatre still needs investigation (e.g. did the ongoing influence of Brecht inhibit collaboration?).

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Chapter 11 DEFA Children’s Films: Not Just for Children It is easy to tell the story of a triumphant GDR that, through its excellent films, redrew the boundaries of the Cold War. In that tale the half of Germany under Soviet control turned to the movies to heal itself through heroic tales of antifascism, thus laying the groundwork for a future far removed from the Nazi past. Children, as film subjects and audiences, played the key role in this plan. What better way to prove an emerging nation’s commitment to a utopian society than to push young people to the forefront of a massive re-education project that played itself out on the Big Screen? That version of cinematic history might work as a screenplay, but it obscures the more complex development of children’s filmmaking in the GDR. Indeed, the very notion of children’s films evolved only slowly as a category in the GDR as elsewhere, never achieving a clear definition that filmmakers, functionaries and audiences could agree on.1 This question of categories has led some scholars to focus too narrowly on those films labelled as children’s films or for a children’s audience.2 Some DEFA productions even switched categories from children to adult features, depending on the venue. In response to the question of whether he made his films for children or for adults, DEFA director Helmut Dziuba responded in 1982: ‘There is no world that is divided in two, one for children and one for adults.’3 Any film portrayed a society inhabited by people of all ages, he went on to explain, so that the only meaningful difference between children and adults – at least for filmmakers’ purposes – was the different ways in which young moviegoers perceived the world around them. Filmmakers thus had a responsibility to children, particularly in terms of taking children’s worldviews seriously. This

1 Ian Wojik-Andrews, Children’s Films. History, Ideology, Pedagogy (New York: Garland, 2000), pp. 6–7. 2 Christin Niemeyer, for example, identified Das tapfere Schneiderlein [The Brave Little Tailor, Helmut Spieß, 1956] as the first fairy tale film intended for a children’s audience, although previous fairy tale films like Wolfgang Staudte’s 1953 Die Geschichte vom kleinen Muck [The Story of Little Mook] drew large crowds of young viewers. ‘Il était une fois … Idéologie dans les contes de fées en RDA’, in Il était une fois en RDA – Une rétrospective de la DEFA, ed. by Karsten Forbrig and Antje Kirsten (Bern: Lang, 2010), pp. 95–112 (p. 100). 3 Helmut Dziuba, ‘“Sabine Kleist, 7 Jahre” – ein Film für Kinder oder für Erwachsene?’, in Zwischen Marx und Muck. DEFA-Filme für Kinder, ed. by Ingelore König, Dieter Wiedemann and Lothar Wolf (Berlin: Henschel, 1996), pp. 33–37 (p. 34).

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chapter shows that the more than 160 DEFA films for or about children have always been a part of ‘adult’ films, and that DEFA films never existed as isolated productions behind a wall.4

Early Children’s Films: From Rubble Playgrounds to Redemption From DEFA’s earliest days children occupied a central place in films and filmmaking. This attention to children should put into context the announcement by the SED Central Committee of an ‘initiative’ to ensure the regular production of children’s films until 1952, with an official working group for children’s films created in 1953.5 Indeed, the success of DEFA’s productions for and about children before 1952/53 points to the party’s desire to sanction and promote a de facto children’s film branch in order to allow for its regulation.6 It became clear, however, that the definition of a children’s film or of a film appropriate for children would demand a considerable amount of attention. In this sense the definition of children’s films mirrored a larger discussion of the role of children in the construction of an antifascist German state. Whether as hope for the future or signals of societal distress, children in films and children’s films documented a generational tension that helped push DEFA from national to international acclaim. In December 1946 DEFA’s third feature, Irgendwo in Berlin [Somewhere in Berlin, Gerhard Lamprecht], posed the question of how children would learn to reject the Nazi past and embrace antifascism, marking this as a central theme from DEFA’s earliest days and reflecting societal and political concerns. Irgendwo in Berlin opens with a scene of boys playing in the city’s ruins with leftover wartime munitions. Their cheers and laughter that accompany the projectiles’ noisy explosions feel at once familiar and frightening. Where are the adults to protect these children from themselves? The answer arrives quickly when young Gustav Iller boasts to his sceptical playmates that his father will return home from the war and rebuild the family’s shop from the very debris that the boys have turned

4 This is the estimate of Helmut Morsbach, ‘Vorwort’, in Klaus-Dieter Felsmann and Bernd Sahling, Deutsche Kinderfilme aus Babelsberg. Werkstattgespräche – Rezeptionsräume (Berlin: DEFAStiftung, 2010), p. 7. 5 Dieter Wiedemann, ‘Der DEFA-Kinderfilm – zwischen pädagogischem Auftrag und künstlerischem Anliegen’, in König, Wiedemann and Wolf, eds, Zwischen Marx und Muck, pp. 21–31 (p. 22). 6 Ulrike Odenwald, ‘Aufbruch zur Kontinuität’, in apropos: Film 2001. Das Jahrbuch der DEFA-Stiftung, ed. by Ralf Schenk and Erika Richter (Berlin: Das Neue Berlin, 2001), pp. 296–326 (p. 296).

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into a playground for battles. When a German soldier in a worn-out and anonymous uniform approaches the boys, he immediately recognizes Gustav as his son – and also Gustav’s lack of recognition of his father. In one of the first of many twists of generational roles in the movie, Gustav takes the soldier home for a warm meal, concerned about the stranger’s haggard appearance. When they arrive at the Iller apartment, the family friend Karl (nicknamed ‘Uncle Kalle’) has just presented Frau Iller with a rare post-war treat, fresh onions. Herr Iller slowly approaches the landing; Frau Iller stares at her husband for a moment before running to him. Uncle Kalle nods to a confused Gustav that the soldier is, in fact, his father, and steps back to allow the family to embrace. Smiling through tears, Herr Iller complains that the onions are responsible for his sudden un-masculine display of emotion. It is the last time that he looks happy until the end of the film. This interaction lends itself to a suspicion that Uncle Kalle had hoped to replace his friend as head of the household, but Lamprecht gave Kalle a nobler role – to keep the Iller family intact during the husband’s absence as well as after his return. Indeed, the rest of the film revolves around Herr Iller’s inability to take on his paternal duties while everyone else pushes him to do so. Uncle Kalle heads this project, telling his friend time and again that he must take over the discipline and raising of Gustav. A boy, he insists, needs his father – thus underlining the idealistic and unrealistic picture of most families in the post-war years, where the re-organization of traditional family structures had already begun changing since at least the end of the First World War.7 In East German fantasies and movies, however, strong and hard-working fathers would rebuild the nation. Almost everyone buys into this promise. Uncle Kalle encourages a distraught Gustav to turn to hard work in order to move forward, an explanation at the heart of antifascism’s claim of national renewal.8 Kalle calmly explains that work had helped him find peace, if not meaning, after his son’s death. Frau Iller does her part, too, to support her husband and son through their despair, albeit in a role that few post-war women had the luxury of occupying. She waits quietly at home, apparently in no need of employment. Her main work resides in playing mediator between the past and the present, caring for her shattered husband even as she must protect her son from the father’s outbursts, reassuring Gustav that his father would eventually return to normal.

7 Hilde Thurnwald, Gegenwartsprobleme Berliner Familien. Eine soziologische Untersuchung an 498 Familien (Berlin: Weidmannsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1948), pp. 39–49. 8 Marc Silberman, ‘The First DEFA Fairy Tales: Cold War Fantasies of the 1950s’, in Take Two. Fifties Cinema in a Divided Germany, ed. by John Davidson and Sabine Hake (New York: Berghahn, 2007), pp. 106–19 (p. 113).

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Lamprecht points to the plight of children without strong father figures in a sub-story about Gustav’s orphaned friend Willi. With no one to protect him, he gets entangled in a black market scheme with one of the few adults to pay attention to the boy. In an attempt to help the Iller family, Willi brings them food of suspected black market origin. The Iller parents throw him out and prohibit their son from seeing him, leaving Willi friendless and hurt. Discouraged and in need of proving to himself and others that he is no weakling, he climbs to the top of the crumbling remains of a wall. As horrified adults and children look on, he slips and falls several stories. He hangs on to life just long enough for a procession of his friends to bid him farewell in the bedroom of an apartment where an adult has finally taken him in, allowing Willi secular, antifascist last rites. In this typical postwar narrative of the possibility of redemption through work, the boy’s death does not occur in vain. Together with Uncle Kalle, Gustav talks the boys of the neighbourhood into a surprise for his father. In a final scene accompanied by music worthy of a Wagnerian score, Herr Iller is shocked to find the neighbourhood boys standing on a mountain of rubble, his son at the top, all calling heave-ho to begin the work of rebuilding the Iller family business. A sense of understanding passes over his face, and he runs towards the boys. Kalle follows after taking off his jacket to give to a young girl to hold – one of the only times she serves any tangible purpose and a visual cue that the antifascist future would be constructed by men. Literally rolling up his sleeves, Herr Iller springs to the top of the mountain and embraces not only his son but also the long road ahead towards rebuilding his life and nation. The occupied city in ruins of Irgendwo in Berlin offered an international city where a soldier could return home from the war without making obvious reference to which front, if any, he had fought on. Even the boys who make fun of Herr Iller when he first appears during their ‘war games’ describe him as a ‘whining pile of rags’ (Jammerlappen), a slur that does not betray his role in the war or point fingers at any specific occupying power for his physical and psychological damages. The sobriquet does, however, double code him as feminine: first for having returned so unheroically from war, and then for being so weak as to need the help of a mere boy to find food and shelter. If much of the film centres on re-masculinizing Herr Iller and thus Germany, the boys’ jeers work as a Greek chorus to remind the audience that the task would not be easy. The trajectory of despair and longing turned into courage and hope by hardworking protagonists initially resonated with critics and the public in all four occupation zones. Films like Irgendwo in Berlin, however, could not maintain their popularity. It did not take long for audiences to reject portrayals of their own failures, especially when it came to children. Even the official summary for distribution purposes and reprinted in DEFA filmographies betrays post-war audiences’ blindness to the constant precariousness of the characters’ lives, in particular

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Fig 11.1: Herr Iller, holding his son above his head in an antifascist victory. Irgendwo in Berlin (1946).

those of children, claiming that the boys have made a ‘virtue out of necessity’ (‘aus der Not eine Tugend’) by transforming a decimated neighbourhood into their playground.9 Yet they mimic wartime practices, demonstrating that they have not learned the lessons of antifascism and have not abandoned a fascination with warfare. The lack of responsible adults leaves them unsupervised in this ‘playground’, vulnerable to its physical dangers. That description does not make for enticing copy, though, and post-war cinema could not afford to antagonize potential audiences. Germans were not the only filmmakers concerned with the fate of children in post-war Europe. In one of the clearest examples of the international exchange

9 The group that compiled the descriptions and analyses of children’s movies for König, Wiedemann and Wolf, eds, Zwischen Marx und Muck used the brief summaries that the Film Bureau had released. Comparisons between summaries in this and other filmographies with the archive documents in the Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv (hereafter BA FA) and the Potsdam Film Museum und Archiv confirm this explanation. Interview with Renate Epperlein, 2007. All interview notes are in the possession of the author.

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permitted and even fostered by DEFA,10 Roberto Rossellini finished his infamous ‘War Triology’ with Germany Year Zero [Germania anno zero, 1947], shot in part on location in Berlin with the support of the Babelsberg studios. The plot tells much the same story of Irgendwo in Berlin. After a fade-in of Berlin ruins, an intertitle warns of the dangers to children when a society abandons its moral foundations.11 In contrast to Lamprecht’s vision of antifascist humanism as the key to building a new Germany, Rossellini saw only tragedy and senseless death in the crumbling buildings. Whereas Irgendwo in Berlin used a minor character’s death to drive the plot, Rossellini’s young protagonist, after murdering his bed-ridden father in a misguided desire to keep Germany strong, jumps out of a building to commit suicide. German audiences rejected the film out of hand, a hint of changing preferences to come. By 1948 DEFA’s children played a different role in their society and their own fates – as heroes who recognize wrong-doings and intervene, even if it endangers them. If Irgendwo in Berlin foregrounded children to make adults aware of their own shortcomings, the next generation of films turned to children as adventurous members of a society who look forward to a bright future. In this casting young people are freed from the burden of the Nazi past and begin to make their own mistakes from which they can learn. Reflecting political and social ideals of a brave new socialist world, DEFA rewards these new young antifascists handsomely. Hans Müller’s 1-2-3 Corona (1948), for instance, features two gangs of boys who put aside their differences to save a beautiful trapeze artiste, eventually becoming international circus stars themselves. The 1949 film Die Kuckucks [The Cuckoos, Hans Deppe] delighted viewers with its ‘fairy tale’ version of orphaned children who make their own fate.12 To some degree DEFA audiences had decided to follow Uncle Kalle’s advice – stop dwelling on what has happened and get to work.

10 Barton Byg, ‘DEFA and the Traditions of International Cinema’, in DEFA. East German Cinema, 1946–1992, ed. by Seán Allan and John Sandford (Oxford: Berghahn, 1999) pp. 22–41 (p. 32). 11 There are many variations on the wording of the legend, even in copies of the film in the same language. Rossellini reconstructed the script to Germania anno zero by comparing extant prints for its publication in Rossellini. The War Trilogy, ed. by Stefano Roncoroni (New York, Grossman: 1973), pp. xxi-xxii. 12 Peter Edel, [review of Die Kuckucks], Die Weltbühne, 19 April 1949.

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Children’s Films Grow Up: Socialist Fairy Tales By the 1970s DEFA’s commitment to producing a large number of quality children’s and young people’s films found international acclaim and legitimized the GDR as a film nation.13 This development mirrored and affected larger political issues in German-German relations, including the détente of the 1970s. The easing of tensions between the two German states went beyond political treaties; cultural productions such as films helped reposition the GDR in geopolitical imaginations. The 1975 Berlin Film Festival marked one major development with the decision to permit the GDR to submit its own entries so that DEFA productions finally were unyoked from the general category of ‘German films’. By the time the festival created a ‘children’s film’ section in 1978 DEFA had already become a serious contender within the festival’s selections. Children’s films also became a testingground for new directors: a successful children’s or young people’s feature permitted entrée into ‘serious’ productions, revealing an ongoing tension between filmmakers dedicated to the former and those interested in other types of stories.14 Although the number of DEFA fairy tale films comprised a relatively small corpus amongst their children’s films, these tales of kings and queens who must learn lessons about the value of hard work came to epitomize the high quality of DEFA’s children’s productions more generally. Party functionaries as well as East German audiences embraced fairy tale films as part of GDR history, even describing them as adaptations of ‘our’ stories.15 Ideological battles between both halves of Germany over the right to claim individuals such as Martin Luther or Johann Wolfgang von Goethe as part of their national heritage remained a stalemate, but the GDR had clearly won bragging rights to cinematic adaptations of traditional fairy tales. This story of domestic and international success meant that fairy tale films routinely encountered official scrutiny. To be sure, unimpressive examples of fairy tale films abound, such as Walter Beck’s pedantic 1971 Dornröschen [Sleeping Beauty]. Dismissed by one critic as flat in terms of plot and dialogue and full of ‘uncertainties’, such as the decision to colour the faces of the kingdom’s sleeping subjects an unnatural blue,16 it nonetheless retained enough fairy tale elements

13 Klaus-Dieter Felsmann, ‘Eine feste Bank: DEFA-Kinderfilme in 25 Berlinale-Jahren’, apropos: Film 2002. Das Jahrbuch der DEFA-Stiftung, ed. by Ralf Schenk and Erika Richter (Berlin: Bertz, 2002), pp. 190–98 (p. 190). 14 Interview with former DEFA director Jörg Foth, 2011. 15 For instance, Norbert Kai in a review of Schneewittchen [Snow White, Gottfried Kolditz, 1961], Brandenburgische Neueste Nachrichten, 4 January 1962. 16 Ehrentraud Novotny, ‘Dornröschen im matten Glanz’, Filmspiegel, 9 (1971).

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to keep administrators and the public happy, demonstrating how the value of a fairy tale film lay in ideological and educational questions. Rainer Simon’s 1969 Wie heiratet man einen König [How to Marry a King] represented the very kind of film that worried party and DEFA functionaries. The initial idea for the screenplay itself seemed harmless enough. Based on the Grimms’ fairy tale ‘Die kluge Bauerntochter’ [‘The Clever Farmer’s Daughter’], the adaptation recounted the ability of a clever peasant girl to change her new husband, the King, from an uncaring despot into a fair and just ruler through her quick thinking and love for her spouse. It might have been just another fairy tale with a greedy, bourgeois king who would see the errors of his ways and become a champion of the people, but Simon had already felt the wrath of the SED when DEFA pulled production of his first solo project, Die Moral der Banditen [The Moral of Bandits] in the wake of the 11th Plenary.17 Further troubled by the Soviets’ violent suppression of the 1968 Prague Spring, he resolved with many of his colleagues to focus on stories about everyday life in the GDR.18 Happy to get any commission at all and aware that many directors of his generation had to first make a children’s film to prove themselves artistically and ideologically, he took on Wie heiratet man einen König and directed a feature that stymied functionaries and charmed viewers. Simon had worked as a student on documentaries and science-related films for a popular audience, a background he shared with other directors of this ‘new generation’ who desired to use their training to ‘bring reality back’ to DEFA.19 Like many other directors who accepted children’s film projects but did not see themselves as children’s filmmakers, Simon’s interest in the story reflected his own interests. Together with his cameraman Claus Neumann, Simon created a movie that portrayed so much ‘truth’, as a ten-year old viewer described it, that it could have been a documentary of the Middle Ages.20 This decision to abandon a stylized set in favour of a more ‘adult’ one did not mean that Simon did not care about a potential children’s audience; rather, he wanted to make an outstanding feature that proved his competence as a director. If his first project was to be a fairy tale film, it would be one made on his terms and not one that copied other adaptations. Simon’s intentions were no secret. In an on-set discussion with the East Berlin weekly magazine Neue Berliner Illustrierte, members of his team and actors explained that they were making a fairy tale film with lessons for both

17 ‘Rainer Simon, Regisseur’, in Spur der Filme. Zeitzeugen über die DEFA, ed. by Ingrid Poss and Peter Warnecke (Berlin: Ch. Links, 2006), p. 199. 18 Ibid., p. 262. 19 ‘Joachim Nestler, Autor’, in Poss and Warnecke, eds, Spur der Filme, p. 260. 20 Heinz Hofmann, ‘Ein Film für die ganze Familie’, Märkische Volksstimme (Potsdam), 17 April 1969.

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adults and children.21 The rest of the title for the screenplay of Wie heiratet man einen König, they noted, was Ein Märchen von Klugheit und Liebe [A Fairytale about Cleverness and Love], but could just as well be Kein Märchen – Die Geschichte einer Ehe [Not a Fairytale – The Story of a Marriage]. Both subtitles point to the framework within which the team was working. In the same interview Simon described the fairy tale as a ‘dialectical love story, a story between husband and wife’. The main actors even talked about the presence of courtship and eroticism as necessary to the plot. No one on the team saw the complicated courtship between the King and the farmer’s daughter as problematic for a younger audience. In this sense Simon used this film to take part in the evolving discussions about women’s roles in society and women’s rights, themes slowly making their way into public and political discourses in East and West. He also anticipated the wave of DEFA’s so-called women’s films of the 1970s and 1980s, which focused on women’s everyday lives, including their relationships with men.22 Lead actor Eberhard Esche, the King, concluded in an interview that this story of a typical man who wants to dominate a woman and then learns that he cannot was actually a history of women’s rights23 – leaving the readership with little doubt that Simon’s fairy-tale kingdom had much more in common with twentieth-century concerns than those of the sixteenth. In its initial assessment the Film Bureau deemed Wie heiratet man einen König unsatisfactory for young audiences. Simon’s much-discussed decision to shoot scenes unrehearsed or without established dialog turns the banter and kisses between the peasant girl and the king into a love story that gave administrators pause. The flirtations, sly double-entendres and courtship lent it a passion that did not characterize other DEFA fairy tale films. Administrators feared that the adult displays of affection and the lack of action would bore children.24 The exotic Cox Habbema, the female lead, also polarized critics. Her slight Dutch accent, long blonde tresses and unwavering, almost challenging gaze into the camera helped establish her as a new kind of female actress and star in the GDR. She also made a perfect sparring partner for Esche, whose characteristic, classically-trained voice establishes him as a King who does not quite know what to do,

21 Anon., ‘Keine Märchenehe’, Neue Berliner Illustrierte, 3 December 1968. 22 Andrea Rinke, ‘From Models to Misfits: Women in DEFA Films of the 1970s and 1980s’, in Allan and Sandford, eds, DEFA. East German Cinema, pp. 183–203. See also Anke Pinkert’s comments on representations of family in chap. 5. 23 Anon., ‘Keine Märchenehe’. 24 Minister für Kultur, Hauptverwaltung Film (zu Deckers), ‘Stellungnahme des VEB DEFA Außenhandel zu dem Film “Wie heiratet man einen König?”’, 19 November 1968, BA FA, fo. 178, no. 280.

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Fig 11.2: The wedding banquet shows the King and the people’s daughter in love. Wie heiratet man einen König (1969).

on-screen or off, with this ‘girl of the people’ who refuses to be ruled by any man. Girls suddenly had a new role model in their on-screen princesses. Simon defended his film repeatedly and vigorously, as he later stated, finally insisting that the Film Bureau show it to a test audience of school children, a typical practice for deciding whether a production was appropriate for young audiences or not.25 The children loved the movie and, according to Simon, discussions of whether it should be for adults and children found an easy solution in targeting it to both adults and children. Critics agreed; one reviewer described the delight he and his daughter had in the movie and recommended that families watch the film together.26 The Film Bureau went one step further, releasing it for children’s matinees as well as for evening slots designated for adult films, with separate posters for each audience.27 Few, though, suggested that the film represented any-

25 Interview with Rainer Simon, 2007. 26 Hofmann, ‘Ein Film für die ganze Familie’. 27 Ministerium für Kultur Hauptverwaltung Film, ‘Antrag auf Filmzulassung Teil III’, 10 December 1968, BA FA, fo. 178, no. 280.

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thing less than a tour-de-force of screenwriting, set design, camerawork and acting. And yet, at a meeting with DEFA’s export office, none of the representatives of the socialist countries committed to purchasing it.28 The Soviet delegation complained that children should be watching movies about things they learned in school, like outer space and atomic energy. The Bulgarian representative described it as ‘incredibly boring’ and echoed claims that the wedding banquet scene was inappropriate for a children’s audience. Ultimately three socialist countries did purchase the feature, Poland, Hungary and Romania, as a DEFA administrator later informed Simon.29 He went on to praise Simon in the typical DEFA back-handed style, couching compliments in criticism, noting that the film represented a ‘good beginning’ for a young director, despite the problem that the extensive focus on the love affair overshadowed the ‘people’s victory’ over the King. Simon accused the functionary of ‘arrogance’ and a lack of understanding of the film’s ideological and aesthetic qualities. Whether Simon was rewarded or punished with his next commission, the equally successful fairy tale film Sechse kommen durch die Welt [Six Go Round the World, 1972] is a question that even DEFA administrators would have been hard-pressed to say.

The 1980s: In Search of the Ideal Family By the 1980s, DEFA began to make films that looked critically at society, many of them continuing the documentary-like aspirations that Simon had worked for in the previous decade. Children’s films lent themselves particularly to examining what it meant to grow up in the GDR. Their situations often mirrored those of their peers in the West. Divorce, for instance, did not carry quite the stigma it had in previous decades; single parents – especially women – made up a significant percentage of family constellations in East and West. School could be boring, a place where pupils could daydream about cowboys and Indians instead of worrying about math class, as in Der lange Ritt zur Schule [The Long Ride to School, Rolf Losansky, 1982], or face detention for being different, as in the many U.S. comingof-age movies like The Breakfast Club [John Hughes, 1985]. The message carried a plea to youth and a reminder to adults: Growing up can be a lonely process, but one worth enduring. The young protagonist of the 1982 film Sabine Kleist, 7 Jahre

28 Report, ‘Ankaufsdelegationen – sozialistische Länder in der Zeit vom 9.–13.12.1968’, BA FA, fo. 178, no. 280. 29 ‘Sitzungsprotokoll: DEFA Spielfilm Wie heiratet man einen König’, 17 December 1968, BA FA, fo. 178, no. 280.

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[Sabine Kleist, Aged Seven, Helmut Dziuba] runs away from an orphanage to roam East Berlin for two days in the quest for a real home. Told primarily from the perspective of Sabine, it bears all the hallmarks of a new kind of filmmaking in the 1980s especially typical of children’s films. The plot centres on adults’ mistakes in their dealings with children and young people, without portraying socialism or socialist society as the root of all problems. At the same time these narratives did not shy away from social criticism and commentary that pointed out the contradictions and limits of modern life. Some of these films, like Rolf Losansky’s selfdescribed ‘modern fairy tale’ Moritz in der Litfaßsäule [Moritz in the Advertising Pillar] that appeared a year later, treated a child’s decision to run away with a mixture of seriousness and silliness, including a talking cat with a penchant for beer.30 The films did not, however, directly attack the government or national policies, one of the keys to their acceptance at political levels. One of Dziuba’s most successful children’s films, Sabine Kleist, 7 Jahre has generally been described as a bitter-sweet account of a young girl forced to grow up ‘early, perhaps too early’.31 In this interpretation the adults around her can do little to help her find a lasting sense of security, since they themselves are ‘trapped’ in the responsibilities of living their own lives.32 But the film offers the audience, then as now, a much more nuanced story of how children and adults must learn to negotiate a world full of uncertainties and possibilities. We are introduced to Sabine Kleist through approximately ten seconds of photographs at the beginning of the movie, which lead the viewer through a rapid and sobering account of how she lost her parents and provide clues about her early childhood. The audience hears an ominous gong following the opening music that sounds like the beginning of a horror film. The audible ‘click’ of a camera initiates the series of grainy, black-and-white photographs of a car accident. The first photograph shows a new car crumpled up like a tin can; then (‘click’) a long shot of the accident scene, where it becomes clear that the streets had been wet, that the driver hit a tree at a high speed and that no other cars were involved. Emergency medical personnel (‘click’) attend to a small girl with no visible physical injuries. (‘Click’) we see the photograph of a blanket covering a corpse next to the passenger side of the car, a clearly female arm visible; then (‘click’) a photograph of the dead driver; (‘click’) a photo of a young girl from behind, nearer to the scene of the accident than she had been in an earlier photo; (‘click’) a police officer holds the small girl protec-

30 Interview with Rolf Losansky, 2007. 31 Christiane Radeke, ‘Sabine Kleist, Sieben Jahre’, in König, Wiedemann and Wolf, eds, Zwischen Marx und Muck, pp. 301–03 (p. 302). 32 Christiane Radeke, ‘Sabine Kleist, Sieben Jahre’, in Alltagsgeschichten. Arbeiten mit Kinderfilmen, ed. by Ingelore König, Dieter Wiedemann and Lothar Wolf (Munich: KöPäd, 1998), p. 86.

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Fig 11.3: A grainy photograph of the accident scene: a medical team attends to Sabine (lower right front) while the police investigate the crash. Sabine Kleist, 7 Jahre (1982).

tively, walking away from the accident; then finally (‘click’) the young girl enters an orphanage, holding onto a baby doll and greeted smilingly by one of the orphanage’s workers. The next photographs show Sabine growing up happily in the orphanage, posing with an award for gymnastics, laughing with other children, even being comforted by an orphanage worker. This introduction represents more than a filmmaker’s decision to portray Sabine’s biography quickly and without lurid violence. The parents’ unexpected and sudden deaths link the movie to a long tradition of films that focus on the fate of children with tragic pasts.33 The plot device of narrating the death of a child’s family before the actual story begins, either visually or with voiceovers, allows the camera to cut directly to the child and his or her fate, acknowledging the background story without dwelling on it. The opening photographs did not appeal to all audiences of Sabine Kleist, 7 Jahre. Some critics complained that the sequence did not sufficiently explain the orphan’s background. That is, the cut from the last photograph at the orphanage to the first live scene left them unclear as to what she was doing.34 Dziuba

33 Wojik-Andrews, Children’s Films, pp. 8–9. 34 Stefan Röske, Der jugendliche Blick. Helmut Dziubas Spielfilme im letzten Jahrzehnt der DEFA (Berlin: DEFA-Stiftung, 2006), p. 241.

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later claimed that even without the photos the audience understands that Sabine was on her own at the latest when the police officer asks the orphanage director whether she has anyone left to take care of her.35 The answer: A grandfather in a senior home, said with a bit of a shrug to indicate that Sabine’s only living family member played no part in her life. That even Dziuba considered the photomontage unnecessary to understand that Sabine was an orphan alerts us to its importance on another level. His stated desire to ‘shock’ the audience into understanding that the girl had no one was connected to how she lost her parents.36 And he did shock audiences. When the film aired on GDR television in 1984, it did so during adult programming time (8 p.m.) and minus eight seconds of those photographs documenting the car accident, according to television functionaries to protect viewers’ sensibilities and to ensure the film’s ‘effectiveness’ vis-à-vis its audience.37 As they recognized, the photos achieved more than providing Sabine with a tragic childhood. In the cinema version the car accident tells us about the first few years of her life, reminds the audience of the specific meanings of car ownership in the GDR and foreshadows the ambivalent role that adults would occupy in her upbringing as an orphan both in and outside the orphanage. In less than a quarter-minute of uncommented snapshots we learn that Sabine’s tragedy was senseless and, based on other cues in the photographs and later in the movie, in all likelihood preventable. Automobiles occupied a space in GDR society between luxury and necessity.38 Nonetheless, consumer desire for vehicle ownership consistently outpaced the state’s ability to manufacture cars in a timely fashion.39 Families waited years on lists for the right to purchase a car with almost prohibitive price tags, such as the expensive model driven by Sabine’s father.40 But car ownership implied another, frightening cost. Vehicle fatalities represented a new type of violent death throughout the post-industrial world in the twentieth century. Deaths due to drunk drivers in both the public and private eye became a crime of premeditated

35 Ibid. 36 Ibid. 37 Elke Schieber, ‘Anfang vom Ende oder Kontinuität des Argwohns 1980 bis 1989’, in Das zweite Leben der Filmstadt Babelsberg. DEFA Spielfilme 1946–1992, ed. by Ralf Schenk (Berlin: Henschel, 1994), pp. 264–326 (p. 281). 38 Luminita Gatejel, ‘The Common Heritage of the Socialist Car Culture’, in The Socialist Car. Automobility in the Eastern Bloc, ed. by Lewis H. Siegelbaum (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2008), pp. 143–56 (p. 146). 39 Eli Rubin, ‘Understanding the Car in a Context of a System. Trabants, Marzahn, and East German Socialism,’ in Siegelbaum, ed., The Socialist Car, pp. 124–40. 40 Ibid.

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murder. The GDR eventually adopted a policy of zero tolerance for alcohol consumption for drivers, but scenes involving alcohol suggest that Sabine’s father had imbibed more than 0.0 per cent. The photographs of the accident show Sabine’s bloodied and bruised dead father in casual clothes, possibly a ski sweater. We can see the seatbelt harness bracket to the left of the father’s head, but no seatbelt. We do not get a good look at the mother, but Sabine herself wears a white sweater over her dress, although the police officers and emergency personnel wear short sleeves. The Kleist family, wealthy enough to own an expensive car at a relatively young age, was on the kind of vacation that only someone with those means could afford to take. The accident, which had occurred on a tree-lined, straight section of a two-lane rural road, wet from a recent rain, point to a driver who, first, had enjoyed at least a beer or two before getting behind the wheel; second, lost control of the car when it hyper-glided; and third, could not prevent the car from crashing into the tree. This scenario becomes all the more likely given the role of alcohol and men in the story. In one scene a husband pulls out a beer as soon as he returns home, to his pregnant wife’s obvious annoyance. Later he opens a beer sitting next to him on the front car seat, a seemingly normal place for beer in his vehicle. Finally, Sabine develops a strong relationship in the course of her excursions with a recent retiree, whom she helps return home, drunk after his retirement party. In Sabine’s world, whether she sees it or not, men drink alcohol at inappropriate times and to excess. She became an orphan in other words because of the recklessness of her parents’ driving decisions and bad driving conditions – a combination of factors that did shock viewers because it was a credible and perhaps even a familiar source of tragedy. The next years of Sabine’s childhood are filled with a sense of security and love. In Dziuba’s portrayal of the state-run orphanage where she lived the film also documents the institutionalization of orphaned children in the GDR – made all the more authentic by the use of actors from Berlin’s orphanages. Although the idea of orphanages in capitalist countries tends to conjure up Dickensian nightmares of workhouses or of black-market adoption rings, state-run orphanages were a common solution in socialist Europe to raising children who had lost their parents or whose parents were unable to care for them. Dziuba did not single out parentless children to make a point about GDR society. Instead, the absence of a nuclear family in Sabine’s life allows him to show a child interacting in multiple situations with adults to which a child in a traditional family might not have had access. After the photomontage the camera cuts to a colourful scene at the orphanage ‘Geschwister Scholl’, named after the Munich-based, anti-Nazi youth resistance group ‘White Rose’. A group of smiling youngsters and a surly Sabine sing a farewell song to their counsellor. Sitting on a makeshift throne covered in flowers, the obviously pregnant Edith listens to the children with a sad smile, while flash-

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backs of happy encounters between her and Sabine invade her and, it would seem, Sabine’s memories. The orphanage director teases the children that Edith should be rewarded for ‘having put up with them’ for more than four years, which makes everyone but Edith and Sabine laugh. Leaving to give birth to a child belongs to the rhythm of life; the party is a celebration, not a memorial. When the director pushes Sabine forward for her speech, the girl refuses. The camera then cuts to an office where Edith explains to Sabine – ‘Woman to woman, okay?’ – that she will always love her but must leave to care for her own child. When she offers to let her feel the baby kicking, Sabine starts to slap Edith’s stomach instead. She grabs the girl’s wrist and tells her she understands. The scene is distressing to watch, given Edith’s suggestion that the seven-year-old Sabine should be capable of talking with her as an adult. Edith betrayed the ‘responsibility’ towards a child that Dziuba consistently insisted upon in his writings about young people – adults should be ‘partners’ in the education of children, without forgetting that children viewed the world differently than adults.41 It is hardly surprising that Sabine lashes out against Edith’s unborn child and the physical proof it offered that Sabine would and could not talk to her, a ‘second mother’ to Sabine, as a grown woman.42 We then see Sabine staring out the window of her large bedroom, which she shares with five other children. The airy room has only a few bunk beds spaced evenly along the walls, with colourful children’s drawings everywhere and a large play and work area. Sabine then acts out in the way of so many young and angry children. After refusing to join the parade of happy children outside, she tears down pictures and stomps around the room. From adults’ discussions in the next scene, we learn that she has run away, taking with her only a sweater. While adults undertake panicked searches, Sabine manages to visit and take part in almost every institution that makes up GDR life. Mistaken for the daughter of a trapeze artiste, a circus travelling through town hoists her up on a horse, where she regally acknowledges enchanted passers-by with a half-wave of her hand that would make Buckingham Palace proud. Intrigued by the many people going into a hospital, she finds herself at the maternity ward, listening to a teenage boy complain and then boast that he will be sharing his room with a baby sister. At a funeral procession she presses keys on the tuba and bangs on the drum; the musicians and even the band conductor smile at her. She befriends a young Polish boy who has lost his family on a shopping tour and brings him to the police station where she instructs them to find his parents. One of the police officers believes her to be a girl who lives in the neighbourhood, never imagining

41 Dziuba, ‘“Sabine Kleist, 7 Jahre” – ein Film für Kinder’, pp. 34–36. 42 Röske, Der jugendliche Blick, p. 72.

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that the missing orphan would turn up at the police station. As night falls, Sabine yells at a group of teenagers making fun of a drunken man. She helps him home and the teenagers leave them alone, assuming that she is his granddaughter. There are numerous moments throughout these adventures that allow Sabine to pose the question of whether she might find a new family – or else when the people around her might have been concerned about her being alone. But it is not until the morning after her encounter with the drunken retiree, who had allowed her to spend the night in his apartment – where he had passed out on the couch – that an adult finally worries about her and insists on listening to her story. Sitting on the balcony with him over breakfast, she explains that she does not need anyone, although it would be nice to have a visitor on the occasional weekend. He gets up, goes to phone the orphanage and comes back with the good news that the orphanage director has agreed to hire him as a maintenance man. He has found a solution to his sudden status as a bored retiree; he has found her a solution for feeling alone. But Sabine, overhearing part of the telephone conversation, has run away, believing him to have turned her in. Sabine spends the next night in a children’s room in an abandoned apartment set for demolition. Holding tightly to the baby doll that she has found in the previous occupant’s bed, she falls asleep, truly alone for the first time since leaving the orphanage. After watching the wrecking ball swing through the house from the other side of the street, she decides it is time to go back to the orphanage – home. Finding a police car, she asks if they can give her a ride. The younger officer, who has just complained to his laid-back partner that they must stay on shift to find the orphaned Sabine Kleist, curtly informs her that they are working and have no time for her. In a scene that borders on slapstick comedy, they speed off a few meters, brake and come back to her in reverse, comparing her with the photograph of the girl they are looking for. ‘I told you so’, she tells them, and then instructs the older and easy-going officer to radio in that she has voluntarily brought herself in. After arriving at the orphanage, she puts her hand on Edith’s stomach and feels the child kick. Sabine then takes the hand of the new orphanage counsellor, skipping along with her, the new doll in the other hand, sometimes doing a few twirls, everything about her relaxed and happy. And why would she be anything but content? After two days and nights of meeting strangers and becoming a brief part of their lives, she never once faced any situation more dangerous than being returned to the orphanage before she was ready. Until the end of her encounters no one seriously questions why a young girl is by herself, but she gives them no reason to. She seldom looks upset and purposefully inserts herself into situations where most adults could safely assume that her parents are waiting nearby. She more than once escapes police notice. True, she had offered herself as a potential family member to a few of her

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Fig 11.4: Sabine returns to the orphanage, coming full circle by turning to the authorities who rescued her from the car accident. Sabine Kleist, 7 Jahre (1982).

temporary friends, but these suggestions ring a bit hollow, even to her. Playing with the lost Polish boy, Sabine tells him he might like a sister. Since he speaks no German, she takes on a more maternal role towards him, helping him find adults who can help him find his family. Sitting outside the maternity ward with a crying woman who has obviously just lost a child, Sabine suggests that the woman could take her home instead. The woman stares at her but gives no answer. Sabine leaves. She does not need a mother whose sadness at losing a child would keep her from being a true mother to Sabine. Analyses of the film place too much emphasis on its supposed overall sense of sadness that Sabine resigns and returns to the orphanage because she has nowhere else to go.43 We should therefore admire her abilities to be independent, empathetic and a keen observer of the world around her. Certainly, she is all these things and more. But the message is a different one. This city has provided her with a home that keeps her and the other orphans safe and happy. Their teachers and counsellors care for them, and they care for each other. In going to the police, Sabine might well have clicked magic slippers three times and, like Dorothy in Victor Fleming’s 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz, realized that there is no place like home. The opening photographs of Sabine Kleist, 7 Jahre show us that adults – her

43 Radeke, ‘Sabine Kleist’, in Alltagsgeschichten, pp. 88–89.

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parents – failed her in the worst imaginable way, by dying. Her favourite counsellor in the orphanage did a horrible job of preparing Sabine for her own departure. Even the retiree who wants to become a permanent part of Sabine’s life does not alert her to his plans, leaving her to assume the worst. None of these acts, though, make Sabine grow up too fast or wiser beyond her years. When she returns to the orphanage, she forgives Edith; the extended long shot of Sabine skipping away with her new counsellor down the path to the orphanage in the distance is a sad one only from Edith’s point of view, who can only stare after Sabine and regret her own mistakes. Dziuba did not make a tragedy; he told the story of a young girl who, like other young girls and boys, must come to terms with the shortcomings of their parents, teachers and even local police officers. The horrifying scenes of the accident that Sabine survived show her plucked from the lap of relative luxury and dropped into the hands of strangers. The contrast between this brutal caesura in her life and her life in the orphanage, combined with her running away, allow the viewer to reflect on adults’ responsibility towards children in society. In the end this film is about coming home, not about not having one.44 When the DEFA studios closed in 1992, there was a scramble to keep the films from disappearing from history and memory.45 Numerous projects resulted in filmographies, remastered copies, memoirs and scholarly analysis.46 Although these undertakings succeeded in making DEFA children’s films a part of DEFA’s history, they were less successful in making connections between children’s and adult films, let alone a larger international cinema history. As a result, DEFA children’s films remain a body of work that has not received the same kind of differentiated analyses that other DEFA genres and topics have enjoyed, while they highlight the ambiguous view that adults held of children and young people throughout the Soviet-occupied zone and the GDR. In the first post-war years children represented innocent victims of the war who had not been tarnished by twelve years of a ‘fascist’ regime and needed the protection of responsible adults. With the right antifascist ideals as their moral compass, children would help bring about a socialist utopia. The political and social upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s did not change adults’ beliefs that children held the key to the realization of an ideal socialist society. Children’s films from this time period focused on providing girls and boys with positive role models and clear lessons about right and wrong social and political behaviour. By the 1980s films turned to children as a

44 For a different view of the return to home (Heimat), see Manuel Köppen’s comments on Roland Gräf’s Die Flucht (1977) in chap. 2. 45 Sebastian Heiduschke, ‘GDR Cinema as Commodity. Marketing DEFA Films since Unification’, German Studies Review, 36.1 (February 2013), 61–78. 46 Wiedemann, ‘Der DEFA-Kinderfilm’, pp. 21–22.

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lens through which to view the shortcomings and challenges of GDR society. The failure to bring about a classless society or gender equality no longer offered filmmakers material that would educate and inspire young people to fight for the antifascist ideals of the mid-1940s. In the last decade of DEFA children’s film directors created strong young protagonists who had learned to live with the uncertainties of growing up in a society rife with obstacles that they themselves had to learn to surmount. In a throwback to the first antifascist films children once again became the generation responsible for showing adults the way – if not to utopia, then at least to live with a happy enough ending.

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Chapter 12 DEFA Films for the Youth: National Paradigms, International Influences DEFA films about young troublemakers offer a paradigm for observing East German cinema within the larger context of international genre development. Hardly any strand of culture after the Second World War was more ‘viral’ than the socalled Halbstarken culture of juvenile delinquents – ranging from the Russian stilyagi and the British ‘Teddy boys’ to the French blousons noirs.1 Even a superficial look back reveals formal and intertextual similarities between films like the DEFA production Berlin – Ecke Schönhauser [Berlin – Schönhauser Corner, Gerhard Klein, 1957], West Germany’s Die Halbstarken [Teenage Wolfpack, Georg Tressler, 1956] and American classics such as The Wild One [László Benedek, 1953] or Rebel without a Cause [Nicholas Ray, 1955]. Yet the circulation of internationally established youth culture signifiers is evident in all periods of DEFA film production, even as their narratological function changes over time. In the 1950s the imaginaries of leather jackets, checked shirts and ducktail hairstyles were intertwined with anxieties of damaging Western influences on East German adolescents. After the rise of the Berlin Wall in 1961 the depiction of such direct influence was no longer feasible, and the same elements now signified general deviance, an initial state that called for the transformation of the young hero and his integration into the socialist collective. Later DEFA youth films introduce a more playful use of these codes that often function as paratextual tokens to attract younger audiences. To understand the complexity of this development, this chapter focuses on three aspects: the ‘revolt against suggested meaning’ refers to a common problem of youth film reception; the ‘post-war scandal’ of youth culture identifies a problem specific to both German societies after the Second World War; and the ‘strategy of the displaced code’ raises an issue specific to East German culture. Following a brief definition of the Halbstarker as a point of departure for appreciating the discourse of youth culture in both East and West Germany through the 1960s, I focus on three films more closely. First, Berlin – Ecke Schönhauser makes explicit intertextual references to American and West German youth film productions while also demonstrating how DEFA encoded the anxiety of capitalist in-

1 See Bodo Mrozek, ‘Die verkannte Generation. Vom Bürgerschreck zur bunten Republik Deutschland. Jugendkulturen in der Nachkriegszeit’, in ZeitRäume. Potsdamer Almanach des Zentrums für Zeithistorische Forschung 2009, ed. by Martin Sabrow (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2010), pp. 118–30.

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fluence into imaginaries of Western youth culture. Second, Frank Vogel’s 1965 Denk bloß nicht, ich heule [Just Don’t Think I’ll Cry] illustrates the post-war scandal of youth culture by citing and then disputing its international patterns. While both films share the absence of strong fathers as role models and identify compensatory authorities to replace them, Denk bloß nicht, ich heule calls into question these second order authorities and thereby marks what became a fruitful but brief period of cultural ferment in the early 1960s. Finally, Dieter Schumann’s 1988 Flüstern und Schreien [Whisper and Shout], a documentary feature, anticipates the final rupture of DEFA and GDR history by capturing how the utopian potential of youth and its crucial role for social progress are vanishing.

The Halbstarker, Adolescence and Deviance In the 1950s the most common derogatory term to qualify deviant adolescents in both Germanies was Halbstarker, which literally translates as ‘a half-strong person’, that is, someone only half developed, and it usually referred to lower class, rebellious, urban male youth. The term was not an invention of the post-war era, however, since it was used already in the early twentieth century to describe young men who lacked institutionalized social organizations, who used specific sociolects, who adopted clothing as a code for a subgroup affiliation and who exhibited generally provocative behaviour. That the image of the Halbstarker was not only prominently shaped by the movies, but that teenagers also became a major target audience of precisely these movies was also noted early on.2 Not until after the Second World War, however, did the term become the object of widespread debates in both Germanies. In the West it turned into a discursive token of (anti-)Americanism and also played a central role during the West German youth riots in the years between 1956 and 1958.3 In the East Halbstarker remained a catchphrase that expressed the purportedly systematic anti-communist manipulation of the youth in capitalist countries and therefore a threat to the stability of East German society. The workers’ uprising of the 17 June 1953 that began in East

2 Hans Heinrich Muchow, ‘Zur Psychologie und Pädagogik der Halbstarken’, Unsere Jugend, 8 (1956), 388–94. 3 Between 1956 and 1958 the West German police registrered approximately 350 HalbstarkenKrawalle [teenage riots], unorganized forms of youth protest. They occurred especially in larger cities such as Berlin, Cologne, Gelsenkirchen, Dortmund and Osnabrück, often following concerts or movie screenings. For an overview, see Thomas Grotum, Die Halbstarken. Zur Geschichte einer Jugendkultur der 50er Jahre (Frankfurt am Main: Campus 1994).

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Berlin and spread to other parts of the GDR, for instance, was officially blamed on scheming West Berlin teenagers directed by the CIA.4 The Halbstarker figure remained a cultural and political stereotype in DEFA films, a worst case scenario for adolescent behaviour and thus for a failed socialist education. At the same time, though, cinematic images of international youth culture characteristic for juvenile delinquency persisted, even as their role changed from a merely negative signifier to a lure for young audiences. In the context of coming-of-age films DEFA’s contributions take their place within international film and cultural history for two reasons. First, youth in East Germany was comparable to youth in the West, and film production took into account this distinguishable social group of adolescents and young adults who shared similar expectations. Second, DEFA targeted this group by importing and circulating codes, styles and genre conventions that can be identified as part of international youth culture. Yet even the first reason was disputed in the GDR. Speaking of the Halbstarker, Walter Ulbricht claimed in 1963: ‘We do not know the word, we do not know any young people who fit this description, we just know young people, and it is the duty of the party, the FDJ, educators and parents to help them develop and progress.’5 In fact, there are opinions in recent youth research that concur. Carsten Gansel has argued for instance, that adolescence of the traditional bourgeois or modern kind did not exist in the GDR.6 Both Ulbricht and Gansel equate juvenile delinquency with subjective attitudes and bourgeois behaviour that were clearly contradictory to East German cultural policy. They would also agree that East German social life was more rigidly organized for young people than in the West: from the Jungpionier or young pioneer youth organization beginning in the first grade as well as the Thälmann pioneers, the Freie Deutsche Jugend (FDJ or Free German Youth), the official communist organization for adolescents from age fourteen on and paramilitary organizations like the Gesellschaft für Sport und Technik (Society for Sport and Technology). Nonetheless, growing up in East Germany was no less a challenge than elsewhere. Adolescence and its culture followed universal patterns of questioning the status quo set by older generations (a phenomenon Erhard Schütz has called ‘the

4 See Anon., ‘Weitere Einzelheiten über Vorbereitung des faschistischen Abenteuers’, Neues Deutschland, 24 June 1953. 5 Walter Ulbricht, Jugend von heute – Hausherren von morgen. Kommuniqué des ZK der SED zu Problemen der Jugend in der DDR. Rede des Genossen Walter Ulbricht auf der Großkundgebung der Berliner Jugend am 23.9.1963 (Berlin: Dietz, 1963), p. 67. 6 Carsten Gansel, ‘Der Adoleszenzroman. Zwischen Moderne und Postmoderne’, in Taschenbuch der Kinder- und Jugendliteratur, ed. by Günter Lange (Baltmannsweiler: Schneider, 2000), pp. 359–98 (p. 386).

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rule of rule violation’7) and using codes to control group inclusion and exclusion, for example, music, clothing, gestures and so on. Indeed, the long-term regimen of the ‘generation of patriarchs’8 as well as the mechanisms of social disciplining inherent in the many youth organizations did not discourage but rather provoked the formation of deviant youth cultures in East Germany that were more or less explicitly emulating elements of Western youth culture. Studies by Uta Poiger, Marc Fenemore and Wiebke Jansen provide ample evidence for the existence of such cohort behaviour and values amongst the age group of fourteen to twentyyear olds.9 Moreover, the efforts of official youth policy to integrate or to eliminate international trends in music and dancing (most notably the ‘lipsi’) or of clothing fashion and hairstyles substantiate the widespread fascination of young people in East Germany with Western youth culture.10 As the likenesses between international youth cultures come into focus, we should not lose sight of the specific conditions governing Germany after the Second World War. While juvenile delinquency in Germany was not a new problem, the reactions to Halbstarken behaviour on the part of adults in both Germanies were uniquely harsh and astonishingly similar. Adolescent deviance, it appears, evoked a specifically German scandal, as reported in newspapers in East and West. In 1958 the West German Offenbach-Post described a Bill Haley concert in apocalyptic terms: ‘It started with a noise that resembled large sheets of iron falling. The audience immediately changed to a state of oblivion. […] Ears vibrate, the seats quiver and the earth appears to be shaking.’11 That rock ’n’ roll is nothing but meaningless noise is a judgement shared by Walter Ulbricht, who sees a conspiracy behind it in an article published in Neues Deutschland, East Germany’s official party daily: ‘The noise of rock ’n’ roll is nothing more than an expression of unscrupulousness, it is a reflection of the social conditions in the capitalist

7 Erhard Schütz, ‘Old Wibeau oder Werthers Himmelfahrt. Zur Aktualisierbarkeit eines gealterten Jugendkult-Textes’, Der Deutschunterricht, 5 (1996), 48–58. 8 Thomas Ahbe and Rainer Gries, ‘Die Generationen der DDR und Ostdeutschlands’, Berliner Debatte. Initial, 4 (2006), 90–109 (p. 94). 9 See Uta Poiger, Jazz, Rock, and Rebels. Cold War Politics and American Culture in a Divided Germany (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000); Marc Fenemore, Sex, Thugs and Rock ’n’ Roll. Teenage Rebels in Cold-War East Germany (New York: Berghahn, 2007); and Wiebke Jansen, Halbstarke in der DDR. Verfolgung und Kriminalisierung einer Jugendkultur (Berlin: Ch. Links, 2010). 10 The ‘lipsi’ was introduced by Christa and Helmut Seifert in 1959 as an alternative to popular Western rock ’n’ roll dances such as the twist. 11 Quoted in Wolfgang Kraushaar, Die Protest-Chronik 1949–1959. Eine illustrierte Geschichte von Bewegung, Widerstand und Utopie (Hamburg: Rogner and Bernhard, 1996), III: 1957–1959, p. 2013.

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world.’12 Another article in the same issue describes a concert as a ‘Spree of American barbarism during which the West Berlin Senate releases American gangsters on West German youth’,13 implying that rock ’n’ roll is an instrument of manipulation, aimed at seducing the young generation into accepting an atomic war. Surprisingly this rhetoric is not specific to the East German discourse: three years earlier the prestigious West German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung described the Halbstarken as even ‘worse than the atomic bomb’.14 Given the fact that in both German states juvenile delinquency was statistically the exception rather than the rule in the 1950s, the exaggerated discourse and bitter disappointment writers of the war generation articulate vis-à-vis postwar adolescents in the press and cultural journals demands further explanation.15 An important factor is doubtlessly the narcissistic wound caused by the humiliation of the war generation in the defeat of Germany and the downfall of the Third Reich. In the GDR it surfaced only indirectly as the lesson to be learned from the inability of the working class to have prevented the rise of National Socialism and became the motor for projecting enormous hope onto the generation to follow. Author Ernst Wiechert, for example, wrote in his 1945 ‘Speech to the Youth’: The woods are cut down, but we see new sprouts shooting from the depths of the primal ground of the people. They are the future, the only future, and this future is bestowed upon the young generation. Mind you: no new earth will blossom without your love.16

Functionally equivalent, the East German political discourse assigned a key role to the youth for Germany’s reconstruction, framed in the words of its national anthem: ‘German youth, the best aspirations / of our people are combined in you. / You will become Germany’s new life’ (‘Deutsche Jugend, bestes Streben / unsres Volks in dir vereint. / Wirst du Deutschlands neues Leben’). The 1963 Youth Communiqué called the first post-war generation the ‘hosts of tomorrow’ and defined

12 Walter Ulbricht, ‘Welche Perspektive hat die Jugend bei uns?’, Neues Deutschland, 13 November 1958. 13 Anon., ‘Senat lässt Ami-Gangster auf Westberliner Jugend los. Die sogenannten Halbstarken – die Opfer der Politiker der Stärke’, Neues Deutschland, 28 October 1958. 14 Quoted in Bodo Mrozek, ‘Halbstark!’, Merkur. Zeitschrift für Europäisches Denken, 62 (2008), 630–35 (p. 633). 15 See Alexandra Seibel, ‘The Imported Rebellion. Criminal Guys and Consumerist Girls in Postwar Germany and Austria’, in Youth Culture in Global Cinema, ed. by Timothy Shary and Alexandra Seibel (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2007), pp. 27–36. 16 Ernst Wiechert, Rede an die deutsche Jugend 1945 (Zurich: Rascher, 1946), p. 32.

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its core values as ‘purity, rejuvenation, courage and power’.17 The East and West German statements are quite different with regard to their political perspective and yet they share the conviction that the younger generation will heal the German soul from the trauma of the Third Reich. If juvenile delinquency was an international problem, becoming virulent virtually everywhere, in post-war Germany it triggered a generationally inflected scandal under the burden of the Nazi past.

Recoding Western Models: Berlin – Ecke Schönhauser In director Gerhard Klein’s small oeuvre the so-called ‘Berlin films’ are the most prominent: Alarm im Zirkus [Alarm at the Circus, 1954], Eine Berliner Romanze [A Berlin Romance, 1956], Berlin – Ecke Schönhauser (1957) and Berlin um die Ecke [Berlin around the Corner, 1965]. All of the screenplays were written by Wolfgang Kohlhaase (who later worked with other prestigious directors such as Konrad Wolf and Andreas Dresen) and all targeted young audiences. Berlin – Ecke Schönhauser, like Klein’s other Berlin films, did not conform to the official prescriptions of 1950s socialist realism in content or dramaturgy; rather it strove to be as close to everyday life as possible in the tradition of Italian neo-realism. Indeed, the director employed surprisingly experimental filmic devices, given the restrictive cultural and political climate after the polemical ‘debate on formalism’ in the early 1950s.18 Klein chose, for example, coarse-grained black-and-white Ultrarapid stock, typically favoured for newsreel productions, which produced highcontrast images and signalled the director’s intention of achieving the authenticity of documentary reporting. Also the use of dialect in the dialogues, shooting on location rather than on the usual studio sets and diegetically motivated lighting resulted in a look of verisimilitude akin to neo-realistic filmmaking. Probably more relevant for the film’s popular success were the Hollywood hits it emulated. From The Wild One it adapts numerous youth cultural codes: leather jackets, hairstyles, music and even a direct allusion in a dialogue when the female lead Angela answers the question ‘How should a man look?’ with a

17 Anon., ‘Der Jugend Vertrauen und Verantwortung. Kommuniqué des Politbüros des Zentralkomitees der Sozialistischen Einheitspartei Deutschlands zu Problemen der Jugend in der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik’, Neues Deutschland, 13 December 1963, p. 4. 18 The anti-formalism debate followed a similar controversy in the Soviet Union; it aimed to differentiate socialist art from all forms of ‘Western decadence’ by emphasizing that formal experiments in art and culture had to be legitimized by needs of the content.

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straightforward ‘Just like Marlon Brando’. With Nicholas Ray’s Rebel without a Cause it shares the lead’s character design as an adolescent hard-shell-soft-core hero in search of a meaningful life. The plot in both films is motivated by dysfunctional parents, and in both a sympathetic policeman who represents social authority compensates for the absence of familial authority. Furthermore, both films map out constraints and desire for freedom on a topography of interior and exterior spaces. Confrontations between the young and the old usually take place in dimly lit, claustrophobic rooms, while open spaces, removed from familial authority, are venues for the young. But not only Hollywood offered attractive dramaturgical and aesthetic patterns. Georg Tressler’s 1956 West German feature Die Halbstarken, which had already made a splash with its depiction of youth gangs, also bears resemblance to Berlin – Ecke Schönhauser; as scriptwriter Wolfgang Kohlhaase notes, it is a film with ‘a similar audience and a similar personnel.’19 Common to all these films are the reactions they catalyzed amongst youth audiences. While the generational conflict creates narrative tension, none of the film stories fundamentally questions the status quo or the social conditions as a problem. The West German journal film-dienst regarded The Wild One as sounding a warning about ‘rowdyism’20; Rebel without a Cause criticizes the absence of patriarchal authority and with it the loss of security; Die Halbstarken follows a traditional dramaturgy of female seduction that shifts the guilt of the young gang leader to a femme fatale; and Berlin – Ecke Schönhauser ends with the penitent young hero integrated into the socialist status quo. Nonetheless, youth audiences did not simply follow the plots to their more or less harmonious resolutions but rather dwelled on the journey that took them there, fascinated by the rebellious role models, the unruly behaviours and deviant styles. Berlin – Ecke Schönhauser opens with a 360-degree pan of the intersection at Schönhauser Allee and Dimitroff Street in Prenzlauer Berg – a panorama of everyday life in the eastern part of Berlin that catches a poster advertising the party newspaper ‘Neues Deutschland’, literally ‘new Germany’. The first shot establishes a field of tension between actual and mediated reality, between filmic authenticity and journalistic promises, between today and tomorrow. The following sequences trace the male lead Dieter running from the western part of Berlin, passing through the sector boundary at Checkpoint Charlie and entering an East Berlin police station. A topographical and political opposition between East and

19 Ralf Schenk, ‘Interview with Wolfgang Kohlhaase’, DVD special feature, Berlin – Ecke Schönhauser (Berlin: Icestorm, 2001). 20 Quoted in Horst Schäfer and Dieter Baake, Leben wie im Kino. Jugendkulturen und Film (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 1994), p. 82.

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Fig 12.1: The street as meeting place and free space at the beginning of Berlin – Ecke Schönhauser (1957).

West is established, and their tension structures the entire film around today’s life of the ‘hosts of tomorrow’ in the force field between capitalism and socialism. The narrative then unfolds retrospectively as a chronology of events, told by Dieter to the police inspector, who functions as the diegetical listener/audience. The retrospective plot begins at the eponymous intersection. ‘Schönhauser Corner’ is the meeting point where the young protagonists gather who are attracted by the Halbstarken culture of Western dance music, hair swept back in ducktails, leather jackets and checked shirts. The protagonists’ outfits are the outer manifestation of an inner disposition to juvenile delinquency, and – following East German theories of criminality at the time – problematic or disrupted family relations motivate their criminal disposition.21 Dieter has lost both parents and rebels against his older brother. Kohle, the youngest and most gullible and vulnerable in his leather shorts, regularly suffers the verbal abuse and beatings of his step-father. Like Plato in Rebel without a Cause, he is driven by the wish to be-

21 For details, see Reinhold Viehoff, ‘Verbrechensdarstellung als Problem im Fernsehen der DDR. Versuch eines Aufrisses’, in Inszenierungen des Rechts. Schauprozesse, Medienprozesse und Prozessfilme in der DDR, ed. by Klaus Marxen and Annette Weinke (Berlin: Berliner Wissenschaftsverlag 2006), pp. 151–73. See also Brad Prager on criminal films in chap. 7.

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long, assumes the role of a sidekick and ends up dead as a symbolic sacrifice. Angela, the female lead, has no father and hangs out at the corner so that her mother can pursue an affair with her boss, undisturbed at home. Karlheinz, the character who lands in jail and comes closest to the cliché of the Western Halbstarker, does have parents, but their petty bourgeois views lead to his obsession with the promise of a glamorous life in West Berlin and his involvement in smuggling and illegal currency exchanges. In fact, the ensuing conflicts involving the protagonists are usually related to the destabilizing effects of the West, whether it is the lure of making a deal with stolen identity papers or the perceived desirability of the Western Deutschmark. A turning point occurs when Karlheinz offers Kohle some Deutschmark for smashing a street light at the beginning of the second scene. He cannot resist and wilfully damages the lantern, public property. If the film has remained within the mainstream of East German youth political discourse up to this point, what follows the smashing of the street light introduces significant ambiguity because it provokes an immediate and – seen from today’s perspective – an overly aggressive reaction on the part of nearby adults. Similar to a key sequence in The Wild One, agency and power suddenly change, and the adults zero in on the group of teenagers. Their initial expressions of sympathy with the boys’ boredom (‘They don’t know what to do with their energy’) turn now into violent slander, presented in a sequence of medium and close-up shots taken from a camera position that avoids viewer identification with either group. Thus, while the cause of the conflict is juvenile delinquency, the film also depicts the negative potential of the older generation’s outrage. Only the arrival of the police prevents further escalation. The group is transported to the police station, where yet another intertextually significant scene opens: an encounter with the understanding inspector, a character resembling Ray Fremick from Rebel without a Cause. From here, a plot develops that shows the problems and promise of the East German youth as well as their temptations by the West. The story is driven by the scheming Karlheinz who tries to lure the other characters into criminal careers. He ends in jail, convicted for manslaughter, while Dieter emerges as the transformative character. When Dieter and Kohle finally confront Karlheinz, the latter pulls a gun – which is answered by Kohle (again) throwing a stone, and Karlheinz is knocked unconscious. Believing that they have killed him, Dieter and Kohle flee to a transit camp in West Berlin where East German refugees to the West were typically debriefed before being released. In an attempt to gain early release, Kohle drinks a cocktail of coffee and ground tobacco to feign illness, but dies of it. This traumatic experience of his friend’s death sends Dieter back to the socialist GDR where he belongs: a turnaround of the plot aimed against the West and, pars pro toto, life in the capitalist system. Dieter turns himself in at the East Berlin

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police station and confesses the murder he believes he and Kohle to have committed. Things have come full circle, and a story of temptation and remorse, of coming of age, has – in the police inspector’s report – become a text in the past tense. The film ends with another 360-degree pan, this time not at the Schönhauser intersection but inside a yard, not presenting the contingency of a busy day in the streets, but at home, accompanied by the inspector’s voiceover: ‘I am guilty, and you are guilty. If we’re not there [for our young people], our enemies will be.’ Berlin – Ecke Schönhauser portrays a group of young people in search of a purpose in life, adapting and ethically coding stylistic and narrative patterns recognizable from American and West German youth films. Clear in its political message, through its gritty visual realism it avoided the stereotypical design of socialist realism characteristic of many 1950s DEFA productions. It shares with other early DEFA productions for adolescents such as Heiner Carow’s Sheriff Teddy (1957) or Alarm im Zirkus a dialectical argumentation that presents both the utopian potential – the profound importance of the young generation for the future of socialist society – and its endangerment by Western cultural and political influences seeping in through the open border between East and West Germany. It is no surprise that the production had difficulty in obtaining permission for its release. Already in the project’s early phase the Film Bureau in the Ministry of Culture, responsible for approving films for general release, criticized the script because it would ‘support the agitation of the Republic’s enemies.’22 In fact, Berlin – Ecke Schönhauser started without clearance by the film administration. Paradoxically support came from Karl-Eduard von Schnitzler, who would become notorious later for his long-running propaganda show ‘Der schwarze Kanal’ (the black channel) in East German television. After the film had finally made it into East German cinemas, he suggested: ‘The film […] is exemplary and could turn out to be a cornerstone of modern filmmaking. It is worthy of a national prize.’23 West German audiences, however, were unable to see Klein’s feature. The FRG’s Interdepartmental Committee, which approved the screening of East German productions in the West, came to the verdict after as many as six internal viewings that it would ‘diminish the liberal democratic constitution and magnify the totalitarian one of the Eastern Zone’.24

22 See Horst Claus, ‘Rebels with a Cause. The Development of the Berlin Filme by Gerhard Klein and Wolfgang Kohlhaase’, in DEFA. East German Cinema, 1946–1992, ed. by Seán Allan and John Sandford (Oxford: Berghahn, 1999), pp. 93–116. 23 Karl-Eduard von Schnitzler, ‘Berlin, Ecke Schönhauser’, Filmspiegel, 19 (1957), 3. 24 See Andreas Kötzing, ‘Zensur von DEFA-Filmen in der Bundesrepublik’, Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte, 1–2 (2009), 33–39.

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The Post-war Scandal of Youth Culture: Denk bloß nicht, ich heule With the rise of the Berlin Wall the crucial role of the youth for social progress remained a constant in DEFA’s youth films of the early 1960s. Indeed, as the first generation born after the end of the Second World War became politically relevant, reaching the age of voting eligibility, its importance grew. A youth commission was established within the highest circles of political administration, and in 1963 the Youth Communiqué was published, which redefined the official doctrine of youth policy. Focusing on the needs of teenagers and young adults and arguing for more openness and tolerance, it had the speaking title ‘Trust and responsibility to the youth.’25 Already in March 1961 DEFA and the Film Bureau had organized a film conference under the title ‘Jointly with the youth for a socialist film art’.26 At the same time the central conflict fundamentally changed in youth films such as Denk bloß nicht, ich heule, Berlin um die Ecke, Das Kaninchen bin ich [The Rabbit Is Me, Kurt Maetzig, 1965] or Karla [Herrmann Zschoche, 1966]. No longer were Western influences the major plot-driving motif; now the films treated questions of how the next generation was to be integrated into the status quo and how their expectations could be balanced with the responsibilities imposed on them by their elders. While Denk bloß nicht, ich heule is amongst the most important DEFA productions of this time, it has been overlooked because it was one the films banned after the 11th Plenary of the party’s Central Committee in 1965. Horst Schumann, one of the founders of the FDJ, denounced it in no uncertain terms at the Plenary: ‘It is a film directed against us, against our party, against our Republic, and first and foremost against our youth.’27 Director Frank Vogel, who was a strong proponent of DEFA opening up to international developments in the cinema, suffered disciplinary action in the aftermath. Having never seen the light of day at that time, his film premiered only after the fall of the Wall in 1990, and subsequently its significance as a coming-of-age story deeply inflected by international influences drew less attention than the history of its production and censorship.28

25 Anon., ‘Der Jugend Vertrauen und Verantwortung’. 26 See Evelyn Hartmann, ‘Erste Jugendkonferenz der VVB Film’, in Deutsche Filmkunst, 5 (1961), 179. 27 Horst Schumann, ‘Statement auf dem 11. Plenum des ZK der SED 1965’, in Internationales Forum des Jungen Films 1990, ed. by Erika Gregor (Berlin: Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin, 1990), n.p. 28 See, for instance, Günter Agde, ‘Es ist zum Weinen. Denk bloß nicht, ich heule von Frank Vogel’, Filmspiegel, 3 (1990), 26–27.

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Denk bloß nicht, ich heule manifests obvious parallels to coming-of-age films on both sides of the Berlin Wall, once again most notably in the protagonist’s dysfunctional family. Like Dieter in Berlin – Ecke Schönhauser, Freddy in Die Halbstarken or Jim Stark in Rebel without a Cause, the adolescent hero Peter Naumann is a disoriented character who lacks the guidance of an elder authority. Unlike these productions, though, Vogel’s film does not focus centrally on an act of juvenile delinquency but on the hero’s path back into society. In fact, the hero’s misconduct has already taken place in the plot’s pre-history. The first scene, visually distinct owing to its dim lighting and claustrophobic atmosphere, introduces Peter seeking advice from his ill father, a broken man on the verge of death.29 Shot/reverse-shot sequences depict Peter’s pleas for help and his father’s reactions. We learn about a critical essay Peter wrote and oppositional leaflets that resulted in his expulsion from school. In a rather rational, grown-up way he expresses concern about his future life and career. In contrast his father behaves like the proverbial teenager, promoting over and over again a hedonistic attitude – ‘Live! You have to live, that is the most important thing!’ – only to die immediately afterwards. This first scene anticipates one crucial lesson: the young generation will have to find a meaningful life without the helping hand of the older one. The plot then unfolds through a series of Peter’s attempts to find that path to normalcy. He reacts defiantly to his father’s death, slipping into the role of a stereotypical Halbstarker. The scenery changes atmospherically, accompanied by a different score that transforms the melancholic music of the beginning into a syncopated modern rhythm. Peter has developed ‘attitude’, not coincidentally replicating Michel Poiccard’s conduct in Breathless [À bout de souffle, Jean-Luc Godard, 1960]: we observe him provoking functionaries in the street, he considers the purchase of a motor bike, he dates a girl (Anne, who becomes the positive role model for the younger generation) and squanders his father’s money. Although he will later explore other models of world making, of a meaningful life, these are the habits to which Peter regresses whenever he fails. The patterns of Western juvenile behaviour are explicit, visually and in the narrative, but they lack the seductive power of the earlier films; neither do they offer a model of meaningful life nor do they underwrite group identity. Western style functions here as a displaced signifier, as a token of individual failure. Of crucial importance for the development of the plot are, in contrast, the generational experiences that mark the views of various characters. The school’s

29 Harry Hindemith, the actor, had appeared as a socialist role model in films like Unser täglich Brot [Our Daily Bread, Slatan Dudow, 1949] and Schlösser und Katen [Castles and Cottages, Kurt Maetzig, 1957].

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Fig 12.2: Peter Naumann (Peter Reusse) as an East German Jean-Paul Belmondo in Denk bloß nicht, ich heule (1965).

principal, traumatized during the Second World War, has transformed his anxieties into an obsessive fixation with order and alignment: This is a meaningful life: to align oneself. To predefine every inch of life, to execute every task exactly, that is the challenge, isn’t it? Every morning I ask myself: is the coming day assessable, is it controllable? What other meaning could a day have?

Anne’s father, similarly marked by the wartime past as a concentration camp victim of the Nazis, has learned one and only one formula for survival: permanent fight, discipline and toughness. In short, German history has taught the older generation that the values of trust, compromise and tolerance might just as well lead to punishment as to the socialist utopia. It is significant, then, that in a confrontation between Peter and Anne’s father, the latter does not only quote but also denounces the aforementioned Youth Communiqué: Giving kids everything spoils them. Don’t know ‘thanks’ or ‘fight’. You spout off and pout if money doesn’t grow on trees. Why fight? Are you a baby who needs to be coddled or a man? […] The party says, ‘Extend heart and hand to youth. Trust young people.’ You run away and hide. My daughter lies. But that’s okay. I trust her. Take my heart and my hand. [Shouting:] So help yourselves! Do it! You hosts of tomorrow!

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This critical perception of the war generation differentiates Vogel’s film and other youth film productions of the early 1960s from those of the previous decade. The conflict between socialism and capitalism as the driving force in the 1950s is replaced by generational conflicts, the older one insisting on the status quo for which it has fought and suffered, the younger one claiming its right of self-determination and the pursuit of happiness. Surprisingly the ideals of this young generation are given their strongest expression in a central scene set at the Buchenwald concentration camp memorial, a key symbolic site for the GDR’s foundational antifascist narrative and national identity. But this scene has nothing to do with memory: Peter and Anna stroll through the area, holding hands and discussing plans for their shared future. It culminates at the moment when they literally turn their backs on one of the memorial installations, which nonetheless remains visible in the background for the viewer. Gazing at the sky and imagining themselves in a spaceship – a familiar utopian trope in East German culture since Soviet astronaut Yuri Gagarin’s space flight in April 1961 – they voice their hope for a tomorrow disconnected from the obligations to the past and imagine themselves ‘en route to the stars’ (which was the film’s working title). The closure of Denk bloß nicht, ich heule reunites the generations. Set at a village fair that brings together a microcosm of East German society, Anne and her father meet Peter, who – together with Anne – represents the younger generation. He apologizes to Anne’s father for their earlier confrontation but refuses to surrender his own opinions. Some fair-goers confront him with clichés of juvenile delinquency (‘This guy is just trouble. He is probably wanted by the police’), but at the same time other voices can be heard offering the young man a place in the village. The atmosphere remains hostile until Anne’s father, after a long contemplative pause, personally vouches for him (‘Stay, if you want to.’), but not without trying to debunk the utopian vision of the young generation one more time. Echoing the earlier dream of the space ship and the unbounded skies, he advises them: ‘But I have one more thing to tell you. Fixed ideas are of no use to us here. Heaven is only blue sky and rainclouds.’ In a last dialectical turn Anne corrects him: ‘Heaven is more than weather’. Vogel’s narrative articulates a generational compromise. The social integration of the youth can work only if the younger one can break out of a socially damaging circle of revolt and if the older generation can accept that its basic paradigm of socialist society needs more flexibility. Reflecting on his own past as a young man, Anne’s father seems to recognize this in his last, hesitant comment: ‘When I was young I wanted to send the baron to the moon. Now my daughter wants to send him [Peter] as well’, to which Anne retorts: ‘To the moon and back.’ Acceptance of the status quo with the heavens standing in for the socialist utopia: this is the formula of compromise on which

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the generations can symbolically agree. A happy ending is possible only when the war generation learns to integrate the utopian vision of a generation that no longer shares their knowledge of Nazi dictatorship and world war. At first sight the film duly fulfilled an official political directive. It adapted recommendations of the Youth Communiqué and the revised Youth Act of 1964, which challenged state institutions to invite ‘books, films, plays, musical compositions, works of fine art and television and radio programmes to discuss the contemporary problems of the youth.’30 In the 1960s both the political leadership, whose Sixth Party Congress in 1963 demanded ‘an accelerated campaign of thinking about and motivating young people’,31 and the DEFA studio reacted to this new generation, consisting of over one million adolescents between the ages of 14 and 18 in East Germany who had not experienced the struggles and trauma of the Nazi period.32 Yet the scandals provoked by Denk bloß nicht, ich heule and similar DEFA productions of the 1960s were unavoidable. If DEFA films were to attract young audiences, they had to reformulate the hierarchical relation between the young generation and the founders’ generation in which the authority of the latter counted as sacrosanct. The failure of a feature like Rabauken-Kabarett [Rascal’s Cabaret, Werner Wallroth, 1961], which critics trashed because ‘instead of the announced rascals, […] such well-behaved boys are presented that the teaching profession appears to be a professional paradise’,33 compelled some DEFA directors to acknowledge that the canonized image of unconditional ‘appreciation of the efforts of the father-generation’ needed qualification. In fact the youth films of the early 1960s did call into question ‘their model function for all areas of life’.34 But this older generation held the reins of political power, and to suggest even the slightest qualification bordered on a political taboo – the antifascist foundational myth.35 To problematize the suffering of the war generation as the sine qua non for

30 Jugendgesetz der DDR vom 4.5.1964 (Berlin: Dietz 1964), p. 80. 31 Quoted in Xavier Carpentier-Tanguy, ‘Die Maske und der Spiegel. Zum 11. Plenum der SED 1965’, in DEFA-Film als nationales Kulturerbe, ed. by Klaus Finke (Berlin: Vistas, 2001), pp. 121–48 (p. 125). 32 For details, see Dorothee Wierling, ‘Der Staat, die Jugend und der Westen. Texte zu Konflikten der 1960er Jahre’, in Akten. Eingaben. Schaufenster. Die DDR und ihre Texte, ed. by Peter Becker (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1997), pp. 223–40. 33 Rudi Strahl, ‘Rabauken-Kabarett’, in Filmspiegel, 10 (1961), 6. 34 Christiane Mückenberger, ‘Der Wandel des antifaschistischen Leitbildes im DEFA-Film’, in Leit- und Feindbilder in DDR-Medien, ed. by Rainer Waterkamp (Bonn: Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, 1997), pp. 101–12. (p. 110). 35 For a definition of the term, see Antonia Grunenberg, ‘Bewußtseinslagen und Leitbilder in der DDR’, in Deutschland-Handbuch. Eine doppelte Bilanz 1949–89, ed. by Werner Weidenfeld and Hartmut Zimmermann (Bonn: Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, 1989), pp. 221–38. See also Manuel Köppen’s discussion of the antifascist narrative in chap. 2.

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Fig 12.3: De-politicized entertainment after the 11th Plenary: Heißer Sommer (1968).

the establishment of the better German nation was tantamount to undermining the very survival of the GDR.36 It was only a matter of time before devaluation of the antifascist fathers’ achievements resulted in political sanctions. The wave of youth films of the early 1960s, and Denk bloß nicht, ich heule is only one example, have to be seen as a unique, albeit short-lived experiment. It ended when the 11th Plenary of the SED’s Central Committee in December 1965 banned almost the entire year of DEFA productions, including films that were to be released in 1966. From this point on any of the problems of the young generation, and therefore necessarily of the older generation’s authority, remained taboo. DEFA’s answer to the punishing rebuke of the Plenary was Joachim Hasler’s Heißer Sommer [Hot Summer, 1968]. The popular music film’s definitive lack of any political dimension anticipates the exhaustion of a profoundly integrative, even utopian social approach that had driven the coming-of-age films in the 1950s and early 1960s.37

36 See also Friedrich Dieckmann, who claimed that the GDR was a dictatorship of victims, ‘Die falsche Versöhnung’, Die Zeit, 47 (2003), 16. 37 See Stefan Soldovieri on this late 1960s music film in chap. 6.

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The Late Years: The Gap between Social and Private Life While the East German youth films in the 1950s and early 1960s shared a sense of social responsibility and communicated a political vision of and for the young generation, the 1970s marked a substantially different approach by diminishing the political. In Für die Liebe noch zu mager [Too Skinny for Love, Bernhard Stephan, 1973], for instance, the story revolves around the eighteen-year-old Susanne who struggles to find personal happiness. It is quite remarkable how the film contrasts her personal disorientation on the one hand and her unproblematic social functioning on the other. Whereas the personal struggle is clearly at the centre, the scenes showing her during political demonstrations, at work or volunteering as a paramedic are distinctly marked by their aesthetics. In most of these sequences diegetic sound is eliminated, replaced by the off-sound of music by the Klaus-Renft combo. Hence, even when the object of her desire, Lutz, is outfitted with all the signifiers of Western youth culture – from blue jeans to a leather jacket (quoting at one point the opening sequence of Benedek’s The Wild One) – the import of Western youth culture remains anchored exclusively in the private sphere, no longer posing the question of political relevance, let alone rebellion. This film and others like Herrmann Zschoche’s Sieben Sommersprossen [Seven Freckles, 1978] or its sequel Grüne Hochzeit [Wedding Day, 1989] reveal a significant disconnect between the demands of the political and the needs of private life, a form of alienation or even schizophrenia that was indeed typical for the later years of everyday life in East Germany.38 Not until 1988, only one year before the peaceful revolution put an end to the agony of East German society, did a documentary once again turn to the political potential of youth culture, Dieter Schumann’s Flüstern und Schreien – Ein Rockreport [Whisper and Shout – A Rock Report]. A portrait of various GDR musical subcultures, it combines concert performances with interviews of both musicians and audience members. The film’s motto ‘This film should be played loud’ selfconsciously reprises Martin Scorsese’s 1976 rock movie The Last Waltz. Moreover, by portraying the life and lifestyle of bands such as Silly, Sandow, Feeling B (from which Rammstein emerged) and Chicoree and their fans, it captured the feeling and attitudes of a generation that no longer subscribed to official forms of organized youth culture. The documentary’s aural and visual qualities are unusual as well. Often non-chronologically narrated, it (jump) cuts associatively amongst

38 For details, see Bernhard Frevel, Politik und Gesellschaft (Baden-Baden: Nomos, 1998), pp. 66–69.

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settings and interviewees, formally resisting the very idea of an overarching message. The interviews, for their part, achieve a degree of unrehearsed authenticity that in the GDR has an equivalent only in the documentary productions of Jürgen Böttcher.39 The film’s diverse components cohere through the use of leitmotifs and genre elements of the road movie, but more likely it draws on familiar forms of video clip aesthetics, and given the fact that around 80 percent of East German viewers were able to receive West German television broadcasts, this must have resonated with young target audiences. It is equally important to register what is not depicted in Flüstern und Schreien. If 1970s youth films still acknowledged the existence of official youth organizations, albeit increasingly marginalized in both presence and appeal, now the young people dismiss all state-sanctioned proposals. Schumann’s documentary presents different kinds of informal fan groups evolving around music and style. The hopes and desires formulated by the teenagers have nothing in common with official political doctrine. On the contrary, while not explicitly expressed, political disillusion is omnipresent. To this extent, the film is a documentary not only about music but also about pop and rock fans, hooligans and punks for whom music appears to be the last resort for communicating hopes and aggressions in a country that had lost its political relevance and a meaningful vision for its last generation. The international dimension of DEFA youth films cannot be reduced to the adaptation of genre patterns and visual tokens. As shown, these international signifiers gained importance only when inscribed and amalgamated in national contexts of production. In the case of the GDR the social fragility caused by the open border to the West in the 1950s and the generational conflict in the 1960s provided just such a context, and some directors rose to the occasion. For the aspirations of social relevance and the political vision of the young generation expressed in these youth films, the 11th Plenary must be seen as a decisive rupture. In its aftermath DEFA continued to produce youth films, some notable for their entertainment value, others for the authenticity in the representation of young people’s struggles in everyday life. But DEFA youth film production never managed to return to the communication of social, cultural and political relevance it originally had promised.

39 On Jürgen Böttcher, see Nick Hodgin’s comments in chap. 13.

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Chapter 13 Alternative Realities and Authenticity in DEFA’s Documentary Films Ten years after German unification the eastern German actor, writer and cabaret artist, Peter Ensikat, published a book in which he reflected on the inter-German relationship and the relationship with and representation of the GDR past.1 Mischievous though its title is, ‘Hat es die DDR überhaupt gegeben?’ [Did the GDR even exist?] is revealing of the still continuing post-unification discourses concerning the GDR, which have sometimes been so tangled and contradictory that reflections of the past have almost become an ontological issue.2 Central to many debates has been the notion of authenticity, as is evident in the suggestive titles of various documentaries that seek to capture the GDR ‘as it was’.3 There is undoubtedly an expectation that documentaries be authentic, reliable and true. Bill Nichols suggests that the difference between documentary and fiction films is not ‘in their constructedness as texts, but in the representations they make’; the former, he suggests, are driven less by story than they are by argument (italics in original). Such representation, then, ‘is allied with rhetoric, persuasion, and argument rather than likeness or reproduction.’4 These distinctions are useful but not entirely accurate – especially in the case of German film treatments of the GDR past where some fiction films’ representation is guided as much by argument (verging in some cases on the polemical) as it is by story. The director of the bestknown feature film depiction of the GDR, Das Leben der Anderen [The Lives of Others, 2007], Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck was equally concerned with being accurate, with providing a narrative whose details were correct and whose re-creation of the SED-state would be faithful in order to advance his argument, a

1 I would like to thank the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for awarding me a research fellowship in September 2012, which allowed me to spend some weeks in the archives in Berlin. I would like also to thank Dr. Günter Jordan, who was generous with his time and insights. 2 Peter Ensikat, Hat es die DDR überhaupt gegeben? (Berlin: Eulenspiegel Verlag, 1998). 3 See Nick Hodgin, ‘Screening the Stasi. The Politics of Representation in Postunification film’, in The GDR Remembered. Representations of the East German State since 1989, ed. by Nick Hodgin and Caroline Pearce (Rochester: Camden House, 2011), pp. 69–91. 4 Bill Nichols, Representing Reality. Issues and Concepts in Documentary (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991), p. 111.

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concern so concentrated that he would later muse ‘I spent almost too much time with the realities’.5 What were the realities of the GDR state and to whom does one turn to seek corroboration of their correct representation? If subsequent depictions of the GDR are criticized as flawed because of their distance from the events they depict or because present circumstances obscure past contexts, where else might one turn to gain some insight into that past? One obvious but under-researched area is DEFA’s documentary films. While the quantity may be overwhelming – around 10,000 documentaries were made6 – the aim of this chapter is to provide an overview of documentary film culture in the GDR, to highlight the contribution made by directors such as Joris Ivens (a transnational director avant la lettre), Jürgen Böttcher and Kurt Tetzlaff, to draw attention to East German filmmakers’ awareness of and reference to developments in international film culture and to show how, despite the close scrutiny of the medium, some filmmakers were able to document East German society in a way that defied the state’s selfimage.

‘The most valuable art’ (Lenin) The party both wanted to know people’s opinions and to mute those who might disrupt the imagined consensus. It also hoped to shape opinion, and film from the very beginning, even before the GDR was founded, was acknowledged as an important tool. Documentary films of the early post-war years served to educate, reassure and inform populations about a range of social issues as governments began to apply themselves to the varying challenges of life after the war. Such a utilitarian approach to the medium was not unique to East Germany, nor was it unique even to the states behind the Iron Curtain. John Grierson’s work for the Empire Marketing Board in the late twenties and thirties did exactly that: it sought to market the British Empire; and he and his film unit would continue to serve the government in various guises during and after the war through a ‘documentary film practice that persuaded more than informed, guided more than observed’ and with a ‘social orator [who] undertook the task of offering

5 Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, The Lives of Others Press Booklet (Sony Classic Films, n.d.), http://www.sonyclassics.com/thelivesofothers/externalLoads/TheLivesofOthers.pdf. 6 This is the estimate of Bärbel Dalichow and Ralf Schenk, ‘Zum Geleit’, in Schwarzweiß und Farbe. DEFA-Dokumentarfilme 1946–92, ed. by Günter Jordan and Ralf Schenk (Berlin: Jovis, 2000), p. 7.

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moral and political guidance to the confused masses by means of emotionally (rhetorically) compelling argument.’7 In post-war Berlin the speeches made at the first German Film Authors Congress in 1947 stressed the socialistically purposive role that film would follow and acknowledged Soviet cinema as the exemplar.8 Kurt Maetzig, one of the cofounders of DEFA, outlined the challenges facing filmmakers in the eastern zone and emphasized realism to be the only route open to those determined to fight for freedom, stressing that realism was ‘not a school, not a dogma […]. It is much more a method of enquiry and research into the truth – and a new artistic attitude, which, without prejudice, portrays and shapes life in its totality.’9 The cultural policies of the early 1950s indicated how vain Maetzig’s declaration was. The pronouncements made against formalist tendencies in March 1951 and outlined in ‘The Struggle against Formalism in Art and Literature for a Progressive German Culture’, expounded on formalism’s incompatibility with socialism, which its critics identified in recent poetry, design and architecture, and which served as a warning to all artists, including filmmakers.10 In 1952 the SED’s Central Committee resolution ‘For the development of progressive German film art’ reemphasized socialist realism as the ideal and only paradigm for filmmakers.11 By then the doctrine of socialist realism had been in place in the Soviet Union for a decade and a half. East German ideologues were happy to adhere to the artistic guidelines first outlined in 1934 by Andrei Zhdanov, Stalin’s ‘cultural thug’, and many German intellectuals in the GDR were initially willing to oblige a vision of artistic practice that sought to make art accessible, that would be politically and ideologically unambiguous, optimistic and positive and thus counter the alleged negative effects of formalism. As a result, the films of this period largely eschewed the modernist impulses of the interwar avant-garde, even if those films had previously been held in high regard. Documentary now served a different purpose: it was intended to help establish what Bourdieu calls the doxa, to provide the East German citizens with audio-visual evidence that would confirm ideas and attitudes and

7 Bill Nichols, ‘Documentary Film and the Modernist Avant-Garde’, Critical Inquiry, 27.4 (2001), 580–610 (p. 600). 8 Ian Aitken, Film and Reform. John Grierson and the Documentary Film Movement (London: Routledge, 1992), p. 98. 9 Kurt Maetzig, Der deutsche Film. Fragen. Forderungen. Aussichten (Berlin: Henschel, 1947), p. 22. 10 David Bathrick, The Powers of Speech. The Politics of Culture in the GDR (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1995), p. 90. 11 Dagmar Schittly, Zwischen Regie und Regime. Die Filmpolitik der SED im Spiegel der DEFA (Berlin: Ch. Links, 2002), p. 51.

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reinforce and naturalize socialist philosophy and practices.12 Documentaries thus engaged a rhetoric of ideologically calibrated social persuasion that reiterated certain tropes – including the socialists’ moral superiority, their historical evolution, recent achievements and future. Recent studies have shown that such constraints did not necessarily preclude innovative artistic practices. Artistic momentum as well as exposure to international developments and dialogue with colleagues abroad led some artists to experiment with form and style in ways that either contravened or subverted the proscribed aesthetic model. Socialist realism might have been an article of faith for many – though by no means all – cultural functionaries, but artists’ application of these tenets was neither consistent nor always sincere. Amongst those who did engage with socialist realism were some internationally celebrated artists such as Anna Seghers and Joris Ivens. The presence of a filmmaker like Ivens, who worked in the GDR until 1957, and the impact of this visionary director can not be overlooked. Dubbed with good reason ‘The Flying Dutchman’, Ivens was a well-connected figure within both the cultural elite and important leftist circles. In the GDR his political credentials, as evidenced by his antifascist films The Spanish Earth (1937) and The 400 Million (1939), must have overshadowed doubts about any previous formalist preoccupations or his links to the European avantgarde. There was in any case the need for public figures to lend greater legitimacy to the young socialist state, and it is a measure of his status that for Das Lied der Ströme [The Song of the Rivers, 1954], which sought to foster international solidarity by focusing on workers connected through their activities on different rivers of the world, he was able to draw on the talents of friends and admirers such as Paul Robeson, whose participation Musser describes as ‘a coup for the filmmakers, lending their film prestige and filling out its international character’.13 Robeson was not the only famous name associated with the film. Brecht, Picasso and Shostakovich also contributed to a film said to have been seen by two hundred and fifty million people (discounting the U.S. where it was banned). It prompted opposing evaluations that revealed audiences’ and critics’ post-war ideological orientation but still won Ivens the International Peace Prize in 1955, which may have come as a surprise to audiences in Britain and France who had seen only the

12 Pierre Bourdieu, Outline of a Theory of Practice, trans. by Richard Nice (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1977). 13 Charles Musser, ‘Utopian Visions in Cold War Documentary. Paul Robeson, Joris Ivens and Song of the Rivers (1954)’, in Cinémas. Revue d’études cinématographiques, 12.3 (Spring 2002–2003), 109–53 (p. 122).

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truncated versions permitted by censors.14 Regardless of the huge audiences (remarkable even if only a tenth of the number claimed saw it), Das Lied der Ströme has, as Musser notes, ‘been doubly damned within Dutch-Anglo-American film culture: unseen yet always already relegated to the slagheap of Cold War propaganda.’15 Ivens’s presence in the GDR loomed large, and he brought with him not just two and a half decades of professional experience and critical kudos but passion, ideological conviction and international flair, which made an impression on later DEFA directors such as Karl Gass and Konrad Wolf. Indeed the latter worked as an assistant to Ivens, and this may have helped nurture the documentary sensibilities he brought to bear in many of his feature films.16 Ivens’s follow-up films were significant successes for the GDR, too. Mein Kind [My Child, 1956] attracted one and half million viewers in the GDR within three weeks and did well on the international circuit, reaping prizes at film festivals in Mannheim, Kalovy Vary and Montevideo, while Die Windrose [The Wind Rose, 1957], an omnibus film for which he secured the talents of fellow directors Alberto Calvacanti, Wu Kuo-Yin, Yannick Bellon, Gillo Pontecorvo, Alex Viany and Sergei Gerasimov (some of whom were already well-known and others who would become better known) to offer a series of global portraits of women at work.17 Shaped though they are by Cold War discourses, the international scope of Ivens’s films conferred on the GDR prestige and gestured towards internationalism. Accolades were not reserved only for such prominent names. Other East German directors were represented at international film festivals and won awards – even in the West. DEFA enjoyed success, for example, in 1955 at the first Mannheim Film Festival.18 Nevertheless, the destalinization that took place in the mid 1950s in neighbouring Poland and resulted in the creative but controversial ‘Black Series’ of documentary films was less apparent in the GDR, where the post-Stalin course was slower to develop and where audiences would have to wait until a 1968 retrospective in

14 See Hans Schoots, Joris Ivens. Living Dangerously. A Biography of Joris Ivens (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2000), pp. 244–45; see also Thomas Heimann, who questions the claim that the film was seen by half a million (!) people, noting the manipulation of statistics and unreliability of ticket sales numbers in the GDR, in ‘Von Stahl und Menschen, 1953–1960’, in Jordan and Schenk, eds, Schwarzweiß und Farbe, pp. 48–91 (p. 55); and Musser, ‘Utopian Visions in Cold War Documentary’, pp. 114–15. 15 Musser, ‘Utopian Visions in Cold War Documentary’, p. 115. 16 See Marc Silberman for more on Wolf’s international influences, ‘Remembering History. The Filmmaker Konrad Wolf’, New German Critique, 49 (1990), pp. 163–91 (p. 165). 17 See Heimann, ‘Von Stahl und Menschen’, pp. 56–57. 18 Ernst Opgenoorth, Volksdemokratie im Kino. Propagandistische Selbstdarstellung der SED im DEFA-Dokumentarfilm, 1946–1957 (Cologne: Verlag Wissenschaft und Politik, 1984), p. 56.

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Leipzig (International Leipzig Documentary and Short Film Week) before they could see them. Political sensibilities were an important feature in the Cold War’s cultural war, but geopolitical realities did not always define the reception of eastern products according to a neat East/West binarism. Critical and audience responses in the West, for example, were occasionally at odds with national politics. While some DEFA films prompted hostile reviews at West Germany’s Oberhausen Festival in 1956, they were also judged by others to be more aesthetically inspired compared with West German films.19 The festival there was occasionally criticized by West German commentators unhappy with the platform offered to GDR filmmakers.20 Communist parties and other political sympathizers in non-socialist states organized screenings of DEFA films, for example, at the National Film Theatre in London but also at trade union clubs, factories and similar venues. In Britain Stanley Forman, a life-long communist, sought to profile Eastern European states through film and set up Plato Films, later ETV (Educational & Television Films Ltd), which screened a number of East German documentaries over three decades, while Ivor Montagu, a fellow communist and filmmaker/producer, arranged for screenings at the Edinburgh Film Festival from 1952 onwards.21 Forman occasionally ran into difficulties with the British authorities, either because of political concerns or legal questions – most notably in the libel case brought by a former SS officer and then mayor of Sylt, the subject of one of Andrew and Annelie Thorndike’s films, Unternehmen Teutonenschwert [Operation Teuton Sword, 1958]. Such scandals notwithstanding, the interest in East German films in general was limited. This was not an attitude that applied to all films imported from the Eastern Bloc. Polish and Czech films, which benefitted from more lenient cultural policies than their East German counterparts, attracted art house audiences and were endorsed by British filmmakers such as Lindsay Anderson, who organized screenings of the ‘Black Series’ and who would sustain that relationship with Poland, resulting in a film about a Warsaw dance school (The Singing Lesson, 1967).22 One East German documentary that did have some impact on foreign audiences was Du und mancher Kamerad [You and Many a Comrade, Andrew and Annelie Thorndike, 1956], which according to one East German newspaper met 19 Heimann, ‘Von Stahl und Menschen’, p. 60. 20 See Manfred Dammeyer, ‘Ein Festival im Kalten Krieg’, in Kurz und Klein. 50 Jahre Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, ed. by Klaus Behnken (Ostfildern-Ruit: Cantz, 2004), pp. 41–44. 21 Stefan Berger and Norman LaPorte, Friendly Enemies. Britain and the GDR, 1949–1990 (Oxford: Berghahn, 2010), p. 127. 22 On the ‘Black Series’ and Free Cinema, see Bjørn Sørenssen, ‘The Polish Black Series Documentary and the British Free Cinema Movement’, in A Companion to Eastern European Cinemas, ed. by Anikó Imre (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), pp. 183–201.

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with a favourable reception in Britain, but not so in West Germany where it was banned and still prohibited when students in Munich tried to screen it in 1961.23 The Thorndikes’ film is an expository compilation documentary, a sophisticated history lesson that through footage painstakingly gathered from diverse international sources details the horrors wrought on Germany and the world by the representatives of monopoly capitalism. Though it acknowledges some shared history, the rhetoric, more insistent than polemical, repeatedly emphasizes continuities between imperial Germany and the FRG. The Thorndikes’ presentation of history through film owes much to the Soviet compilation mode of documentaries that had begun with Vertov’s collaborator, Esfir Shub’s silent masterpiece The Fall of the Romanov Dynasty [Padeniye dinastii Romanovykh, 1927]. Like Shub, the Thorndikes arrange the images to build a quietly persuasive narrative. The voiceovers, commenting on the images and carefully spoken by Matilde Danneger and George Wolff in tones ranging from the sober to the sympathetic and even regret (when recalling that it was the workers who produced the tools of war), provide a history of Germany whose narrative is structured around the class struggle and in which the workers are presented as victims and then arrogated as the victors. Partisan though such a film was, its striking formal composition blends archival footage, intertitles, maps, graphics (to analyze the imperialists’ conflict) and photography to deliver visual evidence of injustice and abuse. It even recreates scenes in order to envision Friedrich Engels addressing an audience in 1893 (thus compromising one of the film’s opening statements that ‘Every document is historically verifiable’). Elsewhere the film presents a harrowing First World War scene in which German soldiers raid a trench and shoot and bludgeon their enemies; here the measured voiceovers give way to a tense musical arrangement of dissonant strings. The scene is convincing but impossible: a tracking shot retreats directly along and above the attack on a trench. As with Shub’s film some thirty years earlier, the arrangement of the images persuades: placed after actual footage of marching troops, fleeing civilians and roadside corpses, these scenes appear chronologically coherent. The film fits with Nichols’s description of the expository mode according to which ‘images serve a supporting role’ and the argument is communicated via commentary that is ‘associated with objectivity or omniscience’.24 That the argument was clearly formulated according to a socialist understanding of history did not detract from the filmmakers’ technical skill. The Thorndikes’ craft was indisputable and, according to Steinle, it influenced not just celebrated DEFA film23 Anon., ‘The German Story’, Lausitzer Rundschau, 31 August 1957. 24 Bill Nichols, Introduction to Documentary, 2nd edn (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010), p. 168.

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makers such as the filmmaking team (Walter) Heynowski and (Gerhard) Scheumann but also ‘served as a model for European documentary filmmakers such as Paul Rotha and Erwin Leiser’.25 Such an influence on West European documentarians may be exaggerated (Rotha’s career was on the wane by this time), but Du und mancher Kamerad was a confident, accomplished film, the cost of which demonstrated the significant role assigned to the documentary genre in the GDR and the power the form could exert.

A New Wave, Nearly When the West German filmmaker Volker Schlöndorff remarked in 2008 that as the former director of the revamped Babelsberg studios he had sought to distance the studios from its DEFA association because the films of the latter were so risible, he must have expected an indignant response from East German filmmakers. The attempt to dislodge Konrad Wolf’s name from the film school in Potsdam and the opposition to this some years earlier had demonstrated how protective the attitude towards the DEFA legacy was. The objections duly came, and Schlöndorff clarified his statement: ‘Everything I said about the films was a reference to the time when the Nouvelle vague was dominant in Paris, when exciting new films were coming out of Poland, Hungary, Prague, and only we Germans were still trapped in the style of the fifties.’26 Schlöndorff’s affinity with the French Nouvelle vague is well known so it is hardly surprising that he would highlight these films as the yardstick by which to measure German films, but his assessment of the East German film scene is myopic. Paradoxical though it may seem, the erection of the Berlin Wall in 1961 is widely regarded as having had a stabilizing influence on the GDR.27 This is true also of the mood at the studios. The restrictions on movements across national borders signified a restriction, too, on movements across aesthetic borders. Only those enrolled at the film school with its well-stocked film archive or well placed at the Leipzig documentary festival could hope to see films not widely distributed.

25 Matthias Steinle, ‘Visualizing the Enemy: Representations of the “Other Germany” in Documentaries Produced by the FRG and GDR in the 1950s’, in Take Two. Fifties Cinema in Divided Germany, ed. by John E. Davidson and Sabine Hake (Oxford: Berghahn, 2007), pp. 120–37 (p. 130). 26 Christiane Peitz, ‘Schlöndorff: “Defa-Filme waren furchtbar”’, Der Tagesspiegel, 11 December 2008, http://www.tagesspiegel.de/kultur/kino/kontroverse-schloendorff-defa-filmewaren-furchtbar/1393060.html. 27 See for example John Borneman, Belonging in the Two Berlins. Kin, State, Nation (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1992), p. 128.

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The state continued to invest in the exhibition of its films outside the GDR, but diplomatic relations and the drive for international solidarity (especially with socialist states) was doubtless a precondition of such cultural exportation. In terms of DEFA’s impact outside East Germany Katie Trumpener’s observation is accurate that ‘the most daring and aesthetically advanced film cultures in Eastern Europe were utterly uninterested by – and presumably, generally uninterested in – developments or non-developments in GDR film culture’.28 The cameraman and later director Roland Gräf described the effect of this asymmetry: I remember that I suffered a bit at meetings with film schools from Moscow, Prague and Wroclaw. Our documentary films were formally rather undemanding and were probably made fun of by the others, especially by the Poles, who often presented very accomplished and experimental films.29

Despite the state’s self-imposed isolation and the consequences for contacts with the outside world, some of the films made in the sixties indicated how much DEFA had been influenced by international film movements, though the application of new ideas and cinematic modes would be both compromised and finally short lived. This was particularly evident in one filmmaker’s career. For Jürgen Böttcher the decade was as fertile as it was frustrating. A singular figure in the history of GDR documentary film culture, he operated outside the parameters of DEFA from the very beginning. His first encounter with prominent DEFA personnel at his Film School interview, where he explained his low opinion of DEFA films to Maetzig and others, showed how indisposed he was to disingenuousness.30 If Böttcher found no exemplars within DEFA, from where did he then draw inspiration? The names he cites read like a twentieth-century roll call of international avant-garde artists and include such visionaries as Stan Brakhage, Chris Marker, Joris Ivens, whom he personally encountered either through DEFA or at film festivals, as well as artists such as Alexander Rodschenko, whose work he much admired. The restrictions on experimentation at DEFA mostly precluded Böttcher from engaging in the same kind of formal endeavours that characterized Brakhage’s or Marker’s work, though

28 Katie Trumpener, ‘“When Do We Get Our Cinema?” Stalinist Populism and East German Media Critique’, in Via Transversa. Lost Cinema of the Former Eastern Bloc, ed. by Eva Näripea and Andreas Trossek (Tallinn: Estonian Literary Museum, 2008), pp. 99–107 (p. 99). 29 Peter Badel, ‘Im Gespräch mit Roland Gräf. Ostzonenitaliener’, in Kamera läuft, ed. by Peter Badel (Berlin: DEFA-Stiftung, 2007), I, pp. 161–89 (p. 164). 30 Jürgen Böttcher, ‘Brüderlichkeit hatte die größte Bedeutung in meinem Leben’, in Das Prinzip Neugier. DEFA Dokumentarfilmer erzählen, ed. by Ingrid Poss, Anne Richter and Christiane Mückenberger (Berlin: Neues Leben, 2012), pp. 121–55 (p. 140).

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he allowed himself greater room to develop his interest in the abstract through his twin role as the visual artist Strawalde, a pursuit that during the GDR could never quite be a vocation because of the official hostility his art aroused and the limited opportunity to exhibit it. There are exceptions. Encouraged by Brakhage, whom he met in Amsterdam, he made a film of the postcards of works of Renaissance art by Paulus Potter, Giorgione and Emanuel de Witte on which he had painted and doodled. The playful 1981 triptych Frau am Klavichord [Woman at the Clavichord], Potters Stier [Potter’s Bull] and Venus nach Giorgione [Venus after Giorgione] was DEFA’s first art film, one whose surrealism and mischievousness found little favour with the authorities. Here Strawalde appears, grinning directly at the camera on his apartment block balcony before the close focus on the postcards to which the brush adds dots, strokes, scrawls; wings are added to Giorgione’s Sleeping Venus in one version, in others, additional clothing is applied, later stripes and polka dots; some of the images are projected on the director’s model, who unzips her top or removes an item of clothing. This film project, the first to bear his nom de pinceau, was – like his only DEFA feature film, Jahrgang ’45 [Born in ’45, 1965], which had fallen victim to the 11th Plenary – to enjoy greater acclaim after the GDR had ceased to exist and has continued to be screened at high profile festivals – most recently at the Vienna Film Festival (2012). While Marker and Brakhage could have no obvious corollary in his film work, others do have a more obvious bearing on Böttcher’s documentaries (and only feature): the Italian neo-realists Rossellini, Visconti and De Sica especially, and lesser known but thematically related films such as No More Vacations for the Good Lord [Plus de vacances pour le bon Dieu, Robert Vernay, 1949]. There is the influence, too, of pioneering photographers such as Ernst Scheidegger, Robert Franck and Eugène Atget, whose work made a powerful impression on Böttcher and some of his contemporaries. Different though the photographers and their subjects are, there are parallels nonetheless across their oeuvres, not just in terms of their aesthetic choices but also in terms of their social concerns, which they were to sustain throughout their careers. Böttcher has said that following the furore of Jahrgang ’45 ‘only one noble topic remained: the workers’.31 Identifying the worker as a worthy subject was hardly contentious, but Böttcher’s films are not a mere celebration of the worker of the kind found in other DEFA documentaries. He focusses more on the experiential and the quotidian, less on the role played than those who perform the roles.

31 Peter Badel, ‘Im Gespräch mit Jürgen Böttcher: Brüderlichkeit’, in Badel, ed., Kamera läuft, II, pp. 368–92 (p. 381).

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Apart from the various individual directors who are frequently cited as an influence (the respect for Soviet filmmakers is an acknowledgement of innovation rather than ideology and is one shared by directors around the world), the film style most often referenced by DEFA filmmakers is neo-realism. Roland Gräf, when asked about his work, also acknowledged the influence on him and his colleagues of Eisenstein, Vertov and Dovzhenko (one imagines the last’s earlier poetic work rather than the prosaic films made at the behest of Stalin), but emphasized above all the Italians’ films, recalling a remark made by cameraman Werner Bergmann that they were now Eastern Zone Italians.32 East German directors were not alone in their admiration of the neo-realists. Ruberto and Wilson have suggested that the appeal for filmmakers around the world was a ‘refreshing postwar aesthetic that successfully brought engaging narrative technique to bear on social issues’ and offered the means for reimagining films in their own national contexts.33 Access to these films in the GDR later shrank as they did not fit the socialist realist doctrine, but their impact could not be undone. The neorealist films’ ‘raw immediacy’ clearly resonated with those filmmakers seeking an alternative to existing styles.34 Their ‘ability to inspire politicized, ideological and aesthetic alternatives to Hollywood narrative techniques’ was less of an issue in the GDR, given that American exports to the GDR were severely limited, but the neo-realist style as well as that of its later cognates (British Free Cinema, Nouvelle vague, for example) provided, if not a direct template, then at least a reference point for representing East German life in a way that countered or steered clear of DEFA conventions – both in fiction and non-fiction film.35 The British director Lindsay Anderson’s explanation that the Free Cinema with which he was associated was free because the films were made ‘without reference to the demands of distributors or producers’ and were ‘the free expression of the people who made them’, provides a clue for understanding some East Germans’ identification with Free Cinema’s independent impulse, which was as important as any formal correlation.36 The debates surrounding new forms amongst some of the younger GDR filmmakers in the early sixties echoed the dis-

32 Badel, ‘Im Gespräch mit Roland Gräf’, p. 172. 33 Laura E. Ruberto and Kristi M. Wilson, ‘Introduction’, in Italian Neorealism and Global Cinema, ed. by Laura E. Ruberto and Kristi M. Wilson (Michigan: Wayne State University Press, 2007), pp. 1–25 (p. 3). 34 Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, Making Waves. New Cinemas of the 1960s (New York: Continuum, 2008), p. 33. 35 Ruberto and Wilson, ‘Introduction’, p. 10 36 Jack C. Ellis, John Grierson. Life, Contributions, Influence (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2000), p. 297.

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cussions taking place elsewhere, east and west. Older colleagues’ suspicions of formal innovations that appeared to privilege style over substance were by no means confined to states with more rigid, ideologically grounded ideas about filmmaking. Grierson’s dismissal of Free Cinema as ‘baby stuff’ and his concerns about its influences (‘it was conscious too of the neo-anarchism of the beatnik movement in America’37) aligns him with his East German counterparts in both sentiment and rhetoric.38

Barfuß und ohne Hut: Impertinent Socialism? Representing young people was a problem that dogged DEFA for almost as long as the GDR existed. Filmmakers were caught between the desire to reflect young people in a way that would appeal to the target audience, an audience that increasingly distanced itself from domestic film production, and the need to satisfy functionaries and ministers.39 Many in the party were fully aware of the consequences of alienating its young citizens; the 1953 uprising and subsequent disturbances and demonstrations in socialist and non-socialist states signalled the potential danger posed by a new kind of youth culture. Commentators in the GDR may have chosen to use Rowdytum and Rowdy when referring to young malcontents, an Anglicized neologism that would denote the threat to be Anglo-Saxon in origin, but the issue could not be resolved via semantics.40 The Youth Communiqué of 1963 was not intended to emulate the kind of reformist impulse discernible in Czechoslovakia but to strengthen East German socialism through the increased participation of the youth.41 By the time he came to make Barfuß und ohne Hut [Barefoot and without a Hat, 1965], Böttcher had experienced the displeasure of the party as well as its approval. Drei von vielen [Three of Many, 1960], his portrait of artists in Dresden was a fundamentally different kind of documentary, for Jordan nothing less than ‘the birth of a new DEFA documentary film’.42 Self-con-

37 Cited in ibid., pp. 297–98. 38 Nichols, ‘Documentary Film and the Modernist Avant-Garde’, p. 601. 39 See Henning Wrage on films for young people in chap. 12. 40 Mark Fenemore, Sex, Thugs and Rock ’n’ Roll. Teenage Rebels in Cold-War East Germany (Oxford: Berghahn, 2007), p. 133. Fenemore discusses ‘impudent’ socialism, pp. 176–78. 41 Uta G. Poiger, Jazz, Rock, and Rebels. Cold War Politics and American Culture in a Divided Germany (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), p. 215. 42 Günter Jordan, ‘Zu den Anfängen zurück, um weiterzukommen’, in Die Babelsberger Schule des Dokumentarfilms, ed. by Klaus Stanjek (Berlin: Bertz and Fischer, 2012), pp. 49–117 (p. 51). See also Seán Allan on documentary and fictional representations of artists in chap. 4.

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sciously casual, hip even, it offered a view of Böttcher’s friends who are seen to combine professional work with private artistic pursuits and whose contented lives appear to have little to do with state socialism. Viewed today, one might wonder how the film counters the state’s self-idealization, given that it ostensibly celebrates the social worlds presented, references the city’s destruction, the subjects’ labours of love, the ordinariness of its subjects and the overwhelmingly positive mood. Although the film did indeed have important supporters, they were unable to prevent its withdrawal from distribution. His next documentary, Ofenbauer [Oven Builders, 1962], which traced the efforts to replace a huge industrial furnace, satisfied ideologues because of its industrial milieu and the perceived heroization of the worker. That some scenes suggested the influence of cinema verité did not prevent it from winning the Silver Dove in Leipzig.43 Böttcher’s sincere interest in his subjects, especially in the context of the workplace, was to characterize his oeuvre at DEFA; and while the setting and the individuals on whom he concentrated seemingly corresponded with the GDR’s official self-image, his films are by no means conformist narratives. The director enjoyed further success with Stars (1962), his account of women workers in a light bulb factory that received a valuable endorsement at Leipzig when it was complimented by the French filmmaker Chris Marker, a controversial recipient of the Golden Dove for Le Joli mai (1963), though only after Ivens had intervened through a direct appeal to Ulbricht.44 Emboldened and inspired by both Marker and his film, Böttcher decided ‘that life should finally be discussed more and more sincerely, that one should talk with young people about war and peace, about generational problems, about work and love and the future.’45 The film may have been inspired by Marker’s work but it would have been impossible without the brief period of liberalization following the Communiqué. Barfuß und ohne Hut did not signal a fundamental change in direction from his other films. Böttcher maintained his interest in everyday people but at a remove from their daily lives. He films his subjects, a group of young people – some apprentices, some students, some still at school – at the Prerow Beach on the Baltic coast in a twenty-six-minute film that captures young East Germans talking freely. What does distinguish the film from many other DEFA documentaries about young people is its informality; that alone marks it as unconventional and

43 See Hans-Jörg Rother, ‘Auftrag, Propaganda, 1960–1970’, in Jordan and Schenk, eds, Schwarzweiß und Farbe, pp. 93–117 (pp. 123–24). 44 According to Schoots, Ivens argued that Marker ‘was a good choice for both diplomatic and political reasons’. See Schoots, Joris Ivens, p. 281. 45 ‘Brüderlichkeit hatte die größte Bedeutung in meinem Leben’, in Poss, Richter and Mückenberger, eds, Das Prinzip Neugier, p. 135.

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connects it with the casual posture, the verve, whether natural or stylized, that was characteristic of the New Wave cinemas. The opening shot pans from left to right, following a young couple who look unmistakably ‘beat’ (barefoot, in dark sweaters and tight trousers that appear more Left Bank than Eastern Bloc) as they chase across the shore, between sand and sea. The energy inherent in the image and in those that immediately follow (other couples playing in the water) is matched by the brisk guitar melody – a fast twelve bar blues, soundtrack of a generation – that the camera reveals to be diegetic (though in fact separately recorded). The music segues to a rock ’n’ roll number played by two of the teenagers on the beach, which then slows to a Latin melody, as the film’s pacing lessens and before any dialogue is heard some two and a half minutes later. Böttcher appears to allow his subjects free expression; the teenagers offer personal commentary, self-reflection and opinions. These are not presented as talking heads facing the lens. Christian Lehmann’s hand-held camera captures gestures, facial expressions, hands playing with sand, images that reinforce the narrative’s naturalness and spontaneity. The topics discussed reveal the teenagers’ thoughts, hopes, desires and frustrations and are in a sense extraordinary for their ordinariness. The subjects reflect openly and with apparent ease about their work, with some commenting on poor working conditions, physically demanding labour (a comment made by one subject, a shunter, a profession to which the director would return in his celebrated 1982 film Rangierer [Shunters]). Others muse on future careers, on inspirational teachers, and reveal attitudes to music, marriage, love. There are similarities with some of Free Cinema’s films like Karel Reisz’s We Are the Lambeth Boys (1959). While different in their perspective, they overlap in their desire to capture the everyday, to avoid didacticism, to present people on their own terms. Sympathetic to their subjects and determined to show the working class more authentically, the directors associated with Free Cinema did not always rid themselves of the paternalism they found so dubious in documentary film. Reisz’s subjects are rather gauche and self-conscious in front of the camera; the narrator’s tone is occasionally patronizing with the result that the commentary amounts to a kind of ironic ethnography. Böttcher, by contrast, was well-known for the good rapport he established with his subjects, one that in his films inspires confidence and intimacy. The director does not appear; his is an off-camera presence, neither seen nor heard but implied by the subjects’ glances to one side of the camera and by their responses to questions unheard by the viewer. These one-sided conversations are surprisingly candid and reveal the filmmaker’s and teenagers’ relationship as well perhaps the national mood in the wake of the brief period of liberalization. Nevertheless, some observations are more frank than those familiar with DEFA films might expect. One young man reflects on his experience of education and in so doing

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offers a critique of both the older generation and the state. When remembering previous teachers, for example, he recalls: ‘anyway, it was all pretty rigid and dogmatic at our school, and I’ve decided that in the future I’ll speak openly about those sorts of things with my pupils.’ Noticeable in this scene is the discomfort of his two friends, whose uneasy expressions Lehmann prioritizes by shifting from the subject talking to close-ups of his silent companions. That the young man appends a more positive appraisal of current teachers to his negative recollections may signify liberalization in practice. Böttcher’s editing may have also been intended to appease censors likely to object to such criticism of civil servants qua representatives of the state, for in the scenes that immediately follow some of the young women talk enthusiastically about exemplary teachers whom they regard as role models. The film is more than a series of cinema verité interviews or explanations. Around two thirds of the film is without dialogue; here the images celebrate leisure, youth and spontaneity. The state may be implied in the discussions about the future, but the images reveal lives lived beyond it. Böttcher’s film is, then, a paean to youth culture, if not the youth culture that certain SED members preferred. The subjects’ group confidence and their independence reflect generational shifts not unique to East Germany. The youthful self-assurance of some of Böttcher’s subjects echoes some Nouvelle vague and British Woodfall protagonists. Though the former were not widely screened in the GDR, British films, which were perhaps less cynical and whose working-class milieus were presumably more acceptable, had been distributed, albeit some years after their native release. Viewers familiar with Karel Reisz’s Saturday Night, Sunday Morning (1960) may recall Arthur Seaton, its brash protagonist (‘what I’m out for is a good time’), when one of Böttcher’s interviewees comments, half grinning, that he likes being with girls but has no intention of staying with one. Barfuß und ohne Hut also celebrates the abstract, recalling, if only briefly, the visual poetry of the pre-war avant-garde, for example Ivens’s Regen [Rain, 1929]. Scenes show the subjects in the water or playing on the beach; but there are meditative moments, too, in which the camera captures the teenagers sunbathing or lovers’ tender caresses. The absence of commentary here is noticeable; there is no ironic, paternal voiceover, no attempt to frame the actions according to any overarching, socially purposive narrative. Instead, Böttcher relies on the score, now a cool jazz guitar melody (a genre whose West Coast origins had previously been considered problematic for the state’s arbiters of taste).46 The score throughout the film is intriguing and comprises a variety of genres, from rock ’n’ roll to different jazz styles, Dixie, West Coast and gospel moments, and reflects the persist-

46 Poiger, Jazz, Rock, and Rebels, p. 153.

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Fig 13.1: Young East Germans were enthusiastic about Barfuß und ohne Hut (1965), a banned portrait of adolescents at Prerow, but the party found it to be lacking direction. © DEFA-Stiftung.

ence of American culture that was evident, too, in other European states. At times Lehmann’s camera abandons the subjects altogether and focuses on the natural made abstract, on movement and form, on light and dark: shells shift beneath waves; still close-ups of dune vegetation are juxtaposed with cirrocumulus clouds, which fill the screen, then give way to close-ups of Gaudi-esque sand sculptures; elsewhere the camera focuses on pebbles that the teenagers are seen to handle and turn, natural found artworks of the kind that inspired the British artists Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson. The film’s reception revealed how diametrically opposed were the attitudes to the representation of young East Germans. Where functionaries and some DEFA colleagues grumbled about the film’s lack of direction, younger viewers at test screenings responded enthusiastically, praising its honesty and the accuracy of the representation, and remarked on the lack of didacticism.47 Indeed, the voiceover was notable by its absence. Earlier DEFA documentaries had been character-

47 Willi Lindner’s reports from test screenings at Scheidenbach and Vogtland, 12 December 1964. BArch, DR 118 2.387.

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ized as much by spoken text as by image; the authority of the narrator removed any potential misunderstanding on the part of the viewer and thus established a one-sided relationship between film and viewer that did not correspond with the promise of impartiality implied in the slogan, ‘Sie sehen selbst – Sie hören selbst – urteilen Sie selbst’ [See for yourself – hear for yourself – judge for yourself!] attached to the weekly newsreel, Der Augenzeuge [The Eye Witness]. Despite the overwhelming endorsement of young audience members (a demographic whose patronage of DEFA films the East German film industry could ill afford to lose), the opinions of the film’s detractors counted for more: misgivings about its debt to Western culture (evident in the music) and its individualistic take on East German youth. The film was not to be distributed. That Barfuß und ohne Hut should have suffered at the hands of the censor is surprising. Not only did it match the brief laid down in the Youth Communiqué, it also celebrated a section of East Germany’s youth (all of them articulate, positive and affirmative) in a way that only the most sceptical or paranoid could consider to be subversive. Tempting though it is to order these polarities according to generational categorization or party membership, such classifications and their implied antinomies are neither reliable nor accurate. The importance of Böttcher’s film was, for example, recognized by representatives from the Central Committee, who argued that whoever did not understand the film did not understand the state’s young people.48 The ban was painful for Böttcher. Its confiscation indicated a shift in mood, of politicians’ existential fear that the impulse to liberalize would allow too many changes and risk the party’s position. Böttcher’s personal appraisal that everyone knew this to be an important film both formally and thematically and that its release would have consequences for East German filmmaking, is not immodest. Its inclusion in a film festival programme in France a year later in 1966, of which the director knew nothing, signified the peculiarities of cultural policy and was evidence of the contradictions between the GDR’s external self-promotion and its internal realities.

Lost Opportunities and Narratives of Loss In 1969 the critic reviewing a series of East German films screened that year at the Oberhausen Film Festival wrote favourably about features such as Ich war neunzehn [I Was Nineteen, Konrad Wolf, 1968] and Abschied [The Farewell, Egon Günther, 1968] but noted that the 11th Plenary had resulted in only very few films

48 BArch, DR 118 2.387. Aktennotiz, Berlin, 14 November 1964. ‘Betrifft: Film D 23/64 “Barfuß und ohne Hut” (Junge Leute)’.

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from the GDR being seen in the West; he noted too the egregious consequences for DEFA and described the resulting films as a ‘socialist puppet show’, petit bourgeois in outlook and form.49 After the sixties East German filmmakers would reflect on that decade and wonder whether they had not achieved more in those ten years than in all those that followed. Kurt Tetzlaff was not convinced that there had been much progress; Böttcher was little impressed by the new films’ privileging of text over image, commenting ‘now people are finally talking but where are the films?’50 The convergences and synergies with other film movements that was previously evident in some of the East German documentaries was less apparent in the seventies, a fact not only due to continued technical hurdles long since overcome in the West. The policy debates concerning the arts, literature especially, tended not to involve documentary film to the same extent. This was partly owing to the genre’s lack of appeal and lower public profile (documentary films were screened before feature films and seldom the main attraction), which was exacerbated by television’s growing dominance and the continuing view of documentary as a weapon for agitation.51 Despite the structural and technical challenges facing documentary filmmakers, the seventies is important for depictions of the GDR Alltag or everyday, the workplace in particular. By seeking out the ordinary, the unexceptional, these films distinguish themselves from the celebratory depictions of the East German worker that were still commonplace.52 The films of this period not only look inward, into lives lived in the GDR, they also look beyond the GDR itself, whether through coproductions with other socialist states or in films that report on conflicts and foreign cultures. The most remarkable of these were those made by Heynowski and Scheumann. Combining anti-imperialist propaganda with investigative reportage and often using questionable methods to expose human rights abuses and the legacy of colonialism in Vietnam, Chile and later Cambodia, they were able to produce many of the films independently until criticism of East German media policy compromised this unique position. They won awards not just in Leipzig, where they served on the jury, and in other socialist states but also at a range of international festivals in the FRG, Brazil and Chile. There was a turn away, too, from the industrial locations that had predominated in the GDR’s documentary film. Though the state saw itself as comprised of workers and farmers,

49 Klaus U. Reinke, ‘Sozialismus als Marionetten-Theater. Vier Tage lang wurden in Oberhausen neue Filme aus der DDR gezeigt’, Die Zeit, 13 June 1969. 50 Jordan, ‘Zu den Anfängen zurück’, p. 75. 51 See Eduard Schreiber, ‘Zeit der verpassten Möglichkeiten, 1960–1970’, in Jordan and Schenk, eds, Schwarzweiß und Farbe, pp. 129–79 (p. 131). 52 Ibid., p. 137.

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the latter had, with the exception of some propaganda about agricultural policies, been much neglected in screen accounts. The explorations of the East German hinterlands were thus new because they not only documented lives seldom explored but also allowed for meditative reflections, if only obliquely, on the state itself. Like Jürgen Böttcher, Kurt Tetzlaff’s New Wave tendencies had resulted in a ban of one of his early films. Es genügt nicht achtzehn zu sein [Being Eighteen is Not Enough, 1963], a documentary that can be seen as a companion piece to Barfuß und ohne Hut, had suffered a similar fate for its depiction of young oil workers, whose irreverence and leisure time pursuits did not conform with the earnest portraits of the state’s industrial heroes. By the late seventies Tetzlaff had developed an interesting portfolio of films. He, too, had been able to film abroad, documenting the GDR’s involvement in developing gas pipelines in the Ukraine in Begegnungen an der Trasse [Encounters at the Line, 1976]. Towards the end of the decade Tetzlaff had begun to focus his attention on the GDR’s rural inhabitants like other directors of what were to become celebrated longitudinal documentaries. The provinces yielded interesting portraits, the most remarkable of which were Winfried and Barbara Junge’s long-running study that followed changes in Golzow between 1961 and 2007, a project not dissimilar to Michael Apted’s 7-up (1964–), and Volker Koepp’s Wittstock series (begun in 1974). In Erinnerung an eine Landschaft – für Manuela [Memory of a Landscape – for Manuela, 1982] Tetzlaff portrays the dissolution of a community following the decision to begin opencast mining in an area south of Leipzig and traces the clearance of Magdeborn and other neighbouring villages over three years (1979–1982). The film, which is bookended with scenes of the village’s last recorded birth and the third birthday of the eponymous Manuela, provides a poignant account of one community’s attempt to survive their material dissolution, capturing the inhabitants’ desperation and quiet resentment in words and elegiac images that challenge Böttcher’s aforementioned concerns. The film’s composition enables images to communicate the loss that can not be directly articulated. Tetzlaff frequently uses incongruous juxtaposition with sometimes startling effect: the opening shot of a woman in labour gives way to a slow motion shot of a church being detonated before returning to the birth and then back again to more houses collapsing; a close-up of a hollyhock retreats to reveal the flower amid a series of ruined houses; the focus on farmers ruefully reflecting on the changes switches to a mechanical digger chewing up the ground. The life and death thus connoted is a motif that never affirms the state or resorts to the enthusiastic rhetoric of a new beginning. Progress in the GDR comes here at a price. Though the film seeks ostensibly to document the real-time disappearance of a place and the translocation of a community, it also reflects on the past. The villagers’ nostalgia is palpable: in

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Fig 13.2: A final image documenting the destruction of Magdeborn for the good of the state in Erinnerung an eine Landschaft – für Manuela (1982). Photograph Gerhard Niendorf. © DEFA-Stiftung.

the mementoes that decorate their austere, barely completed new homes, part of a huge building estate on the fringes of Leipzig, and in the photographs to which they cling. These function not just as reminders of their past but as potentially subversive relics – the punctum that Barthes means when he describes a photograph’s subversive power.53 Previously images of people and place, they now serve as reminders of loss and as an indictment of the state that has obliterated a community’s home. Sabine Spindler has argued that the film is not critical of the rehousing scheme but considers instead ‘the loss of a generation’.54 Arguably it is both. The GDR’s urban-planning policies could hardly have been explicitly criticized in the film (though one individual does openly remonstrate with the officials responsible for relocating his family, challenging their decision by producing a newspaper article that claims all families will be taken care of).

53 See Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida. Reflections on Photography, trans. by Richard Howard (London: Fontana, 1984), p. 38. 54 Sabine Spindler, ‘“Erinnerung an eine Landschaft. Für Manuela” – ein Dokumentarfilm’, in Heimat in DDR-Medien. Arbeitsheft zum Medienpaket 8, ed. by Wilfried Teusch (Bonn: Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, 1998), pp. 81–101 (p. 101).

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Quite by chance Tetzlaff’s film also anticipates the future nostalgia felt by the wider East German community. It is characterized by a rhetoric of loss communicated visually and verbally: a giant oak tree where Napoleon once rested is seen felled; graffiti chalked across a wall reads ‘Es war schön hier’ [it was nice here]; loss is implied by the possessions left behind and in the facial expressions of the individuals, and heard, too, in the subjects’ comments (‘es ist vorbei, vorbei’ [it’s over, over]). But the title Erinnerung an eine Landschaft now assumes a double significance, a reference to the lost landscape of its subjects as well as an unanticipated reference to the GDR’s disappearance.55 Though very different than Barfuß und ohne Hut and Tetzlaff’s own early film, like them it offers evidence that the people in view are less defined by the state than the party hoped, a disjuncture that Manfred Jäger summarized when he said the East Germans ‘feel German and not GDR-ish’.56 This prioritized identity is perfectly, if serendipitously captured (by cameramen Karl Farber and Eberhard Geick): the team moves through the adjacent village, the next scheduled for clearance, where they see, stretched between the half-timbered houses, a banner announcing the village’s millennium celebration. It reads ‘30 Jahre DDR – 1000 Jahre Eythra’ [30 years GDR – 1000 years Eythra]. Tetzlaff’s film was not an official entry at the Leipzig Festival in 1982 but after some ministerial wrangling was finally screened, where it met with an overwhelmingly positive response from audiences. Hans-Dieter Tok’s review in the local paper commented on the film’s truthfulness, highlighting especially the exceptional camerawork and comparing it with other recent authentic portrayals of GDR life in films by Gitta Nickel and Winfried and Barbara Junge.57 While the images presented and comments captured in some of the films made in the 1960s were considered at best inappropriate and at worst subversive, filmmakers in the two decades that followed were often more circumspect in their documentation of the GDR; but even those more cautious films could be withdrawn. The restrictions on travel and the control of cultural products from outside the GDR stymied East German filmmakers’ involvement in international documentary film culture. In contrast to some of its socialist neighbours the SED’s cultural policies were increasingly obsolete and difficult to advocate, and ultimately they hampered cultural cross-fertilization. There were exceptions. The Leipzig Film Festival, as Heidi Martini has emphasized, played an important role in terms

55 See Nick Hodgin, Screening the East. Heimat, Memory and Nostalgia in German Film since 1989 (Oxford: Berghahn, 2011), pp. 65–100. 56 Cited in Judith Kretzschmar, ‘Sein Vaterland im Film’, in Propagandist und Heimatfilmer. Die Dokumentarfilme des Karl-Eduard von Schnitzler, ed. by Tilo Prase and Judith Kretzschmar (Leipzig: Leipziger Universitätsverlag, 2003), pp. 83–154 (p. 88). 57 Hans Dieter Tok, ‘Von Abschied und Ankunft’, Leipziger Volkszeitung, 3 March 1984.

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of the state’s foreign policy and thus remained largely unaffected by domestic cultural policy.58 This is not to suggest that there was no political interference, quite the contrary. But the international guests who gathered there (from pre-war innovators to representatives of new tendencies in documentary films such as direct cinema or cinema verité and ‘third cinema’ filmmakers) most years were important to the GDR, and the party tried to manage the event and to use it in order to promote their version of the GDR. Despite this top-down organization it was nevertheless an important opportunity for networking; that and the exposure to films from around the world (some of which were shown at clandestine screenings) enabled East Germans filmmakers to keep up with developments outside the GDR. The exhibition of international films may have provided some insight into new forms of documentary film practice but that did not mean innovations and developments could be easily applied to East German films. Yet despite the profound difficulties facing filmmakers, numerous documentary films from the late seventies onwards were critically inflected. As with those East German writers who used allegory and metaphor, whose critiques were sometimes subtle and occasionally oblique, so too some filmmakers were able to probe social problems through suggestion or implication, through gesture, facial expressions and synecdoche, and thus reveal what Foucault identifies as ‘the multiplicity of discursive elements that can come into play in various strategies’ that have the potential to disrupt hegemonic power.59 Heiner Müller’s confidence that East German audiences could ‘easily recognise, see or feel the silence between words, between sentences’ might apply to film audiences too.60 It would also apply to readers of reviews such as Tok’s, who might infer from his positive reference to other realistic documentaries an implied criticism of those affirmative and increasingly self-delusional documentaries celebrating the GDR. Asked many years later whether there were distinct DEFA characteristics, Tetzlaff responded:

58 Heidi Martini, Dokumentarfilm-Festival Leipzig. Filme und Politik im Blick und Gegenblick (Berlin: DEFA-Stiftung, 2007). 59 Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality. An Introduction, trans. by Robert Hurley, 3 vols (London: Vintage Books, 1990), p. 100. 60 Heiner Müller cited in Arrigo Subiotto, ‘Power and “konstruktiver Defaitismus”. Literary Strategies in the Work of Heiner Müller’, in Geist und Macht. Writers and the State in the GDR, ed. by Axel Goodbody and Dennis Tate, German Monitor, 19 (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1991), pp. 184–92 (p. 189).

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If there are these characteristics, they are perhaps the quietly authentic stories of everyday life with the subjective view of the filmmaker who does not denounce the people and enables the viewer to look between the lines. That was our ‘gentle’ way and means of interfering.61

This corresponds closely to Hans-Jürgen Brandt’s assertion that ‘if we want to know and to understand what life was really like in the former GDR, it will be in the films that show us the people and their circumstances as they experienced them’.62 The truth is of course more complex than this suggests. Many of the films withdrawn or criticized by the studios or ministries were considered problematic precisely because of the insights they offered, insights that suggested different interpretations of the reality of life in the GDR. Many of them went unseen; only very few were rehabilitated after unification. These counter narratives, some of which correspond or directly respond to developments and shifts in international film culture, must be viewed as part of a dialectic in which the filmmakers’ search for an authentic reality is a reaction to and rejection of the state’s interpretation of reality, in which what is said (or not said) is as important as what is told.

61 Kurt Tetzlaff, ‘Wir waren bessessen von der Arbeit’, in Poss, Richter and Mückenberger, eds, Das Prinzip Neugier, pp. 156–91 (p. 186). 62 Hans-Jürgen Brandt, ‘Was aber bleibet?’ in Deutschlandbilder Ost. Dokumentarfilme der DEFA von der Nachkriegszeit bis zur Wiedervereinigung, ed. by Peter Zimmermann (Konstanz: Ölschläger, 1995), pp. 161–77 (p. 161).

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Selected Filmography

321

Selected Filmography Included in this filmography are only DEFA films discussed in detail by the authors. The titles are listed in alphabetical order according to the German title. If the title begins with an article, the first letter of the next word determines the position of the film (e.g. Das Beil von Wandsbek can be found under B, Der nackte Mann auf dem Sportplatz under N). Alarm im Zirkus [Alarm at the Circus], Production & Premiere: 1954, Director: Gerhard Klein, Script: Wolfgang Kohlhaase, Hans Kubisch, Cinematography: Werner Bergmann, Dramaturgy: Walter Schmitt, Music: Günter Klück, Length: 83 minutes Die Alleinseglerin [The Solo Sailor], Production & Premiere: 1986/87, Director & Script: Herrmann Zschoche, Cinematography: Günter Jaeuthe, Lothar Marten, Dramaturgy: Christel Gräf, Music: Günther Fischer, Künstlerische Arbeitsgruppe: “Roter Kreis”, Length: 90 minutes Die Architekten [The Architects], Production & Premiere: 1989/90, Director: Peter Kahane, Script: Thomas Knauf, Cinematography: Andreas Köfer, Dramaturgy: Christoph Prochnow, Music: Tamás Kahane, Künstlerische Arbeitsgruppe: “Babelsberg”, Length: 97 minutes Auf der Sonnenseite [On the Sunny Side], Production & Premiere: 1961/62, Director: Ralf Kirsten, Script: Heinz Kahlau, Gisela Steineckert, Ralf Kirsten, Cinematography: Hans Heinrich, Dramaturgy: Marieluise Steinhauer, Music: André Asriel, Künstlerische Arbeitsgruppe: “60”, Length: 101 minutes Barfuß und ohne Hut [Barefoot and without a Hat], Documentary, Production & Premiere: 1964, Director & Script: Jürgen Böttcher, Cinematography: Christian Lehmann, Music: Gerhard Rosenfeld,DEFA-Studio für Wochenschau und Dokumentarfilme (Berlin-Johannisthal), Length: 26 minutes Beethoven – Tage aus einem Leben [Beethoven – Days from a Life], Production & Premiere: 1975/76, Director & Script: Horst Seemann, Cinematography: Otto Hanisch, Dramaturgy: Franz Jahrow, Karl-Heinz Köhler, Music: Ludwig van Beethoven, Künstlerische Arbeitsgruppe: “Babelsberg”, Length: 108 minutes Das Beil von Wandsbek [The Axe of Wandsbek], Production & Premiere: 1950/51, Director: Falk Harnack, Script: Hans Robert Bortfeldt, Falk Harnack, Wolfgang Staudte, Werner Jörg Lüddecke, Cinematography: Robert Baberske, Dramaturgy: Marieluise Steinhauer, Music: Ernst Roters, Length: 111 minutes Berlin – Ecke Schönhauser [Berlin – Schönhauser Corner] Production & Premiere: 1956/57, Director: Gerhard Klein, Script: Wolfgang Kohlhaase, Cinematography: Wolf Göthe, Dramaturgy: Gerhard Hartwig, Music: Günter Klück, Length: 81 minutes Die Besteigung des Chimborazo [The Ascent of the Chimborazo], Production & Premiere: 1988/89, Director: Rainer Simon, Script: Paul Kanut Schäfer, Rainer Simon, Cinematography: Roland Dressel, Dramaturgy: Erika Richter, Music: Robert Linke, Koproduktion DEFA, ZDF and Torro Film, Length: 97 minutes Die Beunruhigung [Apprehension], Production & Premiere: 1981/82, Director: Lothar Warneke, Script: Helga Schubert, Cinematography: Thomas Plenert, Music: César Franck, Künstlerische Arbeitsgruppe: “Babelsberg”, Length: 100 minutes Denk bloß nicht, ich heule [Just Don’t Think I’ll Cry], Production: 1964/65, Premiere: 1990, Director: Frank Vogel, Script: Manfred Freitag, Joachim Nestler, Cinematography: Günter Ost, Dramaturgy: Dieter Scharfenberg, Music: Hans-Dieter Hosalla, Künstlerische Arbeitsgruppe: “Heinrich Greif”, Length: 91 minutes

322

Selected Filmography

Dr. Schlüter, Production & Premiere: 1965, Director: Karl Georg Egel, Script: Karl Georg Egel, Achim Hübner, Cinematography: Günter Eisinger, Dramaturgy: Hans-Georg Kohlus, Music: Günter Hauk, Production commissioned by the East German Television “Deutscher Fernsehfunk”, Length: 475 minutes Der Dritte [Her Third], Production & Premiere: 1971/72, Director & Script: Egon Günther, Cinematography: Erich Gusko, Dramaturgy: Werner Beck, Künstlerische Arbeitsgruppe: “Berlin”, Length: 111 minutes Du und mancher Kamerad [You and Many a Comrade], Documentary, Production & Premiere: 1954–56, Director: Andrew Thorndike, Annelie Thorndike, Script: Annelie Thorndike, Andrew Thorndike, Karl-Eduard von Schnitzler, Cinematography: Kurt Stanke, Waldemar Ruge, Walter Fuchs, Joachim Lubnau, Ernst Kunstmann, Vera Futterlieb, Rudolf Ehrlich, Harry Kadoch, Music: Paul Dessau, Length: 103 minutes Ehe im Schatten [Marriage in the Shadows], Production & Premiere: 1947, Director & Script: Kurt Maetzig, Cinematography: Friedl Behn-Grund, Eugen Klagemann, Music: Wolfgang Zeller, Length: 104 minutes Einer muss die Leiche sein [Someone Must Be the Corpse], Production & Premiere: 1977/78, Director: Iris Gusner, Script: Iris Gusner (based on the novel by Gert Prokop), Cinematography: Günther Jaeuthe, Dramaturgy: Anne Pfeuffer, Music: Gerhard Rosenfeld, Künstlerische Arbeitsgruppe “Berlin”, Length: 84 minutes Entlassen auf Bewährung [Released on Probation], Production & Premiere: 1965, Director: Richard Groschopp, Script: Richard Groschopp, Gerd Billing, Cinematography: Rolf Sohre, Dramaturgy: Willi Brückner, Music: Günter Hauk, Künstlerische Arbeitsgruppe: “konkret”, Length: 90 minutes Eolomea, Production & Premiere: 1971/72, Director & Script: Herrmann Zschoche, Cinematography: Günter Jaeuthe, Dramaturgy: Willi Brückner, Music: Günther Fischer, Künstlerische Arbeitsgruppe “Berlin”, Length: 82 minutes Erinnerung an eine Landschaft – für Manuela [Memory of a Landscape – for Manuela], Production & Premiere: 1983, Director: Kurt Tetzlaff, Script: Joachim Niebelschütz, Kurt Tetzlaff, Cinematography: Karl Farber, Eberhard Geick, Music: Gerhard Rosenfeld, DEFA-Studio für Dokumentarfilme (Berlin), Length: ca. 84 minutes Ernst Thälmann: Führer seiner Klasse [Ernst Thälmann: Leader of his Class], Production & Premiere: 1954/55, Director: Kurt Maetzig, Script: Willi Bredel, Michael Tschesno-Hell, Kurt Maetzig, Cinematography: Karl Plintzner, Horst E. Brandt, Music: Wilhelm Neef, Length: 140 minutes Ernst Thälmann: Sohn seiner Klasse [Ernst Thälmann: Son of his Class], Production & Premiere: 1953/54, Director: Kurt Maetzig, Script: Willi Bredel, Michael Tschesno-Hell, Kurt Maetzig, Cinematography: Karl Plintzner, Music: Wilhelm Neef, Length: 140 minutes Die Flucht [The Flight], Production & Premiere: 1976/77, Director & Script: Roland Gräf, Cinematography: Claus Neumann, Dramaturgy: Christel Gräf, Music: Günther Fischer, Künstlerische Arbeitsgruppe: “Roter Kreis”, Length: 94 minutes Flüstern und Schreien – Ein Rockreport [Whisper and Shout – A Rock Report], Documentary, Production & Premiere: 1988, Director: Dieter Schumann, Script: Jochen Wisotzki, Dieter Schumann, Cinematography: Michael Lösche, Dramaturgy: Jochen Wisotzki, Music: Feeling B, Chicoree, Silly, Sandow, Popgeneration, André und Firma, Paul Landers, Künstlerische Arbeitsgruppe: “document”, DEFA-Studio für Dokumentarfilme, Length: 120 minutes Frauenschicksale [Destinies of Women], Production & Premiere: 1952, Director & Script: Slatan Dudow, Cinematography: Robert Baberske, Hans Hauptmann, Dramaturgy: Hans Robert Bortfeldt, Music: Hanns Eisler, Length: 105 minutes

Selected Filmography

323

Fünf Patronenhülsen [Five Cartridges], Production & Premiere: 1959/60, Director: Frank Beyer, Script: Walter Gorrish, Cinematography: Günter Marczinkowsky, Dramaturgy: Wolfgang Ebeling, Music: Joachim Werzlau, Length: 87 minutes Für die Liebe noch zu mager [Too Skinny for Love], Production & Premiere: 1973/74, Director: Bernhard Stephan, Script: Bernhard Stephan, Jochen Nestler, Cinematography: Jürgen Kruse, Dramaturgy: Anne Pfeuffer, Music: Levente Szörenyi, Klaus Renft, Künstlerische Arbeitsgruppe: “Berlin”, Length: 86 minutes Der geteilte Himmel [Divided Heaven], Production & Premiere: 1963/64, Director: Konrad Wolf, Script: Christa Wolf, Gerhard Wolf, Konrad Wolf, Willi Brückner, Kurt Barthel, Cinematography: Werner Bergmann, Dramaturgy: Willi Brückner, Music: Hans-Dieter Hosalla, Künstlerische Arbeitsgruppe: “Heinrich Greif”, Length: 113 minutes Die Glatzkopfbande [The Baldheaded Gang], Production & Premiere: 1962/63, Director: Richard Groschopp, Script: Lothar Creutz, Richard Groschopp, Cinematography: Siegfried Hönicke, Dramaturgy: Willi Brückner, Music: Helmut Nier, Künstlerische Arbeitsgruppe: “konkret”, Length: 98 minutes Goya – oder der arge Weg der Erkenntnis [Goya, or the Hard Way to Enlightenment], Production & Premiere: 1970/71, Director & Script: Konrad Wolf, Cinematography: Werner Bergmann, Konstantin Ryåov, Dramaturgy: Walter Janka, Alexander Dymschitz, Music: Kara Karajev, Faradj Karajev, Paco Ibanez, A coproduction of DEFA and Lenfilm, Length: 134 minutes He, Du! [Hey, You!], Production & Premiere: 1969/70, Director & Script: Rolf Römer, Cinematography: Peter Krause, Dramaturgy: Wolfgang Ebeling, Music: Klaus Lenz, Künstlerische Arbeitsgruppe: “Roter Kreis”, Length: 97 minutes Heißer Sommer [Hot Summer] Production & Premiere: 1967/68, Director:Joachim Hasler, Script: Maurycy Janowski, Joachim Hasler, Cinematography: Joachim Hasler, Roland Dressel, Dramaturgy: Dieter Scharfenberg, Music: Gerd Natschinski, Thomas Natschinski, Künstlerische Arbeitsgruppe: “Johannisthal”, Length: 97 minutes Im Staub der Sterne [In the Dust of the Stars], Production & Premiere: 1975/76, Director & Script: Gottfried Kolditz, Cinematography: Peter Süring, Dramaturgy: Joachim Hellwig, Music: KarlErnst Sasse, Künstlerische Arbeitsgruppe: “Futurum”, Length: 100 minutes Irgendwo in Berlin [Somewhere in Berlin], Production & Premiere: 1946, Director & Script: Gerhard Lamprecht, Cinematography: Werner Krien, Music: Erich Einegg, Length: 85 min Jadup und Boel [Jadup and Boel], Production: 1980, Premiere: 1988, Director & Script: Rainer Simon, Cinematography: Roland Dressel, Music: Reiner Bredemeyer, Künstlerische Arbeitsgruppe: “Babelsberg”, Length: 104 minutes Jahrgang ’45 [Born in ’45], Production & Premiere: 1966, Director: Jürgen Böttcher, Script: Klaus Poche, Jürgen Böttcher, Cinematography: Roland Gräf, Dramaturgy: Christel Gräf, Music: Künstlerische Arbeitsgruppe: “Roter Kreis”, Length: 94 minutes Jakob der Lügner [Jacob the Liar], Production & Premiere: 1974, Director & Script: Frank Beyer, Cinematography: Günter Marczinkowsky, Dramaturgy: Gerd Gericke, Music: Joachim Werzlau, Künstlerische Arbeitsgruppe: “Johannisthal”, Length: 100 minutes Johann Sebastian Bach, Documentary, Production & Premiere: 1950, Director: Ernst Dahle, Script: Georg Knepler, Ernst Dahle, Cinematography: Eugen Klagemann, Gerhard Käppner, Kurt Manke, Music: Johann Sebastian Bach, DEFA-Kulturfilmproduktion, Length: 34 minutes Komödianten-Emil [Emil, The Comedian], Production & Premiere: 1979/80, Director: Joachim Hasler, Script: Wera Küchenmeister, Claus Küchenmeister, Joachim Hasler, Cinematography: Peter Krause, Dramaturgy: Anne Pfeuffer, Music: Gerd Natschinski, Künstlerische Arbeitsgruppe: “Berlin”, Length: 95 minutes

324

Selected Filmography

Die Legende von Paul und Paula [The Legend of Paul and Paula], Production & Premiere: 1972/73, Director: Heiner Carow, Script: Heiner Carow, Ulrich Plenzdorf, Cinematography: Jürgen Brauer, Dramaturgy: Anne Pfeuffer, Music: Peter Gotthardt, Künstlerische Arbeitsgruppe: “Berlin”, Length: 109 minutes Die Leiden des jungen Werthers [The Sorrows of Young Werther], Production & Premiere: 1972, Director & Script: Egon Günther, Cinematography: Erich Gusko, Dramaturgy: Peter Jakubeit, Manfred Wolter, Music: Gerhard Ribbeck, Günter Lambert, Künstlerische Arbeitsgruppe: “Babelsberg”, Length: 106 minutes Leute mit Flügeln [People with Wings], Production & Premiere: 1959/60, Director: Konrad Wolf, Script: Karl Georg Egel, Paul Wiens, Cinematography: Werner Bergmann, Dramaturgy: Willi Brückner, Music: Hans-Dieter Hosalla, Künstlerische Arbeitsgruppe: “Heinrich Greif”, Length: 121 min Die Liebe und der Co-Pilot [Love and the Co-Pilot], Production & Premiere: 1960/61, Director: Richard Groschopp, Script: Lothar Creutz, Carl Andrießen, Richard Groschopp, Cinematography: Eugen Klagemann, Dramaturgy: Willi Brückner, Music: Hans Hendrik Wehding, Heinz Kunert, Length: 97 minutes Das Lied der Ströme [The Song of the Rivers], Documentary, Production & Premiere: 1953/54, Director: Joris Ivens, Script: Joris Ivens, Vladimir Pozner, Cinematography: Erich Nitzschmann, Music: Dimitri Shostakovich, Ernst Busch, Paul Robeson, DEFA-Studio für Dokumentarfilme, Length: 90 minutes Ludwig van Beethoven, Documentary, Production & Premiere: 1954, Director: Max Jaap, Script: Stephan Hermlin, Cinematography: Harry Kadoch, Wolfgang Mueller-Sehn, Erich Nitzschmann, A.M. Draeger, DEFA-Studio für Dokumentarfilme, Length: 95 minutes Meine Frau macht Musik [My Wife Sings], Production & Premiere: 1957/58, Director & Script: Hans Heinrich, Cinematography: Eugen Klagemann, Dramaturgy: Marieluise Steinhauer, Music: Gerd Natschinski, Length: 92 minutes Die Mörder sind unter uns [The Murderers Are Among Us], Production & Premiere: 1946, Director & Script: Wolfgang Staudte, Cinematography: Friedl Behn-Grund, Eugen Klagemann, Music: Ernst Roters, Length: 90 minutes Der nackte Mann auf dem Sportplatz [The Naked Man on the Playing Field], Production & Premiere: 1973/74, Director & Script: Konrad Wolf, Cinematography: Werner Bergmann, Dramaturgy: Gerhard Wolf, Music: Karl-Ernst Sasse, Künstlerische Arbeitsgruppe: “Babelsberg”, Length: 101 minutes Novalis – die blaue Blume [Novalis – the Blue Flower], Production & Premiere: 1993, Director & Script: Herwig Kipping, Cinematography: Matthias Tschiedel, Music: Herwig Kipping, coproduced by DEFA & Thomas Wilkening Filmgesellschaft mbH, Length: 93 minutes Ofenbauer [Oven Builders], Documentary, Production & Premiere: 1962, Director: Jürgen Böttcher, Script: Jürgen Böttcher, Rolf Schnabel, Cinematography: Hans Dumke, Helmut Gerstmann, Gerhard Münch, Walter Roßkopf, Christian Lehmann, DEFA-Studio für Wochenschau und Dokumentarfilme (Berlin-Johannisthal), Length: 15 minutes Der Rat der Götter [The Council of the Gods], Production & Premiere: 1949/50, Director: Kurt Maetzig, Script: Friedrich Wolf, Phillipp Gecht, Cinematography: Friedl Behn-Grund, Dramaturgy: Béla Balázs, Music: Hanns Eisler, Erwin Lehn, Peter Tschaikowski, Length: 111 minutes Razzia [Raid], Production & Premiere: 1946/47, Director: Werner Klingler, Script: Harald G. Petersson, Cinematography: Friedl Behn-Grund, Eugen Klagemann, Music: Werner Eisbrenner, Length: 96 minutes

Selected Filmography

325

Roman einer jungen Ehe [The Story of a Young Couple], Production & Premiere: 1951/52, Director: Kurt Maetzig, Script: Bodo Uhse, Kurt Maetzig, Cinematography: Karl Plintzner, Music: Wilhelm Neef, Length: 104 minutes Rotation, Production & Premiere: 1948/49, Director: Wolfgang Staudt, Script: Wolfgang Staudte, Erwin Klein, Cinematography: Bruno Mondi, Dramaturgy: Georg Schaafs, Music: H. W. Wiemann, Length: 84 minutes Sabine Kleist, 7 Jahre [Sabine Kleist, 7 Years Old], Production & Premiere: 1981/82, Director & Script: Helmut Dziuba, Cinematography: Helmut Bergmann, Dramaturgy: Anne Pfeuffer, Music: Christian Steyer, Künstlerische Arbeitsgruppe: “Berlin”, Length: 73 minutes Schwarzer Samt [Black Velvet], Production & Premiere 1963/64, Director: Heinz Thiel, Script: Gerhard Bengsch, Cinematography: Horst E. Brandt, Dramaturgy: Joachim Plötner, Künstlerische Arbeitsgruppe: “Heinrich Greif”, Length: 80 minutes Der schweigende Stern [The Silent Star], Production & Premiere: 1959/60, Director: Kurt Maetzig, Script: Jan Fethke, Wolfgang Kohlhaase, Günter Reisch, Günther Rücker, Alexander Graf Stenbock-Fermor, Kurt Maetzig, Cinematography: Joachim Hasler, Dramaturgy: HansJoachim Wallstein, Music: Andrzej Markowski, Künstlerische Arbeitsgruppe: “Roter Kreis” in cooperation with Film Polski, Length: 95 minutes Der Scout [The Scout], Production & Premiere: 1982/83, Director & Script: Konrad Petzold, Cinematography: Otto Hanisch, Dramaturgy: Gerd Gericke, Music: Karl-Ernst Sasse, Künstlerische Arbeitsgruppe: “Gruppe Johannisthal” in cooperation with Mongolkino, Length: 100 minutes Seilergasse 8 [Seiler Way 8], Production & Premiere: 1959/60, Director: Hans-Joachim Kunert, Script: Günter Kunert, Hans-Joachim Kunert, Cinematography: Eugen Klagemann, Dramaturgy: Anne Pfeuffer, Music: André Asriel, Length: 91 minutes Sie kannten sich alle [They All Knew Each Other], Production & Premiere: 1957/58, Director: Richard Groschopp, Script: Lothar Creutz, Carl Andrießen, Richard Groschopp, Cinematography: Eugen Klagemann, Dramaturgy: Ilse Langosch, Music: Wilhelm Neef, Length: 84 minutes Das siebente Jahr [The Seventh Year], Production & Premiere: 1968, Director & Script: Frank Vogel, Cinematography: Roland Gräf, Dramaturgy: Anne Pfeuffer, Music: Peter Rabenalt, Künstlerische Arbeitsgruppe: “Berlin”, Length: 83 minutes Spur der Steine [Traces of Stones], Production & Premiere:1965/66, Director: Frank Beyer, Script: Karl Georg Egel, Cinematography: Günter Marczinkowsky, Dramaturgy: Günter Mehnert, Werner Beck, Music: Wolfram Heicking, Kunze, Künstlerische Arbeitsgruppe: “Heinrich Greif”, Length: 139 minutes Unser täglich Brot [Our Daily Bread], Production & Premiere: 1949, Director: Slatan Dudow, Script: Slatan Dudow, Hans-Joachim Beyer, Ludwig Turek, Cinematography: Robert Baberske, Dramaturgy: Georg Schaafs, Music: Hanns Eisler, Length: 105 minutes Der verlorene Engel [The Lost Angel], Production & Premiere: 1966/71, Director & Script: Ralf Kirsten, Cinematography: Klaus Neumann, Dramaturgy: Klaus Wischnewski, Music: André Asriel, Length: 60 minutes Vernehmung der Zeugen [Interrogating the Witnesses], Production & Premiere: 1986/87, Director: Gunther Scholz, Script: Manfred Richter, Gunther Scholz, Cinematography: Klaus Neumann, Dramaturgy: Thea Richter, Music: Friedbert Wissmann, Künstlerische Arbeitsgruppe: “Roter Kreis”, Length: 76 minutes Wie heiratet man einen König [How to Marry a King], Production & Premiere: 1968, Director: Rainer Simon, Script: Günter Kaltofen, Rainer Simon, Cinematography: Claus Neumann, Dramaturgy: Gudrun Deubener, Margot Beichler, Music: Peter Rabenalt, Künstlerische Arbeitsgruppe: “Kinder- und Jugendfilm”, Length: 79 minutes

326

Selected Filmography

List of Illustrations

327

List of Illustrations Fig 1.1

Frauenschicksale (1952) seeks to answer the question of the difference of socialism and to unleash the ‘pleasure of productivity’ from the apparent alienation of industrial labor. DVD capture. Fig 1.2 The bounded world of Renate’s experience erupts into a spectacle of socialist plenitude, which portends an entirely new world in Frauenschicksale (1952). DVD capture. Fig 1.3 The party attempts to construct a narrative of the events and create a discursive frame for adjudicating public and private claims for happiness in Spur der Steine (1966). DVD capture. Fig 2.1 Hans Behnke gazes at the prison wall, the record of his legacy. Rotation (1949). DVD capture. Fig 2.2 The message on the cave wall in Fünf Patronenhülsen (1960). DVD capture. Fig. 2.3, 4, 5 The teachers’ collective witnesses the construction activity on Alexanderplatz. He, Du! (1970). DVD capture. Fig 3.1 Dr. Scholz (Fritz Tillmann) and Uncle Karl (Albert Garbe) in Der Rat der Götter (1950), directed by Kurt Maetzig, author Friedrich Wolf. DVD capture. Fig 3.2 Chewel Buzgan as Tairow and Otto Mellies as Schlüter in Dr. Schlüter (1965), directed by Achim Hübner, author Karl Georg Egel. DVD capture. Fig 3.3 Renate Blume as Rita Seidel in Der geteilte Himmel (1964), directed by Konrad Wolf, based on the novel by Christa Wolf. DVD capture. Fig 4.1 The sequence depicting the mass celebrations on Berlin’s Stalinallee in Roman einer jungen Ehe (1952) was heavily criticized by the studio management. DVD capture. Fig 4.2 Hannes’s involvement in Kemmel’s project prompts a dialogue on the role of art in contemporary socialist society in Der nackte Mann auf dem Sportplatz (1974). DVD capture. Fig 4.3 Beethoven – Tage aus einem Leben (1976) contributes to the debate about the legacy of Romanticism. Here Beethoven arrives in contemporary East Berlin. DVD capture. Fig 5.1 Sharing a rare provision of bread, members of the displaced family experience a sense of belonging in Unser täglich Brot (1949). Photograph Erich Kilian © DEFA-Stiftung. Fig 5.2 Women’s integration into the public sphere turned into the lynchpin of the new social order, as portrayed in Roman einer jungen Ehe (1952). Photograph Erich Kilian © DEFAStiftung. Fig 5.3 Despite the stress of daily demands the modern socialist couple is bonded by mutual respect, love, and desire in Das siebente Jahr (1968). Photograph Waltraut Pathenheimer © DEFA-Stiftung. Fig 5.4 When faced with a potential cancer diagnosis, Inge, a single mother, reevaluates her life in Die Beunruhigung (1982). Photograph Norbert Kuhröber © DEFA-Stiftung. Fig 6.1 Die Liebe und der Co-Pilot (1960) featured music by GDR pop singer Helga Brauer and the song ‘Stewardess in a Blue Uniform’ sung aboard a GDR-manufactured Ilyushin Il-14P. © DEFA-Stiftung. Fig 6.2 A Berlin-themed heritage musical, Komödianten-Emil (1980) was inspired by Bob Fosse’s Cabaret (1972). © DEFA-Stiftung. Fig 6.3 Film programme for Meine Frau macht Musik (1958). Critics complained that it promised more music than it delivered, and film officials balked at the participation of performers based in West Germany. © DEFA-Stiftung.

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Fig 6.4 Fig 7.1 Fig 7.2 Fig 7.3 Fig 7.4 Fig 8.1 Fig 8.2 Fig 8.3 Fig 8.4 Fig 9.1 Fig 9.2 Fig 9.3 Fig 9.4 Fig 10.1 Fig 10.2 Fig 10.3 Fig 10.4 Fig 11.1 Fig 11.2 Fig 11.3

Fig 11.4 Fig 12.1 Fig 12.2

List of Illustrations

The production of racial otherness in the finale of Meine Frau macht Musik (1958) underwrites its vision of modern musical entertainment. DVD capture. Commissioner Naumann’s contorted hand juts out from beneath discarded building materials in Werner Klingler’s Razzia (1947). DVD capture. Frau Schirding urges her husband to pursue a case against their son in Hans-Joachim Kunert’s Seilergasse 8 (1960). DVD capture. Accompanied by a policeman, Conny drives an injured child to the hospital in Richard Groschopp’s Entlassen auf Bewährung (1965). DVD capture. Maximilian’s teacher wonders whether she could have done anything differently in Gunther Scholz’s Vernehmung der Zeugen (1987). DVD capture. Like in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, a trap door leads to an entirely different world: Im Staub der Sterne (1976). DVD capture. A Metropolis-like montage of extreme close-ups on eyes introduces a similarly decadent party in Im Staub der Sterne (1976). DVD capture. The adaptation opens in the Swiss Alps with a landscape anticipating Werther’s interiority and individuality in Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (1976). DVD capture. The closing images of Der Scout (1983) offer White Feather as a single and singular rider, at the head of not a people but of a great many horses. DVD capture. Erwin Geschonneck receives the National Prize from Walter Ulbricht on 6 October 1961. © Bundesarchiv (Bild 183-86965-0010). Bronze head of Erwin Geschonneck by Werner Stötzer (1964). © Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden. Manfred Krug gives autographs at a bookstore on Berlin’s Spandauer Straße on 12 September 1974. © Bundesarchiv (Bild 183-ND912-031). Armin Mueller-Stahl receives the Progress Film Distributor’s Award from Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on 8 February 2009. © Bundesarchiv (B145 Bild-00193492). Kuchar explains to Brtko how to keep up appearances in Mrs. Lautmannová’s shop in The Shop on Main Street (1965). DVD capture. Jakob furtively performs a fictitious radio broadcast for Lina in Jakob der Lügner (1975). DVD capture. Agnieszka, the heroic young filmmaker in Man of Marble (1977), astride a Stalinist statue, shooting an investigative film for TV. DVD capture. Jadup’s first hazy flashback of Boel and her mother as war refugees in Jadup und Boel (1981). DVD capture. Herr Iller, holding his son above his head in an antifascist victory. Irgendwo in Berlin (1946). DVD capture. The wedding banquet shows the King and the people’s daughter in love. Wie heiratet man einen König (1969). DVD capture. A grainy photograph of the accident scene: a medical team attends to Sabine (lower right front) while the police investigate the crash. Sabine Kleist, 7 Jahre (1982). DVD capture. Sabine returns to the orphanage, coming full circle by turning to the authorities who rescued her from the car accident. Sabine Kleist, 7 Jahre (1982). DVD capture. The street as meeting place and free space at the beginning of Berlin – Ecke Schönhauser (1957). DVD capture. Peter Naumann (Peter Reusse) as an East German Jean-Paul Belmondo in Denk bloß nicht, ich heule (1965). DVD capture.

List of Illustrations

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Fig 12.3 De-politicized entertainment after the 11th Plenary: Heißer Sommer (1968). DVD capture. Fig 13.1 Young East Germans were enthusiastic about Barfuß und ohne Hut (1965), a banned portrait of adolescents at Prerow, but the party found it to be lacking direction. © DEFA-Stiftung. Fig 13.2 A final image documenting the destruction of Magdeborn for the good of the state in Erinnerung an eine Landschaft – für Manuela (1982). Photograph Gerhard Niendorf. © DEFA-Stiftung.

330

List of Illustrations

Contributors

331

Contributors Seán Allan is Reader in German Studies at the University of Warwick, UK. He studied at Emmanuel College, Cambridge University and at the Humboldt University, Berlin. He is co-editor (with John Sandford) of DEFA. East German Cinema, 1946–1992 (Berghahn, 1999) and has written a wide range of articles on representations of East Germany and post-unification German identity in contemporary German cinema. He has also published extensively on eighteenth and nineteenth-century drama, including most recently Heinrich von Kleist. Konstruktive und destruktive Funktionen von Gewalt, ed. by Ricarda Schmidt, Seán Allan and Steven Howe (Königshausen und Neumann, 2012). Hunter Bivens is Assistant Professor of Literature and German Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago for his dissertation ‘Concrete Utopia: History and Labor in the German Communist Novel’. His has written on the work of Anna Seghers, Brigitte Reimann, Volker Braun and 1950s East German cinema. His current project ‘Epic and Exile: Novels of the German Popular Front’ reads German exile literature as a complex formal negotiation of the crisis of classical modernity in the mid-twentieth century. Benita Blessing is Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education and Philosophy at the University of Vienna, Austria. Her research interests focus on interdisciplinary approaches to understanding how societies construct and disseminate shared knowledge. Key areas of analysis include the history of education, film studies, gender and sexuality, memory and consciousness, children’s studies, folk tales, monsters and vampires and the history of science. She is the author of The Antifascist Classroom. Denazification in Soviet-occupied Germany, 1945–1949 (Palgrave, 2006) and numerous articles and chapters on the German Democratic Republic, education and DEFA children’s films. She is completing a manuscript on DEFA children’s films, ‘Socialist Fairy Tale Film Nation: East German Children’s Film, 1946–1992’. Barton Byg is Professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he teaches German literary and cultural studies as well as film studies. He is founding director of the DEFA Film Library, a research and distribution center for East German films, and founding faculty member of the interdepartmental Program in Film Studies. He has authored the monograph Landscapes of Resistance. The German Films of Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub (University of California Press, 1995) and numerous articles on the cinema and cultural legacy of the former GDR, documentary film and Cold War culture. Jaimey Fisher is Associate Professor of German and Cinema and Technocultural Studies at the University of California, Davis. He is the author of Disciplining German. Youth, Reeducation, and Reconstruction after the Second World War (Wayne State University Press, 2007) and Christian Petzold (University of Illinois Press, 2013) and is co-editor with Peter Uwe Hohendahl of Critical Theory. Current State and Future Prospects (Berghahn, 2001). He also co-edited with Brad Prager Collapse of the Conventional. German Film and its Politics at the Turn of the Twenty-first Century (Wayne State University Press, 2010), and with Barbara Mennel Spatial Turns. Space, Place, and Mobility in German Literary and Visual Culture (Rodopi, 2010). He has edited a volume on genre in German cinema (Generic Histories of German Cinema, Camden, 2013), and his current book project analyzes war films from the 1910s to the 1950s.

332

Contributors

Sabine Hake is the Texas Chair of German Literature and Culture in the Department of Germanic Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of six monographs, including German National Cinema (Routledge, 2008, second revised edition), Topographies of Class. Modern Architecture and Mass Society in Weimar Berlin (University of Michigan Press, 2008) and Screen Nazis. Cinema, History, and Democracy (University of Wisconsin Press, 2012). She has published numerous articles and edited volumes on German film and Weimar culture. Nick Hodgin is a lecturer in German and film studies at the University of Lancaster (UK), whose research interests are in film and cultural studies. He has published widely on German film including the monograph Screening the East. Heimat, Memory and Nostalgia in German Film since 1989 (Berghahn, 2011) and the co-edited volume on The GDR Remembered. Representing the East German State since 1989 (Camden House, 2011). He has held teaching positions in film studies and German cultural studies at the Universities of Liverpool, Sheffield, and Manchester. His current projects focus on visual culture in the GDR, international cinema and trauma, and contemporary German filmmakers. Manuel Köppen teaches in the Institute for German Literature at the Humboldt University in Berlin. His areas of research and teaching include literature, media, and the history of perception. Besides numerous articles on the history of representation of wartime conflict, he published the monograph Das Entsetzen des Beobachters. Krieg und Medien im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert (Winter, 2005). He has also edited Kunst und Literatur nach Auschwitz (Erich Schmidt, 1993), Bilder des Holocaust. Literatur – Film – Malerei, co-editor Klaus Scherpe (Böhlau, 1997), Die andere Stimme. Das Fremde in der Kultur der Moderne, co-editor Alexander Honold (Böhlau, 1999), Passagen. Literatur – Theorie – Medien, with Rüdiger Steinlein (Weidler, 2001), and Kunst der Propaganda. Der Film im Dritten Reich, with Erhard Schütz (Lang, 2007). Anke Pinkert is Associate Professor of German and Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She received her Ph.D. from University of Chicago in 2000. She is the author of Memory and Film in East Germany (Indiana University Press, 2008) and has published on post-war and post-1989 German literature, film and cultural history in journals, including German Quarterly, Germanic Review and Studies in East European Cinema. Larson Powell is Associate Professor of German at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. His first book was on modern German poetry, a second on post-1945 electronic media art is forthcoming with Camden House in 2014 and a third on East German filmmaker Konrad Wolf is in progress. He has published and lectured on German film and literature, media theory and film sound, as well as on musicology and philosophical aesthetics. Recent publications include two contributions to the Adorno-Handbuch (Metzler, 2011) and one to A New History of German Cinema, ed. by Jennifer Kapczynski and Michael Richardson (Camden House, 2012). Brad Prager is Associate Professor of German and an active member of the Program in Film Studies at the University of Missouri. He has authored two monographs: Aesthetic Vision and German Romanticism. Writing Images (Camden House, 2007) and The Cinema of Werner Herzog. Aesthetic Ecstasy and Truth (Wallflower Press, 2007). His articles have appeared in New German Critique, Studies in Documentary Film, Art History, Modern Language Review and elsewhere. He has co-edited the collections The Collapse of the Conventional. German Film and its Politics at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century (Wayne State University Press, 2010) and Visualizing the

Contributors

333

Holocaust. Documents, Aesthetics, Memory (Camden House, 2008), and most recently edited A Companion to Werner Herzog (Blackwell, 2012). Marc Silberman is Professor of German and Director of the Center for German and European Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he is also an affiliate faculty member of the Theatre/Drama department and the Film Studies program. His research and teaching focus on twentieth-century German literature, theatre and cinema. He has published monographs on Literature of the Working World in East Germany (Herbert Lang, 1976), Heiner Müller (Rodopi, 1980), German Cinema. Texts in Context (Wayne State University Press, 1995) and edited the Brecht Yearbook from 1990–1995. In addition he has edited or co-edited another 18 volumes or special journal issues, most recently The German Wall. Fallout in Europe (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), Walls, Borders, Boundaries. Spatial and Cultural Practices in Europe (Berghahn, 2012), and Memory and Postwar Memorials: Confronting the Violence of the Past (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). Stefan Soldovieri is Associate Professor of German, University of Toronto. His current research focuses on GDR cinema, inter-German film relations and genre cinema during the early post-war period and remakes in German contexts. His monograph Managing the Movies (forthcoming at University of Toronto Press) explores the DEFA film crisis of 1965 as the failure of film regulation during a contentious period of modernization in GDR society. Recent articles on genre cinema and East-West film discourses include ‘Edgar Wallace goes East: Locations of Genre and German Identities in Joachim Hasler’s Fog (Nebel, GDR 1962)’, in The Meaning of Culture (Camden House, 2009), and ‘Germans Suffering in Spain: Cold War Visions of the Spanish Civil War’, in Cinémas, 18.1 (Fall 2007). Henning Wrage is Visiting Assistant Professor of German at Gettysburg College, PA. He received his Ph.D. from Humboldt University in Berlin for his dissertation Die Zeit der Kunst. Literatur, Film und Fernsehen in der DDR der 1960er Jahre (Winter, 2009), a comparative media history of East German culture. His published work also includes articles on post-war culture, television history, reading addiction, children’s literature, Gerhart Hauptmann and Gottfried Benn. His current research aims at the interrelations between literature, film, television and radio in post-war German cultural history as part of a larger project on the phantasms and the history of new media since the eighteenth century.

334

Contributors

Index

335

Index Note: ‘n.’ after a page reference indicates the number of a note on that page. Note: literary and filmic works are generally listed under the authors’ or directors’ names. 11th Plenary of the SED Central Committee 5, 8, 21, 13, 39, 42, 79, 96, 97, 99, 250, 273, 278, 280, 290, 297–98 2001 (film title, Stanley Kubrick) 184 Abendroth, Hermann 95 Abusch, Alexander 148, 164 Academy for Film and Television, Potsdam (Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen) 7, 8 Academy of Music, Weimar 87 Ackermann, Anton 91 Albers, Hans 201, 210 Aleksandrov, Grigori 145 – Volga-Volga 145n. 23 Alien (Ridley Scott) 185 Alter Kahn und junge Liebe (Love and an Old Barge, Hans Heinrich) 136 Altman, Rick 150 Amiga (GDR record label) 138, 149, 212 Anderson, Lindsay 286, 291 Antel, Franz – Johann Strauß – Der ungekrönte König (Johann Strauss – The Uncrowned King) 143n. 14 Apitz, Bruno – Nackt unter Wölfen (Naked among Wolves) 61, 210, 216 Apted, Michael – 7-up 299 Ashby, Hal – Coming Home 126 Atget, Eugène 290 Auf Achse (On the Road, Hartmut Griesmayr) 214, 215 Der Augenzeuge (The Eye Witness; GDR weekly newsreel) 87, 88, 89, 95, 297 Babi Yar 100 Bach, Johann Sebastian 16, 93, 94–6 – Peasant Cantata 94 – The Well-Tempered Clavier 94

Bacon, Lloyd – Footlight Parade 144 Banionis, Donatas 99 Barthes, Roland 300 Barlach, Ernst 16, 87, 96–98 Baumert, Heinz 7, 8 Beat Street (Stan Lathan) 134 Bebel, August 115 Beck, Walter – Dornröschen (Sleeping Beauty) 249–50 Becker, Jurek 210, 211n. 32, 214, 230n. 30, 232 – Jakob der Lügner 210, 230, 231–32 Beethoven, Ludwig van 16, 47, 87, 93, 95–96, 101–4, 136, 187 – Appassionata 101 – Fifth Symphony 47 – ‘Ode to Joy’ 104 – Sonata No. 8 (Pathétique) 104 Bellag, Lothar – Der Mann von der Cap Arcona (The Man from the Cap Arcona) 211 Bellon, Yannick 285 Benedek, László – The Wild One 169, 263, 268–69, 271, 279 Benton, Robert – Kramer vs. Kramer 125 Bergfilm (mountain film) 191 Bergman, Ingmar – Wild Strawberries (Smultronstället) 242 Bergmann, Werner 7, 291 Berlin Film Festival 249 Der Bettelstudent (The Beggar Student, Georg Jacoby) 134 Beyer, Frank 224, 242 – Fünf Patronenhülsen (Five Cartridges) 15, 56–59, 206–7, 210, 220 – Jakob der Lügner (Jacob the Liar) 20, 210, 224, 229–34, 235 – Karbid und Sauerampfer (Carbide and Sorrel) 210 – Königskinder (Royal Children) 215

336

Index

– Spur der Steine (Trace of Stones) 14, 34, 37–42, 118, 122, 212–14, 242n. 70 – Das Versteck (The Hiding Place) 213 Biermann, Wolf 6, 68n. 3, 104, 173, 196, 197, 198n. 3, 202, 213, 216, 217, 219 Bildt, Paul 159 Bill, Haley 266 ‘Black Series’ (Poland) 285, 286 Blade Runner (Ridley Scott) 185, 186 Bloch, Ernst 176, 231 Blume, Renate 81 Blunk, Harry 188 Bobrowski, Johannes, – Levins Mühle (Levin’s Mill) 231 Bongartz, Heinz 95 Bonnet, Horst – Salon Pitzelberger 143n. 14 Bornemann, Fritz – Das Mädchen auf dem Titelblatt (The Girl on the Front Page) 137 Böttcher, Jürgen 21–22, 280, 282, 289, 298 – Barfuß und ohne Hut (Barefoot and without a Hat) 292, 293–97, 301 – Drei von vielen (Three of Many) 292–93 – Frau am Klavichord (Woman at the Clavichord) 290 – Jahrgang ’45 (Born in ’45) 17, 118, 119–120, 122, 290 – Ofenbauer (Oven Builders) 293 – Potters Stier (Potter’s Bull) 290 – Rangierer (Shunters) 294 – Stars 293 – Venus nach Giorgione (Venus after Giorgione) 290 Bourdieu, Pierre 283 Böwe, Kurt 240 Brakhage, Stan 22, 289, 290 Brandler, Heinrich 53 Brando, Marlon 98 Brandt, Horst E. – Die Beteiligten (The Involved) 176 – Heroin (1967). See also Heinz Thiel Brasch, Thomas 219 Brauer, Helga 138 Brauner, Artur 98 Bräunig, Werner 29 Breakin’ (Joel Silberg) 134

Brecht, Bertolt 35, 89, 206, 207, 210, 233, 242n. 70, 284 – Der aufhaltsame Aufstieg des Arturo Ui (The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui) 186 – Kuhle Wampe 32 – ‘Lied vom Glück’ (The Song of Happiness) 35 Bredel, Willi 51, 54 Breloer, Heinrich – Die Manns (The Mann Family) 217 Brennan, Walter 78n. 14 British Free Cinema 291–92, 294 Brodsk), Vlastimil 232, 233–35 Brooks, James – Terms of Endearment 125 Brothers Grimm 20, 250 Brtko, Tono 235 Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein (Charles Barton) 159 Buzgan, Chewel 80 Calvacanti, Alberto 285 Cameron, Etta, – ‘Jungle City, USA’ 63 Carow, Heiner – Bis dass der Tod euch scheidet (Until Death Do Us Part) 124 – Die Legende von Paul und Paula (The Legend of Paul and Paula) 122–23, 140, 231 – Sheriff Teddy 272 Central Cinema Company 98 Chiaureli, Mikheil – The Fall of Berlin (Padeniye Berlina) 15, 51, 55 Christie, Agatha 172 Churchill, Winston 51 cinema verité 293, 295, 302 Circus Barley 87 Coordinating Office for Film Research (Koordinierungsstelle für Filmforschung) 7 Costa-Gavras (Costantinos Gavras) – Missing 126 – Cotton Club 134 – Music Box 217 Cremer, Fritz 100 Czech New Wave cinema 224, 225 – See also New Wave cinema

Index

Dahle, Ernst – Johann Sebastian Bach 94–95, 96 Danneger, Matilde 287 David, Jacques-Louis 98 De Sica, Vittorio 290 de Witte, Emanuel 290 DEFA Film Library (University of Massachusetts, Amherst) 12 DEFA Foundation (DEFA-Stiftung) 10 DEFA Hall of Fame 198 DEFA Newsreel and Documentary Studio 21 ‘defa-spektrum’ (subsidiary of DEFA Foundation) 10 DEFA-Sternstunden (fan website) 198 DEFA Studio for Popular Science 21 Delacroix, Eugène – Freedom Leads the People 52 Delon, Alain 5 Demokratische Frauenbund Deutschlands (DFD) 33 Deppe, Hans – Die Kuckucks (The Cuckoos) 248 Detektivbüro Roth (Private Investigator Roth) 214–15 Deutsche Filmkunst 7 Deutscher Filmpreis 205 Dimitrov, Georgi 50 Dirty Dancing (Emile Ardolino) 134 Döblin, Alfred 87 Doerk, Chris 140 Domröse, Angelica 219 Donnersmarck, Florian Henckel von – Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others) 281 Dovzhenko, Alexander 291 Dragnet (Jack Webb) 161 Dresen, Andreas 268 Drinda, Horst 165 ‘Du bist so schön’ (You are so Beautiful) 151 Dudow, Slatan 32, 91 – Der Hauptmann von Köln (The Captain of Cologne) 210 – Frauenschicksale (Destinies of Women) 14, 17, 25, 31–37, 38, 115, 116–17 – Unser täglich Brot (Our Daily Bread) 17, 113–15, 274n. 29 Dunayevsky, Isaak 145

337

Dymschitz, Alexander 91 Dziuba, Helmut 243 – Sabine Kleist 7 Jahre (Sabine Kleist, Aged Seven) 20, 253–61 Ebert, Friedrich 53 Edinburgh Film Festival 286 East German New Wave cinema 97 – See also New Wave cinema Egel, Karl Georg 69, 75, 79, 80 Ein steinreicher Mann (A Tremendously Rich Man, Steve Sekely) 135 Eisenstein, Sergei 117, 291 Engels, Friedrich 108, 109, 115, 287 Engler, Wolfgang 36, 39, 40 Ensikat, Peter 281 Erbefilme 187–88, 189, 196 Esche, Eberhard 251 Eskens, Margot – ‘Tiritomba’ 149 Farber, Karl 301 Farrow, John – Two Years Before the Mast 116 Fassbinder, Rainer Werner 1, 217 Fellini, Federico – 81/2 8 Felsenstein, Walter – Othello 143n. 14 Festivals. – See under city names Feuchtwanger, Lion – Goya 97–98, 99, 101 Fiddler on the Roof 232 Film and Television School of the Academy of Performing Arts (FAMU), Prague 224 film noir 157, 158, 161, 170 Filmspiegel 204, 205 Filmwissenschaftliche Mitteilungen 7, 8 Fischer, Günther 212 Fleming, Victor – The Wizard of Oz 260 Ford, John 82 Forman, Stanley (Plato Films, later ETV: Educational & Television Films Ltd) 286 Fosse, Bob – Cabaret 141

338

Index

Foth, Jörg – Letztes aus der DaDaEr (Latest from the Da Da R) 105 Foucault, Michel 28, 302 Franck, Robert 290 Freie Deutsche Jugend (FDJ; Free German Youth) 83, 94, 148, 204, 265, 273 Freitag, Manfred 7 French New Wave cinema 126, 238 – See also New Wave cinema Frisch, Lore 148, 150 Fühmann, Franz 29 Funny Girl (William Wyler) 134 Furtwängler, Wilhelm 87, 95 Gagarin, Yuri 276 Gance, Abel – The Life and Loves of Beethoven (Un grand amour de Beethoven) 101 Gasparone (Georg Jacoby) 134 Gass, Karl 285 Geick, Eberhard 301 Geniusfilm 92 George, Heinrich 201, 210 Gerasimov, Sergei 285 German Central Office for Film Research, (Deutsche Zentralstelle für Filmforschung) 7 Gersch, Wolfgang 11 Geschonneck, Erwin 19, 197–99, 201, 205, 206, 207–10, 219, 233–34 – Meine unruhigen Jahre (My Tumultuous Years) 211 Gesellschaft für Sport und Technik (Society for Sport and Technology) 265 Getino, Octavio 2, 3 Giorgione – Sleeping Venus 290 Godard, Jean-Luc 119, 174 – Breathless (À bout de souffle) 63, 274 Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 61, 93, 187, 188, 196, 249 – Briefe aus der Schweiz (Letters from Switzerland) 190 – Die Leiden des jungen Werthers 188 – ‘Prometheus’ 174 Gordon, Wolff von 91

Gorky, Maxim 33 Gotthardt, Peter 140 Gottschalk, Joachim 88 Goya, Franciso 16, 87, 97–98, 99, 101, 102, 187 Gräf, Roland 7, 198, 289, 291 – Die Flucht (The Flight) 15, 63–66, 124, 216 – Bankett für Achilles (Banquet for Achilles) 210 Green, Alfred E. – The Jolson Story 116 Grierson, John 282, 292 Gröllmann, Jenny 220 Groschopp, Richard – Entlassen auf Bewährung (Released on Probation) 169–71 – Die Glatzkopfbande (The Baldheaded Gang) 169–70 – Die Liebe und der Co-Pilot (Love and the Co-Pilot) 138–39 – Sie kannten sich alle 162, 164–66 Gross, Klaus – ‘Küss mich, Angelina’ 149 Große Freiheit Nr. 7 (Great Freedom Nr. 7, Helmut Käutner) 134 Grotewohl, Otto 93 Günther, Egon – Abschied (The Farewell) 297 – Der Dritte (Her Third) 14, 25, 34, 42–44, 124, 191 – Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (The Sorrows of Young Werther) 19, 187–92, 194, 196 Gusner, Iris – Einer muss die Leiche sein (Someone Must Be the Corpse) 172 – Wäre die Erde nicht rund (Were the Earth Not Round) 78n. 13 Gütschow, Gert 157n. 1 Habbema, Cox 251 Hagen, Eva-Maria 77, 219 Hagen, Nina 219 Hallo Janine (Carl Boese) 134 Händel, George Friederic 93 Harfouch, Corinna 220 Harlan, Veit 159 – Jüd Süß 90

Index

Harnack, Falk 91 – Das Beil von Wandsbek (The Axe of Wandsbek) 210, 211 Hasler, Joachim 136 – Heißer Sommer (Hot Summer) 140, 278 – Komödianten-Emil (Emil, The Comedian) 136, 141, 142 – Nicht schummeln, Liebling (No Cheating, Darling) 140 – Reise ins Ehebett (Journey to the Wedding Bed) 140 Hauptmann, Gerhart 33 Heesters, Johannes 134 Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich 241 Heinrich, Hans – Alter Kahn und junge Liebe (Love and an Old Barge) 136 – Kahn der fröhlichen Leute (The Merry Barge) 136 – Meine Frau macht Musik (My Wife Sings) 18, 133, 144, 146, 147–55 Hello Dolly (Gene Kelly) 134 Hellwig, Joachim 177, 178, 179, 181 Hepworth, Barbara 296 Hermlin, Stephan 95 Heroin (Heinz Thiel and Horst E. Brandt) 172 Ein Herz voll Musik (Heart full of Love, Robert A. Stemmle) 147 Herzog, Werner 1 – Aguirre 191 – Fitzcarraldo 191 – Herz aus Glas (Heart of Glass) 180 Heym, Stefan 214 Heymann, Karl-Heinz – Rabenvater (Bad Father) 125 Heynowski, Walter 288, 298 High Noon (Fred Zinnemann) 193 Hindemith, Harry 274n. 29 Hitchcock, Alfred – Notorious 116 Hochbaum, Werner – Razzia in St. Pauli (Raid in St. Pauli) 158–62 Hochmuth, Dieter – Motivsuche (Location Hunting) 105 Hölderlin, Friederich 188 Holm, Claus 159 Honecker, Erich 6, 104, 182

339

Howard, Ron – Angels and Demons 217 Howley, Frank 91 Hübchen, Henry 220 Hübner, Achim – Dr. Schlüter 69, 75–80, 83 Hughes, John – The Breakfast Club 253 Huillet, Danièle – Chronik der Anna Magdalena Bach (The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach) 103, 105 – See also Straub, Jean-Marie Humboldt, Alexander von 84–85 Icestorm Entertainment 10, 198, 199 Italian neo-realism 22, 32, 113, 162n. 11, 164, 268, 290 Ivens, Joris 21, 22, 282, 284–85, 289, 284, 293n. 44 – The 400 Million 284 – Das Lied der Ströme (The Song of the Rivers) 284–85 – Mein Kind (My Child) 285 – Regen (Rain) 295 – The Spanish Earth 284 – Die Windrose (The Wind Rose) 285 Jaap, Max – Ludwig van Beethoven 95–96 Jacoby, Georg – Der Bettelstudent (The Beggar Student) 134 – Frühling auf dem Eis (Spring on the Ice) 145 – Gasparone 134 Janda, Krystyna 236 Janka, Walter 99 Jannings, Emil 1 Joho, Wolfgang 34 Jordan, Günter 292 Junge, Winfried and Barbara 299, 301 Kadár, Ján – The Shop on Main Street (Obchod na korze) 20, 224, 227–30, 232, 242, – See also Klos, Elmar Kagel, Mauricio – Ludwig van 102–3

340

Index

Kahane, Peter 83 – Die Architekten (The Architects) 16, 69, 78n. 14, 82–85 Kahn der fröhlichen Leute (The Merry Barge, Hans Heinrich) 136 Kahlschlagplenum 8 – See also 11th Plenum of the SED Central Committee Kalatozov, Mikhail 225 Kaminska, Ida 228 Karbid und Sauerampfer (Carbide and Sorrel, Frank Beyer) 210 Karlovy Vary Film Festival 223 Käutner, Helmut – Große Freiheit Nr. 7 (Great Freedom Nr. 7) 134 – In jenen Tagen (In Those Days) 49 – Romanze in Moll (Romance in a Minor Key) 134 Kershner, Irvin – The Hoodlum Priest 170 Khutsiev, Marlen – I am Twenty / Lenin’s Gate (Mne dvadcat’ let / Zastava Il’iˇca 225 Kippenberger, Hans 54 Kipping, Herwig – Novalis – die blaue Blume (Novalis – the Blue Flower) 105 Kirsten, Ralf – Auf der Sonnenseite (On the Sunnyside) 138, 212 – Beschreibung eines Sommers (Description of a Summer) 212 – Der verlorene Engel (The Lost Angel) 87, 96–97, 98, 105 Klagemann, Eugen 137 Klaus-Renft combo 279 Klein, Gerhard – Alarm im Zirkus (Alarm at the Circus) 159, 162–64, 166, 268, 272 – Berlin – Ecke Schönhauser (Berlin – Schönhauser Corner) 21, 117, 118, 263–64, 268–72, 274 – Berlin um die Ecke (Berlin around the Corner) 268, 273 – Eine Berliner Romanze (A Berlin Romance) 268

Klingenberg, Gerhard – Guten Tag, Lieber Tag (Good Day, Dear Day) 138 Klingler, Werner – Razzia (Raid) 18, 158–59 Klos, Elmar – The Shop on Main Street (Obchod na korze) 20, 224, 227–30, 232, 242 – See also Kadár, Ján Kluge, Alexander 174 ‘Die kluge Bauerntochter’ (The Clever Farmer’s Daughter, Brothers Grimm) 250 Knauf, Thomas 83 Koepp, Volker – Wittstock series 299 Kohlhaase, Wolfgang 7, 268, 269 Kolditz, Gottfried 136 – Geliebte weiße Maus (Beloved White Mouse) 140 – Im Staub der Sterne (In the Dust of the Stars) 19, 177, 179, 185–87, 189, 191, 194 – Maibowle (May Wine) 144 – Musikalisches Rendevous (Musical Rendezvous) 143n. 14 – Revue um Mitternacht 144, 155 – Schneewittchen (SnowWhite) 249n. 15 Kollwitz, Käthe 87 Kolm-Veltée, Walter – Eroïca 101 Konwitschny, Franz 95 KOR (Komitet Obrony Robotników, Committee for Defence of Workers) 241 Kracht, Hans 103 Kramer, Stanley – On the Beach 8 Krug, Manfred 19, 40n. 52, 136, 138, 197–99, 201, 205, 206, 207, 211–15, 219, 220 – Abgehauen (Left for Good) 213–4, 217–8 – Jazz-Lyrik-Prosa 212 – Jazz und Lyrik 212 Kühn, Siegfried – Don Juan, Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 78 143n. 14 Kulturbund zur demokratischen Erneuerung Deutschlands (Cultural League for the Democratic Renewal of Germany) 89, 94

Index

Kun, Julius – Soviel Lieder, soviel Worte (So Many Songs, So Many Words) 135n. 3 Kundera, Milan 234 Kunert, Günter 101 Kunert, Hans-Joachim – Seilergasse 8 (Seiler Way 8) 162–68 Kunert, Heinz – ‘Stewardess im blauen Dress’ (Stewardess in a Blue Uniform) 138, 139 Künneke, Evelyn 148, 149 Kuo-Yin, Wu 285 Lacan, Jacques 228n. 25 Lamberz, Werner 214 Lammert, Will 100 Lamprecht, Gerhard – Irgendwo in Berlin (Somewhere in Berlin) 20, 112, 113, 128, 244–47, 248 Lancaster, Burt 5 Lang, Fritz 158n. 4, 161 – Hangmen Also Die! 78n.14 – M 157, 158, 159, 160 – Metropolis 15, 71–73, 184–87 Lange, Jessica – All that Jazz 135 Langner, Maria – Stahl (Steel) 29 Law & Order (American TV series) 161 Lehmann, Christian 294, 295, 296 Leipzig Documentary Film Festival 21, 70, 288, 286, 293, 298, 301–2 Leiser, Erwin 288 Lem, Stanisław 182 Lenin, Vladimir 53 – State and Revolution 52 Leopold, Georg – Oh, diese Jugend (Oh These Kids) 137 Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim – Nathan der Weise (Nathan the Wise) 90 Levin, Henry – The Guilt of Janet Ames 112 Liebknecht, Karl 52, 53 Liebling Kreuzberg (Darling Kreuzberg) 215 Lind, Gitta 148, 150 ‘Lipsi’ (GDR dance step) 138, 266n. 10

341

Loest, Erich – Es geht seinen Gang (Business As Usual) 238 Lorre, Peter 157 Lortzing, Albert 136 Losansky, Rolf – Hut ab, wenn du küßt (Hats Off before You Kiss) 140 – Der lange Ritt zur Schule (The Long Ride to School) 253 – Moritz in der Litfaßsäule (Moritz in the Advertising Pillar) 254 Lubitsch, Ernst 1 Lüdtke, Alf 227–28 Lugosi, Bela 159 Luhmann, Niklas 227, 228–29, 238 Lukács, Georg – The Historical Novel 29 Luxemburg, Rosa 52, 53 Luzhina, Larisa 77 Maetzig, Kurt 7, 88, 283, 289 – Ehe im Schatten (Marriage in the Shadows) 30, 88 – Ernst Thälmann 15, 50, 51–56 – Das Kaninchen bin ich (The Rabbit Is Me) 273 – Der Rat der Götter (The Council of the Gods) 15, 50–51, 69, 71–74, 75, 76, 79 – Roman einer jungen Ehe (Story of a Young Couple) 88, 89–91, 92, 115 – Schlösser und Katen, (Castles and Cottages) 274n. 29 – Der schweigende Stern (The Silent Star) 178–79, 182–87 Magnificent Seven (John Sturges) 193 Mälzel, Johann 103 Mann, Thomas 98, 187, 217 Mannheim Film Festival 285 Marchwitza, Hans – Roheisen (Pig Iron) 29 Marker, Chris 22, 289, 290 – Le Joli mai 293 May, Karl 192–93 Media City Babelsberg 9 Mellies, Otto 76, 80 Menuhin, Yehudi 96

342

Index

Menzel, Adolph 93 Menzel, Jiqi – Capricious Summer (Rozmarné léto) 234 Meyer, Inge 173, 207 Mickiewicz, Adam 235 Millöcker, Carl 136 Minelli, Liza 141 Minetti, Hans-Peter 76 Mitiê, Gojko 193–94, 196 Monroe, Marilyn 149 ‘Montagsfilme’ (Monday Night Movies) 135 Montagu, Ivor 286 Moorse, George – Lenz 105 Mosenthal, Salomon 137 Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus 136, 137, 143n. 14 Mueller-Stahl, Armin 19, 66, 197–99, 201, 202, 204n. 16, 205–7, 215–20 – Gespräch mit der Bestie (Conversation with the Beast) 217 – Hannah. Erzählung 217n. 53 – In Gedanken an Marie-Louise 217n. 53 – Die Jahre werden schneller: Lieder und Gedichte 217n. 53 – Rollenspiel. Ein Tagebuch während der Dreharbeiten zu dem Film ‘Die Manns’ 217n. 53 – Unterwegs nach Hause (On the Road Homeward) 217 – Venice. Ein amerikanisches Tagebuch 217n. 53 – Verordneter Sonntag (Prescribed Sunday) 217–18 Mühe, Ulrich 220 Mühsam, Erich – ‘Mein Gefängnis’ (My Prison) 141 Müller, Hans – 1–2–3 Corona 148 Müller, Heiner 302 Munk, Andrzej – Man on the Tracks (Czlowiek na torze) 8 Murder on the Orient Express (Sidney Lumet) 172 Musik im Blut (Music in the Blood, Erik Ode) 148 Muti, Ornella 5

National Film Theatre (London) 286 neo-realism 117, 291, 164, 225, 226, 291 – See also Italian neo-realism, Weimar neorealism Neumann, Claus 250 Neutsch, Erik – Spur der Steine 38, 213 New Economic Plan (NÖS) 39 New German Cinema 1, 103, 105 New Wave cinema 1, 5, 15, 16, 20, 39, 96, 118, 124, 174, 204, 216, 226, 244, 294, 299 Nichols, Mike – Silkwood 126 Nicholson, Ben 296 Nickel, Gitta 301 Nicolai, Otto 136, 137 Nielsen, Asta 210 Nitzschke, Helmut – Leichensache Zernik (Zernik’s Murder Case) 157n. 1 Nouvelle vague 225, 288, 291, 295 – See also French New Wave cinema Nova-Film 149 Nun schlägt’s 13! (Enough is Enough! GDR title of Ryazanov’s Karnavalnaya noch!) 145 Oberhausen Festival 286, 297 Oberhausen Manifesto 225 Oehme, Roland – Asta mein Engelchen (Asta, My Little Angel) 210 – Der Mann, der nach der Oma kam (The Man after Oma) 123 – Wie füttert man einen Esel (How to Feed a Mule) 136 Offenbach, Jacques 136 Oistrakh, David 96 Ost, Günter 7 Pension Boulanka (Guesthouse Boulanka, Helmut Krätzig) 172 Petzold, Konrad – Für Mord kein Beweis (No Proof of Murder) 176 – Der Scout (The Scout) 19, 189, 192–96

Index

Pewas, Peter – Straßenbekanntschaft (Street Acquaintances) 112 Picasso, Pablo 284 Pieck, Wilhelm 55 Pieczka, Frantiszek 224 Plenzdorf, Ulrich – Die neuen Leiden des jungen W. (The New Sorrows of Young W) 188 Pommer, Erich 1 Pontecorvo, Gillo 285 Potter, Paulus 290 The Prague Drama Club 233n. 47 Preminger, Otto 161 Presley, Elvis – Love Me Tender (Pulverdampf und heiße Lieder) 134 – Jail House Rock (Rhythmus hinter Gittern) 134 Prokop, Gert 172 Prometheus (Ridley Scott) 185 Die Puhdys – ‘Geh zu ihr’ (Go to Her) 140 Pyryev, Ivan 145 – Cossacks of the Kuban (Kubanskie kazaki) 145n. 23

343

Resnais, Alain – Hiroshima mon amour 8 Riefenstahl, Leni – Triumph des Willens (Triumph of the Will) 51 Ritt, Martin – Norma Rae 126 Robeson, Paul 284 Rodschenko, Alexander 22, 289 Rökk, Marika 134 – Romanze in Moll (Romance in a Minor Key, Helmut Käutner) 134 Römer, Rolf – He, Du! (Hey, You!) 15, 59–63 Romm, Mikhail – Nine Days of One Year (Devyat dney odnogo goda) 8, 73n. 10 Rossellini, Roberto 290 – Germany Year Zero (Germania anno zero) 159, 248 Rotha, Paul 288 Ruttmann, Walter – Berlin – Die Sinfonie der Grosstadt (Berlin, Symphony of a City) 32 Ryazanov, Eldar – The Carnival Night (Karnavalnaya noch) 145

Quinn, Anthony 98 ‘rabbit films’ 5, 37, 39, 40 – See also 11th Plenary of the SED Central Committee Rabenalt, Peter – Der Maler von Berlin (The Painter from Berlin) 143 Ray, Nicholas – Rebel without A Cause 169, 263, 269–71, 274 Reed, Dean 135n. 3, 136 – Sing, Cowboy, Sing 193 Reimann, Brigitte 29 Reisch, Günter 136 – Silvesterpunsch (New Year’s Punch) 138, 144, 154 Reisz, Karel – Saturday Night, Sunday Morning 295 – We Are the Lambeth Boys 294

Sanders-Brahm, Helma – Heinrich 105 Sartre, Jean-Paul – Dirty Hands (Les mains sales) 91 – The Flies (Les Mouches) 91 Sass, Katrin 220 Schäfer, Paul Kanut 84 Schall, Ekkehard 186 Schamoni, Peter – Frühlingssinfonie (Spring Symphony) 143n. 14 Scheidegger, Ernst 290 Scheider, Roy – All That Jazz 135 Scheumann, Gerhard 288, 298 Schiller, Friedrich 61, 91, 93, 188, 200 – Kabale und Liebe (Love and Intrigue) 88–90 Schlagerparade (Hit Parade, Erik Ode) 148 Schlöndorff, Volker 1, 288

344

Index

Schmidt, Evelyn – Das Fahrrad (Bicycle) 124, 127 – Seitensprung (Escapades) 125 Schmidtchen, Kurt 151 Schneidereit, Otto – Eine Handvoll Noten (A Handful of Music) 138 Schnitzler, Karl Eduard von 207, 272, 301n. 56 – Der schwarze Kanal (The Black Channel) 272 Schöbel, Frank 140 Scholz, Gunther – Vernehmung der Zeugen (Interrogating the Witnesses) 172, 173–75 Schubert, Franz 136 Schumann, Dieter – Flüstern und Schreien (Whisper and Shout) 21, 264, 279–80 Schumann, Horst 273 Schütz, Helga 189–90, 196 Schwarzwaldmädel (Black Forest Girl, Hans Deppe) 137 Scorsese, Martin – The Last Waltz 279 Seemann, Horst – Beethoven – Tage aus einem Leben (Beethoven – Days from a Life) 16, 87, 101–3, 105 – Liebeserklärung für G.T. (Love Declaration for G.T.) 123 Seghers, Anna 284 – Das siebte Kreuz (The Seventh Cross) 90 Shostakovich, Dmitri 51, 284 Shub, Esfir – The Fall of the Romanov Dynasty (Padeniye dinastii Romanovykh) 287 Sienkiewicz, Henryk 235 Simon, Günter 147 Simon, Rainer 236, 250, 253 – Die Besteigung des Chimborazo (The Ascent of the Chimborazo) 69, 84–85 – Jadup und Boel (Jadup and Boel) 20, 224, 235–42 – Die Moral der Banditen (The Moral of Bandits) 250 – Sechse kommen durch die Welt (Six Go Round the World) 253

– Wie heiratet man einen König (How to Marry a King) 20, 250–53 Simonov, Konstantin – The Russian Question (Russkij vopros) 91 The Singing Lesson (Lindsay Anderson, Piotr Szulkin) 286 Siodmak, Robert 161 Slánsk), Rudolf 99 socialist realism 19, 27–30, 32, 39, 50, 54, 90, 93, 96, 99, 100, 116, 178, 179, 223n. 1, 238, 268, 283–84 Solanas, Fernando 2, 3 Solaris (Andrei Tarkovsky) 184 Spieß, Helmut – Eine Handvoll Noten (A Handful of Music) 138 – Das tapfere Schneiderlein (The Brave Little Tailor) 243n. 2 – Tilman Riemenschneider 92 Spils, May – Zur Sache, Schätzchen (Go for It, Baby) 63 Stahnke, Günter 7 – Maxe Baumann aus Berlin (Maxe Baumann from Berlin) 143 Stalin, Joseph 4, 15, 40n. 51, 51, 54, 55, 56, 291 Stanislavsky, Konstantin 206 Star Trek (Robert Wise) 186 Star Wars (George Lucas) 183 Starlight (Orin Wechsberg) 135 Staudte, Wolfgang – Die Geschichte vom kleinen Muck (The Story of Little Mook) 243n. 2 – Die Mörder sind unter uns (The Murderers Are Among Us) 112, 158–60, 240 – Rotation 15, 45–50, 112, 113, 166n. 20 Steinhauer, Marieluise 151 Steinmeier, Frank-Walter 219 Stephan, Bernhard – Für die Liebe noch zu mager (Too Skinny for Love) 279 Der Stern von Santa Clara (Star of Santa Clara, Werner Jacobs) 147 Sternberg, Josef von – Der blaue Engel (The Blue Angel) 1

Index

Stötzer, Werner 207, 208 Strange Days (Kathryn Bigelow) 185 Straub, Jean-Marie – Chronik der Anna Magdalena Bach (The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach) 103, 105 – See also Huillet, Danièle Strauss, Johann 136, 137n. 11 Strawalde 290 – See also Böttcher, Jürgen Syberberg, Hans-Jürgen – San Domingo 105 Talankin, Igor 97 Tarkovsky, Andrei 97 – Andrei Rublev 96 – Ivan’s Childhood (Ivaìnovo deìtstvo) 225 – Solaris (Andrei Tarkovsky) 184 Tatort 215 Ten Little Indians (George Pollock) 172 Tetzlaff, Kurt 22, 282, 298–99, 302–3 – Begegnungen an der Trasse (Encounters at the Line) 299 – Erinnerung an eine Landschaft – für Manuela (Memory of a Landscape – for Manuela) 299–301 – Es genügt nicht achtzehn zu sein (Being Eighteen is Not Enough) 299 Thalbach, Anna 219 Thalbach, Katharina 219 Thalheimer, August 53 Thälmann, Ernst 50, 51–56 Thate, Hilmar 291 Thein, Ulrich – Titel hab’ ich noch nicht (No Titles Yet) 136 Thiel, Heinz – DEFA Disko 77 143n. 15 – Heroin (1967) 172. See also Horst E. Brandt – Schwarzer Samt (Black Velvet) 169 Thorndike, Andrew and Annelie 21 – Du und mancher Kamerad (You and Many a Comrade) 286–88 – Unternehmen Teutonenschwert (Operation Teuton Sword) 286 Torriani, Vico 147 Toscanini, Arturo 96

345

Treasure of Sierra Madre (John Huston) 193 Tressler, Georg – Die Halbstarken (Teenage Wolfpack) 263, 269, 274 – The Magnificent Rebel 102 Trotta, Margarethe von 1 Tykwer, Tom – The International 217 Ulbricht, Walter 51, 53, 54, 78n. 14, 94, 208, 265, 266–67, 293 Varda, Agnes – Cléo from 5 to 7 126 VEB Progress-Film 145n. 23, 204 Verband der Film- und Fernsehschaffenden 207 Verlorene Melodie (Vanished Melody, Eduard von Borsody) 149–50 Vernay, Robert – No More Vacations for the Good Lord (Plus de vacances pour le bon Dieu) 290 Vertov, Dziga 291 Viany, Alex 285 Vienna Film Festival 290 Visconti, Luchino 290 – Rocco and his Brothers (Rocco e i suoi fratelli) 7–8 Vogel, Frank – Denk bloß nicht, ich heule (Just Don’t Think I’ll Cry) 21, 264, 273–78 – Das siebente Jahr (Seventh Year) 17, 120–22, 123 Wajda, Andrzej – Ashes and Diamonds (Popiół i diament) 236 – Everything for Sale (Wszystko na sprzedaz) ˙ 237, 241 – Maids of Wilko (Panny z Wilka) 238 – Man of Marble (Człowiek z marmuru) 20, 224, 235–42 Wałêsa, Lech 236 Wallroth, Werner W. 143n. 15 – Hauptmann Florian von der Mühle (Captain Florian of the Mill) 143 – Rabauken-Kabarett (Rascal’s Cabaret) 277 – Zille und ick (Zille and Me) 141, 143

346

Index

Wandel, Paul 94 Wangenheim, Gustav von – Und wieder 48! (And 48 Again) 188 Wardetzky, Dieter – Der Maler von Berlin (The Painter from Berlin) 143 Warneke, Lothar – Die Beunruhigung (Apprehension) 17, 125, 126–27 – Leben mit Uwe (Life with Uwe) 123 Wayne, John 82 Weimar neo-realism 116 Weiß, Ulrich – Blauvogel (Blue Bird) 193 Welles, Orson – Citizen Kane 236, 238 Wenders, Wim 1 Werker, Alfred – He Walked by Night 161 West Side Story (Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins) 134 Wiechert, Ernst 87–88, 267 Wiene, Robert – Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) 9 Wildhagen, Georg – Figaros Hochzeit (The Marriage of Figaro) 137 – Komm in die Gondel (A Night in Venice) 137n. 11 – Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor (The Merry Wives of Windsor) 137, 144 Wilkening, Alfred 91 Wolf, Christa 7, 214, 231 – Kassandra 85, 70n. 6 – Der geteilte Himmel (Divided Heaven) 69, 81 Wolf, Friedrich 72 Wolf, Konrad 7, 81, 96, 97, 105, 225, 268, 285, 288 – Der geteilte Himmel (Divided Heaven) 69, 75, 79–82, 97, 118, 121

– Goya – oder der arge Weg der Erkenntnis (Goya, or the Hard Way to Enlightenment) 16, 87, 102 – Ich war neunzehn (I Was Nineteen) 97, 225, 297 – Leute mit Flügeln (People with Wings) 73n. 9, 210, 211 – Der nackte Mann auf dem Sportplatz (The Naked Man on the Playing Field) 99–101, 102 – Solo Sunny 141 – Sonnensucher (Sun Seekers) 30, 115, 117 Wolff, George 287 Wolff, Meta 88 Wood, Sam – For Whom the Bell Tolls 59 – Saratoga Trunk 116 Wyler, William – The Best Years of Our Lives 112 – Funny Girl 134 Youth Communiqué (1963) 273, 275, 277, 292, 293, 297 Zeromski, Stefan 235 Zetkin, Clara 53, 115 Zhdanov, Andrei 283 Ziemann, Sonja 137 Zille, Heinrich 141 Zschoche, Hermann – Die Alleinseglerin (The Solo Sailor) 17, 125, 127–28 – Eolomea 182, 184, 187 – Grüne Hochzeit (Wedding Day) 279 – Hälfte des Lebens (Half of Life) 188 – Insel der Schwäne (Island of Swans) 125 – Karla 273 – Sieben Sommersprossen (Seven Freckles) 279 Zuckmayer, Carl – Des Teufels General (The Devil’s General) 90