“There’s nothing still standing and no one still alive”. The roof of Hitler’s bunker is detonated in August 1988. There’s no longer even a single stone in front of the Theatre of the Jewish Cultural Association either. Eduard Schreiber’s TRACES (1989) explores what remains of the Second World War, but first and foremost what no longer does.
With this year’s Retrospective, DOK Leipzig turns its attention to the four decades between the National Socialist dictatorship and the Fall of the Berlin Wall, during which two German states existed: an era pervaded by enthusiasm for the future and repression of the past, by economic reconstruction and political reform as well as a neck and neck race of opposing ideologies.
While autumn 2019 will be characterised by the anniversary of the Peaceful Revolution, DOK Leipzig takes on a slightly different perspective on the events: “We made a conscious choice not to place the date 1989 at the centre of our focus. We’re more interested in what happened before and after”, comments Ralph Eue, programmer at DOK Leipzig, who curated the Special Programme together with film scholar Olaf Möller.
Reciprocal relationship: the enemy brothers FRG and GDR
What anchors the film selection is the idea that the former West and East Germany could not have existed without one another: “The provisional state of West Germany and the provisional state of East Germany behaved like two enemy brothers towards one another, each of whom urgently needed the other in order to understand themselves”, explains Eue.
Before the backdrop of this reciprocal relationship, the selected films also enter into dialogue with each another. The ten programmes that make up the Retrospective forge different thematic paths to this end, which enable events in both former German states to be juxtaposed. The Volkswagen city thus meets the “Stalin city” and the economic miracle is contrasted with anti-fascism. And while the West engages with the “brothers and sisters in the East” (AUS DEM ALLTAG IN DER DDR: DRITTER VERSUCH EINER REKONSTRUKTION), East Germany also eyes its enemy brother and draws on its anti-Communist initiatives for its own propaganda (KGU – THE COMBAT GROUP OF INHUMANITY, 1955).
The Retrospective offers a colourful compilation of formats, ranging from an VW advertising film (AUS EIGENER KRAFT, 1954) via a CDU party political broadcast (THE ECONOMIC MIRACLE, 1957) all the way to an animated film that extolls the virtues of the Deutschmark (… SIE BEWEGT UNS ALLE, 1950).
It goes without saying that the reunification era is not left out. The Retrospective programme examines it in bottom-up fashion: In SNACK-SPECIAL, Thomas Heise turns his attention to the everyday experiences and worries of people at a Berlin fast food stand during the period of upheaval.
And ultimately, the hypothesis comes up again and again that reunification didn’t just mean the end of East Germany but also that of West Germany in its previous form. In ES WERDE STADT! by Dominik Graf and Martin Farkas, this exact hypothesis is examined in detail by way of the history of television, taking in numerous different facts and ideas.
Thematic links: Project presentation, Symposium, Matinee Saxon State Archive
Another programme point of the Retrospective also examines the television of the post-reunification era, albeit with a more regional focus. Prof. Rüdiger Steinmetz and Dr. Judith Kretzschmar from Leipzig University will be presenting some initial research findings from their comprehensive archive and media project on the programming of local broadcasters in Saxony between 1990 and 1995.