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That Was the GDR (Das war die DDR: eine Geschichte des anderen Deutschland).

A seven part documentary of the history of Communist East Germany told from the people's own point of view. 1993. Part 1: I was a Citizen of the GDR (Ich war Burger der DDR) Former GDR citizens tell of their personal feelings, experiences and attitudes toward the GDR as well as both material difficulties and the dominance of the State. They reflect on historical events such as the uprising on the 17th of June, 1953, the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall and the suppression of the Prague Spring in 1968, while also conveying a sense of the hope that was pinned on Gorbachev's Perestroika. Directors, Gitta Nickel, Wolfgang Schwarze 90 min. ; Part 2: From Zone to State (Von der Zone zum Staat) Germany was a trophy in the struggle between the new powers after two world wars. This segment considers the events leading up to the construction of the Berlin Wall on August 13, 1961 -- the final division between the two German states. Here the focus is not only on major political events but also on the spirit of the times as reflected in images from film, photographs, posters, caricatures, pop-songs and speeches. Director, Donat Schober. 45 min. ; Part 3: From Plan to Penury (Vom Plan zur Pleite) In the beginning was the plan. The motto for economy and development in the GDR meant also the departure from personal property. This film follows the development of the GDR's planned economy from its beginning to its failure. It spans from success reports from the economic front, to standing in line for goods, to severe damage to the environment arising from extreme depletion of natural resources. Director, Gunther Scholz. 45 min. ; Part 4: For the Welfare of the People (In Fursorge fur das Volk) This segment centers on the Honecker era when the program for social policy of the Socialist Unity Party called for the "unity of economic and social policy." Thus the Party leadership celebrated the achievemnt of the tight social service network extending from day-care to retirement home. But the further individuals are removed from the processes of production, the more useless they become from an economic perspective. How much social security did the State really provide? Directors, Gitta Nickel, Uwe Belz, Wolfgang Schwarze. 45 min. ; Part 5: Mind and Might (Geist und Macht) This segment examines the struggles and repressions of art and culture in East Germany. The history of literature and art in the GDR is repeatedly interrupted by State repression. The film examines how this situation revealed contradictions between intellect and power in the GDR -- between the State's proclamations and reality -- spanning from Becher to Biermann. Directors, Christian Klemke, Lothar Kompatzki. 45 min. ; Part 6: Shield and Sword (Schild und Schwert) The Ministry for State Security (MfS) was from its founding in 1950 the central instrument of domination, for defense against external and internal enemies. The Stasi, the political secret police, conducted surveillance and investigated punishable activity. A gigantic European surveillance apparatus ultimately appears -- spies and informants with German thoroughness, millions of victims and mountains of files in the "Gauck Archives." Directors, Anne Worst, Arnold Seul. 45 min. ; Part 7: We Are the People (Wir Sind das Volk) "We are the people" was the chant of 70,000 protesters in the streets of Leipzig. This final segment covers the end of the GDR. It begins as the GDR enjoys its greatest success, recognition by the Federal Republic of Germany -- the hope for two German States and a peaceful coexistence. From this point on the GDR walked a tightrope between detente and diverging from the West, until its eventual downfall. Director, Martina Korbler. 45 min. ;
Reviews and articles:
Weiss, Scott. "That Was the GDR." Film & History, Spring2011, Vol. 41 Issue 1, p139-141, 3p Full-text of this article / review is available:Berkeley users only

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