Film still for "Lotte in Weimar"

Forbidden Utopia

The SED, DEFA and the 11th Plenum

German Title: Verbotene Utopie. Die SED, die DEFA und das 11. Plenum

Andreas Kötzing, Ralf Schenk (Ed.)
544 Pages, 42 images
Hardcover, 14,8 x 21 cm
Preis: 29,00 Euro (plus shipping)
ISBN: 978-3-86505-407-7
Obtainable at: Bertz+Fischer Verlag

The Book

The 11th plenary session of the ZK of the SED in December 1965 was one of the most drastic cultural and political caesuras in the history of the GDR. In the course of the conference, numerous books, theatre and music pieces that critically examined the development of GDR society were banned. The DEFA was also massively affected: Twelve feature films - among others The Rabbit Is Me (DAS KANINCHEN BIN ICH, 1965), Trace Of Stones (SPUR DER STEINE, 1966) and Just Don´t Think I´m Crying (DENK BLOSS NICHT, ICH HEULE, 1965) - were banned or stopped in production and banished to the "poison cabinet". The plenary session left deep traces: some directors were no longer allowed to make feature films, and socio-critical themes were hardly dealt with in the following years. Many of these films could only be shown in 1989/90.

The authors of this volume use the individual banned films to describe the artistic awakening of DEFA and at the same time analyse its failure. What was the connection between the films of "Year 65"? Why did they meet with the resistance of a powerful wing within the SED cultural policy? What aesthetic and political impulses do the films still radiate today?

A detailed article describes the cultural-political context of the 11th plenary session and places the events in a larger social context. The book also contains a selection of previously unpublished documents as well as a CD with original sounds from the 11th plenary session. The speeches convey an unembellished impression of the vehemence of the cultural-political "Kahlschlag" in the GDR.

Samples (in German):

The Authors

The volume contains articles by Günter Agde, Matthias Dell, Tobias Ebbrecht-Hartmann, Ralph Eue, Barbara Felsmann, Lukas Foerster, Detlef Kannapin, Ursula von Keitz, Ekkehard Knörer, Andreas Kötzing, Claus Löser, Volker Petzold, Rainer Rother, Ralf Schenk, Regine Sylvester, Chris Wahl and Michael Wedel.

- Interview with the Co-editor Andreas Kötzing on Deutschlandradio.de  (12.12.2015)

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