Elsaesser, Thomas; Wedel, Michael. “Defining DEFA’s Historical Imaginary: The Films of Konrad Wolf.” New German Critique 82 (Winter 2001): 3–24.

Defining DEFA’s Historical Imaginary: The Films of Konrad Wolf

Thomas Elsaesser and Michael Wedel

from New German Critique 82

A decade or so since the demise of DEFA, can one begin to think of a history of GDR cinema, conceived within German film history as a whole, and of a history of German cinema fully within the international debates on national cinema, film, and history? It seems a daunting agenda. After the fall of the wall, the task of 'integrating' not only territories and people, but also the arts and cultural life was evident. Equally evident was the danger of selectively appropriating the GDR heritage or rewriting the differences across the West German model. For cinema, East German film culture posed special problems, since, compared to the GDR's literary life, it had largely remained terra incognita for West Germany and the wider Western public. Where it figured at all, it was either seen as a parallel, popular-commercial cinema (under the special conditions of state capitalism), or as a parallel auteur cinema (Wolf, Beyer, Carow, and so forth as the equivalents of Kluge, Reitz, Herzog, Fassbinder, etc.).1 The result were rather skewed symmetries, especially since it was hardly feasible to regard East German cinema as a counter-cinema in the same sense that the political cinema of Jean-Luc Godard in the 1970s, the films of Glauber Rocha, or the New Brazilian cinema were once understood. The exact placing of GDR cinema must remain an open issue, one that future historians will no doubt seek to address.2

We are no specialists of DEFA cinema; we cannot contribute to the more dedicated microlevels of this placing. Our perspective remains both from a distance and from outside. We shall try to maximize the advantages that these drawbacks bring. For instance, when looking at how the GDR cinema has been explicitly or implicitly mapped, we noticed that in a number of (traditional) film histories the approach was paratactic, which is to say, the DEFA/GDR cinema was more or less added to the existing cinema(s) of the Federal Republic, as if the problem was one of mere contiguity, filling in some newly emerging white and gray areas in the otherwise solid cinematic landscape.3 But such a map is little more than the off-limits sign to a minefield as soon as one steps into the territory itself: a minefield of contending discourses, normative judgements, and prescriptive debates. We cannot presume to do more here than state this fact, but this essay confirms the necessity for addressing this agenda.

Given these mostly contextual or metacritical questions, it may be surprising that we are nonetheless concentrating on one director, Kon- rad Wolf. In fact, we offer what is ideally a close textual reading of individual works. Our thesis will be that some of Wolf's best-known films offer the Western viewer sudden moments of recognition: of other cinematic idioms, of unsuspected echoes, of striking parallels to styles, signatures, and motifs known from national and international film history. The working hypothesis derived from these moments of recognition (which are, of course, also moments of miscognition) does not furnish a radically new reading of Wolf's work, nor will it provide a sure strategy for opening the general DEFA output. It is conceivable that Wolf is not entirely unique, and if our points resonate in other films of GDR cinema, this would clearly strengthen our argument.

The broader aim, however, is to show how the conceptual inclusion of GDR cinema into German film history necessarily resituates the international place and discursive spaces of both GDR and FRG cinema, perhaps rephrasing the whole question of the identity of German cinema. How does it affect the articulation of the well-known breaks and continuities, the constructions of genealogies, the invention of traditions, the tropes of the master narratives, and the relation of mainstream to margins and alternative to oppositional practices? Including DEFA in German film history would, above all, overcome the straightforward and seemingly ineluctable ideological binarisms, according to which the historical contiguity of East and West German cinema has resulted in two quite separate developments within two politically and socially antagonistic systems.

For pragmatic reasons, a closer look at only a few of Konrad Wolf's films – Lissy, Divided Heaven [Der geteilte Himmel], I was Nineteen [Ich war neunzehn], and Solo Sunny – will have to suffice, prefaced a quotation from another source altogether, West German television. serves as a reminder not only of the intervention of television in this debate, but also television's role in politicizing the media institutions, including the film historical apparatus, co-opted very quickly during the process of unification. Alerting one to the delicate problems of speaking about GDR cinema in the first place, it cautions against assuming that there is a position to speak from 'outside' which is not already 'inside' other political and discursive formations.

History of the Victors [Siegergeschichte]

On the evening of Germany's Day of Unification, Konrad Wolf's 1964 film Divided Heaven was broadcast by a regional television station, introduced by the popular West German announcer Hanni van Haiden:

Tonight on N3 we present to you the GDR film Divided Heaven, which was made by Konrad Wolf in 1964. A film which is considered by many film critics the very epitome of GDR film art in the 1960s. An outstanding production, carefully arranged images, and on top of it, a script based on the novel of the poet Christa Wolf. What else could one ask for? Since the last Berlin Film Festival, however, audiences know of other [GDR] films from that period, films which right after their completion, were immediately banned, such as Trace of Stone [Die Spur der Steine] by Frank Beyer, or Just Don't Think I'm Crying [Denk bloss nicht, ich heule], directed by Frank Vogel. Both films are exciting [topical] state-of-things descriptions of a society longing for change. How different in this respect the film of Konrad Wolf. In the guise of an alleged love story, the director manufactures one ideological cliché after another, mouthed cartoon captions as unerotic and inane as can scarcely be imagined. In this respect, however, Divided Heaven is an extremely revealing document, testifying to the kinds of intellectual adjustments necessary for a film to make it into the GDR cinemas in 1964.4

Leaving aside the evident ignorance that such a description reveals of Wolf's film, it is itself "an extremely revealing document," highlighting a mindset not just about films at a point in time when the GDR had just ceased to exist. What the announcer's words illustrate is that in a unified Germany the past has its future ahead of it: much "intellectual adjustment" will be necessary before the divides will subside and a viable history becomes possible. To this process, Hanni van Haiden's moderation makes a contribution, significant in its double positioning toward the film (offering both an auteurist and a political reading). It attempts a retrospective rewriting of the DEFA canon, and in the light of the freshly uncanned, so-called forbidden films [Verbotsfilme] of 1965, it quickly dispatches to the critical Gulag a film that was once regarded as the very icon of both Konrad Wolf's artistic credibility and of DEFA's status as a company prepared to invest in politically controversial projects.5

The particular constellation of Hanni van Haiden (as television authority), Konrad (and Christa) Wolf's Divided Heaven, and the day of German unification stand for a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy ideologically supported by a retrospective teleology. As such, the occasion served as an allegory of the coincidences and overdeterminations, which all too often seem to haunt the history of German cinema, making evidence and ideology, intentional ill-will and involuntary slip of the tongue so hard to disentangle, while nailing, in this instance, a whole period to the cross of the two date-posts of 1965 and 1990. Constructing the forbidden films as at once a moral, an aesthetic, and a historical vanishing point from which GDR cinema could now be classified and judged, West German television reasserts its putative role in helping GDR citizens to gain their political and economic freedom, adding to its spoils the cinema, 'liberated' in 1989/90, by revealing to the public both east and west the hidden and thus implicitly more authentic part of the GDR itself.6 A more exemplary case of Walter Benjamin's assertion that history is always written by the winners7 is difficult to imagine: it is as if the forbidden films, had they not existed, would have had to be invented, so perfectly did they fit into the re-writing strategies of West German cultural institutions, their swift handiwork shadowing that of the trustee with regard to the GDR's economic, as opposed to cultural capital.

'Normalization' and 'Internationalization'

It could be instructive to see if this particular version of Siegergeschichte has become widely accepted among West German film critics, some of whom enthusiastically welcomed the forbidden films, using them as a convenient excuse for not paying the obligatory 'GDR-bonus.' The films provided the press unexpectedly with a historically documented variation on the public exorcism, which their literary colleagues saw fit to administer to Christa Wolf, Hermann Kant, and Heiner Müller.8 At the same time, the discovery of the forbidden films offered ideological openings for those abusively known among their former colleagues as turncoats [Wendehälse], and whose post-unification fresh starts the forbidden films could supply with proof of politically neutral ground at the heart of ideology (were the 'Verbotsfilme' not evidence "of a society longing for change"?). What is certain is that such easy passages from difference to indifference, from rejection to appropriation cannot guide historians of the German cinema.

But what are the alternatives? What perspectives does current film historiography put at our disposal? Our initial appeal was to the so-called New Film History, in order to speak of the former East and West German cinemas without falling back on fixed ideological positions and foregrounding the different political interests.9 The New Film History could help 'normalize' this period of German cinema history, in the sense of giving due weight to the institutional aspects, the comparative dimension, and the definition of the kind of public-sphere cinema in general represented in the former GDR. In short, what is meant by this at first glance highly ideological term normalization is the desire to internationalize our object of study, which would mean refiguring particular film-historical periods or national cinemas, in order to render them present in several discursive registers and visible on several interpretative planes.

In opting for this approach, we find ourselves broadly in line with positions also put forward by scholars of GDR cinema in recent years, from whose work we have taken some cues. For instance, the specific institutional context and industrial mode of GDR film production and distribution, film finance and regulation, film exhibition venues, and audience reception have been impressively investigated, most notably for the early years of DEFA, by historians such as Christiane Mückenberger, Ralf Schenk, and Thomas Heimann, basing their readings on recently accessed archive material.10

A complementary strategy would involve the reconstruction of the public sphere in which the cinema found its place among the arts and leisure activities of GDR citizens, requiring the historian to take account of the broader film and media-culture, and including questions of foreign film import, the actual percentage of DEFA's share of the domestic market, as well as tracing international generic influences feeding back into production, or identifying changing reception patterns and expectations attached to the cinema as distinct from television, itself a key public sphere of the GDR, and as is well-known, structured by an international, or 'Western' horizon of expectations, due to the high penetration of West German television in GDR households. As is suggested in the available inventories of all films screened in cinemas on the territory of the former GDR between 1945 and 1961, there was a surprisingly substantial presence of West German popular genre films on GDR screens in the mid- and late 1950s, followed by their virtual absence in the decades to follow.11 This went hand in hand with a gradual rescinding of import embargoes with respect to western European and even Hollywood productions during the course of the 1980s.

Another research area that will undoubtedly profile the notion of the cinema's public sphere are the studio histories of DEFA-Babelsberg. By highlighting the influence of non-GDR stars and personnel, or charting the history of international co-productions one can identify unexpected points of industrial continuity and artistic cross-fertilization.12 They confirm, if a reminder is necessary, the large number of former Ufa-, but also West German and western European personnel in DEFA-studios until at least 1960. Of related interest, once one allows for a less monolithic public sphere in which DEFA cinema defined itself, are the increasingly numerous auteur studies – biographies, documentaries, interviews and anthologies – extending beyond directors, to encompass screenwriters, actors and art directors. These often point to rather conflictual patterns of influence and orientation which, as we shall suggest in the case of Wolf and the filmmaking elite of his generation, involved at the very least the double agenda of belonging to a filmmaking collective obliged to define a domestic filmmaking practice, while at the same time competing at international festivals. As such, GDR filmmakers were fully cognizant of the contemporary international cinema, as it mutated after 1945 from neo-realism to the nouvelle vague, and from Ingmar Bergman or Michelangelo Antonioni representing their respective national cinema, to eastern European directors fulfilling a similar function, such as Andrei Tarkovsky, Andrzej Wajda, and Istvan Szabo, not to mention these filmmakers' exposure in the 1970s and 1980s to the New German cinema and to New Hollywood.13 In a turn known from the other arts and public media (literature, theater, the visual arts), the GDR's film culture's access to travel permits, foreign currency, international contacts acted in a way familiar from GDR sports: as 'performance-enhancing drugs' for the artistic elite.

Finally, another model of internationalization which has inspired our own approach is to look at the films of a particular national cinema not so much across its auteurs, individual masterpieces, or underlying national mythologies, but across popular genres and modes of representation. In the past decade, this position has been programmatically formulated by Barton Byg with respect to GDR cinema,14 but it is also mirrored in a number of other recent publications, which have taken a fresh look at popular musicals, fantasy films, comedies15 and GDR Westerns (the so-called Indianerfilme),16 or have challenged accepted views about DEFA's massive and varied output of documentaries,17 not omitting its well-recognized vanguard position in the genres of the children's film.18

Why Konrad Wolf?

Why then choose Konrad Wolf, who of all GDR film people is probably the most prominent auteur, GDR figurehead, and official cinematic representative? Usually, his films have been read across a personal, if not autobiographical matrix, in which poignantly political comments refract, prism-like, institutional discourses about class, family, and national identity. He almost always positions his heroes or heroines in-between, a figuration easily decodable against Wolf's background as a German educated in Moscow, and as a Communist, burdened with the legacy of (Nazi-) Germany. The choice not to be concerned either with these conflicting fields of negotiation, nor with the aesthetic choices of a subjective consciousness reflecting and thereby commenting upon official versions of this history and reality, is thus part of a larger claim: that Wolf's films raise questions usually applied to popular (in Western terms: commercial) cinema. Yet on what grounds can he be said to address issues of genre? How far does he concern himself with the continuity of national stylistic traditions, or show an awareness of international cinematic conventions and developments? Before suggesting some of the evidence, it might be useful to justify our choice also within the larger context sketched above.

First of all, Wolf is an appropriate choice in a negative sense: if it is possible to show an acknowledged auteur to have as his intertext the international cinema, in both its mainstream and art cinema idioms, then our point about GDR cinema in general being less sui generis than generally assumed gains a credibility it could not have if our examples were merely drawn from popular genre films.

Secondly, Wolf, while a recognized DEFA auteur, cannot be construed as an oppositional artist in relation to the regime, given his prominence as high-profile emigré. His official assignments included not only his party membership; he was chair of the Artists' Union, president of the Academy of Arts (East, 1965-1982), and member of the Central Committee of the ruling Socialist Unity Party (SED) from 1981-1982.19 This point is also illustrated by the fact that the one Wolf film not released at the time of its production, Sun-Seekers [Sonnensucher (1958/71)], was banned not for fear of a possible corruption of public morals or a threat to inner security as was the case with the forbidden films of 1965/66. Instead, diplomatic reasons on an international scale guided the decision. At the time of its completion, the states of the Warsaw Pact were negotiating an agreement with the United States, a process which was feared to be irritated by the release of a film about the Soviet-run mining in Wismut.20

Thirdly, Wolf seemed suited as a case study for our hypothesis because, despite all their diversity, his films are to a greater or lesser degree representative, if not symptomatic of the two genres of DEFA cinema on which its claim for the foundation of an alternative tradition is built: the genres of the 'anti-fascist' film and the so-called contemporary film [Gegenwartsfilm].21 This fact should make more visible our attempt to open up the cinematic inner lining, so to speak, of an important part of GDR cinema. Wolf's seemingly personal obsession of shuttling back and forth between the breaks in Germany's recent past and the problems of the GDR's then present-day reality appears thus shaped not only by the double legacy of a socialist and a fascist working class, but also by the pressures of a particular kind of discursive market.

Melodrama and Pastiche: Lissy and Sterne

In this specific yet extended sense – and thus different from the usual auteurist specificity and representativeness – we take Wolf's films to be symptomatic of important tendencies in GDR cinema, at the center of which is a problem well-known from other European national cinemas, namely the negotiation of a national identity across cinematic modes of representation. The denominator common to most European postwar cinema, including that of the GDR is the ambition to conceive of a national cinema that is capable of credibly re-figuring national history in terms of or simply as national film history. With Hollywood itself the clearest example of a nation continually rewriting its history as film history, such an approach would shift the emphasis to the films' generic identities and intertextual imaginaries, giving less prominence to the traditional traits of European art cinema, namely realism, and national cinema's high culture legitimation, via artists, auteurs, and filmed literature.

Wolf's films of the 1950s, while regularly cited as foremost examples of DEFA's continuation of the tradition of the antifascist film, have more than once been accused of falling back on 'compromised' cine- matic formulas. As in the jibe about ideological clichés quoted above, Wolf has been associated popular genres such as the Heimatfilm and the doctors' film, melodramatic stylizations, and plot constructions. But in an auteurist reading, a critical trajectory is constructed that sees the films from Einmal ist keinmal (1954) and Genesung (1956) to Sonnensucher (1959) and Professor Mamlock (1961) as a slow but steady process of artistic maturation. Only rarely are the genre elements in this body of work valorized for the kinds of ambivalence that so visibly mark the formative phase of Wolfs filmmaking.22 Earlier than his West German colleagues, for instance, Wolf seemed to have realized that the filmic representation of the Nazi past may depend on a peculiar affinity of the period with modes of the melodramatic. In this respect, Wolfs Sterne (1958) is well ahead of the New German Cinema, which in the mid-1970s began to have its brief decade of international acclaim, largely thanks to a revival of melodrama and the woman's film, as genres that could open up the fascist period (The Marriage of Maria Braun, Germany Pale Mother, and Heimat). Wolf's award at the Cannes festival anticipates Schlöndorffs Oscar for The Tin Drum, and a line could be also drawn from Konrad Wolf to Rainer Werner Fassbinder, or even from Sterne to Schindler's List.23 Sterne, furthermore, is an archetypal melodrama of the victim and victimization which in a typically German pattern predating both Wolf and, for instance, Sanders-Brahms, casts women as victims, in order to test the male protagonists' capacity for change, while the women are tested for their endurance in suffering. With its ending, where the man, despite his best intentions, comes 'too late' to rescue the woman he loves, Sterne, however, also invites comparison with many of the 'apologetic' moments in both Ufa/Nazi cinema and postwar West German mainstream cinema. Where the latter is rightly regarded as self-pitying, Wolfs protagonist might be given the benefit of his stoic resignation as the mark of inner resistance.

Yet the feature this points to is not in the first instance Wolfs own ideological attitude or possible complicity, but the kind of foreknowledge present in his target audience, used to encounter moral dilemmas in precisely this particular, generically overdetermined constellation. It directs our attention to similarities in the two respective public spheres East and West, and possibly Wolf's uncertainty about his audience at that point in his career.24 Hence, a film historian today might justifiably be more interested in the film's ambivalence about how to reorganize in the form of melodrama this conflicting ideological material and its codes of representation (i.e., the varieties of antifascist attitudes), rather than to judge with hindsight Wolf's degree of political correctness or hidden male chauvinism. His own solution to the ambiguities of his public sphere seems to have been the development of a style that is at once genre-bound and original, but whose originality to some extent lies in the mastery of past idioms (or idioms of the past). To a degree not often commented upon, Wolf shows himself in Sterne to possess a talent for historical pastiche which, paradoxically, seems to have ensured the film's reception as authentic in the context of a film festival like Cannes where critics recognized and honored in Wolf at once the auteur and the spokesperson of the 'better Germany.'

This quality of pastiche of stylistic traditions and perfect mimicry of generic conventions is if anything even more striking in Lissy, made the year before (1957). The film, based on F. C. Weiskopfs 1931 novel, tells the story of Lissy, a woman from a proletarian background, and her equally working class husband Freddy, who both lose their jobs in the socioeconomic vortex of the economic crisis. On the verge of financial ruin, Freddy has a sort of epiphany from which he emerges a Nazi sympathizer and party-member, soon climbing the higher echelons of the SA. The effects of the couple's economic misery are aggravated by them having to care for their new-born child, while the crisis of working class solidarity and identity is mirrored in the fate of Lissy's brother Paul, a former communist and pickpocket, who finally joins the Nazis, but soon turns against the Party, disappointed by its attacks on communists rather than capitalist industrialists and businessmen. Paul is the victim of a shooting incident, for which his erstwhile communist friends are held responsible. Freddy's party mentor Kascmierczik, however, in an unguarded moment, admits that the murder was committed by the Nazis, wanting to rid themselves of an awkward witness. At the official Nazi funeral, in which Paul is made the sacrificial hero, Lissy is so disgusted by the hypocritical speeches that she storms out of the church, leaving the viewer to infer that she is ready to forsake her newly acquired domestic comforts, in order to once more fight on the side of her true comrades.

Much of the film's uncanny fascination resides in its ability to reconstruct the period of the early 1930s, achieved mainly by the many sequences reminiscent of films one has seen before. Lissy is replete with carefully inserted citations pastiching Weimar left avant-garde cinema, and extending from Piel Jutzi to Slatan Dudow: most visibly perhaps in Freddy's door-to-door montage sequence which is modeled on the job-search motif in Kuhle Wampe.25 This has led commentators, who can also point to the use of an off-screen narrational voice framing the dramatic events (and occurring in almost all of Wolf's early films), as Wolf's step towards Brechtian modes of distanciation.26 However, an equally plausible intertext for this kind of meta-diegetic commentary can be found in the practice of contemporary mainstream filmmaking in West Germany, where the films of Kurt Hoffmann, German cinema's most successful and prolific representative at the time,27 often have a similarly 'ironically' commenting voice-over.

What is even more striking about Lissy, however, is how painstakingly the film attempts to negotiate the divergent cinematic heritage of the time between the point of the narrated and the moment of narration in its reconstruction of the historical detail of city life (newspapers, street cafés, shopping arcades) as well as the social and emotional states of the protagonists. It this sense it can perhaps be seen as a longingly detailed, somewhat fetishist reconstruction of the moment before the political fall of 1933 (the 'Sündenfall' of the communists, fighting the Social Democrats, instead of forming a popular front against fascism). Today, however, it may just as much appear as a postmodern pastiche of history through its modes of representation, deploying cinematically stereotypical plot situations and social spaces (Berlin backyards, typically petit-bourgeois interiors), character identities well known from the popular cinema of 1920s and 1930s, female subjectivities caught in-between the two worlds of 'new woman' self-emancipation and 'new order' consumerism, a split that Wolf captures admirably in mirrors, self-displays, and mirroring shop-window displays. Whereas the representation of social mobility on the part of Freddy doubles a particular anxiety about the narcissistic petit-bourgeois in German cinema, whose epitome from the 1930s to the 1960s was Heinz Rühmann,28 Freddy's ambivalence, as for instance in the scene of his anti-Semitic outburst in front of a billboard, points to parallels in the 'fascinating fascism' films by Visconti or Bertolucci in the 1970s. The scene is still a tour-de-force, mingling Eisenstein's montage cinema with an almost operatic visual fantasmagoria.

In the light of these repetitions and parallels out of time and place, the strong melodramatic ending of the film, in which Lissy turns from the carefully choreographed, shadowy space of the cathedral to a symmetrically framed tree-lined avenue, is less of a stylistic break with the proletarian cinema of the 1920s. Rather, it strikes one as an almost necessary complement, perfecting the impression of pastiche by giving the viewer a variation on the typical look of a Detelf Sierck melodrama from the late 1930s, or an echo of the somber mise-en-scène of funeral rites in a Gustav von Ucicky or Veit Harlan epic from the early 1940s. Anachronistically, yet also appropriately in the GDR context, Lissy raised the issue of how to represent German fascism without having recourse to its iconography some 20 years before it was put on the agenda by Visconti, Fassbinder, Truffaut, Malle, or Bertolucci.

Subjectivity Across the Divide: Divided Heaven

The early 1960s signaled a break in GDR cinema. Aggravated restrictions on imports from the West's film production were coupled with a call for contemporary subjects which could engage critically with problems of industrial production and everyday reality: a policy shift, for which the 'Bitterfeld program' has become synonymous. It is this break that is said to reverberate strongly in Divided Heaven, a film controversially received by Wolf's domestic audiences, while immediately appreciated abroad.

As already mentioned, the film is an adaptation of a novel of the same title by Christa Wolf, who also worked on the script. Set across the time break which was 1960/61 and the Berlin Wall, the story is told from the perspective of Rita who, after a nervous breakdown, looks back on her relationship with the chemist Manfred who left the GDR because his revolutionary process of dying cloth was rejected by the state-owned, manufacturing industry. Manfred opted for the FRG, in order to see his invention put to industrial use, while Rita, who has trained as a school teacher and also works in a train carriage factory during her holidays, is torn between her love for Manfred and the solidarity toward her two fatherly mentors: her teacher, Professor Schwarzenbach, and the veteran worker Meternagel. After a brief visit to Manfred in West Berlin, she decides to return home to the GDR, hoping for a better and fuller life among her 'own kind.'

In speculating about the possible reasons for the controversies the film provoked, it may be important to recall that objections did not center primarily on the hot topics of flight from the GDR [Republikflucht] or the 'protective barrier' that divided the German nation (after all, quite a few films were made in the GDR about the wall before Divided Heaven29): the protests mostly concerned the film's formal characteristics and its difficult, avant-garde mode of narration.30 And it does indeed make sense to refigure the problematics of Divided Heaven around its mode of narration, marked as the film is by several parallel spatio-temporal narrative strands, a complex use of montage and mental reframing, and an obsessive return to recurrent spaces, made up of metaphorical landscapes and city spaces, interior monologue flashbacks, and subjective point-of-view structures.

As a film highly reflexive of current cinematic concerns – stylistically, as well as thematically close to the international art cinema – it features lonely couples, caught in nameless anomie, generational conflicts, and painful inscriptions of social and historical realities across the focusing consciousness of female subjectivity. Divided Heaven thus situates itself somewhere between Marguerite Duras's films with Alain Resnais, or the early Antonioni films with Monica Vitti. In the context of a generic approach to Wolfs films, these features would suggest that the shift between the 1950s and the 1960s refigures a change also in the public sphere. The identity politics connoted by the different cinematic idioms place Wolf at the heart of a cultural malaise, usually seen as typically Western, and by the GDR as capitalist, in which physical well-being can go hand in hand with spiritual anxiety and desolation. But these associations merely serve Wolf as a space in which he can inscribe a much more historically specific, German malaise while giving the 'German-German problem' a voice that could be heard within the international art cinema. To represent the GDR topic of Republikflucht through the looking glass of Hiroshima mon amour and La notte puts a film like Divided Heaven in the same discursive dimension in which at around the same time, Alexander Kluge (with Yesterday's Girl [Abschied von Gestern], or Artists at the Top of the Big Top: Disoriented [Artisten in der Zirkuskuppel: ratios] and Edgar Reitz (with Mealtimes [Mahlzeiten]) tried to place the Young German Cinema. Seen in this context, Wolfs film takes on a new historicity, but also an avant-garde quality within German film history as a whole which makes the 1990 comment by Hanni van Haiden seem the more ideologically grotesque.

Authenticity as Simulation: I was Nineteen

A similar reading of Wolf's subsequent film, I was Nineteen (1968), would seem at first glance quite problematic. In the subjective temporality of a filmic diary, I was Nineteen revisits two weeks of historical time between 16 April and 3 May 1945, the last days of World War II. The film's loosely structured narrative is focalized through the subjectivity of the 19-year old Gregor Hecker, born in Cologne, who, after spending his boyhood in exile, is returning to his native country in the uniform of the Red Army. As such, he temporarily becomes commanding officer in the small town of Bernau and functions as a translator for diplomatic negotiations. Being mainly responsible for ideological agitation at the front, his weapon of choice is not a Soviet tank or Khalashnikov rifle, but a mobile audio-van with megaphone, microphone, and amplifier. His companions are the germanophile officers Vadim (a teacher in German from Kiev who knows Heinrich Heine by heart) and Sasha, who possesses a special predilection for German folk music and hit [Schlager] records. The film's structure further consists of an allegorical prologue, and is at two points early into the narrative intercut with historical documentary footage. The narrative is carefully arranged around a number of encounters and key situations of recognition and miscognition between Gregor and his German countrymen, whose mythical subtexts extend into a poetic geography of dark labyrinths (in the sequence set in the catacombs of the Spandau citadel) and wasted landscapes, most saliently in the film's final sequence, staged around a Brandenburg farm.

Considered a filmic reworking of Wolf's own experiences as a 19-year-old political refugee returning to Germany in Red Army uniform, I was Nineteen is generally regarded as Wolf's most frankly autobiographical work. Because of the way in which the film breaks with classical modes of narration and spectatorial address, it naturally passes for an expression of personal vision, individual integrity, and historical authenticity.31 Yet what also catches one's attention when reviewing the film some 30 years after its first release, is how this authenticity-effect is accomplished by the film's acute awareness of cinematic traditions from around the time in which it is historically set, many of which it rewrites. This dimension of 'authenticity as simulation' is perhaps most visible when after the last shot of the interview with a concentration camp employee taken from the 1946 production Deathcamp Sachsenhausen [Todeslager Sachsenhausen] and identified as documentary footage, the film directly cuts back to the fictional interview with a landscape architect, where the viewer is disoriented before he is able to identify the story-characters and thus the non-documentary status of this sequence. Such a movement between factual and fictional is, however, only one kind of perceptual turbulence among the strong intertextual undercurrents that powerfully run through the film's visual register. To name only some of the most prominent sources: one can easily recognize Roberto Rossellini's Paisa (and not only the citation of its 'dead partisan sequence' in the opening) and the nowhere-city of the same director's bombed-out Berlin in Germany, Year Zero, while the Spandau citadel sequence carefully choreographs an allusion and homage to Jean Renoir's The Grand Illusion. Additionally, Wolf has a distinctly contemporary concept of how an 'authentic' public sphere is construed in terms of its media reality. There is hardly a sequence in the film not mediated through human and technical communication devices, such as bilingual translators, mono-microphones, popular hit and folk music records, and Schellack recordings of classical music from Bach through the Prussian "Hohefriedberg March" to Ernst Busch's Spanish Civil War song "Rio Guarama." At the same time, the literary references from Heine's "Once I had a beautiful fatherland" ["Ich hatte einst ein schönes Vaterland"] and the Reclam-edition of Kant's works (from which the landscape architect deduces his apologetic monologue), to the O. E. Plauen comic book32 to which Gregor devotes himself while listening to records, double this investment in the mediality of history with a literary layer. Wolf succeeds in using the cinema as a time machine of historical simulation, in which authenticity follows the course of an inward spiral, not so much one of personal memory and biographical reconstruction, but an inward spiral into (propaganda) media and (popular European) cinema history as public memory, its modes of representation and substitution, where history returns as film history just as it was to return in the New German Cinema a decade later. Indeed, the fact that since I was Nineteen was made, Germany's past has been rewritten as media history in Edgar Reitz's series Heimat and Heimat Two, the films of Fassbinder, or Godard's Germany, Year Zero suggests a common paradigm, bracketing several phases of post-war cinema in Germany. It thereby lets us perhaps begin to see some of the terms of the integrative history we outlined as a possible goal.

Such as shift in perspective on I was Nineteen would also suggest a less symmetrical and more implicated reading of the German-Soviet matrix around which Wolf has spun not only I was Nineteen, but also the earlier Sonnensucher and the subsequent Mama, I am Alive! [Mama, ich lebe]. When set against the German-American axis so prominently figuring in, say, Wenders, Reitz and Fassbinder,33 it no longer seems too far fetched to think of the common basis of several directors' cinematic versions of 'national foundation films' as rooted in the classical movie tropes, such as the frontier with its definition of national identity and otherness, its geography of homelands, enclaves of civilization, and minority reservations? What the road movie is for Wenders, the family odyssey for Reitz, and the female melodrama for Fassbinder had already emerged in Wolf as a keen appreciation of the classical western, in the manner of John Ford, Robert Aldrich, or even Sam Fuller! In this light, Gregor, the hero of I was Nineteen, is perhaps best understood as the typical western figure of the Indian scout (rather than a returning Ulysses), allowing one to trace the ways in which I was Nineteen redistributes otherness in complex but significant ways among Russians, Germans, Wehrmacht soldiers, and S.S. members. Indeed, the final siege reproduces the geographical organizations of the western's classic plot situations and spatial set-ups from Stagecoach, Apache, or Run of the Arrow. Their recurrence in I was Nineteen adds a quite distinct movie-mythological layer, which enters into competition with the more classical mythology of Styx and Lethe, also evoked by the river landscapes and symbolic crossings staged in a Mark Brandenburg that has all the harsh solitariness, but also the resolute solidity of an East Prussian outpost of the Germanic pioneer spirit.34

Performing the Everyday: Solo Sunny

With Solo Sunny (1980),35 one is struck by another related discursive level, from which a comparative or integrative historiography might generate a set of terms useful in redefining some of the driving forces behind postwar German cinema. It concerns the representation of female subjectivity not across sexual liberation (in this respect Sunny needs no liberation, her autonomy is established in the very first lines of the film: "going to bed with me comes without breakfast in the morning," she says at one point), but through the mediation of the public sphere of show-business, signaled via the stage, microphones, and amplifiers, self-exhibition and spectacle. In the German cinema, this tradition of female self-representation as spectacle is, of course, most memorably (and ambiguously) exploited in Ufa revue and operetta films of the 1930s and early 1940s: Zarah Leander and Marika Rökk being the best remembered instances. As we know, by the time Solo Sunny was made, this particular model of problematizing female subjectivity via exhibition and spectacle was being rewritten by directors associated with New (West) German cinema, most eminently perhaps in the films of Fassbinder, who himself not only rewrote Ufa show-vehicles (in Lili Marleen), but like so many other European filmmakers of the 1970s, took the female artiste as a metaphor for linking fascism and show-business, while steering the concept of identity past political, ideological, or gendered absolutes toward different breaks, continuities, and disjunctures.

If one situates Solo Sunny within this very controversial field of reference, at the outer vanishing point of the triangular constellation of writing and rewriting, there emerges another film, as a kind of relay for all three cinematic modes across historical time and national boundaries: this film is Bob Fosse's 1972 Cabaret, and its heroine Sally Bowles directly evoked at several moments in Solo Sunny, and thus all the more important as a catalyst for the German cinema in respect to its controversial cinematic and national traditions, worked through in relation to female subjectivity, popular culture, and the public sphere.

What precisely the presence of this particular constellation Nazi cinema/Hollywood/Fassbinder/Solo Sunny adds by way of another, metacritical dimension to the film's engagement with contemporary GDR reality is something we refrain from speculating on. There are a number of possibly fortuitous points of contact, which such a transversal reading of aspects of Wolf's films establishes with West German, European, and Hollywood cinematic practices and generic codes. The question of their relevance seems, at the very least, a legitimate one, and perhaps even one that makes comments such as Hanni van Haiden's a little more difficult in the future, not only in film classes but even on German television.

Conclusion: Wolf and Fassbinder 1982/1992

With Solo Sunny one has, in a sense, come full circle, focusing – as with Lissy - on the female heroine, and locating the question of cinematic representations of German history squarely in the legacy of Nazi cinema. The combination of national stylistic traditions and international genres, of the vanishing historical referent and female subjectivity give the imaginary mode of the cinema a special function in the narrativization of present contradictions and past realities. On the way to an integrative and international history of the German cinema, Konrad Wolf and his films therefore appear to provide something of a missing link in this history, representing a work no less challenging and controversial than that of any other German director long acknowledged as a key figure. To take note of the work of Wolf also means that the oedipal break which has so strongly marked the politics and the theorization of West German cinema, the gap would be both closed and remarked between directors born before 1920 (e.g., Kurt Hoffmann, Rolf Hansen, and Veit Harlan, but also Helmut Kautner, Wolfgang Staudte, and Bernhard Wicki), and the directors of the Young and New German Cinema born in the mid-1930s and 1940s (Kluge, Reitz Syberberg, Wenders, Herzog, and Fassbinder). It is worth noting that not only Wolf, born in 1925, but most of the other directors of the so-called second DEFA generation36 – Gerhard Klein (1920), Egon Günther (1927), Günter Reisch (1927), Heiner Carow (1929), Joachim Kunert (1929), Frank Vogel (1929), Ralf Kirsten (1930), and Konrad Petzold (1930) – were born between 1920 and 1930, a generation virtually absent from West German cinema.

By way of concluding, one might, however, briefly return to the Fassbinder/Wolf constellation. 1982, the year of the untimely death of both filmmakers, surely signals one of the most likely dates around which an integrative history of postwar German cinema would have to constitute itself-backward as well as forward. The attraction of this coincidence is of course a symmetry, which only covers up a number of asymmetries. For just as telling as the parallels in their work might be the commemorative culture that has sprung up around the two iconic dead directors, the fairly asymmetrical balance between the '10 years after' Fassbinder retrospectives of 1992, and the events on the same occasion for Konrad Wolf: while Fassbinder was celebrated with the huge exhibition at Alexanderplatz, extensive cinema and TV retrospectives, and multi-volume publications; Wolf, on the other hand, was commemorated with only a handful of articles and a rather quiet evening at the former GDR Academy of Arts.37

There might be a way of approaching GDR and FRG filmmakers, and thus postwar German cinematography in general, from a vantage point that is less concerned with the obvious political and historical asymmetrical symmetries, and which sees both traditions more obliquely, if not anamorphically and anachronistically. Granted, Fassbinder and Wolf stand for two different (but each far from official) versions of national history. On the one hand, there is Fassbinder's panoramic and Balzacian attempt at delivering a complete social representation from late nineteenth century to the postwar years, with the focus on individual strategies of negotiation within existing social frameworks, a cinema of long term shifts and historical continuity. On the other hand, there is Wolfs retrospection, obsessively zooming in on the same breaks (the seizure of power of 1933, World War II, the so-called zero-hour of 1945), each putting his characters in between two worlds, moments of personal 'trauma' and political 'decision,' but leaving the significance of these historical points of discontinuity untouched. Despite these differences, another look at cinematic modes and historical imaginaries in a wider international and intertextual frame might make the filmic heritage of both directors and both Germanies enter into a more productive dialogue. Such a consideration throws into even sharper relief the fact that the New German Cinema no less than the GDR cinema are united in one point: their absence from today's cinema screens, along with their absence from the current debates about present-day German cinema, so seemingly without memory or rupture. In the light of this fact, the need to resituate both cinemas, west and east, becomes even more pressing, since such a dialogue between public spheres and historical imaginaries might well be the condition of possibility for both a German film history and a German film future.



See the contributions to Film in der DDR, ed. Peter W. Jansen and Wolfram Schütte (Munich and Vienna: Hanser, 1977).


See also Enno Patalas, "Feindkultur 3: Die zerissene Leinwand," Die Zeit (28 Oct. 1999) 61-65.


See the respective chapters on GDR cinema in Hans Günther Pflaum and Hans Helmut Prinzler, Film in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Der neue deutsche Film von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart. Mit einem Exkurs über das Kino der DDR (Munich and Vienna: Hanser, 1992) 149-87; see also the chapter by Wolfgang Gersch, Geschichte des deutschen Films, eds. Wolfgang Jacobsen, Anton Kaes, and Hans Helmut Prinzler (Stuttgart and Weimar: Metzler, 1993) 323-64.


On the regional TV station Nord 3, 3 Oct. 1990.


On the history of the rediscovery of the so-called Verbotsfilme, see the essays and documents collected in Günter Agde, ed., Kahlschlag: Das 11. Plenum des ZK der SED 1965. Studien und Dokumente, 2nd ed. (Berlin: Aufbau, 1999); also see Barton Byg, "What might have been: DEFA Films of the Past and the Future of German Cinema," Cineaste 17.4 (Summer 1990): 9-15.


On the role of German television in the process of unification, see After the Wall: Broadcasting in Germany, eds. Geoffrey Nowell-Smith and Tana Wollen (London: BFI, 1991); Mauer-Show, eds. Rainer Bohn, Knut Hickethier, and Eggo Miller (Berlin: Edition Sigma, 1992).


Walter Benjamin, "Theses on the Philosophy of History," Illuminations, ed. Hannah Arendt, trans. Harry Zohn (London: Fontana, 1992) 248.


In the context of the so-called Literaturstreit. This debate has been excessively documented, see, in particular, 'Es geht nicht nur um Christa Wolf': Der Literaturstreit im vereinten Deutschland, ed. Thomas Anz (Munich: Spangenberg, 1991); Der deutsch-deutsche Literaturstreit oder 'Freunde, es spricht sich schlecht mit gebundener Zunge', eds. Karl Deiritz and Hannes Krauss (Hamburg: Luchterhand, 1991); also see the essays included in German Literature at a Time of Change, 1989-1990: German Unity and German Identity in Literary Perspective, eds. Arthur Williams, Stuart Parkes, and Roland Smith (New York.: Peter Lang, 1991).


For an overview of some of the basic assumptions of the New Film History, see Thomas Elsaesser, "The New Film History," Sight & Sound 35.4 (1986): 246-52; Paul Kusters, "New Film History: Grundzüge einer neuen Filmgeschichtswissenschaft," montage/av 5.1 (1996): 39-60.


Christiane Mückenberger and Günter Jordan, 'Sie sehen selbst, Sie hören selbst': Eine Geschichte der DEFA von ihren Anfängen bis 1949 (Marburg: Hitzeroth, 1994); Christiane Mückenberger, "Zeit der Hoffnungen: 1946 bis 1949," and Ralf Schenk, "Mitten im Kalten Krieg: 1950 bis 1960," both in Das zweite Leben der Filmstadt Babelsberg: DEFA-Spielfilme 1946-1992, ed. Schenk (Berlin: Henschel, 1994): 8-157; Thomas Heimann, DEFA, Künstler und SED-Kulturpolitik (Berlin: Vistas, 1994).


In the years between 1950 and 1961 around seventy West German productions - in their majority popular genre films, but also documentaries and children's films - were released with only a little delay in GDR cinemas. See the titles listed in Deutsche Filmkunst 7.10 (1959): 314-15, and 9.2 (1961): 71. The official state-run film periodical Deutsche Filmkunst tried to counteract the appeal of popular West German 'imports' in a series of unsigned critical commentaries. See, for example, "Westdeutscher Film im Schlepptau der USA," 1.1 (1953): 120-23; "Der Westdeutsche Film - ein hoffnungsloser Fall?" 1.2 (1953): 177-79; "O alte Ufa-Herrlichkeit: Themen der neuen westdeutschen Filmproduktion," 1.3 (1953): 163-66; also see Ewald H. Hagen, "Lustspielfilme - stark gefragt," 1.3 (1953): 113-16; ""Für gesamtdeutsches, nationales Filmschaffen," 2.1 (1954): 4-5; "Westdeutsche Filmschaffende zum Gesamtdeutschen Film," 2.2 (1954): 39-41. Detailed accounts of the film exchange between West and East Germany before the wall can be found in Wolfgang Gersch, "Die Verdoppelung der Ferne: Notizen von der anderen Seite," Zwischen Gestern und Morgen: Westdeutscher Nachkriegsfilm 1946-1962, ed. Jürgen Berger, Hans-Peter Reichmann, and Rudolf Worschech (Frankfurt/Main: Deutsches Filmmuseum, 1989): 100-09; Schenk, "Mitten im Kalten Krieg" 86-92.


Schenk, "Auferstanden aus Ruinen: Von der Ufa zur Defa," Das Ufa-Buch: Kunst und Krisen, Stars und Regisseure, Wirtschaft und Politik, ed. Hans-Michael Bock and Michael Töteberg (Frankfurt/Main: Zweitausendeins, 1992) 476-81; Schenk, "Mitten im Kalten Krieg" 93-101; Wolfgang Jacobsen, "Cha Cha Bim Bam Bum," Babelsberg: Ein Filmstudio 1912-1992, ed. W. Jacobsen (Berlin: Argon, 1992) 279-84.


See, for example, Konrad Wolf s comments on films by Gallher/Schübel, Christian Ziewer, Reinhard Hauff, and Francis Ford Coppola in Direkt in Kopf und Herz: Aufzeichnungen, Reden, Interviews, ed. Aune Renk (Berlin: Henschel, 1989) 246-48.


Barton Byg, "DEFA and the Traditions of International Cinema," DEFA: East German Cinema, 1946-1992, eds. Sean Allan and John Sandford (Oxford: Berghahn, 1999).


For reevaluations of these popular DEFA-genres, see the contributions to Schenk, Das zweite Leben der Filmstadt Babelsberg.


Gerd Gemünden, "Zwischen Karl May und Karl Marx: Die DEFA-Indianerfilme (1965-1983)," Film und Fernsehen 1 (1998): 37-41. A translated version appears in this volume of New German Critique.


Schwarzweiß und Farbe: DEFA-Dokumentarfilme 1946-1992, eds. Günter Jordan and Ralf Schenk (Berlin: Jovis, 1992); Deutschlandbilder Ost: Dokumentarfilme der DEFA von der Nachkriegszeit bis zur Wiedervereinigung, ed. Peter Zimmermann (Konstanz: UVK-Medien/Ölschliger, 1995).


Zwischen Marx und Muck: DEFA-Filme für Kinder, eds. Ingelore König, Dieter Wiedemann, and Lothar Wolf (Berlin: Henschel, 1996).


Detailed historical documentation of Wolf's (film) political activities in the contexts of his various institutional mandats is found in Konrad Wolf im Dialog: Künste und Politik, eds. Dieter Heinze and Ludwig Hoffmann (Berlin: Dietz, 1985); Zwischen Diskussion und Disziplin: Dokumente zur Geschichte der Akademie der Künste (Ost) 1945/50 bis 1993, eds. Ulrich Dietze and Gudrun GeiBler (Berlin: Henschel, 1997): 188-389.


Reinhard Wagner, "Sonnensucher (1958/1972): Notizen zur Werkgeschichte," Konrad Wolf: Neue Sichten auf seine Filme, Beitrage zur Film- und Fernsehwissenschaft 31.39 (1990): 34-64.


See Byg, "Konrad Wolf: From Anti-Fascism to Gegenwartsfilm," Studies in GDR Culture and Society, ed. Margy Gerber et al. (New York: U of America P, 1985) 115-24.


"A clear change occurred in Wolf's oeuvre, a shift from the pathos and pretentiousness of the early films to the suppleness and discretion of the later ones. ... Wolf's aesthetic maturation shows a constant – if uneven – pattern of progression." Marc Silberman, "Remembering History: The Filmmaker Konrad Wolf," New German Critique 49 (Winter 1990): 167-68.


See Elsaesser, "Subject Positions, Speaking Positions: From Holocaust, Our Hitler, and Heimat to Shoah and Schindler's List," The Persistence of History: Cinema, Television, and the Modern Event, ed. Vivian Sobchack (New York & London: Routledge, 1996) 145-83.


In his writings, statements, and interviews from the 1950s and early 1960s collected in Direkt in Kopf und Herz, Wolf repeatedly expressed this uncertainty of spectatorial address, and it was in this context that he spoke of the "Janus-facedness" (49) of the popular success of Sterne.


Wolf should therefore be taken by his word when he stated that in his two films set in the 1930s, Lissy and Professor Mamlock, it was via "style and imagery" that he attempted to achieve "immediate [historical] credibility." See Wolf, Direkt in Kopf und Herz 154.


Madina Spoden, "Lissy (1957): Gedanken beim neuerlichen Sehen," Konrad Wolf 32-33.


With nine films getting an all-German release between 1950 and 1961, Hoffmann ranked first among German directors. See Gersch 101-03. On the broad popularity of (West) German mainstream productions at this time, which even surpassed that of foreign imports, see Heide Fehrenbach, Cinema in Democratizing Germany: Reconstructing National Identity after Hitler (Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 1995) 148-68.


A doubling which becomes particularly noticeable in the scene where Freddy transforms into a Nazi in front of a mirror, a scene which, in terms of its social implications, petit-bourgeois setting, and visual organization, is almost identical with the mirror-sequence in Carl Boese's Rühmann-vehicle The Detours of Handsome Karl [Die Umwege des schönen Karl (1938)].


Erika Richter, "Zwischen Mauerbau und Kahlschlag: 1961 bis 1965," Das zweite Leben der Filmstadt Babelsberg 164-68.


For a summary of the debate, see the review by Friedrich Hitzer, Filmkritik 12 (Dec. 1964): 650-51.


See, e.g., Silberman, "The Authenticity of Autobiography: Konrad Wolf's I Was Nineteen," German Cinema: Texts in Context (Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1995) 145-61.


Plauen's comic series "Father and Son," originally published in the Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung from 1933 onward, was among the most popular during the Nazi-years and sustained its popularity well beyond the time when I was Nineteen was made. Plauen himself committed suicide in a Nazi prison in April 1944. Thanks to Wolfgang Kohlhaase, who clarified this reference in an interview with Michael Wedel in Boston, 6 Sept. 1997.


See Elsaesser, "American Friends: Hollywood Echoes in the New German Cinema," Hollywood & Europe: Economics, Culture, National Identity, 1945-95, eds. Geoffrey Nowell-Smith and Steven Ricci (London: BFI, 1998) 142-55.


As Byg has pointed out, allusions to the classical U.S. western are also evident in Wolf's Sonnensucher as well as in Frank Beyer's Five Cartridge Cases [Fünf Patronenhülsen] (1960) and Spur der Steine (1966). Byg, "DEFA 1996 - Eine Ortsbestimmung," Film und Fernsehen 3+4 (1996): 36-37.


The film, set in the GDR present, portrays the nightclub singer Sunny, member of a touring band but longing for a solo appearance, who is replaced after refusing to sleep with the band's saxophonist Norbert, just as she refuses throughout the film to enter into a sexual relationship with her faithful admirer, the cab driver Harry. Earlier on, Norbert who had his lips injured in a fight, is himself temporarily replaced by the philosophical, amateur saxophonist, whose quiet, secluded lifestyle exerts a strong fascination on her, but who himself is very casual about their relationship. After she has accidentally caught him in bed with another woman, she enters into a major crisis which results in a suicide attempt. The film ends with Sunny, following her recovery, presenting herself as lead singer to another band, whose members are of a visibly younger generation.


Byg, "Generational Conflict and Historical Continuity in GDR Film," Framing the Past: The Historiography of German Cinema and Television, ed. Bruce A. Murray and Christopher J. Wickham (Carbondale/Edwardsville: Southern Illinois UP, 1992) 202-12.


See the account of Dietmar Hochmuth, "Würde eines Gesinnungstäters: Vor zehn Jahren starb Konrad Wolf," Freitag 12 (1992). How quiet the commemoration must have been is further illustrated by the fact that only a year later Margarethe von Trotta could begin her vote of thanks after receiving the Konrad Wolf-award with the confession that she has never seen any of his films. This anecdote is reported in Gerhard Schoenberner, "Filme von Konrad Wolf: Erinnerungen an einen deutschen Kommunisten," Deutschlandbilder: Eine Dokumentation, ed. Gabriela Seidel (Berlin: Freunde der Deutschen Kinemathek, 1997) 91.