In Pictures: Kulturhäuser der DDR

It was event time again here at the Goethe-Zentrum Atlanta on Monday when we hosted ‘Kulturhäuser der DDR’ with the help of the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Did you make it down here? If you did, see if you can spot yourselves on some of our pictures. If not, here’s a little run down of what happened! We don’t want you to feel left out now do we?

Here goes…
Around 45 people gathered in the Goethe-Zentrum Atlanta auditorium on Monday, March 31, 2014 to find out more about the extensive cultural program that existed in East Germany before it’s reunification with the West.


The evening started with an introduction from our Executive Director, Miriam Bruns, who talked about the Goethe-Zentrum and its mission before welcoming our guests for the evening and handing over the introductions to Dr. Bettina Cothran from the Georgia Institute of Technology, who we teamed up with to host the event.

Dr. Cothran spoke a little more about the evening before introducing our main guests, film makers Peter Goedel and Helga Storck. They both grew up in the former East Germany, and, after being involved in several cultural programs, felt they needed to document their importance in some way.

Both then introduced the film, Storck in German and Goedel in English. They talked about the differences between the two Germany’s after World War II, how the two lived far apart from each other but learned how to grow together again after the reunification.

Storck and Goedel both grew up in the East and were heavily involved in the country’s cultural program, either by performing in the theatre or watching musical events that were directed or conducted by their parents. They both fled the country in 1961 but say their experiences there were unforgettable.

Storck went on to talk about how the GDR’s culture also ended when the country ceased to exist. Almost every resident of the former GDR was involved in some sort of club or cultural center. They were visitors to plays, operas, concerts, exhibitions or lectures or they were involved as participants.

She went on to describe how the clubs were seen as an experiment after World War II, the country would be directed towards a new social order with a centrally-controlled anti-fascist democratic cultural and educational policy program which should in turn, lead to ‘well rounded individuals’ growing up in schools, universities and enterprises, but also in clubs and cultural centers.

This is what is recalled in the film.

The cultural centers are an essential part of the history of the GDR, they enabled people to take part in meaningful activities. The program was described as a ‘cultural miracle’ but all this ended with reunification.

Storck then talked about how she came up with the idea of making a film to document this era. It all came to fruition when she went to a meeting to save the Buna Cultural Center where she spent many hours as a child. Others at the center were behind her idea, so, after collecting archive material and never seen before footage, along with interviews with people involved in the center the film was made.

Storck told us how passionate she was about preserving the era in history. Sadly, most of the clubs are now gone but there are a few citizens who are trying to save those in danger and keep some alive after realizing their importance and prominence in the history of the GDR.

We then sat down to enjoy the 90 minute long film, getting a real insight into the cultural centers of the GDR with first-hand accounts of individual’s experiences, really bringing the era to life.

Following the film a question and answer session took place with the film-makers Peter Goedel and Helga Storck, along with Dr Bettina Cothran from the Georgia Institutute of Technology along with a small reception where guests enjoyed a glass of wine and some food.

If you missed the screening you can still head on down to the exhibition that documents the cultural centers in East Germany here at the Goethe-Zentrum. It will be on display until the middle of June so there’s plenty of time for you to come and find out more!

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Posted on April 3, 2014, in What's Happened? and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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