Film and Memory in East Germany

Film and Memory in East Germany

Anke Pinkert
Distribution: World
Publication date: 07/09/2008
Format: Paperback 12 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-21967-1
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Anke Pinkert explores films produced in the Soviet Occupation Zone and East Germany from the end of World War II through the early 1960s, offering new insights into how Germans dealt with the aftermath of the war. In her cultural analysis of the relationship between modern historical violence, cultural memory, and cinematic representation, Pinkert argues that the cinematic productions of East Germany offer a corrective to misperceptions about German responses to the legacy of the war.

Film and Memory in East Germany considers antifascist films of the immediate postwar period, which depict the reintegration of former soldiers into society and the crisis of masculinity that accompanied the aftermath of the war; the socialist films of the late 1940s and 1950s, which attempt to shape a new national imaginary through stories of exemplary socialist womanhood; and, finally, the cinematic return to 1945 in socialist modernist films of the 1960s.

Author Bio

Anke Pinkert is Assistant Professor of German and Cinema Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has published on postwar German literature, film, and cultural history in German Quarterly, Seminar, and Germanic Review.


“[Film and Memory in East Germany] will appeal to specialists on East German cinema who will discover here challenging and new readings of familiar films, but it will also appeal more generally to those in German studies who are grappling with issues of postwar culture as well as to those in culture studies who will be interested in the strategies Pinkert develops for reading trauma and memory in visual culture.”
 — Marc Silberman, University of Wisconsin, Madison

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Table of Contents


Introduction: Cinematic Specters of History as Memory

Part 1. Vanishing Returnees: War Trauma, Antifascism, and the Crisis of Masculinity (1940s)
1. Flashbacks and Psyche—The Murderers Are among Us
2. Grieving Dead Soldiers—Somewhere in Berlin
3. Psychotic Breaks and Conjugal Rubble—Wozzeck
4. Suicidal Males and Reconstruction—Our Daily Bread

Part 2. Fantasmatic Fullness: Strained Female Subjectivity and Socialist Dreams (1950s)
5. Silent Mothers: Air War as Intimate Memory—Rotation
6. Stalin's Daughters on the Verge—The Story of a Young Couple and Destinies of Women
7. Missing Smile: Psychic Paralysis and Production—Sun Seekers

Part 3. Germany, Year Zero: Recasting the Past in the Present (1960s)
8. Postmelancholic Memory Projections—I Was Nineteen
9. Modern Loss and Mourning Plays—Born in '45

Epilogue: Vacant History, Empty Screens—Postcommunist Films of the 1990s
Works Cited