Bilderbuch Deutschland: der Kalte Krieg

Film screening

Bilderbuch Deutschland: der Kalte Krieg

Versuch über eine westdeutsche Ästhetik

Thursday, 29th January, 2015, 19.00

Kalter Krieg Flyer


Rearmament, secret services, arms build-up – after the success of the first part of our series about West German aesthetics, the next edition is about life in the BRD in the shadow of the Cold War. The face of the young republic was characterised by the refilling of government offices with old Nazis. The new political class of West Germany was partly made up of politically compromised persons. Also the secret services were constituted of old leaders from the Nazi time.

Because of the geo-political situation of Germany in the cold war, all fronts were rearmed. The secret services were strengthened, their competences extended. The threat to inner security from leftist terrorism provided – until the so-called Celler Loch – the reason for this. The BKA man Horst Herold invented the so-called Rasterfahndung (computer-assisted profiling).

Mug shots of alleged terrorists hung in every post office and provided a feeling of paranoia. Secret operations on West German soil, not always exactly visible to the naked eye, served espionage and all kinds of operations of secret services, sometimes of a rather grotesque kind. Communication through numbers stations, which transmitted rows of numbers on the short wave band, was audible to all. Their codes were used by diplomatic and secret services and the military. The strange sounds and number codes became an occasion for wild speculations. This is an indication that also the Republic commited to enlightenment (in the double sense of the word) was not without its mysteries.

The technological progress of the years of the Wirtschaftswunder after the Second World War also played a role in the Cold War. New technologies of communication, the ambiguous celebration of nuclear energy and a positivistic enthusiasm for technology accompanied and formed the aesthetics of the young federal republic. It is the world that the group Kraftwerk sings about: mechanical, technocratic, controlled, post-human. The increasing alienation, which this situation occasioned, fuelled the alternative movements at the peak of the nuclear stalemate.

The rearmament of West Germany brought old ghosts back to life. Among the population it was more controversial than the official history writing will have us believe. Medium-range missiles and West Germany as the venue for the transatlantic conflict moved many people to a search for new ways of life based on pacifism and ecology. In the 1980s the BRD experienced a wave of emigration as well as grassroots movements. The people wanted "Sonne statt Reagan" (sun instead of Reagan), as the song by Joseph Beuys and the Green Party said.

Gitte Bohr makes another attempt to explore the corners of the former BRDin order to approach a West German aesthetics. With a commented selection of little known short films, film clips, art and music videos.