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© Foto: 70 Jahre DDR-Volksaufstand/Bundesstiftung Aufarbeitung, Eastblockworld, EBW_PH_1212156.

*Image © Foto: 70 Jahre DDR-Volksaufstand/Bundesstiftung Aufarbeitung, Eastblockworld, EBW_PH_1212156.

The East German Film Season, Back In The GDR (German Democratic Republic), and a new, free exhibition, Tanks on the Streets: The Uprising of 17 June 1953 in East Germany, will run from Wednesday June 14 to Saturday June 24, at the multi award-winning cultural centre in Chester.

East Germany was a socialist dictatorship formed in 1949 after the division of post-war Germany, and existed until 1990.

Co-curated and introduced by Dr Richard Millington, Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader for German at the University, four films will be shown:

  • Espionage film For Eyes Only (1963) which represents the East German response to James Bond.
  • The Rabbit is Me (1965) which contains the kind of criticism of life in East Germany that the state was not prepared to allow and was banned soon after its release.
  • The Legend of Paul and Paula (1973), recounting a tale of love in East Berlin.
  • The Lives of Others (2006), the story of the destructive operations and methods of the Stasi, the state’s political police, and a major hit upon its release.

The films are all presented in German with English subtitles.

Dr Richard Millington.JPG

Dr Richard Millington.
Dr Richard Millington.

Richard said: “When one thinks of East Germany, images of barbed wire and the Berlin Wall spring to mind, as well as stories of the dreaded Stasi. Yet there was a lively - albeit state-controlled - cultural scene in East Germany. Though artists, authors, and film-makers were supposed to promote the Socialist Party line, they also aimed to entertain and, in some cases, test the limits of what the regime was prepared to tolerate.

“The first three films made in East Germany by the state’s DEFA film studios offer the chance to look behind the Wall and see what citizens were able to watch in the cinemas of East Berlin, Dresden and Leipzig, with the more recent film offering further perspective.”

The screening of The Lives of Others will be followed by an interview and Question and Answer session with Antje K. Antje was born in East Germany in the mid-1960s and will talk about her life there, her run-ins with the authorities, and her eventual emigration in the late 1980s.

The exhibition commemorates the 70th anniversary of the first uprising in the Eastern Bloc. Curated by Richard, and one of the University’s Artists in Residence, Steph Coathupe, the exhibition tells the story of the uprising and presents work inspired by the events of 17 June 1953, created by Art and Design students.

Richard explained: “On 17 June 1953, during the height of the early Cold War, mass demonstrations took place across East Germany against the oppressive regime of the ruling Socialist Unity Party (SED).

“In more than 700 cities, towns and villages, up to one million protesters demanded the removal of SED leader, Walter Ulbricht and called for better living and working conditions. In many places demonstrators also chanted for free elections and the reunification of Germany. Venting their fury at the regime, protestors ransacked Party buildings, attacked regime officials, tore down propaganda placards, and burned Soviet flags.

“Their actions were, however, short-lived: Soviet tanks and troops soon arrived to restore order. Protesters could offer little resistance to their machine-gun bullets. The next time East Germans dared to demonstrate en masse was 1989.”

For further information on the film season, please visit:

More details about the exhibition are available at:

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