What was it really like to live in Prenzlauer Berg and Mitte in East German times

The Prenzlauerberginale Film Festival showcases stunning documentary footage from the 70’s and 80’s that wasn’t used for advertising.

Prenzlauerberginale lifts this treasure from the archives: a scene from “Pictures on the Courtyards” documenting the state films of the GDR. DEFA . Foundation

Today, 40, 50 years and one system collapse after that, the gasoline shortage is proving to be a stroke of luck for Berlin. Filmmakers in the box had only 70 liters per month. So I mainly filmed in the capital of the German Democratic Republic. Have you heard about the Social Fund for Development before? It is an acronym for the State Film Documentation of the GDR, on whose behalf some 300 reports were created on daily life in this country between 1971 and 1986. The material was not intended for the public, but has been archived for future generations to provide an unhindered view of a socialist society in the making. , according to Prenzlauer Berginale, which is now organized by Stefan Müller for the sixth time. The Small Film Festival will screen various excerpts from SFD reports from 1979 to 1985 on the topic of housing on September 13 at the Frederickschain Film Theatre, all created in Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg.

So the German Democratic Republic portrayed itself, and the results were amazing. There is a documentary called Marriage Loan, which takes you to the apartment of Sabine Müller, her husband, global transport worker Gerd, and their young child at Kristbergerstrasse 39 in Berlin Prenzlauer Berg. One and a half room with en-suite but without bathroom at 28.95 mark.

The two give the film team a tour of their belongings, the self-lined entryway with its handmade shoe cabinet. The diapers are hung on the brick stove to dry, because they cannot heat the kitchen at the same time. In winter they also dry their shoes on the stove and got the TV from their grandmother. In the front is a vase made by Gerd Muller from clothespins, just like the ornate little rocking chair. Everything is precious, that was long before the Untouchable Society.

“Button stays off, more than Mi-hee-o,” sounds from Stern Recorder

“The state has come up with a nice thing,” Sabine Muller says of the marriage loan, and the couple is already sitting across from the thrift bank employee and taking care of the formalities. Soon it will be the much-awaited wall unit in the small living room, which I like so much in plan and now looks even bigger in the room where not only the crib but also their sofa bed. There was not enough money to buy a new set of sofas and they had to pay extra for a stern recorder. Here they are not talking about proletarians with a firm class view, but inclined to the petty-bourgeoisie.

Gerd Muller listens to Roland Kaiser with his Stern recorder, which he bought thanks to a marriage loan: a scene from “Marriage Loan” from the GDR State Film Documentation.DEFA . Foundation

Now Roland Kaiser sounds: “After four or five red wines, amore mi-o, you can’t be stopped. Be sane, and think of the children. The button stays shut, amore mi-hi-o.” Sabine Muller tells her husband, “Turn on the TV so they can see how well it turns on.” It’s new, too.

The way people describe their living conditions here is folklore and visual anthropology. The directors are field researchers who go to the home of their research subjects and gather information there. Time and country seem so far away that you think you are seeing a foreign tribe, even if you still know this world yourself. There is purely scientific accuracy in these observations, and it has nothing to do with the call to mourn this time.

Bearded men in ultra-shorts on the streets of Prenzlauer Berg

This also applies to ‘Pictures in the Courtyards’, which will also be shown on September 13th. After a short frying pan, it takes you to the streets where bearded men in ultra-short jeans walk and lots of dirt cars park, to the many backyards of the Berlin Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg, which residents have embellished with murals and farms. It’s the summer of 1984. The movie “Kinderreich 1982” takes you to Mitte, to an apartment on Schwedter Strasse, where a woman lives with her boyfriend and four children in a three-room apartment. She says she also wants an apartment where everything works and hot water comes out of the wall. “I don’t want to go to Marzan, I certainly won’t feel comfortable there.” At that time, many people moved to the new development areas.

Another example frankly shows the shortcomings of the housing industry and at the same time how little publicity contained in SFD materials: Erica Strassner, 40, who lives with her son, daughter and baby in a backyard on Kristbergerstrasse. In 1976 the apartment was allocated to her. “When we saw the rooms, they were presented to us,” she says. There was not even a water pipe or sink. “It took two years before I could make this apartment reasonably livable – with this mountain of input.” The camera pans over the candle my brother turned himself, the crocheted doily on the living room table, the Grandos Mocca on the kitchen shelf, the bread cutter, leading to the neon tube in the kitchen ceiling.

Contributions to Diva News and East German Television

Prenzlauerberginale brings these films together with reports from the Diva newsreel and reports from East German television from the 1970s and 1980s, with her make-up look at everyday life in the GDR.

Due to high demand, the show will be shown on September 13th at 6pm and 8:30pm. Next, there’s an audience discussion at 6 p.m. with director and author Gunter Jordan, who was a director and author of his own films at Diva Documentary Studios until 1991, and city historian Katherine Meisner, second with city historian Harald Engler. Films about Prenzlauer Berg will also be shown on the next three Tuesdays.

Prenzlauer Perginal Until October 4th. Entire programme: www.prenzlauerberginale.berlin/

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