Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Generation 68. Ein Roadmovie

2008 is a year full of potential for cultural entrepreneurs active in the field of collective remembrance. Seen from a European perspective it is the emblematic years of 1848, 1948 and 1968 which immediately present ample material for recollections both personal and official. German public TV channel 3Sat recently contributed to the discourse by broadcasting the film Generation 68. Ein Roadmovie, directed by Frank Diederichs (6 April 2008, 20:15). Diederichs portrays the life of writers and journalists, actors and directors, all people who had been politically and culturally active already back then or who were to be left with a lasting impression by the events of that ominous year. One of these is a participant of Overcoming Dictatorships, Lutz Rathenow.

Rathenow tells his personal experiences behind the specific German political background and the generally stirred-up atmosphere of the late 1960s. His recallings of a family holiday in Hungary can be taken as a literary description of the social and personal repercussions of contemporary German-German relations. Rathenow says:

In 1968, at the end of July and beginning of August I spent my vacation together with my parents and my sister at the Balaton Lake. For people from the GDR the atmosphere in Hungary felt much more western and generally relaxed: broadcasting stations had superior programmes, you could witness policemen consuming alcohol and Coca Cola was on offer. For people with western currencies it was even rather a fair deal. It was therefore a happy coincidence when my parents made the acquaintance of a couple from West Germany. On the beach they paid for beverages and we received small gifts. My parents accepted these well-meant complaisances gratefully. Me personally I didn’t think at all of being grateful, although I also benefited from the situation. These people from West Germany were not really arrogant; I did want to conceive them as arrogant.

As contingent as the course of life of an individual may be it is most likely that these experiences influenced Rathenow's personal development which subsequently advanced his literary and dissident activities. Check out more information by Jutta Vinzent on Rathenows artistic collaboration with photographer and project participant Harald Hauswald.