Archive Song and Social Movements
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Name of collection
- Archive Song and Social Movements
Provenance and cultural activities
The international Folk Wave that came mainly from the USA and South America also set in motion a singer- and songwriter movement in the 1960s GDR. They did not start as an expression of cultural opposition. Most were independent and self-governing singing groups but they quickly lost their freedoms and were exploited for regime-friendly politics. Still, many preserved their grass-root democratic character. And many of those who began playing in clubs and events of the songwriter movement were later among those who protested the narrow-mindedness of cultural borders and unmoving political structures. Among those were such diverse artists as Bettina Wegner, Tamara Danz, Hans-Eckart Wenzel, Stephan Krawczyk, and Gerulf Pannach.
In an overview of the song movement in the GDR it says, that the song culture has been “used, abused, held in high esteem (the National Award) and feared (prison, expatriation) and it was “agitation and acclamation, chronicle and critique, outlet and resistance” (see Kirchenwitz: Folk, Chanson und Liedermacher in der DDR [Folk Chanson and Songwriters in the GDR], 1993, book cover). With this in mind, the Collection Song and Social Movement can investigate cultural opposition in the grey area between the extremes of supporting and opposing the state, as well as in the grey area of the GDR society.
The materials that were collected by the Association Song and Social Movements mostly came from private collections of former members and supporters of the Songwriter Movement. The association could also collect material from the youth radio station DT64 that dissolved in 1993. It works closely together with the Rundfunkarchiv in Potsdam-Babelsberg and the Berlin Academy of Arts.
Description of content
Apart from the poster and audio-archive, the collection of songsheets is remarkable. In the GDR it had become a political culture technique to read “between the lines” and in the same way you could listen “between the lines”. There are a total of 635 songsheets in the Archive of Song and Social Movement, many of those are entries to the Festival of Political Song (Festival des Politischen Liedes) (1970-1990). Even though the festival was officially hosted by the Youth Organisation Free German Youth, the programme - especially on the small side stages - often contained “improper” groups and songwriters. Especially the international entries were often a rejuvenation for both the cultural life of the country and its critical thinkers.
- grey literature (regular archival documents such as brochures, bulletins, leaflets, reports, intelligence files, records, working papers, meeting minutes): 100-499
- memorabilia (posters, flyers, stamps, etc.): 100-499
- music recordings: 1000-
- photos: 1000-
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): 1000-
- video recordings (including oral history recordings): 10-99
- voice recordings (including oral history recordings): 10-99
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
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Important events in the history of the collection
- visits by appointments
Author(s) of this page
- Sonnenberg, Uwe
Kirchenwitz, Lutz, interview by Sonnenberg, Uwe, July 20, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection