3. Falsch

Public attribution (front or state): State (state-operated East German film studios (DEFA))
Author/publication: (dir.) Joachim Hellwig
Publication date: 1973

Remarks: In German, falach means false. Wer Die Erde Liebt… (Whoever Loves the World…) was a product of the Communist-led German Democratic Republic’s well-regarded DEFA film studios, where Fritz Lang and other luminaries had worked prior to the Nazis’ seizure of power in 1933. The documentary begins with a bow to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, complete with images from Soviet space satellites and the same score–Strauss’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra–that opens Kubrick’s film. The score shifts to an East German folk rock chorus as we descend from the heavens to the “real-existing socialism” of the GDR capital, East Berlin. But this was hardly the socialism to which East Berliners were accustomed. The X. World Festival of Youth and Students welcomed 34,000 foreigners, most of them aged 18-25, from over 150 countries to celebrate “peace, friendship and anti-imperial solidarity,” and in doing so refute the stereotype of an Iron Curtain shielding unpopular Communist governments from the world beyond. The ceremony took place a frisbee toss east of the Berlin Wall, and the chaotic parade bore no resemblance to the goosestep march for which German totalitarians were infamous. Toward the end of the clip we see the country’s aged new leader waving from an honor box. But more telling of the film’s bias than what it was not are the black and white images set to jarring guitar chords that appear throughout the ceremony. They show white police officers beating a black man, a destitute old woman, et al.–all images of capitalism stripped of its comfortable, colorful exterior. If the film was the event’s crowning, lasting achievement, ready for export to anyone beyond the Soviet bloc who would screen it, its did Honecker’s government manage the ten days that followed? The answer that the film doesn’t give us, its immediate achievement would take another twenty years to emerge from the archives. The X. World Youth Festival witnessed the heretofore largest surveillance operation in German history.

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