13.12.1996 till 27.5.1997 in the Zeughaus
Put the junker's land in the peasant's hand!, To learn from the Soviet Union means to learn victory!, Reach and reach beyond the plan!, Overtake the historical stage without entering it! These and other such slogans were presented at Socialist Unity Party (SED) congresses. Within the territory of the German Democratic Republic during the fifties, such motivating words were omnipresent in newspapers, on posters and on banners. They served as a source of ideological motivation for the population.
The exhibition Party Line: A New Germany focuses on the SED's design impetus as it developed after 1945 under the influence of the Soviet occupation forces. More than 700 objects, among them many posters, photos, brochures, busts and flags, demonstrate the Soviet Occupied Zone/GDR phenomenon in its visual appearance.
The in-depth reflection of the GDR's early period documents the Party's propagandistic efforts in its battle for political power. The methods and models for agitation and propaganda that were developed by the Information Department of the Central Committee of the SED unveil a partial citation of National Socialist and Soviet formal language. Flag bearers, marching columns, demonstrations with torches and chants as well as all-encompassing staging of public space with state and party emblems are not to be seen as independent of SED power in the fifties. Martial demonstrations were celebrated as peace demonstrations on May 1st, October 7th, (the anniversary of the founding of the GDR) and November 7th (the "Day of the October Revolution"). These events repeatedly offered the possibility to proclaim the final victory of socialism.
Using powerful means, the new Germany was transformed into an ideological landscape, a state-decreed "total work of art" with a socialist aim. Each turn of the wrist was an act for peace, each different use of material a victory for socialism and each time the price of bread decreased, the superiority of a planned economy over capitalism was proven. But the GDR's numerous economic plans competed with little success against the West German "economic miracle". Over three million GDR citizens left the country before the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961.
The themes of the exhibition illustrate which aspects of public life were dominated by state propaganda. These themes take on GDR terminology: What anti-fascists Fought for is Reality in the GDR; Each German Patriot Assists in the Reconstruction of Berlin; We Set the Republic's Table for the Birthday Celebration; Peace Must Be Fought For; I Fulfilled the Five-Year Plan in One Year; From Me to Us; Stalin is Peace; Socialism is Victorious. These and other campaigns draw the profile for the exhibition.
The project "Party Line: A New Germany" is a part of our exhibition series on the cultural history of the GDR initiated in 1991 with "Departure and Beginning" and continued in 1992 with "Germany in the Cold War 1945 - 1963". "Stations of Life in Germany 1900 - 1993" followed in 1993, "On Commission: Art" in 1995. The series will be extended next year with "Wolfsburg - Stalinstadt (Eisenhüttenstadt)" and "Bohème and Dictatorship" (preliminary working title).
Koehler & Amelang have published a richly illustrated collection of essays that also addresses issues beyond the exhibition framework. (DM 58,-, electronic mail order). The book has 496 pages, over 550 mostly colour illustrations. An audio CD with radio recordings from the early GDR is also available. (DM 9,95, electronic mail order).