The Wendeflicks, Jörg Foth, and DEFA after Censorship: Letztes aus der Da-Da-eR (Latest from the Da-Da-eR, Jörg Foth, 1990)

  • Sebastian Heiduschke


An important day for East Germans was November 9, 1989. After massive demonstrations in the streets of their cities for democracy and freedom to travel, the SED declared in a television news conference that travel restrictions had been suspended. Only minutes later, thousands of East Berliners congregated at the crossing checkpoints and streamed into West Berlin as soon as border police opened the gates. This historic event, called Wende (turning point), would change East Germany forever. In less than a year, East Germany constituted itself into five states, held free and democratic elections, and eventually joined the West German Federal Republic of Germany on October 3, 1990. Four days later, Jörg Foth’s film Letztes aus der Da-Da-eR (Latest from the Da-Da-eR) premiered at the Berlin cinema Babylon in the already unified Germany. Originally intended to be screened as a satirical and “uncompromising exposure of a bankrupt and ossified state” on this date—East Germany’s forty-first anniversary—history had now turned Letztes into a swan song on a vanished country.1 Now, more than 20 years later, watching the film can be a frustrating experience for contemporary German and international audiences as it requires viewers to be equipped with certain background knowledge to decode the plethora of visual information and pointed dialogue contained in the film.


Secret Police German Unification Prison Guard Border Police Film Project 
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  1. 1.
    Reinhild Steingröver, “On Fools and Clowns: Generational Farewell in Two Final DEFA Films: Egon Günther’s Stein and Jörg Foth’s Letztes aus der DaDaeR,” German Quarterly 78, no. 4 (2005): 458.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Seán Allan, “1989 and the Wende in East German Cinema: Peter Kahane’s Die Architekten (1990), Egon Günther’s Stein (1991) and Jörg Foth’s Letztes aus der Da Da eR (1990),” in 1949/1989: Cultural Perspectives on Divisions in East and West, ed. Clare Flanagan and Stuart Taberner (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2000), 242.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    See Reinhild Steingrövern, “2 February 1988: Last Generation of DEFA Directors Calls in Vain for Reform,” in A New History of German Cinema, ed. Jennifer M. Kapczynski and Michael E Richardson (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2012), 497–501.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    For a detailed account of the fourth generation, see Laura McGee, “Revolution in the Studio? The DEFA’s Fourth Generation of Film Directors and Their Reform Efforts in the Last Decade of the GDR,” Film History, 15 (2003) 444–464.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 7.
    See Jörg Foth, “Forever Young,” in Filmland DDR, ed. Harry Blunck and Dirk Jungnickel (Cologne: Wissenschaft und Politik, 1990), 97.Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    For a detailed analysis of the cabaret of Wenzel and Mensching, see David Robb, Zwei Clowns im Lande des verlorenen Lachens: Das Liedertheater Wenzel & Mensching (Berlin: Links, 1998).Google Scholar
  7. 17.
    See, for example, Gordon Rottman, The Berlin Wall and the Intra-German Border 1961–89 (New York: Osprey, 2008).Google Scholar

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© Sebastian Heiduschke 2013

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  • Sebastian Heiduschke

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