Mittwoch, 3. August 2016

Oktoberklub - Politkirmes (Amiga, 1978)

"Singe-Bewegung" and "Oktoberklub" in East Germany, part 6.

During the cultural thaw in the first half of the 1960s there was an easier access to western pop music and jazz. In this respect the formation of the Hootenanny-Klub in 1966 was the culmination of four years of musical eclecticism in a vibrant scene in East Berlin that also included Wolf Biermann, Eva-Maria Hagen, Manfred Krug and Bettina Wegner - with a lot of influences of Western/ango-american pop music.

The political thaw came to an abrupt end with the 11th Plenum of the Zentralkomitee of the SED in December 1965. A lot of films ("Das Kaninchen bin ich", "Denk bloß nicht, ich heule", "Der Bau", "Der Tag X", "Spur der Steine"...), stage plays, books and pop groups - especially for their alleged corrupting Western influences - were banned. For example in Leipzig 54 of the 58 registered beat bands were banned.

This banning of the more Western pop orientated groups created a space for folk and singing groups to emerge. By this means, the end of the thaw, marked by the 11th Plenum, gave way to the expanding "Singe-Bewegung". The GDR officials tried quickly to control and instrumentalize this expanding movement. In late 1966 it was decided by the GDR officials that the "Hootenanny-Klub" was to be taken over by the FDJ. As a part of this process, Perry Friedman and the international idea of "Hootenanny", with its prefernce for the English language, was discredited as "anti-socialist" by the FDJ officials.
With the agreement of several leading members, the groups name was changed to the "Oktoberklub". The writer Gisela Steineckert was installed as a supervisor. This appropriation of the singing youth movement by the FDJ was ideologically motivated. With effective control over all popular performance events, the FDJ had the means to bring it to the masses, and by 1968 thousends of singing clubs had formed all over the GDR. Leaders of the singing clubs were frequently reminded that they had to remain "politische Instrumente des Jugendverbandes" ("political instruments of the FDJ").   In this way the movement became increasingly instrumentalized as an agent of state propaganda. From 1968 onwards, under the slogan "DDR-Konkret" the FDJ encouraged young students and wokers to write new songs dealing with their everyday lives and with issues of importance to them. This gave a new twist to the concept of revolutionary "Gebrauchslyrik" pioneered by Erich Mühsam in his ealry-twentieth-century "Kampflieder".

The official role of the political song in the GDR was defined by Inge Lammel as follows:
"Die neuen Lieder werden für die Politik von Partei und Regierung geschaffen. Sie sind nicht mehr Kampfmittel einer unterdrückten Klasse gegen eine Klasse von Ausbeutern, sondern Ausdruck der gemeinsamen Interessen aller Werktätigen."

So, on the one hand, the FDJ was succesfull in the appropriation of the singing youth movement. But, on the other hand, the singing movement led to uncountable singing groups and singer-songwriter all over the GDR. The GDR officials could not control these groups and individuals all the time and in all places. Some of the protagonists found ways to use this as a free space in which they could express their opinion.

Here´s "Politkirmes", a late album by the Oktoberklub, released in 1978.

Tracklist:
(01) Oktoberklub - Große Fenster
(02) Oktoberklub - Genossin Christiane B
(03) Oktoberklub - Bierlied
(04) Oktoberklub - Waldemars Kneipe
(05) Oktoberklub - Der Veteranenchor singt
(06) Oktoberklub - Arbeiter vom Dienst
----
(07) Oktoberklub - Kalliolle Kukkulalle
(08) Oktoberklub - Das Brot des Volkes
(09) Oktoberklub - Neutronenbombe
(10) Oktoberklub - Prowodui
(11) Oktoberklub - Chile Resistencia
(12) Oktoberklub - Haben wir diese Erde
(13) Oktoberklub - So wollen wir kämpfen
.
Oktoberklub - Politkirmes (Amiga, 1978)
(128 kbps, front & back cover included)

To be continued...

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