University of Cambridge > > Public and Popular History > ‘The Fall: the end of Honecker’ – screening of film (90m, subtitled), followed by discussion with director Eric Friedler

‘The Fall: the end of Honecker’ – screening of film (90m, subtitled), followed by discussion with director Eric Friedler

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Bernhard Fulda.

To end the academic year on a high note, the Modern European History Seminar Research Seminar, the German Studies Colloquium, and the Public & Popular History Seminar have joined forces to invite award-winning director and documentary film-maker Eric Friedler (NDR) to join us for the UK-premier of his latest film The Fall: the end of Honecker. Weaving together archival footage, and an impressive array of surviving witnesses – among them Margot Honecker, Mikhail Gorbachev, Eduard Shevardnadze, Helmut Schmidt, Wolfgang Schäuble, Gregor Gysi, and Honecker’s successor Egon Krenz, as well as victims of GDR repression – Eric Friedler has produced a gripping account of the rise and fall of this contradictory German dictator and his wife. Friedler’s highly original fusion of political and historical documentary made front-page news when broadcast earlier this year in Germany.

For 18 years, Erich Honecker ruled the GDR . His fall in 1989 was the beginning of the end of the state which for 40 years had considered itself to be “the better Germany”. The Nazi victim as a dictator: Honecker was an ideological hard liner, who coordinated the building of the wall in 1961 to stabilize a dictatorial regime which became notorious for shooting fleeing citizens, for the omnipresence of the Stasi and for the practice of forced adoptions. In the wake of his fall in autumn 1989, the former dictator became homeless, and found himself a refugee in his own country. Suffering from cancer, he managed to extract himself from judicial prosecution and emigrated to Chile, where he died in 1994. He was survived by his wife Margot, who – in her first interview in over twenty years – provides a chilling glimpse into the ideological world-view of the practitioners of ‘actually existing Socialism’.

Eric Friedler is one of Germany’s leading documentary film makers and has won numerous national and international awards. His documentary on the Armenian Genocide, ‘Aghet’ (2010), won the German Television Award, the Grimme Prize, the New York Film Festival World Gold Medal, and the Humanitarian Award of the ARPA Film Festival in Los Angeles.

This talk is part of the Public and Popular History series.

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