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Fahnenstafette
Warning[1]

Abstract


Demonstration for a unified Germany in June 1962 in Philippsburg


Metadata

Reference / film number :  LFS 01421 7
Date :  1962
Coloration :  Color
Sound :  Mute
Running time :  00:02:49
Reel format :  8 mm
Genre :  Amateur movie
Thematics :  European construction, Identity
Archive :  Haus des Dokumentarfilms

Context and analysis


June 17, the "Day of German Unity", was until the 1960s the central day of the "Kuratorium Ungeteiltes Deutschland" (Unified Germany) and was a public holiday in Westgermany until 1990. This day recalled the popular uprising in the GDR in 1953. Founded in 1954, the Kuratorium set itself the goal of "gaining the support of" the Americans "for German unity through the expression of the German people. The will of the people for unity had not become visible at the Berlin Conference in 1954, the foreign ministers' meeting of the four victorious powers, complained the former FDP chairman Thomas Dehler, who was also a member of the board of trustees. The demands of the Kuratorium were a thorn in the eye of the Adenauer camp in the CDU, for which the primacy of the West bond before the reunification was valid. Among the members were prominent politicians, among others the Federal Minister for all-German questions, Jakob Kaiser, the SPD parliamentary group leader Herbert Wehner and Federal Minister for special tasks, Franz Josef Strauss.

Between 1959 and 1967, the "Fahnenstaffel der deutschen Jugend zur Zonengrenze" ranked among the main activities of them - exemplified by the event in Philippsburg, a flag surrender that took place on 25 May 1963. Shaking hands at first - the film about the event pans and cuts a little between the groups, the representatives of the city, the parties and people who gather. An announcement in the Philippsburger Stadtanzeiger had informed that the relay from Saarbrücken to the zone border touched also Philippsburg. There, with a small celebration, the flags should be handed over to the next group.

The cyclists come in a long shot in the view, they are dismounted, push their wheels to the meeting place, ahead of all two young men holding the banner with the words "Indivisible Germany". Behind them, the youths turn the corner with the country flags, 23 in number, including the flags of the former Prussian provinces east of the Oder-Neisse border. The flag squadrons started several weeks before the holiday to bring next to the flags a parchment scroll to the next station, in which the local dignitaries registered. The organizers counted tens of thousands of active people year after year. To conclude, a central rally took place in West Berlin every year, broadcast by radio and television. A delegation of flags issued the governing mayor - in 1963 this was Willy Brandt - a parchment scroll, and next to Brandt held a speech by a prominent politician in front of the town hall of Schöneberg. At the beginning of the 1960s there were usually more than 100,000 people. But the criticism did not stop: commentators of the press, politicians and many active people criticized the lack of participation in these events. Although the total number of participants in the rallies was considerable - in 1963 the million-mark threshold is likely to have been exceeded - it was criticized that the vast majority of the population stayed away from the actions and drove into the countryside on public holiday.

On the market square in Philippsburg, too, rather few spectators come into view, when the film continues to follow the ritual of surrendering the flag. The next shot shows the kids setting up their bikes in a row next to each other. A brass band moves into the foreground, then the lectern becomes visible in the background. Philippsburger Stadtanzeiger announced three speakers for the event: Greetings from the mayor Frank, the district administrator Dr. Müller and President Gengler, chairman of the state organization in Baden-Württemberg. The film jumps awkwardly from one side to the other when he shows the first two at the lectern. A "Call for the Day of German Unity", published by the organization in the Philippsburger Stadtanzeiger, can convey something of what the speakers were talking about: "Together we are faced with the still unsolved task of achieving freedom and self-determination for the whole of Germany. The heavyweight of the Day of German Unity lies in the confession of free Germans to their fellow citizens in unfree Germany. Good intentions alone are not enough in politics. They have to be proven and made visible. That is the purpose and the political commitment that lie in the public events on June 17th. "

The highlight of the event, the handing over of the flags, takes place in the film rather casually in a semi-total setting - the view remains limited by the audience in the foreground. A jump in the half-close reveals the politicians who register in the roll of parchment, and the atmosphere then condenses briefly, when all stand still and the view into the depth goes along the new season. In the final shot she drives with waving flags in the direction of Oberhausen.

After the second Berlin crisis of 1958 the Kuratorium succeeded in dominating the celebration of the Day of German Unity. The Berlin crisis forced a common ground - she found her most visible expression in the actions of the Board of Trustees. The most important political consequence was the fundamental foreign and German political unity between government and opposition. From the mid-1960s, participation in the actions stagnated and then declined steadily. By the end of the decade, they were largely abandoned. The demonstration against the GDR did not fit into the framework of the detente policy. After reunification, the Board of Trustees dissolved in 1992. Reiner Bader

Bibliography


MEYER, Christoph, Deutschland zusammenhalten. Wilhelm Wolfgang Schütz und sein „Unteilbares Deutschland“, in: Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, http://www.bpb.de/geschichte/zeitgeschichte/deutschlandarchiv/188966/deutschland-zusammenhalten-wilhelm-wolfgang-schuetz-und-sein-unteilbares-deutschland



  1. This film analysis is still in progress. It may therefore be incomplete and contain errors.