Repetition and Ritual in Dinner for One

Every year, along with firecrackers, champagne and pouring molten lead, it has become a tradition in Germany to watch a TV show called Dinner for One on New Year’s Eve. Recorded in a small Hamburg theatre in 1963, the sketch, also known as The 90th Birthday (Der. 90. Geburtstag), has become an integral component of…

The Collapse of Ideology in The Architects

The Architects (Die Architekten), directed by Peter Kahane, 1990 This is the moment when the main protagonist in the East German film The Architects says goodbye to his wife and daughter who received permission to escape to the West. In the background you see a sign that says ‘Ausreise’, or ‘Emigration’, a word so rarely…

Death in a Bathtub

Uwe Barschel at the Hotel Beau-Rivage, Geneva, 11th of October, 1987. Let me introduce you to one of the most iconic photographs of post-war Germany: the politician Uwe Barschel found dead in a bathtub in a hotel in Geneva. I was nine years old when this photograph was imprinted in my memory. It was taken…