- “Wartet nicht auf bess’re Zeiten!’ zum Jugendwiderstand in der DDR
- “Herr Keuner sagt nein” – mit dem Schwerpunkt auf Friedrichshain und Berlin Ost zum Widerstand von Jugendlichen gegen den Nationalsozialismus
„Don’t wait for better times“- exhibition abstract
Welcome to our small but unique exhibition! We are dedicated to create an extraordinary setting which acknowledges an important part of the local history of the Friedrichshain district. The church of Galilee is the synonym of young people’s resistance against the Communist regime in the 1970s/1980s. Currently we exhibit photographs and original documents, which have been donated by local activists and supporters. We also have recorded interviews with eye witnesses.
The exhibition shows the development and diversity of oppositional youth movements before and during the German Democratic Republic from 1945 to 1989/90. The focus is on the late 1970s and the 1980s, when significant oppositional movements first appeared among young people. Back in those days, governmental institutions and public organisations, which were all under control of the ruling Communist party, felt increasingly challenged by young people who either demonstrated different political views or had chosen so called ‘deviant’ lifestyles. These groups grew in number and boldness over the years.
It all started back in 1976 when Gerhard Cyrus, at this time the parson of the Galilee parish, invited some punks into his church, after they had lost their refuge in the nearby Pentecostal Church. Around 1980 many other youngsters – Christians, peace activists, environmentalists and young people who just wanted freedom of thought and to listen to music of their own choice – used to gather at this church. This church protected these dissenters against the secret police.
The following topics are highlighted here:
“Mr. Keuner says no” – the resistance of young people against National Socialism with a focus on Friedrichshain and Berlin East
A permanent exhibition on the resistance to National Socialism in East Berlin
Today, at a time when many of us are no longer properly aware of our freedoms and rights, when Neo-Nazi terrorists murderously drive through the country and Neo-Nazi parties sit in parliaments, when anti-Semitism becomes bold again and immigrants are facing social exclusion, it is these examples that motivate us to keep memories alive and to call for active engagement with history as well as with the present.
Staging and distrust
When Hitler was appointed Reich Chancellor on January 30, 1933, his followers staged a pompous torchlight procession through Berlin and many other festivities throughout the German Reich. Another time seemed to have dawned. But neither all Germans wanted to celebrate, nor the entire Reich capital. In the east of Berlin, in the densely populated working-class districts, the people openly distrusted this strange “workers’ party” and its self-proclaimed redeemer of Germany. In the last free elections of the Weimar Republic in November 1932, the Nazi party in Friedrichshain had brought it to just 20 percent, compared to 33.1 percent in the country as a whole) behind the KPD and SPD. Even with the election of March 1933, which was already taking place under the unleashed terror of the Brownshirts, the Nazi party in Friedrichshain only achieved second place behind the rival KPD.
But at that point in time politically, with the ballot nothing could be changed. The Nazi opponents in East Berlin and elsewhere were forced into illegality and subjected to brutal persecution, especially since the Reichstag fire on February 27, 1933. Many groups and individuals made their way into illegality in full awareness of the danger involved. Others in turn, e.g. faithful Christians, many Jews or even unpolitical and conservative people, found themselves unwillingly forced into a decision situation they had not sought and which they could not avoid in the face of the terror regime.
Resistance in the East Berlin neighborhood
The exhibition documents various facets of the resistance against National Socialism, with a focus on Friedrichshain and East Berlin. The spectrum ranges from resistance by the labour movement and the Confessing Church to the Jewish group around Herbert Baum and the Red Chapel, as well as from pacifists, Jehovah’s Witnesses and former pupils of the Ruetli School. They distributed pamphlets, committed arson attacks and some spied for the Soviet Union. The consequences for the few courageous people whose actions the exhibition documents were similar in most cases: torture, long prison sentences and death.