Our Children

(Unsere Kinder)

GDR, 1989, 88 min, color/b&w
In German; English subtitles
Credits:
Director
Script
Dramaturg
Editor
Camera
Production Company

Synopsis

From an official perspective, marginal youth culture did not exist in East Germany. The topic of subcultures was taboo in the GDR, and groups such as goths, skinheads, anti-skins, punks and neo-Nazis were dismissed as social deviations promoted by western countries. 

 

Director Roland Steiner had access to such young East Germans in the late 1980s. Over the course of four years, he brought them before the camera in an attempt to understand what drew them to these groups. This film builds upon interviews with young people, concerned parents and well-known (East) German authors Christa Wolf and Stefan Heym. It presents the attempts of young East Germans to come to terms with their country, history and society, and explores why they rebel against socialist norms and see violence as a means to solve problems. 

 

This important historical document contributes to our understanding of East German society in the late 1980s. While it can provide an interesting contrast for discussions of neo-Nazism in Germany today, Our Children does not directly address or explain today’s rightwing radicalism, which has grown out of a very different social and political context from that documented in the film.

 

Awards

2014 Thrid Film Days in Wolfen, Germany
2011 goEast Festival of Central and Eastern European Film, Wiesbaden, Germany
2008 One World Film Festival, Berlin 
1990 Forum, Berlin International Film Festival
1989 Silver Dove, Leipzig International Film Festival

Press comments

“This film makes a plea for listening better, for seeking to understand, for discussing things openly before it’s too late.”   —Roland Steiner, Our Children

 

Our Children did not confront the problem of physical violence, however, limiting itself primarily to verbal violence….”   —Caroline Moine, Screened Encounters: The Leipzig Documentary Film Festival, 1955-1990

 

“In his works, Roland Steiner tries to fathom closed, private spaces and raise public awareness of young people’s attitudes towards life.”   —DEFA-Stiftung.de 

 

Our Children breaks with the official party line. It sympathetically and knowledgeably shows how neo-Nazi and racist tendencies could develop among young people who had mentally checked out of the GDR.” —2008 One World Film Festival, Berlin

 

“An empathetic documentary about skinheads in the GDR. A quiet, detailed plea to also listen to people who turn their backs on society.”   — Frankfurter Rundschau

 

“A very brave document of disaffection with the state and oppressive indifference between generations—made in the fall of 1989, right before the political Wende.”   — filmdienst.de

Availability

Special features:
  • Teaching Guide
  • Bio- & Filmographies
  • "They Are Our Children!" An interview with director Roland Steiner
  • "The New, Old Danger: Young Neo-Nazis in the GDR," by director and activist Konrad Weiß

Shibboleth login