The Right-Wing East?

A Generational Journey from the GDR to the Present


Watch the films March 22-25, 2021

Meet the directors March 25, 2021 @ 2:00 pm (ET)


The increasing power of nationalists and right-wing populists in the current German political landscape has taken many people within and outside of Germany by surprise. Is this drift to the political right a recent phenomenon? Through two documentaries made nearly 30 years apart and a discussion with the filmmakers, this event explores commonalities and differences between right-wing motivations in late-1980s East Germany and present-day Germany.


Links to view the films and for the Zoom discussion will be sent after you register.



MARCH 22-25


  • Our Children (Unsere Kinder, GDR, 1989, dir. Roland Steiner, 88 min. color & b/w, EN ST, doc.)

This film looks at young people living on the margins of society and the taboo topic of right-wing extremism among young East Germans in the late 1980s. Skinheads, punks and neo-Nazis talk on screen about the causes for and motives of their beliefs, with one of the interviews conducted by the well-known (East) German author Christa Wolf. 


  • Merkel Must Go (Montags in Dresden, Germany, 2017, dir. Sabine Michel, 83 min., color, EN ST, doc.)

This documentary follows three former East Germans who have joined the far-right Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident) political movement. Through interviews, it investigates their personal motivations for participating in their anti-immigrant protests, which have been taking place in Dresden and elsewhere in Germany since 2014.    



MARCH 25 @ 2:00 pm (ET)


Directors Sabine Michel and Roland Steiner discuss their documentaries and growing nationalist and right-wing tendencies in Germany. Moderated by organizers Katrin Bahr (Centre College) and Claudia Sandberg (The Univ. of Melbourne), this conversation will be in German with simultaneous English translation.

With opening remarks by Consul General Wolfgang Mössinger, German Consulate General in Chicago.

Roland Steiner directed films for the East German DEFA Studio for Documentary Films until 1990 and has since worked as a freelance director. Many of his early films explored the world of young East Germans. More recently, he has become known for his sensitive film portraits, including of the undercover journalist Günter Wallraff; defense lawyer Heinrich Hannover; and Austrian poet, playwright and novelist Erich Fried. Steiner has lectured on filmmaking and media at various German universities.


Sabine Michel studied film production at the Konrad Wolf Academy for Film and Television in Potsdam-Babelsberg. Her award-winning documentaries and feature films often reflect on the East German experience. She has directed several film portraits, including of actress Corinna Harfouch; her portrait of photographer Sibylle Bergemann was awarded the 2012 Adolf Grimme Prize. She is also the co-author of Die anderen Leben - Generationengespräche Ost (2020, The Other Lives: Generational Discussions East).


For more information, please contact Katrin Bahr.


This event is supported by the German Consulate General in Chicago, the DEFA Film Library, DEFA@75, The University of Melbourne, the German and International Studies Programs at Centre College and Third Generation Ost.


A collaboration between Centre College, the DEFA Film Library and Third Generation Ost, the event is part of the series Richtung Osten: Old Matters, New Chances, Different Perspectives, organized by Katrin Bahr (Centre College),Claudia Sandberg (Univ. Melbourne) and Juliane Schicker (Carleton College). It seeks to examine Germany’s socialist legacy in transnational memories and to locate the experiences of a younger generation of former East Germans. Running from Dec. 2020 through May 2021, the series features writers, filmmakers, scholars and teachers on the social and cultural connections between East Germany and other countries and the influence of these connections on current memory debates.


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