In the beginning of the 80s, the Cold War was icing up for the last time, as were the fronts between socialist governments and the dissidents. Groups like the punks in the GDR, or the Hungarian underground, suffered this in the form of surveillance, and attempts at subversion by the secret police which led to seizure and arrest. Even the established bands found themselves at the mercy of random acts of censorship. Nevertheless, the State control apparatus was being confronted by ever increasing resistance, until finally, by the end of the 80s, it found itself irrelevant.
Keks: If this Pop Punk band was in constant conflict with the State record company, Amiga VIDEO A and the televised media VIDEO B, it was not a result of their song content, but rather because of the way they looked. Due to the group’s image, and the efforts of some of its members to leave the country, the group was inofficially banned in 1985.
Super 8 Underground: 1976 saw young artists and musicians turning more and more to the super 8 camera 1 as means to express their creative vision. Making a conscious effort to distance themselves from the amateur film scene in the GDR, they chose not to apply for the necessary permissions, thereby making their work, according to the letter of the law, illegal (2, 3, 4). The Super 8 medium also offered alternative possibilities for expression, particularly for the painter and musician, Cornelia Schleime, whose work had been banned from public exhibition. VIDEO C
Freygang: Although this Blues-Punk group had been banned in 1977, 1983 and 1986 (5, 6 VIDEO D) they were still playing regularly. Aside from their own material, an important part of their repertoire consisted of songs by Ton Steine Scherben (themselves banned from the radio in West Germany). VIDEO E
Airtramp: This Hard Rock group from Jena worked with the Protestant opposition and was a victim of political persecution. After the band broke up and many of it’s members went to the West, there was a heavy underground traffic in bootleg cassettes of their music (7, VIDEO F).
City: Two songs were banned from City’s award winning LP, Casablanca - “Gute Grunde” (Good Reasons) and “Halb und halb” (Half and half) 8. During their appearance at “Friedenswoche” (Freedom Week) in 1988, the band was told not to perform “Halb und halb”. The song itself was not played, but the lyrics were recited by its singer, Toni Krahl. In the televised version of the show, only their song “z.B. Susann” (For Example, Susann) was broadcast. The rest of the tape was listed as “missing” VIDEO G.
Angelika Weiz: In 1989, her debut record was pulled from release because of her ecologically themed reworking of the Pioneer song “Unsere Heimat” (Our Homeland). The song only surfaced after the fall of the Berlin Wall. VIDEO H
Béla Balázs Studio: Since 1961 this was a State supported film studio providing up-and-coming directors a free environment for experimental, as well as socially critical, work 9. From the end of the 70s, films were made here which documented the Post- Punk music underground and found their place in “the scene” as film and video art (VIDEO I, 10). This became a way for bands, who otherwise could not obtain an official performance permit, to be seen by an audience. Bands included Európa Kiadó (Europa Publishing House), Vágtázó Halottkémek (Galloping Coroners) and Kontroll Csoport (Control Group). (VIDEO J K L 11 12)
Trabant: This underground band also had no performance permit. They appeared in several BBS productions and also in the feature film, Eszkimó asszony fázik (Eskimo Woman Feels Cold). 13 VIDEO M
CPg: A Punk group with radical, anti-Communist and anarchist lyrics, the abbreviation stands for Come On Punk Group and later, Coitus Punk Group. If nothing else, the pornographic allusion of the latter name, was already making life difficult. A song dissing Hungaroton boss, Péter Erdõs 14 and a concert at which a chicken was torn to bits by the crowd, brought official accusations in 1983 that the band - already on the III/III watch list - was calling for the overthrow of the State 15. Its members were convicted and jailed.
Radio journalist and host, Zsuzsa Göczey, on censorship and self-censorship in the years immediately preceding the fall of Communism. VIDEO N