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Thu 28 Apr 2011 11:30 BBC Radio 4

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 28 April 2011

Henning Wehn investigates 'Ostrock' - the rock and pop music scene in the old East Germany.

During the Cold War, we were given the impression that life behind the Iron Curtain was unrelentingly grim and that communist youth suffered from a lack of fashionable clothing and an earnest adherence to the socialist dream.

But this was not always the case and despite the fact that Erich Honecker believed 'beat music' was being used by the enemy to send East German Youth into 'overdrive', he had only limited success in placing controls on a thriving rock and pop music scene in the GDR.

It is true that his musicians had to perform in front of a committee to obtain a licence to perform, that there was only one - state controlled - record company and that if you fell foul of those in power, your music 'ceased to exist'. But East German youngsters were listening to Western music being played on radio stations on the other side of the Wall and so Erich Honecker ultimately failed to control the musical tastes of the GDR teenager.

In 'Erich Honecker's Rock and Roll Years', German comedian Henning Wehn goes to Berlin in search of a scene unknown to him when he was growing up in West Germany. He talks to Ostrock musicians and fans and uncovers a story that involves, the Stasi, disappearing musicians, lyrics with hidden meanings and music that was 'Western' in all but name.


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