When the Red Army and Allied forces entered Berlin in 1945, the war had destroyed the city’s infrastructure, disrupting all “familiar points of reference—of community, of social and cultural network” for Germans caught in the transition.(1) Rebecca Rovit examines the effects of war and military occupation on an emergent theatre repertoire.
Cultural historians have not sufficiently analyzed how theatre directors and performers coordinated artistic endeavors in the years before Soviet and Western-Allied powers set parameters for cultural life in postwar Berlin. The re-emergent culture after 1945 arose from an artistic collaboration between German artists and military officers from four zones of foreign occupation. Evidence suggests that before a German defeat was inevitable, Soviet leaders and exiled artists planned a future cultural policy for Germany. Officers in the occupied zones recognized the political power of culture and subsidized theatre. Artists knew that the theatre could be a useful conduit to bring recent history to the public. What does this suggest about Vienna, another city defeated and managed by four world powers? Rebecca Rovit’s lecture exposes the interplay of forces that defined the cultural heritage of the occupation, while tapping into historiographical, national narratives of Germany and Austria.
(1) Richard Bessel, Germany 1945: From War to Peace, London 2009, p.4.
Rebecca Rovit is Associate Professor of Theatre at the University of Kansas and Fulbright/IFK_Senior Fellow. Her research expertise explores the cultural heritage of the Holocaust within Nazi Germany, and in ghetto and camp settings. She is editor of the Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism.