The Soundtrack of German Reunification

Guest-Blog by Ralf Leiteritz (now an international relations professor at the Universidad de los Andes).

…on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall I’ve come to think about my old country again. Seeing a short compilation of songs about the wall or more precisely its fall in 89, I thought about compiling my personal top 10/11 list of songs from/about East Germany. Not that my generation really listened a lot to East German bands – we were much more in tune with Western (West German, US and UK) music during the late 1980s. However, a few songs still stuck in my mind, mostly from around the time of the Wende (1989/90).

So here goes: 11 songs that bring me back to the GDR (actually Nr. 7 was from a West German artist), accompanied by some comments, plus a bonus track from….New York of all places. Hope you enjoy it!

1. Sandow: Born in the GDR (1990)
(makes – not so friendly – references to the sport star Nr. 1 in East Germany – ice skater Katarina Witt and the concert that Bruce Spingsteen gave 1988 in East Berlin in front of ….160,000 people)

2. City: Am Fenster (1978)
(with an awesome violin solo at the beginning)

3. Karat: Ueber sieben Bruecken musst Du geh’n (?),
(the song was made somewhat more famous in West Germany in a cover version by Peter Maffay)

4. Feeling B: Wir wollen immer artig sein (1990),

(half of today’s Rammstein come from this Nr.1 punk band in East Germany)

5. Electric Beat Crew: Here we come (1989),
(Hip Hop from East Germany!!! Only song from an East German band I know in English)

6. Karusell: Als ich fortging (1988),
(wonderful melody and lyrics written by a local poet – Gisela Steineckert)

7. Udo Lindenberg: Sonderzug nach Pankow (1983),
(in fact, Udo Lindenberg finally did manage to sing in the “Palace of the Republic” in East Berlin in 1987)

8. Nina Hagen: Du hast den Farbfilm vergessen (1978),
(who would have had thought that – Nina Hagen grew up in East Berlin; she must have been 18 years old or so when she recorded this song…)

9. Herbst in Peking: Bakschischrepublik (1990),
(the hymn of alternative East German rock during the Wende)

10. Die Skeptiker: Strahlende Zukunft (1990),
(a band labelled the East German “Dead Kennedys” – I think for the (political) quality of their lyrics they’d probably better be described as the equivalent of “The Clash”)

Bonus track:
11. Grandmaster Melle Mel: Beat Street Theme (1986),
(the movie “Beat Street” about life, rap and hip hop music in New York was shown in GDR film theaters in 1986 or 87 and revolutionized the local, unofficial music scene – lots of breakdance groups imitating the moves from the movie sprung up like mushrooms)

About Philipp

Philipp Müller works in the IT industry and is academic dean of the SMBS. Author of "". Proud father of three amazing children. The views expressed in this blog are his own.

09. November 2009 by Philipp
Categories: Blog | Tags: | 1 comment

One Comment


    Nice compilation Phillip. Listening to some of it kind of surprise me since I can actually listen to it and enjoy the melody. I must have been older than I care to admit…uhuhuhuhuhuhuh