In 1983, Toten Hosen from the west sensed an opportunity to speak out against the system with punks from the east on the other side of the wall. And so the musicians Campino, Andi, Breiti, Kuddel and Trini play the legendary secret concert in a church in the middle of the GDR.
Was it immediately clear to you when you set out: more mutiny, more underworld is not really possible?
Campino: It was already clear to us that punk rock in East Berlin is a completely different house number than what we did here in the West. At this first secret concert at the Church of the Redeemer, reality also struck us hard. So we couldn’t bring anything ourselves. We were smuggled across the border, so to speak, in groups of two and three, and then we played instruments given to us by the guys from Planlos, a band that also performed with us. The guitar strings were triple knotted as there were no spare parts. There was only one amplifier in the room, and everything had to go through it anyway. In the end I sang without the microphone because it was louder than with the system.
Well, those were all the moments where we saw the circumstances they struggled with. In addition, it all took place in the utmost secrecy, because there was a fear that the Stasi would find out about it. Such things could only be done under the supervision of the church. The secret police respected this, and at that time they did not enter the premises to conduct house searches. The Church really used this in the best sense to give people with rebellious ideas, and even just those who have critical ideas about the regime, a space to meet, exchange ideas, or just such encounters between the West and making East Berlin punk a possible team.
When Planlos played, you listened. Was there an eastern punk sound there?
Campino: No, honestly. We were all together in the room, pulling the rope. There was no division between East and West because the soul was the same – what they sang was absolutely similar in terms of lyrics and musical composition. So Planlos would be very, very well received in West Germany. You could say that the kids there also listened to Westradia and that is why they were fully inspired by London punk bands, and it was no different with us.
Stasi had no idea about hooting and blowing, that’s how it was documented. You were, what was the exact name: a rock band from … at least not from Düsseldorf?
Campino: Dead pants from West Berlin (laughs). Yes, that upset us. We expected the Stasi to act a bit more meticulously. Jokes aside. Efforts have been made to find out what our connections are. Why could we still enter the territory of the GDR and so on. They worked hard to ban us, but that never happened because the system imploded.
Was it already clear to you then that it was a special concert? Which when you look back over the band’s 40-year history will be in the public eye – as it is now with this documentary.
Campino: No, of course not. Well, we agreed in 1983 that no one should tell anyone so as not to endanger the children in East Berlin. If the Stasi found out, some of them could have been imprisoned for years – some of them ended up in prison after our second concert. Or the children went to the army – that also happened to the team without a plan. It was very dangerous. We had the decency and common sense to keep our mouths shut. In 1983, none of us, in East or West Berlin, expected to experience it again, that the Wall would fall. In this regard, no one could have thought that someday in the distant future it would be a wonderful moment that could be described so nicely. It was completely out of the question.
Are you dressed appropriately?
Campino: Yes, when we crossed the border in 1983, we made an appointment: only in groups of two or three, all at different border crossing points, at different times – so that the connection could not be made. And the slogan was: let your hair down! Put on the most ordinary pants you’ve ever had! Nothing special! Put your hat on and just make sure you stumble upon, because if one of us failed, the concert wouldn’t take place.
The interview was conducted by Lenore Lötsch.