The year of 1968 has become a cipher in cultural memory evoking a broad array of quite different images and settings: from student protests in West-Berlin and the faces of prominent leaders of the extraparliamentary opposition (APO) to luminaries of the civil rights movement in the United States such as Dr. Martin Luther King; from demonstrations against the war in Vietnam to the fashion and music of the hippies and, eventually, to the formation of the RAF.
Not only do global and local scales seem to overlap when it comes to “1968”, but such opposing phenomena as the calls for harmony and world peace on the one hand, the propensity towards conflict and violence on the other seem to appear side by side. Furthermore, at least in German parlance, “’68” today denotes an entire generation while the social processes of liberalization and democratization gripping not only the Western German educational systems after ’68 and which the FRG seems to have benefitted from the most, today still seem hard to grasp. Remarkably, this is in spite of the fact that 1968 really marks the high point of a global protest movement starting in the early to mid-sixties which had already dissolved into an intricate maze of solitary movements long before the end of the war in Vietnam in 1975. No less, the protest movement has been highly consequential in Germany.
The city of Mannheim was not at the center of the student protests. It was not one of the APO hot spots like, for instance, Berlin or Frankfurt/Main. But 1968 did leave its mark on the city. And most of the issues that fueled the revolts or, conversely, which the student movement put on the agenda for the first time were picked up here as well – some more succinctly than elsewhere, some topics rather marginally. In any case, political protest, politicizing the youth and rising up against public authorities played an important role here, too.
The web documentary
Our web documentary entitled 1968 in Mannheim: Visiting a Year which will completed and publically accessible on the internet in 2018 reflects on the protest movements which also developed in Mannheim and compares them to the unfolding of events of the movement in general.
The background of our feature will be composed of six thematic fields that have been defining of “1968” as a cultural and historical phenomenon:
6. Political Programmes
In each of these categories, we are seeking to explore what kind of new attitudes toward these topics developed among the young generation in Mannheim; at the same time we are drawing comparisons to other cities. In order both to depict the events that took place in Mannheim and how they relate back to the bigger picture, we will be compiling digitalized archive footage and material from across the country (referencing Mannheim), enriched with textual annotations plus audio and video footage linking to the historical context at large.
The main subject of our web documentary, however, will be made up of six biographical interviews with three men and women, respectively, born 1938-1952, who lived in during Mannheim in 1968 and identified with the political aims of the APO, but whose lives have taken different courses in the following decades.
This way the biographical talks can be viewed in the light of their historical background. Additionally, the tags and sequences we will define will allow for users not only to follow the narration within its context, but also to search for topics of interest in detail.
There are multiple options to finance our production, ranging from applying with film and media funds to regional and supra-regional foundations as well as setting up cooperations with local and regional cultural institutions. Parts of our project may also be financed through donations.
If you are interested in our project and making a donation, or if you have any questions concerning budgeting and conception, please feel free to contact us directly via e-mail: