The Silence


Four former inmates take us deep into their traumatizing experiences in Schwedt, the GDR’s infamous military prison camp. Upon their release they were obliged to remain silent about what had happened to them – under the threat of re- incarceration. Though the GDR ended in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin wall, the former inmates of Schwedt still suffer from the pressure to maintain silence about their experiences. Originally, this silence had helped the GDR to foster the “Myth of Schwedt”: People speculated about their terrifying experiences or potential damages and stayed out of the regime’s line of fire. Fear spreads gradually, when societies transform towards totalitarianism, profoundly implanting itself in the population. The phenomenon of Schwedt is a key to the understanding of such timeless processes.

For “THE SILENCE” I chose a specific visual format: 1 – To communicate this film’s subject on a universally understandable scale, I didn’t use any archival footage or other imagery that could establish a distance of place or time. 2 – Dictatorships and human rights violations aren’t historical subjects. Therefore, I chose to interview the four men as silhouettes. It creates the feeling of a prevailing illegality and removes the boundaries of time by making their age unrecognizable. The sounds of their voices and their body languages directly connect us to a past that, in their lives and those of their children, will always remain present. It was hard to find people to speak about their experiences in Schwedt. I’m grateful that these four men have come forth to share their haunting emotions for the first time ever in this film.


Title: The Silence
Director: Stefan Roloff
Year: 2011
Genre: Creative documentary
Cast: Klaus Auerswald, Christian Beuchel, Hans Rother, Manfred Schulze
Format: HD
Length: 40 min.