Kaputt / Broken: The Women's Prison at Hoheneck (2016)

Kaputt / Broken: The Women's Prison at Hoheneck (2016)

Based on interviews with former prisoners, this animated documentary provides a glimpse into the most notorious women's prison in East Germany. A film about political imprisonment and forced labor.

Gabriele Stoetzer and Birgit Will Schultz were political inmates at Hoheneck Castle, the most notorious women's prison in East Germany. Their story is one of the overcrowded cells, despotic hierarchies, ruthless every-days, and the enduring effects of incarceration. Most of all, however, it is about the crushing pressure of forced labor. Prisoners at Hoheneck manufactured millions of pantyhose, bed sheets, and other products for West German retailers, bringing enormous profits to both sides of the Iron Curtain. Part of the young animated documentary tradition, the seven-minute film pairs original audio interview extracts with abstract, monochrome animation.

Inspired to make this film while writing a graphic novel, in which one of our characters was an East German swimmer who tried to escape the German Democratic Republic by swimming across the Baltic Sea to Denmark. She never arrived, as she was caught by the secret service (the “Stasi”) and sent to prison.

This story was representative of many East German women, who were simply trying to flee a repressive regime for the relative freedom of the West and often sent to Hoheneck, the notorious women’s prison. A scriptwriter for this film, Max Mönch, had an aunt who was a political prisoner, and she told us more about the harrowing experience of women there. The general themes of repression in East Germany were not new for us.

Directors: Alexander Lahl, Volker Schlecht

Writers: Max Mönch, Alexander Lahl

Screenplay: Max Mönch, Alexander Lahl

Stars: Gabriele Stötzer, Birgit Willschütz

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