Hintergrund, preload
among men on german facebookkinofinder (german)unter männern

Not allowed, yet tolerated: the lives of six gay men in the GDR.
From this perspective, Socialism looks quite different!

Now on DVD!

Homosexuality was not an issue in the Socialist system. It was considered a "relic of decadent bourgeois morality", and it was thought that it would automatically take care of itself. Section 175, the anti-homosexual provision of the German Criminal Code, which had been tightened by the Nazis during the Second World War, was retained in West Germany. In the East, it was returned to its pre-Nazi version. Here one could initially live more freely - just not talk about it. In this film, six men tell their story about how gay men lived and loved in the GDR - and by no means are they always in agreement. AMONG MEN tells the story of individuality in a uniform system.

For the first time, a film explores the question of how gay men lived in the GDR. The diverse group of men includes the artist Jürgen Wittdorf, the hairdresser Frank Schäfer, the civil rights activist Eddy Stapel, and John Zinner, who experienced his coming-out in a small village in the Thuringian Forest. The interviewer Ringo Rösener, born in the early 1980s in East Germany, wants to know whether it would have been possible for him to have lived in the East as an adult gay man. After all, this is a question he can't ask his parents or grandparents.


More than two decades ago, a country in Europe existed that marked the border to a different political and economic system, yet was the very heart of the continent. This country, called the German Democratic Republic, made Socialism a reality and was home to 17 million people. Born in the deep eastern provinces, Ringo Rösener merely witnessed the collapse of East Germany as a nation. Ringing in the new millennium, he leaves his home town of Anklam to live out his homosexuality - something he had never dared to do back home. Would an openly gay life even have been possible in the real Socialist system?

Ringo Rösener meets six gay men who lived in the GDR. Some of them speak openly about their sexuality for the first time in their lives. Little by little, they open up, begin to share their own personal stories and talk about their individuality in a supposedly uniform state.

AMONG MEN - Gay in East Germany

A film by Ringo Rösener and Markus Stein
Germany 2012, 91 minutes, German with english subtitles, Colour

with Jürgen Wittdorf, Christian Schulz, Helwin Leuschner, Eduard Stapel, Frank Schäfer,
John Zinner, Jürgen Lemke

Presentation problems? Get the latest Quicktime Player >> for free.


For the graphic designer and illustrator Jürgen Wittdorf (1932), reflecting on the beginnings of the GDR, "daily life went on". Still an adolescent back then, he recalls having to repaint the Hitler Youth drums for the Free German Youth, also known as the FDJ. The topic of sexuality does not cross his mind at the time. It was best to remain silent about that. In the late 1940s, young Wittdorf begins drawing "practically anything and everything". Years later, in Leipzig in the 1950s, he dedicates himself to nude studies and discovers the male body. He is not yet aware that this has something to do with his sexuality. His first successes bring him into contact with men who are interested in his drawings. Wittdorf only then realizes that he is gay. A whole new world opens up to him - one that is still governed by Paragraph 175, and one full of looming danger at night on the streets of Leipzig.

Helwin Leuschner (1934), the Chilean-born son of German immigrants, spends most of his life in South America - up until 1972. Here he has his first sexual experiences, goes through life-threatening discrimination and is forced to make his sexual life a mystery - that is, until he comes to the GDR. "What they go around saying, that homosexuality was prosecuted in the GDR, that's not true." For Helwin, the GDR is a gay paradise. He describes the country as one with unusual liberties, which became his home, partly because this is where he finally finds true love.

Christian Schulz (1934) develops an early passion for sports. Although he realizes he is "different", for Christian, homosexuality is, as for many others, unspeakable and completely unimaginable. Later, during his training as a teacher of sports and Latin, he actively suppresses his homosexuality. He enters into treatment and meets a doctor who promises to heal him. Hopeless. Finally, Christian goes cruising in Leipzig in search of the man with whom he hopes to start a new life.


Eddy Stapel´s
(1953) story could not be any different. Not only does he experience the GDR as a dictatorship that openly and ruthlessly persecutes opposition groups; but also, for gay men, as a state that offers no real quality of life. The state remains quiet, as long as gay men go cruising in secret. Since they do not run any publicly recognized bars, do not have their own publications and are not present in the media or press, Eddy begins to fight for the equal rights of homosexuals in the East. He studies theology, using the only place that gays have access to without needing the approval of the state: the church. Here he can commit himself to their cause. As an employee of the Protestant Church working for gay social issues, Stapel establishes a GDR-wide network of homosexual associations. Here he falls under the suspicion of the Stasi (secret service), which views homosexuals as an opposition group and declares them enemies of the state. When Eddy falls ill with cancer, he not only fights for his life, but, at the same time, for the movement he helped to start.

Frank Schäfer (1959) had "perhaps less fear than others in the GDR." As the son of the famous GDR comedian, Gerd E. Schaefer, he learns, early on, how to play along with the state and take setbacks with a sense of humour, rather than let them distract him from his way of life. The Berliner becomes one of the most famous hairdressers of the GDR, inventing the punk hairstyle of Socialism and doing everything to qualify as cool. This includes being arrested, because "Getting arrested meant I was cool." Schaefer carves out some freedom for himself and begins a long-term relationship with a man - that is, until the GDR becomes too small for him.


John Zinner
(1968) grew up in the Thuringian Forest. Like every other gay man in the province, Zinner fears for himself and his family - and that he will become the talk of the town. To him, the nearby border is not an opportunity for him to escape the country, but rather for him to escape ostracism in a provincial town. One winter night, he sets out to leave the GDR; he travels the distance to the border on skis. With the border fence already in sight, he decides to turn back, because he fears he will not be able to see his true love again. His school friend suspects nothing - he is heterosexual. John dares to come out and realizes: he is not alone.

Ringo Rösener (1983) was born in a country that bade him farewell before he could even perceive it consciously. Deep in the eastern German province, he witnesses the collapse of his homeland as the emergence of Western cars and chocolate surprise eggs. He gets a Pioneer scarf just in time, but never gets to wear it again. Nevertheless, he grows up as an East German. Strongly influenced by the impression that homosexuality, then and now, is treated as a problem in the Eastern lowlands, he eventually asks himself the question: How could gay men have actually lived in the GDR? But who can he ask? Not his parents and grandparents. In his search, he encounters these six gay men, who tell him their own personal stories.

Ringo Rösener
(writer & director)

Ringo Rösener was born in Anklam in 1983. He studied Cultural Studies, Theatre Studies and Business Administration at the Universities of Leipzig and Bologna. Since 2009, he has been working full-time in marketing and business development at Hoferichter Jacobs & Film- und Fernsehproduktion and is in charge of releasing various documentaries. He wrote the script for "Among Men - Gay in East Germany". It is his first film.

Markus Stein (director & editor)
Markus Stein was born in Mannheim in 1965. After working as a camera and director's assistant and studying in Berlin, he completed his film directing studies in ?ód? (Poland) in 1998. In the following years, he worked as a director, cinematographer and writer, residing in Berlin. He also currently works as an editor and story editor.

Markus Stein about AMONG MEN
"Gay in East Germany". The topic promised something unheard of, a different take on Socialism. Some big surprises already came up in Ringo's research: Compared with the West, gay men were able to live more freely in the Socialist state after the war. Our initial expectations were refuted differently than anticipated; rather than a group of poor and oppressed people, we met a group of individuals, who dealt with being a minority in quite different ways. Our protagonists' reports were personal, intimate and more contradictory than earlier supposed. It quickly became clear that we would not be providing an account of the GDR in which gay men and their lives are presented as a bonus. We would only be able to depict the GDR in so far as it was part of the protagonists' concerns. Against ideology and against the current account of the traditional ideology of the GDR, we were able to approach the topic through the protagonists. This was the only way we could get a sense of what they experienced and the time they lived in. To make a film based on the individual and on the very different lifeworlds of these six men was a challenge that enabled us to see how often the portrayal of history becomes entrenched. In fact, history is always in a process of transformation, but it can only first be experienced when we get close to the people that were there.

  SERBIA: Belgrade LGBT festival 13.12.2012
  A B C Chemnitz Weltecho   28.11.2012 (in the presence of Ringo Rösener)
  D E F
  G H I  
  J K L    
  M N O
  P Q R
  S T U
  V W X Y Z
as of 2012-11-08 - Changes and errors reserved.



The DVD is available at

delicatessen Online Shop >>
amazon.de >>

and several other online shops.

English reviews are coming soon!

"Sechs Männer plaudern freimütig und unterhaltsam aus dem realsozialistischen Nähkästchen - eine spannende Zeitreise!"  KulturSpiegel

"Eine berührende Doku!"  Cinema

"Aufgeräumt wird mit dem ewigen Klischee, dass schwules Leben in der DDR geradezu paradiesisch war, deutlich wird, dass es kein ‘So lief es’-Schema gibt. Ein gelungenes Debüt!"  Player

"Ein aufschlussreiches Bild schwulen Lebens in der DDR, bunt, vielfältig, aber durchaus mit vielen Repressionen behaftet."
 Deutschlandradio Kultur

"Bedrückend und berührend, unterhaltsam und komisch." epd Film

"Eine intelligent erzählte Zeitreise. In seiner angenehm unaufgeregten Erzählweise gerät der Film zu einer Parabel auf das Leben jenseits von Norm und Mainstream, der nicht nur für Schwule interessant ist."  Junge Welt  

"Ein differenzierter Einblick in das (schwule) Leben in der DDR und eine universelle Reflexion über Lebenslauf und Selbstbestimmung."

"Aus Erzählungen aus drei Jahrzehnten entsteht ein Zeitzeugnis zur DDR - gut!"  Der Tagesspiegel

"UNTER MÄNNERN eröffnet einen facettenreichen, von Brüchen geprägten Erfahrungshorizont."  Film-Dienst

"UNTER MÄNNERN geht ganz nah ran und lässt durch ein Kaleidoskop subjektiver Berichte die ganze Bandbreite schwulen Lebens in der DDR wieder auferstehen - so lustig und traurig, so angstbesetzt und unangepasst, so sexy und so nüchtern wie es war. Das macht den Film zum Pflichttermin für Ost- wie Westdeutsche."  Männer

Directors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Markus Stein, Ringo Rösener                 Locations: Leipzig, Lauscha (Thüringen), Bismark (Altmark), Berlin
Script . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Ringo Rösener                 Shooting time: 2011
Cinematography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Bernadette Paassen               Feature film excerpts from: Coming Out by Heiner Carow;
Sound . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Aka F. Umme, Thomas Funk                           Westler by Wieland Speck
Editing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Martin Menzel, Markus Stein               Documentary excerpts from: Winter Adé by Helke
Assistant editor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Christoph Sturm                          Misselwitz; Deutsches Rundfunk Archiv;
Music recording . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Moritz Denis                          filmmaterial of the Gay Initiative Berlin,
Vocals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Barbara Kind                          now Sonntags Club. e.V.; ZDF
Sound design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Christian Eichler               Photos: Matthias Kittlitz and Privatarchive
Sound mixer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Hans Kölling                 
Colour grading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Tobias Wiedmer                 
Production management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Peter Effenberg                 
Production assistant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Geraldine Prange               A Coproduction of Hoferichter & Jacobs GmbH with
Film accountance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sven Schmidt, Anne Stephan               MDR Television and Salzgeber & Co. Medien GmbH
Producer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Olaf Jacobs                 
Coproducer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Björn Koll               funded by MDM - Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung,
Comissioning editor MDR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Katja Wildermuth               Deutscher Filmförderfond, Kulturstiftung des Freistaats Sachsen,
Kulturelle Filmförderung Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

© Hoferichter & Jacobs GmbH / MDR 2012

"Baubrigade der Sportstudenten" & "Unter der Dusche"
© Jürgen Wittdorf 1964

Salzgeber & Co. Medien GmbH
Prinzessinnenstraße 29
10969 Berlin

Telefon 030 / 285 290 90
Telefax 030 / 285 290 99
E-Mail: info@salzgeber.de
Internet: www.salzgeber.de

Geschäftsführer: Björn Koll
Amtsgericht Charlottenburg, HRB 52 317
USt-ID gemäß §27a Umsatzsteuergesetz: DE 167 065 308
Inhaltlich Verantwortlicher gemäß § 6 MDStV: Björn Koll

Jan Künemund
Telefon 030 / 285 290 70
presse@salzgeber.de  |   Pressematerial

Haftungshinweis: Trotz sorgfältiger inhaltlicher Kontrolle übernehmen wir keine Haftung für die Inhalte externer verlinkter Seiten. Für den Inhalt der verlinkten Seiten sind ausschließlich deren Betreiber verantwortlich.

Edition Salzgeber auf Facebook   Edition Salzgeber auf Twitter    Webdesign