Cultural Successes in the German Democratic Republic
The Central Committee of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany notes that in the German Democratic Republic, accomplishments were achieved in the area of art and literature as well, accomplishments of which all progressive Germans are justly proud.
They include the works of the writers and poets Arnold Zweig, Johannes R. Becher, Bertolt Brecht, Anna Seghers, Bernhard Kellermann, Friedrich Wolf and Willi Bredel, Erich Weinert, Hans Marchwitza, Bodo Uhse, Stephan Hermlin, Kurt Bartel (Kuba), Alfred Kantorowicz, works that were written during emigration or after 1945 and have been published over the last few years. These works have played a major part in changing the consciousness of the German people. They include the “German National Anthem” and a number of folksongs and youth songs written by Johannes R. Becher/Hanns Eisler.
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Weaknesses and Shortcomings of Cultural Work
In spite of all the successes, development in the cultural field has not kept pace with the great accomplishments in the economic and political realms.
Comrade Johannes R. Becher stated at our 3rd Party Congress:
“It would be both absurd and harmful to deny, or to white-wash by way of finger-pointing, that we culture-creators, in our artistic achievements, are still far behind the demands of the day, behind the demands of the epoch. With few exceptions, what do we have to hold up to the successes of the activist movement?”
The chief reason why art has lagged behind the demands of the epoch arises from the dominance of formalism in art and from the lack of clarity about the path and methods of the artist in the German Democratic Republic.
Many of the best exponents of modern German art confront, in their work, the great contradiction between new content and the unusable means of formalistic art. To create new content, one must overcome formalism.
Formalism means the dissolution and destruction of art itself. Formalists deny that the crucial meaning lies in content, in the idea, in the thought of the work. According to their view, the meaning of a work of art lies not in its content, but in its form. Wherever the question of form acquires meaning of its own, art loses its humanistic and democratic character.
Form giving that is not determined by the content of the work of art leads to abstraction. Form giving that contradicts objective reality cannot convey the understanding of objective reality. If the understanding of reality is not conveyed through art, then art does not fulfill its exalted mission, since art, according to Karl Marx, is in all phases of humanity’s development the artistically practical method for appropriating the world, in other words, it is a way of understanding reality.
The denial of the fundamental importance of the content of a work of art is not only a sign of backwardness, something with which a true artist cannot reconcile himself any way, but it also leads to the destruction of artistic form. Denial of content and destruction of artistic form – that means the disintegration and destruction of art itself.
The most important characteristic of formalism lies in the desire, under the pretext or with the misguided intention of developing something “completely new,” to carry out a complete break with the classical cultural heritage. This leads to the deracination of national culture, to the destruction of national consciousness, it promotes cosmopolitanism and thus amounts to direct support for the war policy of American imperialism.
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