Books and films about Dean/Bücher und Filme über Dean

Germany and the Americas

Germany and the Americas:

Culture, Politics, and History (Transatlantic Relations)

Thomas Adam (Editor), Will Kaufmann (Editor)

ABC-CLIO, 2005. ISBN: 978-1851096280,
1307 pages

Chapter about Dean Reed: pag. 918-920

This comprehensive encyclopedia details the close ties between the German-speaking world and the Americas, examining the extensive Germanic cultural and political legacy in the nations of the New World and the equally substantial influence of the Americas on the Germanic nations. In 1945 when American Gls poured into Germany, they found German children dressed in buckskins and feathers playing "cowboys and Indians." Today, the residents of Fredricksburg, Texas, hold Shutzenfests, Kinderfests, and a traditional Octoberfest every year along with rodeos and barbecues. From the Marshall Plan to kindergarten and beer, Germany and the nations of North and South America have a rich, interwoven history spanning more than five centuries. From the medical discoveries of Dr Johann Siegert, surgeon general to Simon Bolivar, to the amazing explorations of the early-19th-century German explorer Alexander von Humboldt, whose South American and Caribbean travels made him one of the most celebrated men in Europe, Germany and the Americas examines both the profound Germanic cultural and political legacy throughout the Americas and the lasting influence of American culture on the German-speaking world. Ever since Baron von Steuben helped create George Washington's army, German Americans have exhibited decisive leadership not only in the military, but also in politics, the arts, and business. "Germany and the Americas" charts the lasting links between the Germanic world and the nations of the Americas in a comprehensive survey featuring a chronology of key events spanning 400 years of transatlantic history.

page 918-920

Dean Reed

b. September 22, 1938; Wheat Ridge, Colorado

d. June 17, 1986; Zeuthen Lake, German Democratic Republic

Often considered to be the "red Elvis", Reed was an American singer-songwriter, actor, film director, and peace activist who converted go Marxism in the 1960s and became a cult figure first in South America and then in Communist Eastern Europe. Reed moved to the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in 1972, where he lived until his premature death - from suicide - at age forty-seven in 1986. Although not the only American citizen to settle in the GDR (other Americans in East Germany included singer Aubrey Pankey, cartoon artist Oliver Harrington, big band arranger Billy Moore, and a number of deserters from the U.S. armed forces), it was Reed who in the 1970s and early 1980s came to be revered in East Germany and in the Socialist world beyond as the authentic voice of an anticapitalist "other" America.

Reed took up meteorology at the University of Colorado but soon began pursuing a career in show business. In 1959 he landed a number two hit in the United States with his song "Our Summer Romance." Politicized during his time in South America, where he traveled extensively in the early 1960s, Reed publicly criticized American nuclear tests and the war in Vietnam. He achieved enormous popularity in Latin American countries, particularly in Chile and Argentina, where he came to host his own weekly television show in 1965. After a right-wing military coup, Reed was expelled from Argentina in July 1966 because of his leftist activities (among other things, Reed was a member of the Argentinean delegation to the Soviet-inspired World Peace Congress in Helsinki, Finland, in 1965).

Following a brief spell in Spain and a hugely successful tour of the Soviet Union (only the second American artist after folksinger Pete Seeger invited to do so), Reed came to Italy, earning a living as an actor in B-grade movies in the studios of Rome's Cinecittá. After losing his work permit in 1969 (he had protested against the Vietnam War outside the American Embassy in Rome), Reed returned to South America, where he supported the election campaign of Popular Front candidate Salvador Allende in Chile and subsequently, after a number of failed attempts to enter the country, returned to Argentina in June 1971. In the same year, Reed published an "open letter" to dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn in the Soviet press, denouncing the Nobel Prize winner's "false charges" against the Soviet Union and instead branding the United States as "the most violent society which history ever knew" ( prime_dean_reed.htm [retranslated from Russian]).

In 1972 Reed moved to East Germany, where he lived for the subsequent fourteen years until his death. Apart from his political difficulties in Argentina (he had been repeatedly arrested and detained in the course of 1971), Reed's decision to relocate behind the iron curtain was driven by private motives: In July 1973 he married Wiebke, a Leipzig schoolteacher whom he had met on his first visit to the GDR during the Leipzig film festival in late 1971. (For Wiebke, Reed divorced his first wife of nine years, Patricia). His artistic break-through in the GDR came in 1975, when he played a leading role in Blutsbrüder (Blood Brothers), a DEFA classic that became the most popular film of that year. El Cantor (The Singer), a film adaptation of the life of left-leaning Chilean singer-songwriter Victor Jara (murdered after the Pinochet coup in September 1973), which Reed cowrote and directed and in which he played Jara, won international acclaim two years later. Also in 1977, Reed's own TV show Der Mann aus Colorado (The Man from Colorado) was first broadcast in the GDR.

Apart from his exceedingly good looks, Reed owed his tremendous popularity to the fact that he embodied the politically correct version of the American dream in the eyes of fans and functionaries in the Socialist world and less to his (somewhat limited) artistic talents. In the era of the ending of the Vietnam War and the reign of Socialist idol Salvador Allende in Chile, and after the ousting of the GDR's Stalinist leader Walter Ulbricht by Erich Honecker (then regarded as a moderate), socialism seemed to have regained some of its social dynamism, and the fact that an American artist chose to live in East Germany gave the Socialist experiment a dash of additional credibility.

Reed, who had not given up his American citizenship and traveled regularly to the United States, became the center of an international propaganda dispute in 1978. On a visit to the United States, he had been arrested and indicted on trespassing charges after participating in a local protest in Buffalo, Minnesota. Reed immediately went on a hunger strike and refused to post bail, and the negligible incident quickly widened into an international affair. Pete Seeger and Joan Baez petitioned President Jimmy Carter on Reed's behalf, and scores of support telegrams from Socialist countries arrived in Reed's cell in Wright County jail. Reed himself wrote passionate letters about his "struggle" to East German leader Erich Honecker and his party's chief ideologue, Kurt Hager. In the end, a jury found Reed not guilty and he was released after eleven days behind bars. The affair was a gift to Soviet propaganda and considerably increased Reed's standing with Communist officials as well as with ordinary people in the Socialist countries.

The late 1970s and early 1980s saw Reed at the apex of his popularity. In 1979 he was the first foreigner to be awarded the Lenin Prize for Art and Literature by the Soviets; in 1980 an official biography with the title Dean Reed. Aus meinem Leben (Dean Reed. From My Life) was published in the GDR. By the mid-1980s, however, his appeal had waned. At a time when East Germans desperately tried to leave the country in the tens of thousands, an American who stayed voluntarily seemed like a strange anachronism. Sales of his records slumped sharply, a film project in which he placed high hopes was stalled,and his third marriage (to East German actress Renate Blume) was increasingly in tatters. On June 17, 1986, Reed's corpse was pulled from Zeuthen Lake, near his home on the Rauchfangswerder peninsula in the south of Berlin

Hans Michael Kloth




Fehler, Hinweise etc. bitte an
Letzte Änderung: 2017-09-14