The GDR Gas Pipeline

Author & Director:
Hans-Joachim Obuchoff | Juergen Ast

Commissioning Editor:
Jens Stubenrauch


astfilm productions | for RBB

"The construction of the century!", "A step into the next century!" - the GDR Propaganda was full of overwhelming exaggerations for Erich Honecker's prestige object that was to be the proof of the capability of the GDR's economic strength. The construction of the longest gas-pipeline on earth. Everything was to be unique and gigantic. The workers were called the "revolutionaries in blue shirts". The construction itself "a barricade in the fight for our system", the proof of brotherhood and everlasting friendship with the Soviet Union, the unstoppable victory of Socialism.

In 1974 the "Drushba-Line" (the "Line of Friendship") was officially announced in the GDR. The concept was developed by the Soviet Union and those who were to profit from the pipeline, they also helped to build it. 5000 Kilometers of 1,42 meters thick pipes, reaching from the Ice Ocean to the western border of the Ukraine. The challenge was enormous. Dangerous work underground, mountains and rivers had to be crossed, the workers had to "function" in the unbearable heat and in the cold. Roads, housing areas, depots, special buildings and Pipeline-Stations were build. Most of the gas was to be sold to the West - for foreign currency only. The Federal Republic of Germany was to be one of the customers. For the socialistic "Brothers", in particular the GDR, the billions of costs, were regarded as an investment into the future - but it proofed to be a bottomless pit. Only in 1993 Honecker's prestigious project was stopped, three years after the break-down of the German Democratic Republic.

For most of the 25.000 GDR-workers the time in the "Wild East" was an adventure, "away from the narrow GDR" and also just "earning money". On the one hand a feeling of freedom and on the other hand the order to keep silence about the accidents that happened and the impressions of working in an antediluvian country - impressions that didn't fit into the postulated "socialistic advance".

In every respect the GDR gas pipeline was matchless, as an experience of life, as a construction and as a political issue. The documentary tells the real story of this sometimes heroic glorified time.