Sounds of the Apocalypse: Preserving Cold War Memories in Ulrich Horstmann's Radio Play Die Bunkermann-Kassette

in German Politics and Society
Author:
Gerrit K. Roessler

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This article examines Ulrich Horstmann's science fiction radio play Die Bunkermann-Kassette (The Bunker Man Cassette, 1979), in which the author frames fears and anxieties surrounding a potential nuclear conflict during the Cold War as apocalyptic self-annihilation of the human race. Radio, especially radio drama, had a unique role in capturing the historical imaginaries and traumatic experiences surrounding this non-event. Horstmann's radio drama and the titular cassette tape become sound artifacts that speak to the technological contexts of their time, while their acoustic content carries the past sounds into the present. In the world of the play, these artifacts are presented in a museum of the future, which uses the possibilities of science fictional imagination and speculation to create prosthetic memories of the Cold War. The article suggests that these memories are cyborg memories, because the listener is a fully integrated component of radio technology that makes these memories and recollections of imagined events possible in the first place.

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