By Gabriel Kuhn
PM Press has several titles relating to militant currents within the German left of the 1970s and 80s. Two volumes document the history of the Red Army Faction, the pamphlet Prison Round Trip was written by former Movement 2 of June member Klaus Viehmann, and Fire and Flames is a classic account of the German autonomous movement.
A militant project founded in the 1970s that is only sparsely documented is that of the Rote Zora, a network of feminist activists who, from 1975 to 1995, were responsible for more than 20 attacks on targets reaching from sex shops and clothing stores to research facilities and government agencies. Rote Zora activists were organized in small autonomous cells without central leadership, similar to the Revolutionäre Zellen (Revolutionary Cells) with whom they shared initials not coincidentally.
While communiqués and interviews of the Rote Zora have been archived and translated into a number of languages, there is little material to reflect upon the network in a broader social and political context. This is just one of the reasons why the newly released documentary film Frauen bildet Banden (roughly, Women, Form Gangs!) is such a valuable contribution to movement history.
Produced by the LasOltras film collective, Frauen bildet Banden is an inspiring, informative, and visually appealing mixture of archival images, animation, atmospheric clips, and talking heads. Historian Katharina Karcher provides the narrative, longtime feminist activists situate the Rote Zora within the politics of the time, and former members talk anonymously about their actions. Apart from providing an insight into the practice of the group, the contributions include much food for thought regarding current struggles against patriarchy and capital.
The filmmakers, who are currently touring the German-speaking countries, are working on English subtitles. We can only hope that the film will receive the international attention it deserves. For more information visit the LasOltras website (in German). For screenings, questions, and feedback write to info[at]lasotras.de.