Knuff Continues to Play in West Berlin

Wolfram Schröter playing in the East German band “Knuff,” around 1980 Music always played an important role in Wolfram Schröter’s life. He especially liked blues music. As a teenager Wolfram Schröter was part of the tramper scene and often traveled to blues concerts. In 1977 he founded a band with friends called “Knuff.” To receive permission to play concerts -- a requirement in East Germany, the band had to play before the Council of the City of Weimar/Cultural Affairs Division and was classified as an “advanced level” amateur band. Playing a mix of blues, country, jazz and rock, Wolfram Schröter and his band members soon made a name for themselves in the music scene. At the showcase of amateur dance music in 1982, “Knuff” was awarded special status by the advisory group of the district ministry for cultural affairs in Erfurt. But the band’s growing success ended with that. Although they had already been approved to participate in the “Central Dance Music Workshop of the FDJ” in Suhl, an event that would have facilitated the band’s advance into the professional music world, the state revoked its approval. The reason: Wolfram Schröter and another band member had submitted an application to leave East Germany.

Wolfram Schröter, who was born on September 8, 1955 in Weimar, grew up in a Christian home. During his school years he participated in the “Young Pioneers” und later the “FDJ.” After finishing school he completed training as a heating contractor. In the mid 1970s Wolfram Schröter met Angelika, the woman he would later marry and with whom he would have two children. In the late 1970s, Wolfram Schröter was conscripted to serve military duty in the East Germany army. He describes this time, when the SED state, with its political and ideological paternalism, had considerable power over him, as pivotal in forming his later decision to apply for an exit visa.

The band “Knuff” during a concert in East Germany, front left: Wolfram Schröter, around 1980 In addition to his passion for music, he and his wife were also actively involved in the discussion group of the St. Jacob Church in Weimar --although he did not have a lot of free time for this: While working daily as a heating contractor, he also performed as many as 85 concerts a year. The group performed in club houses and village halls; they played at the Weimar onion market, in the Peace Church in Jena and in the St. Jacobs Church in Weimar.

In the early eighties, the Schröters thought more and more about applying to leave the country. Many of their friends, disillusioned by the lack of individual freedom in East Germany, had already done so. Others felt it was more important to stay and try to change the conditions from the inside. The Schröters decided to leave East Germany, and submitted the application to the Council of the City of Weimar/Division for Internal Affairs at the end of 1982. The application had consequences for them. Wolfram Schröter was kept under constant surveillance by the Stasi and the band “Knuff” was prohibited from giving concerts. Wolfram Schröter left the band in order not to stand in the way of its further success.

In March 1984 the Schröters received permission to immigrate to West Germany. They moved to West Berlin where, in the mid-eighties, Wolfram Schröter founded “Knuff” again with new members. He learned from friends that someone had written in chalk on the Kasseturm in Weimar “Knuff continues to play in West Berlin.”

Lydia Dollmann

Photo credits
Wolfram Schröter playing in the East German band “Knuff,” around 1980, photo: privately owned.
The band “Knuff” during a concert in East Germany, front left: Wolfram Schröter, around 1980, photo: privately owned.

Wolfram Schröter 2010

Wolfram Schröter, 2010, photo: L. Dollmann, Berlin Wall Memorial


Wolfram Schröter speaking about his reasons for applying to leave

Report on the consequences of the application

From an interview on September 20, 2010, Berlin Wall Memorial (in German)