On 17 August 2022 the former chairperson of the DEFA Foundation Ralf Schenk passed away in Berlin. He was a member of the board of the European Joris Ivens Foundation from 2012 to 2015. After a study in journalism at the Karl Marx University in Leipzig he proved himself quickly as a very erudite filmjournalist, among other through his contributions to the important East-German periodical Film und Fernsehen. After the fall of the Wall he broadened his scope to book publications on the history of DEFA, television programmes, interviews with veterans of the German film world, columns in the daily Berliner Zeitung and inlays for DVD-editions.
One of the priorities of his time as director of the DEFA Foundation (2012-2020) was to bring back under the attention the films that Joris Ivens had made in the 1950s for the DEFA. This resulted in two DVD-editions: Lied der Ströme (2015) and Joris Ivens DEFA-dokumentarfilme (2018). Most importantly he was the driving force behind the publication of the comprehensive study by Günter Jordan of the DEFA-years of Ivens. When Marceline Loridan objected to its publication, because she was unable to read the manuscript in the German language, Ralf organised a trip to 61 rue des Saints Pères, where Günter Jordan with the help of a qualified interpreter convinced her of the quality of his work. The elaborate book was published as Unbekannter Ivens (Unknown Ivens, 2018) and formed an essential contributions to the body of Ivens-studies.
In 2020 he retired, cherishing a great number of plans as to what he was going to research and write about during the coming years. His first project was a book about the Bulgarian-German film director Slatan Dudow, the maker of Kuhle Wampe, who was killed in a car crash in the GDR in 1963. A brain tumor prevented Ralf from realising this and many other plans.
We remember Ralf Schenk with enormous gratitude.
Bert Hogenkamp, 26 August 2022, Amsterdam.
Publications by Ralf Schenk and Günter Jordan related to Joris Ivens and the DEFA Studios.