The rock star and the dictator: Udo Lindenberg’s East German celebrity diplomacy

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In the 1980s, several unusual public interactions took place between West German rock star Udo Lindenberg and East German dictator Erich Honecker. On the surface, their exchanges concerned whether Lindenberg would be allowed to tour in East Germany. Beneath the surface, however, these interactions constituted a challenge to East German cultural policy and restrictions on freedom of expression. Despite this, Honecker sought to harness the musician’s appeal in the German Democratic Republic’s fight against North Atlantic Treaty Organization nuclear missiles. The story of the rock star and the dictator thus reveals the parameters and limits of East German soft power diplomacy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-102
Number of pages20
JournalCold War History
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Cold War
  • German Democratic Republic (GDR)
  • Germany
  • political concert
  • popular culture
  • rock music
  • star power
  • youth culture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Political Science and International Relations


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