Here we want to pay tribute to a special Berlin artist called Wolfgang Neuss. He made his name in the 1950s as an actor and film maker. At the time, he felt connected to the student movement, started to use cannabis and became a trenchant cabaret artist. He was famous for mocking the notion of “never again” with the saying: "Never again shall a joint go out on German soil".
In film, there is an entire genre dedicated to the subject of hemp. German comedies such as "How High" or "Lammbock" exploit the contradiction between “it’s banned”, and “everybody’s doing it” for many of their jokes. Most examples of the genre are buddy movies about weed-smoking friends finding their way in the world after being criminalised – though the criminalisation itself is rarely questioned.
In music, hemp played a part quite early on. Johann Sebastian Bach, for example, wrote "as often as I fill my tobacco pipe with good knaster ..." – knaster being an obsolete term for hemp flowers for smoking. Richard Wagner is also reported to have consumed hemp.
"... then Indian hemp was set alight,”...
... reported Wagner's housemaid.
"When you entered the music room to open the windows after he had been composing, it made you feel quite dizzy".
In music, hemp only became a subject in its own right after criminalisation spread following the two world wars. In American jazz, songs deal with marijuana either directly or by way of street names.
The Beatles sang of their love for hemp in "Got to get you into my life" and singer/songwriter Udo Lindenberg once said: ...
"It's totally okay to write songs stoned, you just have to proofread them when you’re sober..."
All depictions: © Dagmar Trüpschuch