SPK Complex

SPK Complex © Courtesy Icarus Films
Available to watch for a streaming rental fee of $10

Documentary, 2018, 111 min, digital
Original title: SPK Komplex
Language: German with English subtitles
Director: Gerd Kroske

In 1970, Dr. Wolfgang Huber and a group of patients founded the anti-psychiatric “Socialist Patients’ Collective,” or SPK, in Heidelberg, Germany. Controversial therapy methods, political demands, and a massive interest in the movement from patients deeply distrustful of conventional “custodial psychiatry” led to run-ins with the University of Heidelberg and local authorities. The conflict quickly escalated and resulted in the radicalization of the SPK. Their experiment in group therapy ultimately ended in arrests, prison, and the revocation of Huber’s license to practice medicine.
The SPK court cases – with their exclusion of defense attorneys, the total non-compliance of the defendants, and harsh penalties for both Huber and his wife – anticipated the later Stammheim trials of the members of the Red Army Faction/Baader-Meinhof Group. Indeed, the allegation of having supported the RAF, and thus of being complicit in their terrorism, would cling to the SPK and obscure what the movement was originally about: the rights of psychiatric patients, resistance, and self-empowerment. SPK Complex sheds light on these events that anticipated the “German Autumn,” and on their continuing relevance today.

Price: $10 general admission, $8 AFA members
Availability: US and Canada only