Photo Gallery East Germany, Up Close and Personal

He had only wanted to see the chalk cliffs on the island of Rügen, but then he discovered the rough charm of the East. Photographer Karlheinz Jardner took fascinating photos during a trip through East Germany in the spring of 1990, the year of German reunification, and in doing so he documented a world that would soon disappear forever.
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West German photographer Karlheinz Jardner took fascinating photos during a trip through East Germany in the spring of 1990, capturing a world that would soon disappear forever. A toast to German unity: Three men have an early drink in a town in the Mecklenburg Lake District in eastern Germany just after reunification in October 1990.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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Picking up their heating coal: Children with a wagon collect coal bricks, the main source of heating fuel in the former East Germany.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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A bedroom and TV room with a sleeper sofa in front of shelves in the so-called "Gelsenkirchen Baroque" popular in East Germany, photographed in 1990.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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Sweet home: The former Erich Honnecker Suite at the Cliff Hotel on the German Baltic Sea island of Rügen. Named after the former Communist leader of East Germany.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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Breakfast on the balcony: Jardner says he experienced nothing but friendliness as he travelled the Mecklenburg Lake District and Baltic Sea in spring 1990, just months after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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A girl sitting next to the window: On the outside, these wooden villas in the Baltic coast resort town of Sellin on Rügen were rundown at the time. Inside, though, they exuded German comfort.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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A stairhouse with linoleum flooring, trim, creaky stairs and and a wornout hand rail -- an East German entry way in 1990.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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An electronics store: The electronics on sale in 1990 in Mecklenburg were already woefully outdated by Western standards. They would soon be replaced by modern components.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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The heroes of the Soviet army: The small city of Neustrelitz in Mecklenburg was the location of a Soviet base -- a fact made obvious by this outsized memorial to the heroes of World War II.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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A Sunday stroll in the East German city Eisenach: During another trip, the photographer visited the southern parts of East Germany and found charm in the decay.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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East German goods for sale: ATA Fein cleaning and scouring agents could be had for just cents at the time.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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Fast food arrives on the resort island of Rügen: A Pizza King stand in front of the rundown Sonneck beach villa in Sellin.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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Standing at the garden fence: A neighborhood idyll on Rügen Island.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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This kiosk sold sausages, mulled wine and hot lemon -- just not during the break between 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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In East Germany, many apartments didn't have their own bathrooms -- you had to share a corridor toilet like this one in Neustrelitz.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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Abandoned: Many East Germans rushed to West Germany as soon as the Wall fell, and after just months, many apartments were deserted and trashed. It was a phenomenon that would come to be known as shrinking cities and continues to this day.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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An East German semi-truck.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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Food on offer at an East German supermarket in Neustrelitz.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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"Skinheads -- piss off!": A scene in downtown Eisenach, taken in 1990.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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Children became more consumer oriented as Western products came onto the market.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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A man stands above a Trabi, the standard car that most East Germans could purchase. What would happen in the future?

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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A West German Tschibo coffee shop opens up in Eisenach in East Germany: The new stores from the West were a curiosity for locals.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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A typical East German shop window before the onslaught of Western products.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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Sweating it out: Coal bricks were the main heating element used across East Germany.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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The last of their generation: East German televisions in a shop window in Eisenach.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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An all-inclusive unit with a tile stove, television set, refrigerator and two beds. Jardner came across this bedroom in Sellin on the island of Rügen in 1990.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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East German knicknacks line these shelves.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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A typical East German living room.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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A man stands on the balcony of a rundown old villa in Sellin on Rügen.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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Trash cans are lined up for collection in the town of Baabe on Rügen.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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A young girl pushes a baby wagon with a doll in Eisenach.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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At this apartment in Sellin on Rügen, washing clothes was still done by hand.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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Coal at an East German "Intershop," where Western currency still wasn't accepted at the start of 1990.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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An entry way with mailboxes, an electric meter, a ladder and a stroller.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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Ubiquitous gray: A playground and apartments in Neustrelitz in May 1990.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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Taking a break on the edge of a field: Workers at a state run agricultural enterprise in East Germany.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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Stairs with socialist elegance: The stairs of Rügen's exclusive Cliff Hotel in 1990.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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The Cliff Hotel Rügen: This was one of the most glamorous hotels in East Germany. To stay there, you had to be a functionary with the SED Communist Party. Entry was banned for normal people.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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Baker sought: an East German bakery advertises for a new hire.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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Night time in East Germany: Trabbis in a parking lot in 1990.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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Talking a stroll along the beach: When this picture was taken, it was still cold enough that a jacket was needed on the Baltic Sea resort town Binz on Rügen.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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The famous chalk cliffs of Rügen.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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Hans Knospe, a beach photographer, spent his entire life in the city of Sellin on Rügen.

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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Cliffs straight out of a painting: These Rügen chalk cliffs were the motive for one of painter Caspar David Friedrich's most famous works. Jardner says he knew that nature would stay the same "but the people were about to face great changes."

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Foto: Karlheinz Jardner
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