Photo Gallery Forbidden Photos of Everyday Life in East Germany

Photographer Siegfried Wittenburg angered officials in East Germany during the 1980s with his pictures showing the drabness of life under communism. The authorities forbade him to exhibit them, even though they portrayed ordinary scenes people were confronted with every day.
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The newly-built Gross Klein housing estate in Rostock was built in the 1980s in the prefabricated concrete style typical of communist East Germany. It had capacity for almost 20,000 people. Progress in residential construction was measured solely in terms of the number of apartments built. The environment of those new homes was regarded as secondary. Local photographer Siegfried Wittenburg took this picture in 1981 and was banned from exhibiting it.

Foto: Siegfried Wittenburg
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Rostock in 1990. People who lived in these apartments said it was like living in a concrete desert. Whenever it rained, the ground between the apartment blocks turned into mud. Communist authorities suspected that Wittenburg's photos amounted to a critique of the regime, but they weren't sure.

Foto: Siegfried Wittenburg
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Residents of Rostock trudging across wooden planks to their new homes in freshly-built apartment blocks. Housing was in short supply in East Germany. As soon as a block of flats was finished, people moved in. A bit of mud didn't trouble them, and supposedly temporary facilities such as this wooden gangway would remain in use for a long time.

Foto: Siegfried Wittenburg
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Collective clothes lines on a Rostock housing estate, 1980.

Foto: Siegfried Wittenburg
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A tempting offer: The sign reads "We're Looking Forward to Your Visit." Wittenburg took the photo in 1987 in a hotel on East Germany's Baltic coast at Kühlungsborn.

Foto: Siegfried Wittenburg
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A typical house entrance in an estate in the Toitenwinkel district of Rostock.

Foto: Siegfried Wittenburg
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It might not be evident at first glance, but this building in the old town of Rostock housed a hairdressing salon. It was called "Elegant Salon Diana." The photo was taken in 1988.

Foto: Siegfried Wittenburg
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Customers definitely weren't kings in East German restaurants. Every eatery had its own set of rules and guests who didn't adhere to them simply weren't served. The sign in front of this open-air restaurant in Königsstein reads: "Please don't change the order of tables and chairs." The photo was taken in 1987.

Foto: Siegfried Wittenburg
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Everyday life in East Germany. Whenever there was a queue outside a shop, one immediately went up to inquire what was available. Or one simply joined the queue without asking because the product on offer was bound to be in short supply. People ignored the propaganda above the entrance which reads: "The Stronger Socialism is, the Stronger the Peace." This was taken in the city of Jena in 1987.

Die Wiedergabe wurde unterbrochen.