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East German poster collection political series

 Series
Identifier: C0169

Scope and Content

This series contains posters relating to political persons, events, and organizations from the Deutsche Demokratische Republik. The series contains 652 posters of various sizes. The posters range in size from 99.5 x 69.5 cm to 40 x 29.25 cm. The average poster size is 57 x 81 cm.

Common political figures present within the series are Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Ernst Thalmann, Rosa Luxemburg, and Karl Liebnecht. These people are generally depicted by portrait photographs or illustrations. The majority of the portrait posters are in commemoration of former political leaders and communist figures, although there are some that are campaign posters for contemporary politicians. The series also contains posters from political organizations such as the Feier Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund (FDGB), the Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands (SED), the Solidaritatskomitee der DDR, and the Freie Deutsche Jugend (FDJ). Also contained in the series are posters expressing solidarity with various revolutionary movements around the world, mostly focusing on Africa, Southeast Asia, and Central America. The posters are associated with events such as the elections of 1990, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Soviet Seven Year agricultural plans, and the anniversaries of the births of noted communist figures. Graffiti from the Berlin Wall is also a popular subject. The majority of poster images are photographs with text, although there are also illustrations and some abstract art with political text.

Dates

  • 1943-2009

Access Restrictions

Collection is open to research.

Use Restrictions

There may be restrictions on reproduction - SCRC staff will evaluate on a case by case basis.

Historical Information

On October 7, 1949, following the partition of Germany at the end of World War II, the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR) was formed under the governance of the Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands (SED). The SED had been formed from two previous political parties, the Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands (KPD) and the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (SPD). In 1955, the Soviet Occupation Zone was officially declared to be a sovreign state. Under the SED, the infrastructure, industrial plants, and public property were all nationalized. Additionally, all political parties and mass organizations were controlled under an umbrella organization known as the Nationale Front (NF).

Initially, the SED was led by Wilhelm Pieck, who served as the first an only president of the DDR from 1949 to 1960. After 1950, the actual power in the DDR was held by Walter Ulbricht, the First Secretary of the SED. During this beginning period of the DDR's history, the new state's economy was severely weakened by war reparations to the USSR. This problem was exacerbated by the heavy emigration to the West that was induced by the increased poverty caused by the war reparations. In response to the emigration problem, the DDR closed the Inner German border in the 1950s. On the night of August 12, 1961, East German soldiers began construction on the Berlin Wall.

From 1949 until the 1970s, West Germany (Federal Republic of Germany) considered the DDR to be an illegally constituted state. It was only in 1971, under Chancellor Willy Brandt, that West Germany established normal relations with the DDR. That same year, Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev deposed Walter Ulbricht as the DDR head of state. Ulbricht's policies were experimenting with liberal reform, so Ulbricht was replaced by Erich Honecker, who increased government controls on the population.

In 1989, public outrage over local government elections led to large amounts of illegal emigration from the DDR. In August, Hungary unsealed its border and lifted restrictions, leading to over 13,000 people leaving the DDR to the West via Hungary. In October, public demonstrations led to Erich Honecker's resignation. His replacement, Egon Krenz, was slightly more moderate. On November 9, 1989, sections of the Berlin Wall were opened. The governing party of the DDR soon resigned and attempts to establish a democratic DDR were overwhelmed by calls for reunification with West Germany. Later that year, the 2 + 4 Talks were held between the two Germanys, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the USSR. The five original East German states, which were abolished in 1952, were reestablished, and conditions for reunification were agreed upon. On October 3, 1990, the five East German states officially joined the Federal Republic of Germany.

Extent

652 posters

Language of Materials

German

Abstract

This series contains posters relating to political persons, events, and organizations from the Deutsche Demokratische Republik. The series contains 652 posters of various sizes. The posters range in size from 99.5 x 69.5 cm to 40 x 29.25 cm. The average poster size is 57 x 81 cm.

Arrangement

Arranged by subject and a numbering system.

Acquisition Information

Purchased from Thomas Hill in 2009.

Related Material

The East German poster collection contains other series, including the art exhibitions series, performing arts series, culture and science series, and film series.

Processing Information

Processed by Lauren Shutt and Sean Tennant in 2010. EAD markup completed by Sean Tennant. Finding aid updated by Amanda Brent in July 2022.

Processing supported by a grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources.

Title
East German poster collection political series
Subtitle
Guide to East German poster collection political series
Status
Completed
Author
Sean Tennant
Date
2006 By George Mason University Libraries. All rights reserved.
Language of description
English
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Description is in English
Sponsor
Funded in part by a grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources

Repository Details

Part of the George Mason University. Libraries. Special Collections Research Center Repository

Contact:
Fenwick Library, MS2FL
4400 University Dr.
Fairfax Virginia 22030 United States
703-993-2220
703-993-8911 (Fax)