Goose Steps in East Berlin, 1989

As we move houses soon, I am constantly tidying up these days. Wrapped in old newspapers, I discovered two old black and white prints made from photos I took in 1989 in East Berlin, only months before the fall of the Berlin Wall. I was about 17 and dreaming of becoming a photojournalist. My favourite movie was Under Fire.

The prints show soldiers of the National People’s Army of the German Democratic Republic marching in Stechschritt (“goose step”) during changing of the guard at the war memorial Neue Wache in East Berlin. The photos were taken in July 1989. Four months later, the Berlin Wall fell and thousands of East Germans crossed into West Germany.

Changing of the guard at the war memorial Neue Wache at Unter den Linden in East Berlin, German Democratic Republic, July 1989.
Changing of the guard at the war memorial Neue Wache at Unter den Linden in East Berlin, German Democratic Republic, August 1989.

It was troublesome to cross the border from the enclave West Berlin to East Berlin. The border officials took it very serious to question everyone entering East Berlin. Every suitcase had to be opened and was meticulously searched. A man in front of us had to throw his magazine Der Spiegel into the waste bin because it was considered politically incorrect. Foreign currency exchange was controlled. I had to write down every serial number of my Nikkor lenses on the immigration form, and the whole process of border crossing took very long.

A soldier of the National People's Army of the German Democratic Republic marches in Stechschritt ("goose step") during changing of the guard at the war memorial Neue Wache at Unter den Linden in East Berlin, July 1989.
A soldier of the National People’s Army of the German Democratic Republic marches in Stechschritt (“goose step”) during changing of the guard at the war memorial Neue Wache at Unter den Linden in East Berlin, August 1989.

The remainder of the photos and all the negatives are lost.

One comment

Comments are closed.