Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

“Success in Work, Comrade”

July 18th, 2011 · 1 Comment

Searching for motivation to once again get cracking on my book for an eight-hour stretch, I stumbled across this excellent trove of East German labor propaganda. These particular images were produced at the tail end of Communist Era, and they reflect the nation’s struggles to keep pace with the West. There are plenty of mentions of the concept of “competition,” though the propagandists seem to want to stoke rivalries between individual workers, rather than between companies. I guess we all know how that approach turned out.

The collection is part of a larger Calvin College archive, which includes some priceless relics from East Germany’s 30th anniversary as well as satirical cartoons that dared to gently mock the country’s pollution woes. In looking at the posters and leaflets that feature photographs of actual humans, I have to wonder whether certain East Germans were able to make decent livings as models—not because they were particularly attractive, but rather because their looks were judged to represent the Communist ideal. Like this happy lady fresh from her shift at the factory—surely she was sort of a Carol Alt of the proletariat.


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