Harald Hauswald Photography Collection
The digital photography collection of Harald Hauswald was acquired at the end of 2017 by the Federal Foundation for the Reappraisal of the SED Dictatorship. It represents a valuable collection from one of the most significant photographers from the GDR. Hauswald’s snapshots from everyday life in East Berlin provide insight into a bygone era, and which acquired public acclaim and support following the toppling of the regime in 1990. The current collection is in the process to be expanded and by the end of 2019 is expected to include the photographer’s entire life work in digitalized form.
10117 Berlin Kronenstraße 5
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Name of collection
- Harald Hauswald Inventory
Provenance and cultural activities
During the 1960s and 1970s documentary photography and, moreover, photography which critically depicted life outside the official narrative was forbidden in the GDR. One should consider that photography was not part of the official artistic program of socialist realism either. Only in the later years of the regime was photography tolerated as an artistic medium and publicly exhibited. Nevertheless, despite various artists rejecting the state's official narrative, photographic production during this time must be considered as functioning within the system, as the technical skills used by photographers were provided by state-supported institutions. Thus, photographers in the GDR who opposed the official documentary, ideologically framed depiction of the GDR, often explored their own personal and immediate environment, independently adopting their personal 'language' of photography. This means that capturing everyday life in the GDR became rather a personal adventure and a subjective collection of memories, moving between 'real life' and appearances, and beyond the representation of the 'great achievements' of socialism.
Harald Hauswald settled in the East Berlin neighbourhood of Prenzlauer Berg and took a job as a mail carrier. This allowed him to easily wander throughout the city and discover its various hidden places. Hauswald was a self-taught photographer, a flâneur, and an observer who found inspiration in various publications such as 'Fotografie' and the photographic albums of Henry Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, and other street photographers. He did not shy away from immortalizing decaying buildings and rundown bars, officially staged marches and slogans, parties, or Berliners themselves. From rockers and punks to drunken, and the young and old men, the significance of Hauswald's photography significance lies in how the photographer artistically captured a wide and diverse spectrum of the GDR society. He explored the photography as an artistic means of immortalising life in the GDR, going beyond the state measures of using photography as means of propaganda.
He displayed his pictures in closed circles, in private apartments, churches, and youth clubs. Although he did not join the Union of Artists of the GDR in his earlier years, Hauswald would attend a photographers' reunion starting in 1983 and gatherings organized by Arno Fischer and Sibylle Bergemann. His photos were never printed in the GDR, only in the West, such as his photography for the critical report on youth in the GDR VEB Nachwuchs published in 1983 by Rowohlt Verlag in Hamburg. He soon after became subject of Stasi surveillance, under the code name 'der Radfahrer' (the cyclist).
His 1987 book East-Berlin, including text from Lutz Rathenow, was published by Pieper Verlag in Munich. It was immediately prohibited in the GDR but presented at the since-famous Gethsemane Church in East Berlin. Following this event, the regime understood that recognizing Hauswald as a photographer would be a more efficient way of controlling than persecuting him. Consequently, towards the end of the regime, Harald Hauswald received a series of scholarships which supported his work, and he was accepted into the official Union of Artists just before the regime’s downfall.
Since November 2017 the Federal Foundation for the Reappraisal of the SED Dictatorship has acquired non-commercial user rights for approximately 6,000 digitalized negatives from the private collection of Harald Hauswald, managed by the OSTKREUZ Agency of Photographers (OSTKREUZ Agentur der Fotografen) in Berlin. The aim of the collaboration of the OSTKREUZ Association (OSTKREUZ Verein), the Federal Foundation for the Reappraisal of the SED dictatorship, and the OSTKREUZ Agency is to publicly disseminate Hauswald's previously unpublished photographs, considered an indispensable source of information on everyday life in the GDR, on the development of urban space in East Berlin, on youth culture, and on the work of opposition groups and artists.
Hauswald's photographic contributions are essential for COURAGE due to his insight into GDR society and everyday life. These span GDR youth culture to various subversive bohemian and punk groups, but also include diverse portraits of Berlin’s society and cityscape, and eventually the peaceful revolution. His works are currently held in various collections in the German Historical Museum, the Märkisches Museum in Berlin, and in the Zeitgeschichtliches Forum in Leipzig, and have been widely exhibited, including among the most recent 'Voll der Osten. Leben in der DDR' (The East. Living in the GDR), organized by the Federal Foundation for the Reappraisal of the SED Dictatorship in January 2018.
Description of content
Currently, the Federal Foundation holds 2,275 digitalized negatives in its digital photography archive and it aims to create a complete digital archive of the artist’s works by the end of 2019. The current digitalized material consists of black and white and coloured negatives that cover various snapshots of everyday life in East Berlin starting from the 1970s until the beginning of the 1990s. The themes stretch from youth culture and church, people, and alternative lifestyle, to neighbourhoods in East Berlin and its crumbling architecture among many others.
The process of digitalization and conservation of the negatives is currently carried out by the OSTKREUZ Association (OSTKREUZ Verein), whose purpose is to ensure processes of conservation and restoration, documentation, and cataloguing. Together with the photographer himself, these works are also contextualised and dated. The costs for the digitalization process are covered by the Federal Foundation for the Reappraisal of the SED Dictatorship.
The purpose of the digitalization is to provide the wider public access to photographic works of one of the most significant photographers of the GDR, whose work strongly conflicted with the regime’s aims. The digitization of his works not only aims to ensure the preservation of such valuable works but also to contribute to youth political education by making Harald Hauswald's legacy available to a wider audience.
- photos: 1000-
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
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Important events in the history of the collection
Bertram, Mathias, ed. 2013. Hauswald Harald. Vor Zeiten Alltag in der DDR Fotogafien 1976-1990 (Early days. Everyday life in the GDR. Photography 1976-1990), Leipzig: Lehmstedt Verlag.
Bertram, Mathias, ed. 2013. Harald Hauswald. Ferner Osten. Die letzten Jahre der DDR. Fotografien 1986-1990 (Harald Hauswald. Far away East. The last days of the GDR 1986-1990), Leipzig:Lehmstedt Verlag.
Hauswald, Harald, Rathenow, Lutz. 2005. Ost-Berlin Leben vor dem Mauerfall (East-Berlin Life before the Wall fell), Berlin: Jaron Verlag.
Hauswald, Harald, Voigt, Jutta.2009. Auferstanden aus Ruinen. Deutschland Ost: Fotos aus vier Jahrzehnten (Raising from the ruins. Eastern Germany: Photography from the past four decades), Berlin: Jaron Verlag.
Hauswald, Harald. Alexanderplatz. Fotografische und literarische Erinnerungen (Alexanderplatz. Photographic and literary Memories), Berlin: Jaron Verlag.
Handloik, Volker, Hauswald, Harald, eds.1998. Die DDR wird 50. Texte und Fotografien (The GDR turns 50: Text and Photography), Berlin: Aufbau Verlag.
Schmid, Sabine. 2014. Fotografie zwischen Politik und Bild. Entwicklungen der Fotografie in der DDR (Photography between politics and image. Developments of photography in the GDR), München: Herbert Utz Verlag.
Author(s) of this page
- Demeter, Laura
Buchholz, Matthias , interview by Sonnenberg, Uwe, August 30, 2016. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection
Last edited on: 2020-03-02 14:52:33