Fascinating Nostalgic Photos of Everyday Life in East Berlin in the Mid-1980s

Photographer Harf Zimmermann visited East Berlin’s Hufelandstrasse neighborhood in 1980 when he was 25. At that time, he was studying photography at the Academy of Visual Arts in Leipzig. Zimmermann was deeply inspired by Bruce Davidson’s book, East 100th Street, which cataloged a single block in East Harlem. So, he began regularly photographing people and places in his own neighborhood.

I was out with my camera nearly every day and I had become part of the landscape.

At first, he said, his neighbors found his creative endeavor confusing. Whenever they’d seen a camera in Hufelandstrasse before, it was typically a newspaper photographer who wanted them to pose in ways that enforced prevailing socialist tropes. Mr. Zimmermann, meanwhile, just asked them to stand simply as they were.

#1 Herr and Frau Fleischer in their engagement outfits with their dog Putzi.

#2 Frau Baer (center) with her daughter, her grandchild, and her daughter’s partner on the thirty-eighth anniversary of the founding of the GDR.

#3 My neighbor Frau Töpfer with her grandson René.

#5 Employees of the cooperative “Berliner Blumen” (Berlin flowers), No. 18.

#7 HO (state-owned “Trade Organization”) butcher “Wild Geflügel” (game, poultry), No. 10.

#8 Margot Schulz, disabled retiree, with three of her fourteen children.

#9 From left to right: Beate (freelancer) with her daughter Henriette, her partner Matthias (freelancer) with his son Gregor, and their daughter Lilly.

#10 Ingeborg (front, cleaner), her son Lothar (left, carpenter), her grandson Guido and their grandmother.

#12 The bride and groom Frau and Herr Dressler, who have booked the package “traditional wedding, celebrating 750 years of Berlin.”

#14 At the corner of Hufelandstrasse and Bötzowstrasse.

#15 Rocky the bull terrier in front of a 1936 Mercedes.

Rocky the bull terrier in front of a 1936 Mercedes.

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Written by Aung Budhh

Husband + Father + librarian + Poet + Traveler + Proud Buddhist. I love you with the breath, the smiles and the tears of all my life.

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