Life Behind Bars: Harald Hauswald's Photographs of the East German Penal System

Harald Hauswald is a German photographer known for his photographs of East Berlin during the Cold War. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, he began taking pictures of life in East German prisons. These photographs offer a rare glimpse into the conditions of the East German penal system during this period.

Hauswald’s photographs of East Germans prisons are notable for their stark, unvarnished portrayal of the harsh realities of life behind bars. The photographs depict overcrowded cells, austere living conditions, and prisoners performing laborious tasks. They also capture the prisoners’ humanity, showing them in moments of despair and resilience.

Hauswald was able to take these photographs because he had access to the prisons as a member of the East German press. He was a staff photographer for the state-run magazine “Stern,” and his photographs were used to illustrate articles about the East German prison system. However, he also had a personal motivation to document the reality of the East German prison, as he wanted to shed light on the human rights abuses committed by the East German government.

Hauswald’s East Germany prison photographs offer a vital historical record of the East German penal system during the Cold War. They also serve as a powerful reminder of the human cost of political repression. The photographs are now widely exhibited and published in Germany and abroad, and they are considered a valuable contribution to documentary photography.

#1 Harald Hauswald, Subway Line A, Berlin, 1986 Metro

#3 Loving couple on today’s Schloßplatz, in front of the Foreign Ministry of the GDR, Berlin-Mitte, 1984

#9 After the opening of the Wall on December 22nd, 1989, people walk towards the Brandenburg Gate, 1989

#10 Harald Hauswald, Concert of Big Country, Radrennbahn, 1988

#14 Deserters, May 1 Demonstration, Alexanderplatz, Mitte, Berlin, 1987

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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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