J16. African & North Korean Students at the Bauhaus College of Socialism

A lovely collection of professional photographs of the ADGB Trade Union School (“Bundesschule des Allgemeinen Deutschen Gewerkschaftsbundes”), which was known during East German times as the Fritz Heckert Trade Union College. Next to the Bauhaus Dessau building, it was the second-largest project ever undertaken by the Bauhaus and constructed over the course of 3 years (1928-1930). Designed by Bauhaus director Hannes Meyer with Hans Wittwer, who taught the Bauhaus building theory course alongside Meyer. Preservation of the building started during East German times when in 1977 they declared it a national monument. In 2017 the building was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many of the photographs depict the outside, the inside, and the grounds of the property. Throughout the complex, the windows are often large floor-to-ceiling to take full advantage of outside landscaping. Architectural historian Winfried Nerdinger described the building as a “masterpiece of poetic functionalism.”

The property was home to East Germany’s largest international college of socialism. The Fritz Heckert Trade Union College was run by the Free German Trade Union Federation (FDGB) (“Freier Deutsche Gewerkschaftsbund”), which was the sole national trade union of East Germany representing all workers in the country. FDGB leadership were also senior members of the ruling Socialist Unity Party. The building was their prized possession and the only college of its kind in East Germany. Courses in collective bargaining, social and economic policy, youth & women’s issues, employment law and the history of the labor movement were taught. From 1958 on, international correspondence courses were offered, and from 1959 courses were run for foreign students. Over 15,000 East German and 5,000 foreign unionists were trained at the school. Many of the pictures depict a highly international student body. As is well documented in the photographs, if you lived in North Korea or Africa and wanted to study socialism in East Germany, this likely was your destination.

The collection has two main areas of interest. First, is historic preservation within East Germany of the 2nd largest Bauhaus project. Second, is the story of international students studying socialism in East Germany and the beautiful facility that was maintained for them. Thus, this item is important both for architectural reasons and the study of the history of socialism around the world.

[PHOTOGRAPHY COLLECTION FRITZ HECKERT TRADE UNION COLLEGE]. Bernau: Hochschule der Deutschen Gewerkschaften “Fritz Heckert”, 1956-1971. Large collection of original professional photographs pertaining the Fritz Heckert Trade Union College. Total of 145 photographs organized as follows:

I. Red linen photo album with an illustration of the school on the cover. 240 by 375 mm (9½ by 14¾ inches). [16] lvs of thick cardboard with 42 mounted photographs in a striking professional arrangement. Ca. 1956;

II. Red linen clamshell box with title in gold letters. 205 by 335 by 50 mm (8 by 13 by 2 inches). [17] lvs of thick cardboard with 53 mounted photographs, many with collage arrangement. Ca. 1961;

III. Two half linen portfolios with faux wood covers and golden lettering. Portfolios 235 by 170 mm (9¼ by 7¾); large format photographs only marginally smaller than the portfolio. Each portfolio with 17 photographs (of which 15 are duplicate). 1967/1971;

IV. Folder with red and gold lettering on cover. Folder 185 by 240 mm (7 by 9½ inches); large format photographs only marginally smaller than the folder. 16 photographs. 1960’s.

Together with a commemorative statement signed by the school director that the photographs were provided to colleague Gerhard Hornickel for recognition of many years of service. Very good plus to near fine. In an overall excellent condition.


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