J21. East German Pop Culture Samizdat

This is an underground Samizdat photo album created in East Germany with photographs of Western pop-icons and pop-culture magazines – primarily Bravo.

Bravo is the largest teen magazine within the German-language sphere. It was first published in 1958, but rocketed to fame in the late 1960’s. By 1970 the magazine sold more than one million copies a week. Your cataloguer remembers the magazine well. In the 1980’s German children would save their pocket money and await the new weekly issue of Bravo, inevitably to have it confiscated at school the next day. Within East Germany the magazine was forbidden, but still very popular and traded for very high prices.

The album covers 1965 to 1970 and includes images of The Beatles (group and individuals), the Monkees, Drafi Deutscher, Jimmy and the Rockets, Rattles, Rainbows, The Who, Graham Bonney and more.

A fascinating study in how Western pop icons influenced teenagers in East Germany through photography. Photo negatives were easier to smuggle and hide in the mail than entire magazines. As an underground and forbidden photo album, it is of course very scarce.

[Falkensee, East German]: [Dieter B. ?], 1965-1970. 180 by 250mm (7 by 9¾ inches). Cord bound faux leather album; [24] lvs. mostly with spider web tissue guards. The last 6 lvs. blank. 40 original silver gelatin photographs and photo-autograph cards (unsigned), four of which are loose in the album and stuck in back. 1 photo missing. Good; some damage and nicks to binding. The album is crudely made with photos glued in crooked or with old glue residue – one imagines a teenage boy in East Germany creating this album.


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