J19. Strictly Forbidden East German Border Photography
As is well known, the East German border was impenetrable. This applied not only to the Wall, but also to East Germany’s coast along the Baltic Sea. This album documents in detail a young sailor’s service in the Marine Border Patrol. Highly unusual, because all photography of East Germany’s border, its soldiers, means and methods were highly illegal both for East German civilians and non-civilians. While, photo albums of Soviet military service were a time honored tradition, this is the first and only album we have handled dealing exclusively with the East German border. Because such photography was illegal, the album and its photographs are exceedingly scarce.
The album was created by East German sailor Peter K. and documents his entire service with the marine border patrol. It starts with his swearing in ceremony in 1964 in Wolgast and then continues to document the ships he sailed on along with many “in action” maritime shots of the coast, other ships, and military exercises. Coastal cities they patrolled include Wolgast, Greifswald, Stralsund, and Peenemünde. The album ends with one final photograph of East Germany’s coast before Peter K. goes home.