Documenting a Divided Berlin


West Berlin: n.p., July 1956. 245 by 200mm (9¾ by 7¾ inches). Quarter calf photo album book titled Berlin”; 26 lvs with photographs on both sides with spider web tissue guards; neatly labeled in German. 91 photographs. Most are 3 ¼ by 5 ½ inches (a few are photo postcards). Although the recto of one leaf is blank and the last leaf is blank, the album appears complete. Very Good plus; in excellent condition except for a small tear on the cover.

A lovely vernacular album of an anonymous tourist’s visit to West Berlin in July 1956. In addition to the usual tourist attractions, the photographer paid especial attention to the border crossings into the Soviet Zones and even photographed an English tank driving down the street. At one point the album’s creator informs us that even though photography of the Spandau prison for German war criminals was strictly forbidden, he (or she) managed to include photographs of the prison in their vacation album.

The album is very neat and orderly labeled in German. At times the labels are extensive ‑for example [“Four watch towers surround the prison. Every four weeks there is a changing of the guards, rotating through Americans, English, French and Russians. Photo taken from the moving car.”]

Post-war divided and occupied Berlin was ground zero for the cold war. This album is a vernacular view of what would become one of Europe’s most unusual story — the rise (in 1961) and fall (in 1989) of an impenetrable wall in the middle of Germany’s largest city.


Stock Code: 1394A20 Collections: , , Catalogue:


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