German Propaganda Archive Calvin University


Background: One of the most popular magazines in East Germany was Eulenspiegel,a satirical weekly. The Communist Party’s Agitation Department kept careful watch on Eulenspiegel,being sure it did not go too far. But it was allowed to criticize some aspects of life in the GDR, as long as the criticism stayed local. Criticizing the government or the country’s leaders was never permitted. More criticism had to be directed abroad than at home. For more information on Eulenspiegel,see my articles on it.

The source: These are front or back covers from issues from 1985 to 1989.

Eulenspiegel Cartoons: 1985-1989

Eulenspiegel Cover

The gentleman in the white hat is saying: You need culture, colleagues! Go to the opera or a concert.” The point is a criticism of conditions in GDR factories, which were often decrepit.

Date: #45/1985

Eulenspiegel Cover

The movie theater announces the second week of a new movie. The shop next door notes that it is being renovated for the past three years. A regular complaint in the GDR had to do with the shops, which were in fact often closed for long periods for “renovation.”

Date: #2/1986

Eulenspiegel Cover

The cover shows the Marx-Engels statue in the center of East Berlin. The caption reads: “Why is Engels standing?” “Because he wants to see how the housing problem is being solved.” “And Marx? “He is astonished by the low rents.” The GDR had promised to solve the housing shortage by 1990.

Date: #15/1986

Eulenspiegel Cover

This was published in the midst of the Contra activities in Central America. The portrayal of the U.S. is less than flattering.

Date: #18/1986.

Eulenspiegel Cover

As the world blows up, a general tells an industrialist: “It’s a good thing that we did so many tests. Otherwise we could not have been sure that it would work.” This ran during the controversy about American nuclear testing.

Date: #29/1986

Eulenspiegel Cover

An American banker steps off a huge cargo plane. The poor farmers say: “Such a huge plane for two suitcases of money?” “Hey, that’s for the return flight.” The caption at the top reads: “American companies have taken profits from Latin America and the Caribbean equal to eight times their investments.”

Date: #31/1986

Eulenspiegel Cover

American officers ask a priest: “So, you are against our president’s Star Wars program. Imagine people here had the atomic bomb. How would you defend yourself?!”

Date: #34/1986

Eulenspiegel Cover

The caption says: “Of course Star Wars works!”

Date: #47/1986

Eulenspiegel Cover

In an American city, a man says: “The Humane Society takes in homeless animals. Perhaps I can find a warm place to stay there.”

Date: #10/1988

Eulenspiegel Cover

“Cutting our armaments in half? Why, then I could not defend myself!”

Date: #50/1988

Eulenspiegel Cover

A fisherman catches a fish with a magnet. The factory in the background is an iron factory. This was as direct as Eulenspiegelcould get about the GDR’s serious pollution problem.

Date: #15/1989

Eulenspiegel Cover

In a GDR factory. “His first working day.” One worker says: “We’ll break him in soon enough.” This is a criticism of less than acceptable productivity.

Date: #35/1989

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