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German History in Documents and Images
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Consumer Goods Supply: Young Couple Tests New Vacuum Cleaner (1956)
After the death of Stalin in March 1953, the Soviet Union implemented a "New Course" [Neue Kurs], which also led to a dramatic shift in the economic policies of the GDR: the aim was now to make the development of the consumer goods industry a priority (at the expense of heavy industry) in the interest of raising the standard of living. This photograph shows a young married couple testing out a new vacuum cleaner in East Berlin in 1956. By this point in time, however, the orientation had once again shifted away from consumer goods and back to heavy industry. As a result, the supply and distribution of consumer goods in sufficient quantity and quality continued to be a problem. Photo by Horst E. Schulze.