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German History in Documents and Images
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Civics Lesson in East Berlin (1988)
In the GDR, civics lessons sought to convey information about the structure of the state, the rights and obligations of GDR citizens, and the ideology of Marxism-Leninism. In all of this, spelling out the superiority of the socialist over the capitalist system was of the utmost importance. In this photograph, a 10th-grade teacher at an East Berlin school gives students his interpretation of the differences between the two systems. The heading on the blackboard reads: "The GDR and the FRG [Federal Republic of Germany] – two states with different social orders." Under the category "GDR," he has listed the following: socialist state; socialist ownership of the means of production; power of the working class in alliance with other working people. The category "FRG" includes: imperialist state; private-capitalist ownership of the means of production; power of the bourgeoisie monopoly. A contemporary civics class in West Berlin would have undoubtedly arrived at a very different interpretation. Photo by Volker Döring.