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German History in Documents and Images
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Meal in a Political Commune (1968)
In West Germany, communes first gained popularity as living and housing communities during the 1968 movement. At the time, most communes were based on the principles of sharing, achieving consensus, and eschewing hierarchy. In the photograph below, members of a Hamburg political commune share a meal. Various clues put the group on the far left of the political spectrum: printed materials from an extra-parliamentary opposition group rest on the corner of the table, Soviet propaganda posters line the walls, and a bust of Chairman Mao presides over the entire gathering. Communes eventually gave rise to more general housing communities [Wohngemeinschaften] that were motivated more by practical principles – e.g., saving money – than political beliefs. Photo by Günter Zint.