Digitized Archival Collections

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Document from the Peter Bochmann Border Guard Collection

 

The collections listed below will soon be available online through the new Wende Museum website launching mid-2021. The cataloging and digitization of these rare and important collections is made possible by the support of Arcadia - a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.

 

 

VOLKMAR ANDRÄ ARCHIVE

Born in 1944, Volkmar Andrä studied musicology, cultural studies, and German literature. In 1966, he founded the Hootenanny-Klubs (renamed the Oktoberklub in 1967) and was a member until 1968. From 1968 to 1972, he worked for DDRFernsehen (East German television) as an editor in the entertainment division, responsible for the programs “Schlagerstudio” and “Notenbank.” From 1972 to 1996, he worked for AMIGA (the popular music division of VEB Deutsche Schallplatten, the German Democratic Republic’s state-controlled record company) as a music editor. In that capacity he produced a number of pop and rock sampler LPs, such as “Kleeblatt,” “Hallo,” “Rhythmus,” and “Die großen Erfolge.” Before leaving VEB Deutsche Schallplatten, Andrä founded Firma BTM, a label dedicated to the release of light rock and folk music (from Herbert Roth to De Plattfööt) from the newly reunited German states.


SOVIET HIPPIE COLLECTION

The Soviet Hippie Collection is made up of a series of collections (such as the Azazello Archive) and individual items organized by provenance—all from former hippies throughout the Soviet Union. The materials are primarily from the 1960s to 1970s and include documents, photographs, artwork, textiles, compact discs, and journals. The collection demonstrates how hippies collaborated with underground artists on anti-establishment exhibitions, were active inecumenical and orthodox reform movements, and sometimes engaged in politicaldissent. The hippies, while extreme outliers of the system, are emblematic of manylarger trends that prevailed during the latter half of the Cold War period.

This collection addresses a history that is absolutely crucial in understanding how late-socialist life functioned, why the Soviet system collapsed, and how post-socialist society emerged.


PETER BOCHMANN BORDER GUARD COLLECTION

Major Peter Bochmann, a commander in the Grenztruppen der Deutsche Demokratische Republik (Border Guard for the German Democratic Republic), was stationed on the eastern side of Checkpoint Charlie for extended periods between 1964 and 1990. He has recorded his career at the Berlin Wall with a thorough and carefully organized collection of primary and secondary literature, training materials, personal documents, and photographs. As well he preserved phones, briefcases, lockers, radios, awards, and even dishware from the guards’ room at the checkpoint. When the Berlin Wall collapsed on November 9, 1989, Major Bochmann was working on the development of a new photo-based facial recognition system. The last instructions for his program stop mid-sentence, marking the moment he stepped outside to check the commotion and became a witness to history and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The museum has been acquiring Major Bochmann’s collection over a number of years, and many of the materials were displayed as part of the exhibition Facing the Wall (2009–17). Adding greater contextual information to these items are Bochmann’s twenty hours of oral history conducted as part of theHistorical Witness Project.


ERICH HONECKER PAPERS

Erich Honecker’s personal papers in the Wende Museum’s collection document the last four years in the life of the communist leader who ruled East Germany from 1971 to 1989. In his will, Honecker specifically requested that his personal papers be housed in a non-German institution. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Honecker was imprisoned in Berlin’s Moabit Prison and charged with thirteen counts of manslaughter for ordering deadly force against its own citizens who were trying to flee East Germany. These orders of deadly force ultimately resulted in 350 deaths. Honecker stood trial for crimes against humanity beginning in November of 1992.  The trial ended early in January 1993, however, due to Honecker’s failing health. Hedied in Santiago, Chile, of liver cancer in 1994. In his memoir, Moabiter Notizen (Notes from Moabit), he claimed that, “If it were up to me, East Germany would still exist.” During his trial, Honecker credited the Berlin Wall with preventing World War III. 

Honecker’s personal archive includes legal correspondence from his defense lawyers regarding the trial and medical records from various doctors outlining his liver cancer. There are detailed reports of the allegations against Honecker, the individuals who filed charges, information about the appeal process, and news articles with Honecker’s handwritten annotations, as well as drafts and notes for Moabiter Notizen. The archive also includes books from Honecker’s library, which are marked with his personal stamp.


STASI ARCHIVE

Preserved at the Wende Museum in a set of 159 binders, this collection offers a continuous history of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) seen through different aspects of the activities of the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (MfS, Ministry for State Security, Stasi).

Though only one segment of the GDR governing structure, the Ministry encompassed so many areas of controlling authority as to be practically synonymous with the GDR itself. Best known as the surveillance arm of the government, the MfS was also the fiscal authority behind the military economy, foreign trade, passports and tourism, and all matters of intelligence / counterintelligence.


POLISH UNDERGROUND COLLECTION

The Polish Underground Collection is a massive and unique archive of materials from the Polish opposition during the Soviet era. Hundreds of periodicals and books that were illicitly printed from 1968 to 1989 illuminate the scope of underground activity among Polish dissidents, including those active with Solidarność (Solidarity), the first independent labor union in the Soviet Bloc.