Fascinating Photos of Berlin in the 1980s

Between 1961 and 1989, the Berlin Wall divided East and West Germany and prevented the mass defection that took place after World War II. It also acted as a symbolic partition between democracy and Communism during the Cold War period. The wall was erected in the middle of the night, but it was torn down just as quickly 28 years later, leading to Germany’s reunification. Chris John Dewitt captured the dark period in the country’s history when the wall stood like an eyesore. The photographer snapped images of both sides, but during a trip to the East, he quickly learned how restrictive even taking a picture would be:

When I got there I began taking pictures, but was very quickly stopped by two young policemen. It took some while to work out what it was I shouldn’t have been photographing. It wasn’t the site of the Reich Chancellery, they replied to my questions, or even the wall. It was because in the distance, poking up from the other side of the wall, the Reichstag building could be seen. One mustn’t photograph buildings on the other side of the wall they said. The fact that I could go there on the Western side and take as many pictures of it as I liked made no difference. That was the rule which I must obey whilst on DDR soil.

Dewitt’s Tumblr is a fascinating time capsule. We’ve singled out several evocative snapshots of Berlin during the 1980s in our gallery.

Photo credit: Chris John Dewitt
Photo credit: Chris John Dewitt

“A Berlin Wall graffito for Valentine’s Day.”