OSTZEIT Stories from a bygone country

Sibylle Bergemann, Harald Hauswald, Ute Mahler, Werner Mahler – four of the best-known East German photographers, and Maurice Weiss (all members of the OSTKREUZ agency) show everyday life and the people in the GDR in unadorned and simultaneously sensitive images, reaching beyond the socialist wishful thinking. Through their openness and personal approach, the images provide an authentic view of eastern Germany – and are an examination of a reality that continues to seep into the present day.

Hence, alongside Sibylle Bergemann’s multiple award-winning, emblematic images of the creation and assembly of the Marx-Engels Monument stand her inimitably human photographs of “Clärchens Ballhaus,” as well as Werner Mahler’s study of the Thuringian town of Berka and his series of photographs following a high school graduating class through time (which he continues to this day). A photographic essay by Harald Hauswald tells of the dreariness and hidden comedy of everyday life in the GDR, while Ute Mahler’s series “Living Together” portrays people in their private surroundings over a period of multiple years in delicate images. And last but not least, Maurice Weiss’s documentary about the days after the fall of the Wall builds a bridge to the time of reunification.

Media coverage

“Ostzeit is Ostkreuz-Zeit. Ostkreuz is the name of the photo agency from East Berlin that was founded at the time of reunification. Today, it is one of those entities that preserve the stories of the vanished GDR in austere, socially critical photo series. People are the main subject of the photographers – in works never asserting or denouncing by Sibylle Bergemann, Ute Mahler, Werner Mahler, Harald Hauswald, Maurice Weiss. The story is of everyday life beyond socialist whitewashing.”

“The black-and-white photos show that life in the GDR was beautiful and sad at the same time, diversely uniform and often collectively lonely. (…) Testimonies to an – albeit cramped – utopia.”

“Everyday life in the GDR between socialist housing and coal mining, soccer and May Day parade, unmasking, but also compassionate. A powerful piece of suspended time, Ostzeit.”

Hatje Cantz Publishing, 2009
Photographs by Sibylle Bergemann, Harald Hauswald, Ute Mahler, Werner Mahler, Maurice Weiss
Texts by Marcus Jauer, Wolfgang Kil, Alexander Osang, Ingo Schulze
German / English
288 pages, 29 x 26,5 cm, bound, 180 images.
ISBN 978-3-7757-2486-9

Installation views

Display cabinet

Werner Mahler, High-school graduates

Sibylle Bergemann, P2

Werner Mahler, Berka

Harald Hauswald, Everyday life and display cabinet

Ute Mahler, Fashion

Werner Mahler, High-school graduates

Harald Hauswald, Everyday life



13 projects
160 images
varying formats, framed individually
Vintage prints and modern prints


Conceived by OSTKREUZ (Ute Mahler, Werner Mahler, Annette Hauschild and Jörg Brüggemann) in 2009

Exhibition history

Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, August 13th – September 13th 2009  

Brandenburgisches Landesmuseum für moderne Kunst/Dieselkraftwerk, Cottbus, 2010

MCK International Cultural Centre, Krakow, 2012

Schaufenster Stadtmuseum, Wiesbaden, 2015

Kathrin Kohle
Exhibition Management