The Solo Traveller's View

GDR: a Legacy of Acrid Jokes

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The brigadier of an agricultural commune, the Landwirtschaftliche Produktionsgenossenschaft (LPG) in Heilenroda knows that his sows produce on average six piglets. ‘Well,’ he muses, ‘that doesn’t sound like much. The SED county leadership won’t be impressed.’ Therefore he writes in his report, ‘The healthy sow in Heilenroda usually produces seven piglets.’
The county leader peruses this report attentively, thinking, ‘Seven piglets! That’s good, but it may not be quite enough to reach our production target. It’s probably better if we put eight.’
The district leader ponders. ‘Eight piglets? Is that a lot? No idea – but let’s make it nine, just to be on the safe side.’
Reading this, his superior at the National Planning Committee thinks to himself, ‘Nine piglets? Not bad! However, we still have a little gap in our Schweinefleischbilanzkennzahl.
The leader of the Central Committee for Agricultural Production reads of ten piglets in the latest report. ‘Not quite enough to impress the Politbüro, I think. Let’s make that eleven.’
The final report is impressive and satisfies the highest authorities. ‘Comrade Honecker,’ they announce proudly, ‘the healthy sow in Heilenroda produces on average twelve piglets.’
‘Marvellous,’ the head of state replies. ‘In that case, we can export half of them!’

What would happen if the Sahara were to turn socialist, with a state-directed economy? – Initially, nothing at all; but after about ten years the sand would get scarce.

A citizen of the GDR intends to buy a pair of shoes, but inadvertently enters a butcher’s shop. ‘Have you no shoes?’ he asks. The butcher replies, ‘You can get no shoes next door. Here we have no meat.’

At the hardware store: ‘Do you have nails?’ – ‘No.’ – ‘Do you have screws?’ – ‘No. But we’re open twenty-four hours.’ – ‘Why?’ – ‘The lock is broken.’

The GDR astronaut Siegmund Jähn was recommended for the job of director at the largest department store in East Berlin. Why? Because he had experience with vast, empty spaces.

Under socialism, everyone can choose his job, whether he wants to or not.

A primary teacher in East Germany explains to the little ones that every profession of their parents can be found in a symbol on the nation’s coins. ‘Tell me what your father does.’ – ‘My father is a builder.’ – ‘Look, here’s the hammer.’ – ‘My father works at the LPG.’ – See here, the garland of corn.’ – ‘My father is an engineer.’ – ‘And here we have a compass.’
A little boy begins to cry. ‘What’s the matter? What is your father’s job?’ – The boy wails, ‘He is Secretary-General of the Party!’ – ‘Hush now, don’t be upset. Look here, right at the centre: this is the nut that holds everything together …’

A delegation of French journalists returns from a visit to the German Democratic Republic. The correspondent of the communist newspaper L’ Humanité reports, ‘Particularly impressive are the citizens of the GDR in their honesty, their intelligence and their love for the state.’
The reporter of the conservative newspaper Le Figaro confirms this. ‘Indeed. But let me add that I have not met anyone who united those three virtues. Those who are honest and love the GDR are not intelligent; those who are intelligent and love the GDR are not honest; and those who are honest and intelligent don’t love the GDR.’

The head of state is visiting a primary school. With a smile he asks Fritzchen, ‘Tell me, my boy, who is your father?’
‘That would be Ulbricht, Comrade Honecker.’
‘And who is your mother?’
‘The GDR, Comrade Honecker.’
‘And what would you like to be when you grow up?’
‘An orphan, Comrade Honecker.’

Why were there hardly any bank robberies in the GDR? – One had to wait fifteen years for a getaway car.

Two Trabis crashed, resulting in thirteen casualties: Both drivers, plus eleven citizens amongst the crowds who fought over the spare parts.

The difference between socialism and orgasm? – Socialism makes you moan longer.

The difference between democracy and social democracy? – About the same as between a chair and an electric chair.

The difference between terrorists and the GDR leadership? – Terrorists have fans and followers.

The difference between capitalism and socialism? – Capitalism is the exploitation of man by his fellow man; under socialism, it’s the other way round.

Which systems are incompatible? – The socialist system and the nerve system.

What are the geographic particularities of the GDR? – It’s a flat land with tight spots.

What are the four main difficulties in socialism? – Spring, summer, autumn and winter.

What is a quartet? – An East German symphonic orchestra after a tour in the West.

What would have happened if Ulbricht had been shot instead of Kennedy? – Hard to say, but one thing is certain: Onassis would not have married the widow.

After an official meeting, the German heads of state Willy Brandt (West) and Walter Ulbricht (East) find time for an informal chat.
‘Do you have a hobby?’ asks Ulbricht. – ‘I like to collect the jokes my people circulate about me,’ Brandt tells him. ‘And what is your hobby?’ – ‘Almost the same as yours,’ Ulbricht confides, ‘but I prefer to collect the people who circulate jokes about me.’

A faithful member of the SED returns from a business trip to the West. His superior is curious: ‘So, comrade, you have witnessed the putrid decay and the mortal agony of capitalism?’
‘I have.’
‘And what is your impression?’
‘It’s a beautiful way to go …’

Fritzchen returns from school: ‘Papi, our essays on the great achievements of the GDR were handed out today. Mine was the best: I got a D!’
Dad is cross. ‘Really, a D! How can that be the best? What did the others get?’ – ‘I don’t know. They are still being questioned.’

A teacher in the German Democratic Republic asks his class, ‘Who wrote The Communist Manifesto?’
Silence. He decides to ask one of the boys directly.
Fritzchen, can you tell me who wrote The Communist Manifesto?’
It wasn’t me, honestly!’ is the anxious reply.
The teacher, appalled, tells his wife about the incident. She tries to calm him by saying, ‘You should give him the benefit of the doubt, dear. Maybe it really wasn’t him.’
The teacher withdraws to a dark corner of his favourite bar to drown his dismay, and ends up telling the whole sad story to a stranger.
Now look here, don’t you worry. I’m from State Security. We shall find out who did it.’
A couple of weeks later, the two men meet once more in the same bar.
Comrade! You’ll be pleased to know that it really wasn’t Fritzchen. However, his father confessed.’

Erich Honecker is due to receive the Nobel Prize. Why? – He turned the ‘Heart of Europe’ into the arse of the world.

What is Honecker’s favourite sport? Bobsledding, of course: speedily downhill, with a wall on either side.

Honecker inspects the port of Rostock, where three cargo ships are berthed. At the first one he asks a sailor, ‘Well, comrade, what will your journey accomplish?’
‘We are taking fertilizer to Mozambique and shall return with a load of bananas.’
‘Splendid, comrade – carry on!’
At the second ship, Honecker repeats his question and is told, ‘We are shipping bicycles to Comrade Fidel in Cuba and shall come back with a cargo of sugar.’
At the third ship, Honecker enquires, ‘Tell me, comrade, where will your journey take you?’
‘We are delivering bananas and sugar to Leningrad.’
‘And what shall you be taking back?’
‘The train, as usual …’

Honecker watches the sunrise from his balcony. ‘Good morning, dear sun!’ he says.
‘Good morning, dear Comrade Secretary-General and Chairman of the Socialist Unity Party of the German Democratic Republic,’ the sun replies.
Honecker’s day is spent in Berlin, working with the Central Committee. At lunchtime, he takes a break and opens the window wide: ‘Good day, dear sun!’
‘Good day, dear Comrade Secretary-General and Chairman of the Socialist Unity Party of the German Democratic Republic,’ answers the sun.
As the sun is about to set, Honecker waves, ‘Good evening, dear sun!’
‘Kiss my ass – I’m in the West now!’

Honecker wishes to investigate his popularity. At random, he visits a tower block and rings a doorbell. A little girl opens.
‘Who are you, comrade?
she asks.
‘I am the man who ensures you have a good life. Thanks to me you have food and a home …’
‘Mum, come quickly,’ the little girl shouts. ‘It’s Uncle Peter from Munich!’

Ingrid writes to her uncle in the West. ‘Dear Uncle, thank you kindly for your parcel. I buried the pistol and the ammunition in the garden for now. Your presents are always received with great joy.’
A couple of weeks later, uncle receives another letter from his niece in the GDR. ‘My dear Uncle, our garden has been thoroughly dug over and is now ready for the vegetable seeds you promised to send …’

‘Who invented socialism? A politician or a scientist?’ – ‘A politician, of course.’ – ‘I thought as much! A scientist would have tested it on rats first.’

The Seven Miracles of Socialism:
1) There was no unemployment in the GDR.
2) Even though there was no unemployment, only half the population had work.
3) Even though only half the population worked, production targets were always reached.
4) Even though production targets were always reached, there was almost nothing to buy.
5) Even though there was almost nothing to buy, everyone was happy and content.
6) Even though everyone was happy and content, there were frequent protest marches.
7) Even though there were frequent protest marches, the government was always re-elected with a majority of 99.9%

There has been a break-in at the Ministry. Honecker phones his chief of police: ‘Have important documents been stolen?’
‘Nothing to worry about – only the election results of the next thirty years.’

The US, the Soviet Union and the GDR are planning to lift the Titanic. The Americans are interested in the safe and its contents of gold and diamonds, the Russians are interested in the engineering, and the GDR is interested in the band that played such cheerful tunes right until the end.

Even the GDR had a Festival of Political Jokes. First prize: ten years’ worth of winter holidays in Siberia.

A citizen of the GDR wanders through the streets of East Berlin at night and roars, ‘Crap state! Crap government!’
He is arrested immediately by an officer of the secret police. The man wants to know the reason for his arrest and is reminded of his words.
‘I did not say which crap state and which crap government I meant!’ he argues. The Stasi officer cannot deny this and releases the man. After a couple of minutes, however, the officer catches up with him and arrests him anew.
‘Upon reflection,’ he says, ‘there is only one crap state and one crap government. You’ll have to come with me.’

A GDR border guard asks his comrade, ‘What is your true opinion of our great socialist state?’ – ‘Much the same as yours, I should think,’ is the reply. – ‘In that case, I’m afraid I shall have to arrest you!’

A teacher, explaining the meaning of bereavement, asks her pupils for examples.
‘My granddad broke his leg.’
‘That is a case of harm, but not a bereavement.’
‘My mother lost her wallet.’
‘That is a loss, but not a bereavement.’
‘When Comrade Honecker dies, is that a bereavement?’
‘Well done! It is a bereavement – but no harm, and certainly no loss.’

After his demise, Honecker knocks on the gate of heaven. St Peter opens, measures him with a cold glance and says, ‘I believe you have lost your way, Erich. Off to hell with you!’
Half a year later, two little devils knock on heaven’s door. St Peter can’t believe his eyes. ‘What are you doing here? Surely you know this is no place for you.’
But the devils plead with him: ‘For pity’s sake, St Peter – we are political refugees!’

Honecker’s guardian angel requests a holiday, pleading stress and exhaustion. St Peter enquires, ‘And why should this be necessary? Like all the other guardian angels, you have only one single person to protect.’
‘Certainly,’ whimpers the angel, ‘but I have to protect him from seventeen million people!’

Three prisoners are sitting together in Bautzen, infamous prison of the GDR. One of them says, ‘I was always five minutes early, so they arrested me for a spy.’
‘I was always five minutes late, so they arrested me for sabotage.’
‘And I was always exactly on time, so they arrested me for possessing a watch from the West.’

A US banker has been invited by the finance minister of the GDR. In the yard of the ministry, he sees stacks of bullion lying about. Amazed, he tells his host, ‘In my homeland, gold is considered a very precious commodity. It is stored in Fort Knox, surrounded and secured by concrete walls, barbed wire and mines, and guarded by watchtowers and soldiers with dogs.’
‘There you have it!’ replies the GDR minister. ‘That is the difference between our systems! Here, we regard the people as the most precious commodity.’

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If you have a favourite joke about the GDR, please share it in the comment section below. 



 

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Author: Fabienne Wolf

writing solo traveller

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