"'Volkswahlen 1958' in Ostberlin. Das Bild spricht für sich!"
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Picture 29: The picture, taken before „elections“ in 1958, shows a board with a propagandist cartoon facing a cemetery. The cartoon is meant to illustrate socialism’s superiority. A worker with the word „socialism“ on his overalls is shown smiling, with open eyes, healthy and strong-looking. The old toothless gnome who symbolizes capitalism has screwed-up eyes and is yelling at the worker: "How ridiculous! We are the superior power!". He needs to stand on stilts in order to reach eye-level with the worker, thus ineffectively hiding his powerlessness. His suit is that of a person who does no "real work", and he has a dollar sign on his hat - the whole figure embodies anti-Western and anti-capitalist stereotypes, which the Nazis had also drawn on. This comparison applies to the strong and healthy-looking worker, too. The ideological message, however, is the Marxist-Leninist doctrine of the inevitable withering-away of capitalism, which will be replaced by socialism/communism. One may read this as an attempt to implore onlookers to believe in the strength of socialism despite its obvious weakness in the light of mass escapes. 1958, however, was indeed an optimistic year for the East German communist leaders, not least because of declining numbers of escapees (see introduction). The person who put up this board in front of graves may have been deliberately mocking its message, although we can't know this with certainty. Very probably, the photographer was not the only one who was amused by the picture.