Postcards from East Berlin
World and Personal History
of the Cold War
The book "Postcards from East Berlin" by Andreas Vogel tells the story of the Cold War in a mixture of historical facts and biographical anecdotes, using the compact format of a postcard. The book is illustrated with stamps and First Day Covers issued by the Deutsche Post, East Germany's postal service.
Andreas Vogel was born 1965 in Quedlinburg and spent the first 25 years of his life in Halle, an industrial town in the center of East Germany, and in Berlin. Andreas experienced the dictatorship of the proletariat in middle and high school, during his mandatory military service at the border guards and as a student at Humboldt University.
Besides history, he interested in the social impact of the Internet and artificial intelligence. His reflections are expressed in digital videos and a blog.
The freedom to travel was always the biggest topic for Andreas. After the Wall came down, he departed. With a PhD grant, he went to Madrid, then to Montreal for the first job. After a year, he went to Australia to compensate for the Canadian Winter. Finally he washed up on the shores of the San Francisco Bay in 1996 and contributed to the Internet economy.
Who's the audience for this book?
Originally I started the book as personal project. I had 25 copies of the English and German version printed and gave them to friends and family.
The feedback was good, in the US and in Germany, with the millennials and the baby boomers, in the East and in the West. The readers likes concept with the post cards with its compact format and the mixture of world history and memoir.
The book is a reminiscence who lived through the cold war and an entertaining history lesson for the others.
To print or not to print?
While postcard lost its role as communication media in the digital age, it's compact format fits in very well in today's interactions such as text messages, tweets and Instagram posts.
The book represents about a hundred stories which can be consumed independently.
While the German edition is available in print and digitally, the English version is currently only available as Kindle book.
You can read the electronic version on the smartphone or tablet, one postcard at a time: some cards during that boring weekly conference call, others in the bathroom.
The printed edition has its appeal, too. It's an eye catching coffee table book. If you are interested in a printed copy of the English edition, please send me an email,
Did the book have personal consequences?
Yes. I had often and long discussion with my mom in person and over the phone. Sometimes we remembered and interpreted events differently.
We also had a close relationship, but this project get us even closer.
How relevant is the book?
The Cold War is over and East Germany disappeared from the map. The topics, however, stay relevant, just in a different context.
There are the geopolitical developments in Korea, Russia and China. Understanding the history Cold War might help to develop better relationships with these countries.
But there's more. For example, the Wall, personal freedom and privacy, opportunism and compromises, and environmental protection.
Why this book?
I stumbled across First Day Covers issued by the Deutsche Post, East Germany's Postal Service, in early 2018. I was fascinated by the variety and the relevance to historic and personal topics and their graphic expression.
There is, for example, a stamp depicted a high-rise apartment building, now demolished, where I spent a decade of my youth. Other stamps show every computer I programmed in high school and in university.
All this led to the idea to write down the stories from back then in the context of these philatelic documents.
What is a First Day Cover or FDC?
When a postal service issues a new set of stamps, often a illustrated envelope also known as cachet is produced by the postal service or private companies. The illustrations on the envelope reflect the theme of the stamp set.
Typically, a special pictorial postmark is applied to cancel the stamp.
The cachet with the stamps and special postmark is only available on the day of issue, hence the name First Day Cover.
The Deutsche Post der DDR, East Germany's postal service was an avid issues of stamps and first day covers. The design of its stamps and cachets also reflects four decades of graphic design.
Walter „Nobody has the intention to build a wall “ Ulbricht
This is an important book. It represents history correctly. We were just about to leapfrog the West with our planned economy, information systems and cybernetics. But then, Erich destroyed it all!
Erich „Sozialismus in its run is neither stopped by ox nor donkey“ Honecker
The book is an instant classic. It's on my top shelf, right between the Communist Manifesto and Lenin's „What is to be done?“. We had everything with the unity of economic and scoial policy: stable prices, affordable housing and the Megabit Chip. But then Gorbachev destroyed it all!
Erich „I love you all“ Mielke
The book contains important information. I immediately detached the postcards and put them into the Stasi registry. If we only had the Vogel committed as an informal contributor, the situation today would be different. Very different!