25 jokes from the GDR that show the Stasi couldn't silence laughter

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Katie Wilson - [email protected]
25 jokes from the GDR that show the Stasi couldn't silence laughter

Citizens of former East Germany were subjected to communist dictators, an all-imposing secret police and material shortages. Yet these issues became the butt of many knee-slapping jokes.


These politically-charged jokes were also a tool for the population to protest, and to voice their discontent.

However, it is important to remember that “subversive provocation” (laughing at the State) was a criminal offence in the GDR, and was punishable by prison time. Jokes were taken very seriously by the Stasi (the East German Secret Police), as they saw them as a violation of Paragraph 19 "State-endangering propaganda and hate speech”.

READ ALSO: Is Germany really united 30 years after the fall of the Wall?

According to research by Bodo Müller, an expert on GDR humour, the hardest punishment for telling a joke was four years in prison. East Germans would face trial for jokes, with friends and neighbours being subjected to interrogations by the Stasi.

Most of the prison sentences for telling jokes happened in the earlier days of the GDR when the Regime was at its hardest and most powerful. Due to high incarceration rates in the 1960s, it became logistically more and more difficult to imprison someone for telling a politically-charged joke. 

The last sentence was handed in 1972 to three engineers who had told jokes in the breakfast break. 

Operation GDR Joke: All Germans take jokes very seriously 

What’s the difference between a fox and a Wessi? The fox is clever and pretends to be dumb, West Germans are the other way around!

In order to better understand the political climate in East Germany and the population's attitude towards socialism, the West German Federal Intelligence Service launched Operation GDR joke, which required spies to collect East German jokes and analyze their wider implications.

Documents containing hundreds of jokes landed on important West German desks, including the chancellor's, the foreign minister's and the interior minister’s. These files were made public in 2009, which allows East German wit to outlive the country it mocked, and of course, we can now all enjoy these side-splitters. 

Photo: DPA

Jokes mocking Socialism and the Soviet Union

1. Capitalism is the exploitation of man by man. What about Socialism? Under Socialism it is exactly the other way around.

2. Why is toilet paper so rough in the GDR? In order to make the last asshole red.

3. The five rules of socialism:
  1. Don’t think.
  2. If you think, don’t speak.
  3. If you think and speak, don’t write.
  4. If you think, speak and write, don’t sign it.
  5. If you think, speak, write and sign it, don’t be surprised.

4. What are the four deadly enemies of socialism? Spring, summer, autumn, winter.

5. What would happen if the desert became a socialist country? Nothing for a while, then the sand becomes scarce.

6. Three ships are lined up ready to set sale. When the captain of the first ship is asked where he is going, he says “to Cuba!”

“What are you loaded with?”

“Heavy machinery!”

“And what are you bringing back?”


The captain of the second ship says he’s going to Brazil.

“What are you loaded with?”

“Telescopes (optical devices)!”

“What are you bringing back?”

“coffee and bananas”

The captain of the first ship and the captain of the second ship ask the captain of the third ship “Comrade, where are you sailing to?”


“What are you bringing there?”

“Oranges, coffee and bananas”

“And what are you coming back with?”

“The train. Obviously.”

7. A school teacher asks little Fritzie: "Fritzchen, why are you always speaking of our Soviet brothers? It's Soviet friends."

"Well, you can always choose your friends.”

8. Older East German residents are going to receive new, bigger IDs. Otherwise, they won't be able to fit their long faces into the photos.”

9. How can you use a banana as a compass? Place a banana on the Berlin Wall. The bitten end would point East.

Photo: DPA

Jokes mocking the Trabant (the East German car of notoriously bad quality, though the waiting list for one took years!)

10. What's the best feature of a Trabant? There's a heater at the back to keep your hands warm when you're pushing it.

11. What is the longest car on the market? The Trabant, at 12 meters length. 2 meters of car, plus ten meters of smoke.

12. A man driving a Trabant suddenly breaks his windshield wiper. Pulling into a service station, he hails a mechanic. "Wipers for a Trabi?" he asks.

The mechanic thinks about it for a few seconds and replies, "Yes, sounds like a fair trade."

13. Why has the new Trabi been launched with two exhaust pipes? So you can use it as a wheelbarrow.

14. Why are there no bank robberies in the GDR? Because you have to wait 12 years for a get-away car! 

Photo: DPA

Jokes mocking East German leaders

15. Why did Erich Honecker get a divorce? Because Brezhnev kisses better than his wife.

16. "Erich Honecker and Erich Mielke (Head of the Stasi) want to jump from the top of the East Berlin Television tower. Who do you think will land first?”

"Who cares as long as they jump?”

READ ALSO: Honeckers: The most powerful family in communist East Germany. What happened to them?

17. Pieck (the first GDR President) and Grotewohl (the first GDR Prime Minister) are visiting Stalin in Moscow. Stalin gives them a car. But when they want to leave, they realise the car doesn't have a motor. So Stalin says, "You don't need a motor if you're already going downhill.”

Photo: DPA

Jokes mocking the East German Police (People's Police) and Secret Police (Stasi)

18. Why do police always have a dog with them? So that at least one of them is educated.

19. "The East German People’s Police have also been patrolling West Berlin recently."


"Because stupidity knows no borders."

20. How many People’s Police officers does it take to milk a cow? Exactly 22. Two hold the teats, while five grab hold of one leg each and lift the cow up and down. 

21. Why did God create the People’s Police? He was making monkeys but ran out of fur.

22. Two People’s Police Officers stopped for a snack during their patrol. They both sat down on the kerb and unwrapped their sandwiches. Suddenly, one of them stood up, crossed the wrote and sat down on the opposite kerb. Puzzled, the other one asked “What are you doing Comrade?”

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He answered, "I was at the dentist yesterday and he told me to chew on the other side."

23. Honecker and Mielke are discussing their hobbies. Honecker: "I collect all the jokes about me." 

Mielke: "Well, we have almost the same hobby. I collect all those who tell jokes about you.”

24. Why do Stasi officers make such good taxi drivers? You get in the car and they already know your name and where you live.

25. Why do the Stasi work together in groups of three? You need one who can read, one who can write, and a third to keep an eye on the two intellectuals.



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