Only Jokes Thrived Under Communism


As we anticipate the non-celebrations regarding the 20th anniversary of the single-most liberating political event in history, the destruction of the Berlin Wall and the consequent demise of communism, here are some East German jokes collected by West German intelligence sources:

Did East Germans originate from apes? Impossible. Apes could never have survived on just two bananas a year.

What would happen if the desert became communist? Nothing for a while, and then there would be a sand shortage.

Why does West Germany have a higher standard of living than we do? Because communists can't get work permits there.

Of course being a funnyman in one of the most awful regimes ran much higher risks than being splattered by a watermelon at a Gallagher show. In fact, the Stasi surveilled the population extensively and even hauled away people for cracking wise. Which lead to this gem:

"There are people who tell jokes. There are people who collect jokes and tell jokes. And there are people who collect people who tell jokes."

More here. Hat tip: Blogger and critic extraordinaire Alan Vanneman.

Read Glenn Garvin's haunting, outraged review of the incredible Stasiland: True Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall.

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  1. Interesting movie about political jokes in the old Communist regimes, called “Hammer & Tickle.” Only caught about half of it when it ran on cable, unfortunately.

    1. They made a movie of it? There’s a whole non-fiction book on the subject of the same title that’s quite good.

  2. the single-most liberating political event in history

    Chronocentric much?

    1. I doubt the Caananites saw the emergence of the Jews from Egypt as “liberating.”

      1. Thank you for summoning underzog.

  3. Why would we celebrate? That wasn’t the REAL communism, comrade.

  4. In Soviet Russia, joke tells you!

  5. Two Stasi agents are on a surveillance mission and quite bored.
    First agent: “Hey, what are you thinking about?”
    Second agent: “Oh, nothing special. The same as you…”
    First agent: “In that case, you’re under arrest!”

  6. Three shop owners found themselves in prison. They started talking.
    “I set my prices higher than my competitors. I am in prison for price gouging.”
    “I set my prices lower than my competitors. I am in prison for predatory practices.”
    “I set my prices the same as my competitors. I am in prison for collusion!”

    1. Strictly speaking, that’s not a communist joke, its an FTC joke.

      1. When you realize that you can start telling East German jokes about your own society, you need to vote out whomever happens to be in office.

      2. There is a distinction?

        1. I would like to ask the server scrolls how, with my accidental double post, the second one appears ahead of the first.

          1. Magic. Duh.

      3. There is a distinction?

  7. And now we have the joke of a President and his Mao-loving communications director.


  8. Here’s my communist sympathizer joke:

    Barack Obama.

  9. Ironic since Ms. Mao Tse Dunn claims she was joking about Mao.

    1. And Hitler was just joking about the Jews. No one respects the performance artist.

      1. Gold. I shall use that in the pub this evening and claim it as my own invention!

        1. No, I insist that you wear a shirt that says, “This joke was written by Pro Libertate.”

          1. As a compromise I have printed out a sign – in US Letter format!

  10. I’ll pretend to work, and Obama will pretend to pay me.

  11. How do you double the value of a Trabant? Fill up the tank.

    Why should you get the rear window defroster on your Trabant? So your hands will stay warm while you push it.

  12. How do you measure the acceleration of a Trabent?

    With a diary.

    1. Oh, lordy, thanks for those Trabant jokes.

      1. How do you fix your car after hitting a Trabant? Turn on the windshield wipers.

  13. Ms. Mao Tse Dunn claims she was joking about Mao.

    “What’s red and yellow and screams? Flowers!”

    (Polite applause.)

  14. Man, East Germany was a horrible place. I’m glad I got the chance to visit it in ’86. It wasn’t the potholes or the shitty cars or the lack of any merchandise worth buying with the Ostmarks they forced you to convert upon entry, so much as the soul-crushing dreary vibe of the place.

    1. You sure you weren’t in DC?

    2. The first thing I noticed about E. Berlin in ’88 was how neat, tidy and utterly empty of people it was. Exactly what a city should not be.

  15. Oh how the faults and failures of one dogmatic utopian scheme (communism) make us ready and willing to give another dogmatic utopian scheme (libertarianism) a go. Is that the point of this stupid post? Or maybe most reasonoids live under rocks and this stuff is news to them.

    1. Ed,
      you are like the Neil Young Cinnamon Girl guitar solo — one note droned on continuously.

      I could easily imagine you in a debate with a mockingbird:

      Mockingbird: Chaw Chaw Chtppprrtybrt

      Edward: Fucktard utopian libertarian.

      Mockingbird: K’kow K’kow k’kow

      Edward: Reality based community.

      Mockingbird: Zrrr TrerTrit

      Edward: Stupid reasonoid post.

      Mockingbird: chirp?

      So single minded and devoid of brain functionality, you would lose to a fucking mockingbird.

    2. make us ready and willing to give another dogmatic utopian scheme (libertarianism) a go

      No one here claims libertarianism will be a utopia.

      Communists used the coercive power of the state to force people to behave in the way the Communists decreed was correct.

      Libertarians want to limit the power of the state in order for people to be as free as possible (without infringing on the rights of others).

    3. Read Sir Thomas More you fucking retard, before you abuse that word again.

  16. Morris,

    Perhaps you have a better dogmatic utopian scheme in mind? Is that the point of your stupid comment? Or maybe leftists live under rocks and the fact that personal liberty and capitalism are the most liberating and prosperous tools available to all mankind is news to you.

  17. Personal favorite Soviet Russia joke-
    “It’s 1988. A Warsaw man is sent off to the store by his wife to bring home some ham. Naturally the queue goes on for miles and when he finally gets to the counter, all the shelves are bare.

    He loses his temper. “I’m sick of this stupid country, sick of this government, sick of the communists!”

    Suddenly a shadowy-looking man in a trenchcoat approaches him and says “Calm down, comrade. You remember what this sort of outburst would cause back in the bad old days…” and mimes a trigger being pulled against his temple.

    Back home, the man’s wife looks at him returning empty-handed and asks, “They’re out of ham again?”

    “It’s worse than that. They’re even out of bullets.”

  18. A man goes to place his order for a Trabant and is informed he can pick it up from the factory in seven years. “Which month?” he asks. July, he is told. “Which day?” he asks. The 15th, he is told. “Morning or afternoon?” he asks — “the plumber is coming the same day.”

  19. A Soviet and an American are debating which country has the better system. The American tells the Soviet “In my country we can say whatever we want. I can go to the White House and tell the President ‘Mr. President, you are doing a bad job!”

    I can do that too, says the Soviet.

    “Really?” says the American.

    “Yes,” said the Soviet. “I can go to the Kremlin, march into the Secretary General’s office, pound on the desk and say ‘Mr. Secretary General, I think the US President is doing a bad job!'”

  20. Once again, in Germany people ARE celebrating. And it’s their holiday not ours. There’s something tasteless about celebrating a holiday you didn’t earn. Why is Reason pushing this ridiculous meme that the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe is being ignored? Stop being so bloody provincial.

    1. Hey sister, if you think you can keep Oktoberfest to yourself, you have got another thing coming.

    2. I think having 4 divisions stationed for 40 years earns you something.

    3. Not a West Berliner I assume. They were acutely aware of the consequences had the Americans not stuck up for them. Idiot.

  21. Walter Ulbricht und Mao Tse-tung unterhalten sich ?ber Innenpolitik.
    “Und wie viele politische Feinde”, fragt Walter Ulbricht, “haben Sie in der Volksrepublik China?”
    “Es werden so ungef?hr siebzehn Millionen sein”, antwortet Mao Tse-tung.
    “Ju, das ist ungef?hr wie bei uns. “

    1. For those who want in on the joke:

      Ulbricht and Mao and discussing domestic politics. Ulricht asks Mao how many political enemies he has in the PRC. “About 17 million” responds Mao.

      “Yeah, about the same for us.”

  22. Ein DDR-B?rger geht sp?t in der Nacht durch Ostberlin und ruft lauten Halses immer wieder: “Schei?staat, Schei?regierung!”
    Pl?tzlich taucht ein Stasi-Offizier auf und verhaftet ihn. Der Mann will den Grund daf?r wissen, der von der Stasi erinnert ihn an seine lautstarken ?u?erungen. Der Mann verteidigt sich und sagt:
    “Ich habe ja gar nicht gesagt, welchen Schei?staat und welche Schei?regierung ich meine.”
    Der Stasioffizier denkt kurz nach und l??t den Mann gehen. Dieser verschwindet, wird aber zwei Minuten sp?ter von dem Stasioffizier wieder eingeholt und erneut verhaftet.
    Darauf der Mann: “Wieso dieses?”
    Entgegnet der Stasimensch: “Es gibt ja nur einen Schei?staat und eine Schei?regierung…”

    1. OK this one is a bit funnier. Essentially an East German goes walking at night through East Berlin and shouts over and over “Shit state! Shit government!”

      Suddenly a Stasi officer arrests him. The man explains that, hey, I didn’t say which shit state and which shit government I was talking about.

      The Stasi officer thinks for a second and lets the man go. Two minutes later though he arrests him again.

      The man asks what’s up this time and the Stasi responds “There’s only one shitty state and one shitty government…”

  23. Well someone’s a grumpy little ruskie today. Perhaps some people here like visiting the former GDR and Eastern Europe and are glad that those places aren’t communist hell-holes anymore …

    1. Dude, I’m the one who actually has something to celebrate, and those are anti-East German jokes. Just thought I’d let the liberated people speak for themselves in their own language.

  24. An East German runs through East Berling shouting “Shit country! Shit government!”

    Suddenly a Stasi officer springs up and arrests him. The man asks why he’s being arrested. The Stasi man reminds him of his recent outburst. “But I never said which shit country and which shit government I was talking about!”

    The Stasi officer thinks a bit then lets him go. The man takes two steps before the Stasi officer changes his mind and arrests him after all.

    “What for?” says the man.

    “Who are we kidding? There’s only one shit country and shit government…”

  25. The late Sovietologist David MacKenzie liked to tell a favorite joke of workers in Russia, ‘Under Communism, they pretend to pay us, and we pretend to work.’

    It was funnier when he did it.

  26. There’s something tasteless about celebrating a holiday you didn’t earn.

    (1) Oh, I think we had a little something to do with it.

    (2) Why? I don’t think anyone living had a damn thing to do with Christmas, the Fourth of July, or even Halloween, but we celebrate those.

  27. I’ve said this time and time again, but I don’t expect trolls or statists to get it.

    Hong Kong 1950-1996 and the US 1870-1890 were very close to minarchist states. The differences between them and what the minarchists on this board want is pretty small.

  28. While we’re telling Ossi-Wessi jokes,

    Was ist das Unterschied zwischen Gott und einem Wessi? Gott weisst alles, aber der Wessi weisst alles besser!

    What’s the difference between God and a West German (often known in East Germany as a Besser-Wessi)? God knows everything, but a West German knows everything better!

    I also learned one in high school about what was the solution for the Besser Wessi problem; a solution of hydrochloric acid…

    1. weisst wei?t

      You’ll have to pry my ? from my cold, dead hands. Spelling “reform”, my ass.

  29. What a quinkydink; I linked to those jokes Friday too at my German History Blog ( I was actually impressed that the Wessis were alert enough to pick up on jokes being a pulse of the commoners, so to speak.

  30. Q: Why wasn’t marijuana popular in the Soviet Union?

    A: It’s too much of a bummer to get high, get the munchies, and go stand in a line for nine hours.


  31. The more I read it, the more it impresses me. I don’t know how I ever worked without hilarious and funny things in our life, Life would be so much easier especially when there’s a jokes here and there. Being funny is nice because a lot of serious people are lacking with this kind of behavior that is why they are much look older. I would like to thank you for your outstanding blog post. Keep it up! Awesome!

  32. You’ll have to pry my ? from my cold, dead hands. Spelling “reform”, my ass.

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