GDR history

Record land GDR

The nationally owned company »VEB Deutsche Schallplatten Berlin« was the only record manufacturer in the GDR and covered all genres. In this blog post, we would like to present the individual labels and some of their productions. (26 Apr 2023)


The Amiga music label covered the entire range of popular dance music. This included beat, rock and pop music as well as popular jazz, folk music and instrumental music. Amiga belonged to VEB Deutsche Schallplatten Berlin from 1954 to 1990. Before that, the company existed as »Lied der Zeit Schallplatten-Gesellschaft mbH«, which was founded by the singer Ernst Busch in 1947 and became a VEB in 1954. Amiga was the most important label of the state-owned enterprise, so important that Sony Music Entertainment took over the catalogue of more than 30,000 songs in 1994. In addition to musicians from the GDR, the label also released music by Western artists, to whom Amiga increasingly turned. Michael Jackson and Bob Dylan are prominent examples. The licensing of Western music by the music label was carried out largely autonomously by Amiga, but this was not necessarily received positively by the Ministry of Culture, for example. Amiga LPs had a state-set price of 16.10 marks or 12.10 marks. Music cassettes, on the other hand, cost 23.60 marks.

Amiga record »Born in the U.S.A«

But what were the label's most popular records? We have a number of Amiga records in the collection of the DDR Museum, a few of which are still popular today. Among them, perhaps unsurprisingly, is Bruce Springsteen's »Born in the U.S.A«. Two years after the record's release, Springsteen performed in front of about half a million people in East Berlin in 1988. Then there is the music of the Puhdys. This Amiga record from the collection is one of many records by the group and contains 10 songs, such as »Wenn ein Mensch lebt« (When a Person Lives), »Geh zu ihr« (Go to her) and »Türen öffnen sich zur Stadt« (Doors Open to the City). Originally influenced by the progressive rock of British hard rock bands, the group played their first concert on 21 November 1969 in Freiberg, in the district of Karl-Marx-Stadt. After Erich Honecker came to power in 1971, a change in GDR cultural policy took place and the band was offered the chance to record some songs for Amiga, provided they were written in German and remained apolitical. The label’s best-selling record overall, however, was »Weihnachten in Familie« (Christmas in the family) with Frank Schöbel. The record contained 20 Christmas songs sung not only by Frank Schöbel but also by his wife at the time, Aurora Lacasa, and their joint daughters Odette and Dominique. A total of over 1.6 million copies were sold.


The name of the label »Eterna«, which also belonged to VEB Deutsche Schallplatten, has a special history. Ernst Busch is said to have founded the label relatively spontaneously because he liked to wear men's shirts with the same name. Due to the state-set prices in the GDR, all Eterna records cost 12.10 marks. The same applied to Litera records.

Under the Eterna label, mainly classical music, operas, operettas as well as folk songs, workers' songs, jazz and church music were released. Songs were also recorded with some of the great orchestras and conductors of the GDR, such as Herbert Blomstedt, Herbert Kegel and Peter Schreier. In 1977, Eterna even released the complete works of Ludwig an Beethoven on 116 long-playing records. Similar to Amiga, Eterna licensed music from Eastern as well as Western artists, such as the British conductor Colin Davis and the West German conductor and pianist Wolfgang Sawallisch.

Eterna record »Boys from Moscow and Berlin«

We are lucky to have some Eterna records in our collection, many of which have very interesting and vivid covers. This record »Jungs aus Moskau und Berlin« (Boys from Moscow and Berlin) was issued in 1985 to mark the 60th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution. The political character of the record is clearly reflected in the track list, with songs like »Bruder, Freund und Kamerad« (Brother, Friend and Comrade), »Das Regimentorchester» (The Regiment Orchestra) and »Lied der Deutsch-Sowjetischen Freundschaft« (Song of German-Soviet Friendship). On the occasion of the X. World Festival 1973 in East Berlin, Eterna released the LP »Wir singen zu den X. World Festival« (We sing to the X. World Festival). The record features 15 songs including cover versions by well-known artists such as Frank Schöbel, Paul Dessau and the Uve Schikora Orchestra.


Litera published spoken word recordings. Many genres were covered, such as general literature, drama, and cabaret, but also children's and youth literature. The label was created in 1963 from an order number series of the Eterna label and disappeared again in the autumn of 1990 through the sale of VEB Deutsche Schallplatten.

Litera record »Little Red Riding Hood / Puss in Boots«

The label's fairy tale records were particularly popular, which is unsurprising considering how many DEFA fairy tale films as well as fairy tale radio plays were released in the GDR. The fairy tale record »Rotkäppchen / Der gestiefelte Kater« (Little Red Riding Hood / Puss in Boots) from our collection was released in 1969. The cover, which features the two main characters of the Brothers Grimm, is especially striking for its bright colours and illustrations. As with many other fairy tale records by Litera, film and theatre actor Benno Gellenbeck took over the voice of the tomcat and the wolf. This was not an unusual practice, as the label often relied on well-known actors, orchestras and choirs to record its fairy tale records. 

In addition to fairy tale records, the Litera label was also known for its literary and historical readings. The record »20 Jahre Deutsche Demokratische Republik« (20 Years of the German Democratic Republic) is a special example, because it was a double record and therefore cost 24.20 marks. The record was accompanied by a 12-page booklet and contained a number of contemporary historical documents.


Contemporary music was published from 1969 by the Nova label, which also belonged to VEB Deutsche Schallplatten. Before the founding of Nova, Eterna was responsible in the 1960s for the release of what was then popular, so-called contemporary music, with its independent series »Unsere neue Musik« (Our New Music). The aim was to make the works of contemporary composers such as Paul Dessau and Hans Eisler audible. At 10.10 marks, Nova records cost somewhat less than the Eterna and Litera records.

Nova record »Tell me where you stand«

Our collection contains numerous examples of contemporary music from the GDR. The record »Sing mit Pionier« (Sing with Pioneer), released in 1971, unsurprisingly contains quite a few songs by the Young Pioneers. In keeping with the genre of the label, the cover shows a significant part of contemporary everyday life in the GDR. The record contains songs such as »Kleine weiße Friedenstaube« (Little White Dove of Peace) by the Children's Choir of the Pioneer Palace »Walter Ulbricht« Dresden, »Jetzt bin ich Junger Pionier« (Now I'm a Young Pioneer) by the Leipzig Radio Children's Choir and »Guten Tag, Du neuer Morgen« (Good Day, You New Morning) by the Halle City Singing Choir. Another example of contemporary music from the GDR is the record »Im Treptower Park« (In Treptower Park), which was released on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of liberation from fascism. The record features 12 songs of German-Soviet friendship by the FDJ, as well as a commentary by Reinhold Andert, a GDR songwriter and author. Finally, there is the Nova record »Sag mir, wo du stehst« (Tell me where you stand), named after the first song of the same name. The following text can be found on the back of the record: »From the decision of the office of the Central Council of the FDJ on the continuation of the singing movement«. With this song, Hartmut König had certainly created the best-known song of the FDJ singing movement as well as the group »Oktoberklub«.


The Aurora label exclusively released productions and songs by the workers' singer Ernst Busch (1900-1980). Aurora was active between 1961 and 1989 and released about 200 songs by Busch during this time. Most of the songs were recorded in the Academy of Arts of the GDR as well as in the Amiga Studio in Brunnenstrasse in Berlin.

Aurora record »Ernst Busch - Spain Venceremos«

There is only one copy of Aurora in our collection: the record »Ernst Busch – Spain Venceremos«. Released in 1967, Busch's record celebrated the 30th anniversary of the founding of the International Brigades. It contains political songs about the struggle of the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War, performed by Busch.


The Schola label issued edited editions of all genres for teaching. The record »Staatsbürgerkunde Klassen 9 und 10« (Civis classes 9 and 10) is one such example and contained documents, poetry and prose on the socialist worldview and morals. Among these titles are »Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei« (Manifesto of the Communist Party), »Über die Liebe zur Arbeit« (On the Love of Work) and »Es gibt zwei Arten von Freiheit« (There are Two Kinds of Freedom). Also included is the Schola record »Liedbegleitungen für die Klassen 4-7« (Song accompaniments for classes 4-7). Records like these, which were considered teaching material, had to be approved by the Ministry of National Education of the GDR.

Schola record »Civics classes 9 and 10«

Records from the music label »Amiga« in the collection of the DDR Museum

Die Puhdys

in der Objektdatenbank

Vinyl-Single "City"

in der Objektdatenbank

Schallplatte "Weihnachten in Familie"

in der Objektdatenbank

Schallplatte "Karat"

in der Objektdatenbank

Records from the music label »Eterna« in the collection of the DDR Museum

Schallplatte "Wir singen zu den X. Weltfestspielen"

in der Objektdatenbank

Der große Zapfenstreich der Nationalen Volksarmee

in der Objektdatenbank

Schallplatte "Kommt und singt mit Pitti Platsch"

in der Objektdatenbank

Records from the music label »Litera« in the collection of the DDR Museum

Schallplatte "Der kleine Muck"

in der Objektdatenbank

Schallplatte "Tom Sawyers großes Abenteuer"

in der Objektdatenbank

Schallplatte "Märchen der Brüder Grimm"

in der Objektdatenbank

Records from the music label »Nova« in the collection of the DDR Museum

Schallplatte "Sing mit Pionier"

in der Objektdatenbank

Schallplatte "Im Treptower Park"

in der Objektdatenbank

Schallplatte "In Frisco ist der Teufel los"

in der Objektdatenbank

Schallplatte "Vom Pustewind und anderen Sachen"

in der Objektdatenbank

Schallplatte "Kammersinfonie"

in der Objektdatenbank

Records from the music label »Schola« in the collection of the DDR Museum

Schallplatte "Liedbegleitungen für die Klassen 4-7"

in der Objektdatenbank

Schallplatte "Schola-Schallplatte für den Unterricht Klassen 5 u. 6"

in der Objektdatenbank

Schallplatte "Schola-Musikhören Klassen 8-10"

in der Objektdatenbank

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