Gritty Photos of the 1980s Post-Punk Berlin


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Gritty Photos of the 1980s Post-Punk Berlin

In the first of a series of photo stories brought to you by Jågermeister, we look at Germany's most exciting musical subculture.

The lovely fellows at Jågermeister have teamed up with Noisey to promote their new product, Spice. (That's right, turns out they're more than just the nation's favourite shot.) Since Jågermeister has been around for ages and is steeped in German cultural history, we thought we'd look at the progression of Berlin's musical subcultures over the years. Through the eyes of the city's best photographers, we discovered the musicians, DJs, parties and general excess of the past three decades. Everything from 1980s post-punk to 2000s techno is captured in all its transgressive glory – enjoy!


What happens when you cross-pollinate British punk and new wave with a divided 1980s Berlin? Neue Deutsche Welle (New German Wave), or NDW, is what happens. This energetic DIY movement spawned the scrap-metal industrial noise of post-punk and proto-electro NDW, typified by the harsh darkness of Einstürzende Neubauten, headed by frontman Blixa Bargeld, and the all-girl underground group Mania D. The scene was excessive, hedonistic and energetic, all dressed up in androgyny and black leather – a metaphorical fuck you to homogeneity and conformity. Nick Cave, Birthday Party, Alan Vega, Die Haut, Malaria!, The Swans, Die Goldenen Vampire, The Cramps and Wim Wenders all congregated to Risiko bar, the Georg von Rauch squat and other seedy venues in West Berlin. Ilse Ruppert photographed it all.

Living in Hamburg, Ruppert began photographing in 1978 and would spend up to 6 hours crossing from East to West Germany, drawn to the sex appeal of Berlin and to her friend, the singer, Mona Mur. "West-Berlin had a special and unique legal status. Once I hit the town, I went into the groove and didn't see the daylight for days. I basically shot everything I saw," says Ruppert. In this photo series we see inside the squats, clubs and bars that typified the fast-living anti-culture of Berlin in the early-1980s. "I loved chaos!" says Ruppert, and chaos is what she got.

Ilse Ruppert's new book Artists & Tribes will be out spring 2017.


The German actor Ralf Richter, who had just made his debut in the epic war film Das Boot, during a wild night out in the Berlin Bar in 1983.

Gudrun Gut, singer and founding member of the all-girl groups Malaria Mania D and Matador, pictured with Nena whose hit "99 Luftballons" won her international fame. The pair are pictured together at a birthday party held on a ship. It was one of those nights where everything seemed possible. 

Nick Cave performing in 1981 with his band The Birthday Party, who later relocated to West Berlin.

Nina Hagen, the German singer, sprays the Iron Curtain in 1984.

Wolfgang Müller, the founder of Die Tödliche Doris, a performance-art and music group whose first album was called " ", smokes and sits across from a warm-hearted callboy Detlef (left), the burlesque dancer Valerie Caris Ruhnke (middle), and the artist Reinhard Wilhelmi (right).

The performance artist Chris Dreier who later joined the Die Tödliche Doris group is pictured with Steve Reeves, another performance artist.

Chris Dreier and Steve Reeves in the window of the Oranienbar in Kreuzberg, 1984.

This is the Georg von Rauch-Haus, an infamous squat in Kreuzberg in 1984. The building was a former hospital, renamed by its squatters to honour Georg von Rauch, an anarchist who died in a shootout with police.

The fashion designer Claudia Skoda in her loft in Kreuzberg in 1984. The floor of the apartment was designed and installed by the artist Martin Kippenberger whose work is now shown in the permanent collection at Museum of Modern Art, New York. 


My friend Mona Mur with the musician F.M. Einheit on the set of the music video of  "Snake" by Mona Mur, filmed in the summer of 1984 in the compound of Hitler's bunker. It was a video that would then become part of the video compilation "Berlin Now" for Japanese TV.

Joy Ryder, an American punk musician, in 1982. From New York, Joy was living in exile with her band for a couple of years.

Blixa Bargeld, the founder of the band Einstürzende Neubauten, parties at the music journalist Jörg Hoppe's birthday party on board a ship on the Spree river.

The band Matador, made up of Manon, Beate Bartels and Gudrun Gut in Schokoladenfabrik in 1982.

Christiane F., a young German woman whose troubled life was documented in the book and film adaptation We Children of Bahnhof Zoo, in her room with a friend.

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