Information on the use of photographs, aerial pictures and posters in the Federal Archives

Präsentation von Bildern und Plakaten des Bildarchivs im Rahmen einer Besucherführung

The Federal Archives hold numerous photographs, aerial pictures and posters that document the history of the German state in its political, socio-economic and cultural relations. The collection of pictures in the Federal Archives begins with early depictions from the 17th century, and the first photographs date back to the year 1860.

The records are centred around pictorial documents that map the events and people of the Weimar Republic, the German Reich, the GDR and the Federal Republic of Germany. Visitors can also view posters from the imperial period up to the year 2002 with a focus on political parties and associations, elections, state propaganda and the public relations work of authorities.

When searching for items, please note that pictures and posters may be located in thematic files or estates in addition to the actual picture collections of the Federal Archives.

Use of Pictures

Most of our pictorial records are kept in Koblenz, where the reading room for pictures is open on all working days. Before visiting any of our locations, including the picture archive, we recommend registering in writing or over the phone, so that we can prepare for your visit.

The picture archive of the SAPMO houses a collection of pictures of the political parties and mass organisations of the GDR. It also contains photographs from before 1945. Materials are presented on the German labour movement, particularly the history of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) and the proletarian mass organisations. The SAPMO also has a poster collection. These items can be viewed alongside aerial pictures from the GDR in Berlin-Lichterfelde after prior registration.

You may have already stumbled upon this during your research, but we would like to quickly remind you about our Digital Picture Archive, which also contains pictures from the Federal Press Office. This lets you search for pictures from the comfort of your own desk or on the move.

The Federal Archives hold over 13 million pictures, and just under 250,000 of them can be accessed online.