Western pornography was banned under communism, but the armed forces of the former East Germany made their own sex films featuring bare-breasted female soldiers that were enjoyed by senior officers and outwardly prudish hard-line politicians.
Evidence of the former communist state's secret porn industry surfaced yesterday in a documentary made by eastern Germany's MDR television channel. It showed original film clips of nude subalterns kissing, and female army privates in helmets posing semi-naked on parade.
The programme, Pornography made in the German Democratic Republic, revealed that the East German army, which at the time was one of the most feared in the Warsaw Pact, ran a 160-man film unit which had a secret amateur circle of 12 porn enthusiasts.
Dietmar Schürtz, 57, a former sound technician and actor in the porn film circle, who works in the reunited German army's media department, said in an interview that the unit was set up in 1982. It managed to make a total of 12 erotic films before the collapse of communism in 1989.
"All of the films were made in secret but partly with the permission of senior officers," he said, adding that the premieres were an event not to be missed by the country's ruling elite: "All the bosses came to these showings – either because they were just inquisitive or simply out of pure lust," he said.
Mr Schürtz said the movies were shot on 16mm film cameras and that a military hospital was used as a studio. Most of the apparently sex-hungry women who starred in the films were civilian employees of the army. "We asked them whether they wanted a role and nearly all of them said yes immediately," he said.
The style of the erotic film clips shown in the documentary was reminiscent of early Scandinavian pornographic cinema. Perhaps surprisingly for a former front-line Warsaw Pact state, the films were not without humorous jabs at the failures of communism.
One scene depicted a male worker in a medical consulting room waiting to be seen by a female doctor. She enters and orders the man to strip to the waist. "But I am your mechanic!" insists the male worker. The doctor immediately unbuttons her white coat and offers the worker instant sex because she is so grateful to have found somebody to repair her car in a country almost devoid of mechanics.
The secret clips included "Carry On" film-style shots of a female army private in a helmet exposing herself on a parade ground to the command "Breasts Out !" The scenes are in marked contrast to the atmosphere of public prudery that prevailed in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Although nudism and naked bathing were permitted, the regime banned Western sex films and visitors to the country who dared to try to import erotic magazines from the West would have the publication confiscated by border guards and risked being denied entry.
After 1989, one of the first addresses for the millions of East Germans who were suddenly able to visit the West was an erotic-film cinema or a sex shop.