Posted in Miscellany

*Peak Sand?

What would happen if the desert became communist?

Nothing for a while, and then there would be a sand shortage.

That’s just one of the jokes collected by West German spies in East Germany back in the day. From Der Spiegel:

The jokes were gleaned from secretly opened letters and phone conversations that agents from West Germany’s Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) would monitor in their quest for East German state secrets during the Cold War.

The joke report was by far the most popular service the spies provided. “It was our biggest hit,” recalls former BND spy Dieter Gandersheim, whose real name is of course quite different. The Chancellery and the ministries couldn’t wait for the file, he said.

Here’s another one:

Christmas has been cancelled. Mary didn’t find any diapers for the baby Jesus, Joseph was called up to the army and the three kings didn’t get a travel permit.

Full story here.

My eleven year old asks me why I’m laughing. I tell her the jokes. She says, “I don’t get it.” The Soviet Union isn’t a part of her world. It’s ancient history, like my childhood, only slightly more recent than the dinosaurs. It was in the last millenium, after all. The same millenium as the world wars and the bubonic plague. Yeah okay we have climate change–but from the perspective of a thousand years, I would say there is hope.

h/t The Galloping Beaver



Lilian is the author of Web of Angels, a novel about a mom with DID (multiple personalities). She's also the author of the historical novels, The River Midnight and The Singing Fire, about secrets, friendship and motherhood in 19th century Poland and London.

4 thoughts on “*Peak Sand?

  1. I’m so… relieved to think there are Communist jokes. And your comment about your daughter and ancient history – with your childhood making it in just before the dinosaurs – has me laughing still. 🙂

  2. I love how humor can triumph over so much. My granddaddy used to tell us that some things are too serious *not* to joke about.

    My wife left Russia in the late 80s as a young teenager; she got and liked the jokes.

    (Came via Fannie’s Room.)

    1. Welcome here and thanks for leaving the comment. A friend of mine left Poland around the same time. I began a novel that took place in the Soviet Union in the war years and may yet get back to it when my current novel is finally wrapped up. It is a strange, strange place for a westerner to understnad.

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