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THEMATIC CARTOGRAPHY / STATISTICAL ATLAS / SOVIET PROPAGANDA: Haack Atlas zur Zeitgeschichte  [Haack Atlas of the History]. Zoom

THEMATIC CARTOGRAPHY / STATISTICAL ATLAS / SOVIET PROPAGANDA: Haack Atlas zur Zeitgeschichte [Haack Atlas of the History].

Author: Hermann Haack Geographisch-Kartographische Anstalt. Akademie der Wissenschaften der DDR. Zentralinstitut für Geschichte
Place and Year: Gotha: Haack 1985.
Technique: Folio. VIII, 73 with colour maps and charts, original red cloth binding with gilt lettering on the cover and spine, original paper wrappers, accompanied by original brown paper wrapping material with original label (mint unused example).
Code: 67953

A beautifully designed informative historical atlas of the world, was issued in 1985 in Gotha in East Germany and starts with a map of the world at the time of the “Great Socialistic October Revolution”. The atlas focuses of the importance and influence of the Soviet Union and the Communist countries on the rest of the world.

This example is in a mint condition, accompanied by the original tan paper wrapping material with an original label.

The atlas was issued by VEB Hermann Haack Geographisch-Kartographische Anstalt Gotha (the publishing arm of the Hermann Haack Geography-Cartography Institute in Gotha).  The institute was the premier cartographic organization in East Germany (the Deutsche Demokratische Republik, or DDR) and was widely considered to be the most advanced autonomously operated map producer in the Eastern Block.

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the DDR had become synonymous with bad industrial practices, however, the Hermann Haack Anstalt was a rare exception in that it maintained a very high standard of production in line with its pedigree.  Indeed, the Haack Institute was the direct successor of the Justus Perthes Geographical Institute.  Founded in Gotha in 1785, during the 19th Century the Perthes firm rose to become the preeminent map publisher in Germany.  Its popular publications such as the Shul-Atlas and Steiler’s Hand-Atlas made the company the most financially successful cartography enterprise in Continental Europe.  It was also responsible for ground-breaking thematic and scientific cartography as well as impressive wall maps.

Hermann Haack (1872-1966), one of pre-WWII Germany’s most prominent mapmakers, joined the Perthes firm in 1898 and eventually rose to become its director.  Haack was credited for improving production quality and standardizing map symbols and colour coding.  During WWII, in 1944, at the age of 72, Haack retired from the firm.  In the wake of the war, while its personnel was depleted and production lagged, the physical operation at the Perthes Villa in Gotha remained unaffected and the firm continued to function.

The Communist government of the DDR nationalized the firm in 1953 and curiously invited Hermann Haack, then 81 years old, to return to lead the enterprise under its new name, the Hermann Haack Anstalt.  While the company was to be wholly owned by the state, Haack was given an unusually high degree of autonomy and ample resources to ensure that the quality of production approached pre-war levels.  While never overtly political, Haack had maintained friendly contacts with Communists and labour leaders during the 1920s and 1930s, and was ideologically acceptable to the new regime.

The Haack Anstalt was granted the DDR monopoly on the production of school maps and all civilian wall maps.  With technical abilities that far exceeded those of the remaining cartographic institutes throughout the Warsaw Pact countries, it serviced many external commissions, notably from the Soviet Union.

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