Are these the earliest pictures of German skinheads?

The first picture, shot either in 1979 or early 1980, shows bassist Erwin Lieske of Hamburg punk band Kotzbrocken (not to be confused with Cotzbrocken from Cologne) playing live at Krawall 2000, a short-lived punk venue in the St Pauli quarter. Note two skinheads with shaved heads and braces standing behind him. This is a scan from an old book about punk, ‘Der Grosse Schwindel’ (authors: Jürgen Stark and MIchael Kurzawa, published in 1981 and long out of print).

1979-krawall-2000hirez

This is how the book described skinheads:

Skinheads originated in England. They sport a ‘military look’, or alternatively they wear cotton shirts (for a lumberjack look) and skintight black drainpipe jeans. They either shave their hair off completely or wear short crops or mohican haircuts. Their arch enemies are often punks. In England, they have been known for their penchant for boundless brutality. Some of their favourite bands are Sham 69 and, to some extent, The Damned.

Lumberjacks with mohicans, eh? 

The second picture is taken from a YouTube clip of Kotzbrocken live at Krawall 2000 – almost certainly the same gig. You can see one of the skins standing next to the bass amp.

1979 BRD kotzbrocken krawall

According to an incomplete list of Hamburg punk gigs (at oldpunx.de), Kotzbrocken played at Krawall 2000 alongside Coroners, Slime, Razors and The Buttocks on 29 March 1980. This is not impossible, but unlikely since Krawall 2000 officially closed its gates on 2 Nov 1979 due to pressure from police and local pimps..

The YouTube clip, in contrast, dates its Krawall 2000 live recording of Kotzbrocken back to 1979.

Indeed, skinheads reportedly first appeared in Hamburg circa 1979-80. Most were punks who returned from London trips with their heads shaved and Cockney Rejects vinyl in their luggage.

The B side of a 1979 seven-inch single by Hamburg punk band Napalm even features a song titled ‘Skinhead’, although its Genglish lyrics are indecipherable.  

Update as of 24 March 2017:

Kotzbrocken’s original guitarist, Rudi Raschberger (pictured below), tells us:

“Actually, Kotzbrocken played at the Krawall 2000 several times. Most of these gigs weren’t even announced. We asked other bands to borrow their equipment, jumped on stage and cranked out our stuff. That was quite common back in those days. The original photo is marked as 1979 (just the year- no further details), which seems correct.

And of course, I knew one of the skins in the photo. The one on the left was a close friend of mine. His name is Michael, and we grew up together in nearby neighbourhoods of Hamburg. Michael used to live at his mother’s house in Wandsbek-Gartenstadt, and I lived with my mum in a small flat in Bramfeld, which was just a few street corners away. We hooked up all the time because we shared the same interest in punk rock music. Together with a few other kids, we were the punk contingent from up there.

However, the  whole punk thing gradually became very commonplace in Hamburg, so Michael quickly got fed up and started his skinhead thing. The two of us went to London together in the late 70s, and Michael was pretty impressed with the burgeoning skinhead revival that was happening in the streets. So he decided to jump on and changed his style. Approximately a dozen other punks did the same in Hamburg back in 1979. Later on, the skinhead movement grew bigger and split off in that well-known opposed political direction like everywhere else.

Michael and I lost track of each other decades ago. I believe he lives in Berlin now, has a family, works a 40-hour week, and all the usual stuff”.

rudi

Thanks a ton for the info, Rudi!

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