Deutsche Demokratische Republik
Back in the 1980s, when I was 6 or 7 years old child, Germany was the first European country I’ve ever visited along with my parents. We used to travel there every summer to visit my uncle who lived in West Berlin (he’s still living in Germany). Back then, the city of Berlin was divided into two; East Berlin, which was the capital of the German Democratic Republic (or simply East Germany) and West Berlin.
I was a kid but I still remember some details about crossing the checkpoint into East Berlin and I remember seeing a city behind the wall that looked completely different than West Berlin; people, streets, buildings, and even cars looked different. My mother bought me a small East German flag as a souvenir (sadly, I don’t have it anymore) and then we returned back to the Western part of Berlin where my uncle used to live.
On November 9th 1989, Berlin wall fell marking the falling of the iron curtain and the start of the fall of communism in Europe. 11 months later, Germany was reunified.
I am interested in history of that era so during my recent trip to Berlin, I decided to visit the DDR Museum; it was the highlight of my trip to Berlin and was like stepping into a time machine. I encourage everyone who would like to learn more about the interesting communist era in Germany to visit this fascinating museum.
East German Trabant
This notoriously unreliable car is one of the most significant symbols of East Germany.
East German Food & Drinks
I’m not familiar with any of these brands.. What about you?
Tourism in East Germany
Tourism in East Germany was organized through the state; options were limited as East Germans had a list of destinations behind the iron curtain to choose from. Independent travel was permitted within GDR (German Democratic Republic). I love that post card from Leningrad (St. Petersburg today).
Apartment block in East Germany
It looked pretty much similar to the apartment where I grew up in Kuwait in 80s and early 90s, lots of similarities…
Sport in East Germany
Sport was big in East Germany! They were a very successful sport nation. They were ranked 2 in Summer Olympics 1976, 1980 and 1988 and ranked 1 in 1976 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. Furthermore, they qualified to 1974 FIFA World Cup in West Germany and they managed to blow a big surprise by beating the host nation West Germany 1:0 in one of the biggest shocks in world cup history.
Spying in East Germany
Obviously, just like other communist states, spying on citizens was a daily task by the secret police (Stasi) and its agents. There are many interesting and emotional spying stories that happened during that era. If you are interested in this topic, I highly recommend watching the German movie “Das Leben der Anderen” or “the life of others”.
Kids in East Germany
I read many articles stating how good day care was in East Germany in comparison to the situation in today’s unified German. Kids had an innocent and simple childhood which reminds me of my childhood in the Middle East (Kuwait, to be precise).
Workers in East Germany
This is a big topic. To make it short, salaries were much less than in the West and most of the citizens had to save for months to afford a coloured TV or VCR. However, most of the people had similar living standards.
Nudity in East Germany
Well, nudism was another big thing in East Germany! public beaches were packed with naked people and nudity was in fact encouraged.
The Friend zone…
Obviously, East Germany’s best friend were were the other communist countries around the world; Soviet Union was the father and countries such as Bulgaria, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Mongolia, Cuba, Poland were their brothers and sisters 🙂
The Presidential Car
The famous general secretary of the socialist party in East Germany (or basically, the president) Erich Honecker enjoyed being driven around with a Volvo limousine.
Just a proof that I was there 😉
In summary, it was like a trip back in time. The museum is organized and if you are interested in the topic, you might end up spending long hours there as the museum is full of details. The cost of the ticket is 8.5 Euros and I recommend that you buy a ticket online to skip the queue.
I hope you enjoyed this short blog.