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Life In The DDR  
User currently offlineLHMark From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 7255 posts, RR: 42
Posted (15 years 4 months 2 weeks 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 1954 times:

As part of my ongoing fascination with Germany and communism, I'd love to hear from forum members from the former East Germany. I'm hoping to get a picture of what life was like there and then. Thanks. -Mark

"Sympathy is something that shouldn't be bestowed on the Yankees. Apparently it angers them." - Bob Feller
14 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineFuture_Pilot From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (15 years 4 months 2 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 1909 times:

To make it short I will say that everything was neglected by the USSR. Roads, bulidings, transportation and communication were all sub standard. My dad grew up in Poland and did work a little in east germany so I have a pretty good idea of what it ws like.

Noone who lived outside a city had a telephone, instead you had to run down to the mayors house to make a phone call or call 911. You were expected to use public transportation and not own a car, my dad remembers being questioned by police after he bought a motorcycle with money he had saved up; you were not suppose to have that much money.

Also most citys in ex-communist countries look pretty depresing, old and crumbling away-exept for larger towns were there is money to restore them. Roads are full of potholes, cracks amd are usally pretty narrow but new ones are being built and some of the old ones are being brough up to code. Berlin seems to have made the best recovery, to a point where the two sides are hard to tell apart, though the Schonefeld airport is a bit small and low tech, considering it is located in the Capital of Germany.

User currently offlineHole_courtney From United States of America, joined Jun 1999, 569 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (15 years 4 months 2 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 1903 times:

I visited the former East Germany last summer. I was quite impressed at what I saw. I was going to be staying with a host family for two weeks. Being the uninformed-about-east-germany american that I was, i thought i would be living in a shack or hut in the inner city. to my pleasant surprise, everything seemed very modern and nice. there were parts of the city (Greifswald) that you could tell were part of the DDR, but a lot of the old stuff has been torn down in favour of new, modern buildings. I asked the girl i stayed with what life was like. She didn't remember it that much (as she's only 16), so i don't think i could speculate much on that. BErlin is a beautiful city, in my opinion.

that's my impression of east germany.

"[He] knew everything about literature, except how to enjoy it." - Yossarian, Catch 22
User currently offline747-451 From United States of America, joined Oct 2000, 2417 posts, RR: 5
Reply 3, posted (15 years 4 months 2 weeks 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 1897 times:

Wasn't the DDR one of the more technical countries in the Eastern Bloc? A neighbor of ours emigrated here from Pripyat, Ukraine, USSR and said that alot of the consumer goods like washers and refrigerators, tooth paste, pharmaceuticals, radios etc.... were manufactured there. She also mentioned that she was using a birth control pill called "Infekunden" from East Germany because it had the fewest side effects...

User currently offlineChristianbothe From Germany, joined Jan 2000, 124 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (15 years 4 months 2 weeks 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 1891 times:

Ok, so I am not from East Germany, but from the West, but I have been there once when it was still a country of its own (but after the wall fell).
In my eyes the major thing in the DDR was that the state was responsible for everything and therefore the people were quite indifferent. For example you did not have to pay your heating for the amount of consumed oil (or whatever), but you had to pay a fixed price. That means the heatings were always running at 100%, and when it was too warm, you would simply have opened the window. Why not? It didn't cost you anything.
Also, you could not always buy what you wanted. The shops not always had everything in stock, and so if you went into a shop and saw that they had, say, a set of screwdrivers, you would have bought it not because you needed one in that moment, but because you may have needed one in the future but then probably there would be no screwdrivers available.
The car production in the DDR was a bit different from that in the west. You could not go to a shop and simply buy a car, but first you had to order it, then wait about 10 years (no joke!) and finally you would get it. This meant that when children were about 8 years old, their parents would order a car for them...
Another aspect is that the DDR was a quite militarized country. In school, there were classes with military education, and there were military trainings for pupils. Also, as a pupil it was veryuseful to be in the state's youth organisation FDJ (Freie Deutsche Jugend / Free German Youth) if you wanted to make something like a career in your later life.
Also important is that the DDR was very interested in what its citizens were thinking   , i.e. it had a huge spyhole organisation, the MfS (Ministerium fuer Staatssicherheit / Ministry for State Security). Any political activity in any way aimed against the state (for example protesting against the state's policy, supporting democracy, etc.) was detected and would lead to long jail sentences. Because of this many people tried to flee the state for the west, and the border to West Germany was the best secured border in the whole world, not to the outside, but to the inside.

That's a brief summary of the most important aspects I can think of. Hope it helps you.


User currently offlineXtristarx From Germany, joined Aug 2000, 280 posts, RR: 2
Reply 5, posted (15 years 4 months 2 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 1857 times:

I grew up in the GDR in that town hole_courtney was talking about, Greifswald. First i have to say that not everything was limited, so it was possible to get a car or to get a phone but it wasnt easy. So infact you had to wait over 15 years to get a car, or 5 to 10 years for a phone. When you have had the contacts it was possible to get everything. Me and my family had lived in a very difficult situation there. My father was kind of a lawyer in the east german church. In the mid 70`s the Stasi came more and more into that church thing, they was looking for agents there. So my father stopped his work there and start a little private company with my mother. That was very difficult. Over the years my father helped people who want to leave east germany. That all was dangerous. The most people which were involved in the church or in private companys have had disvantages. Specialy if you had worked politically. My brother was the best in his grade, but it wasnt possible for him to go to the highschool! To live comfortable in the GDR it was a must to be in the party and to be silent. We were so happy when it was over with the GDR. Unfortunately a lot of people in the east part today wanna have back the old times. They thought after the wall breaks that really everything will be better from one day to the other, but that wasnt possible. Today the most people have no work, specialy younger people. Right wing partys and organisations growing and growing there. Germany has a big Neonazi problem right now but no one wants to notice that really. For me this was a reason to leave the east part, coz in some parts its really dangerous. Some regions are totally dominated by fascist neonazi skinheads and if youre black or asian i promise that you would get problems. That all is very sad. But the people have freedom now and it would be great if they all would see that. Since 3 years i live in the west part, and now i can tell that i know every f***ing joke about east germany (and i cant hear them anymore). I think the stupid east and west germans still living in two different countrys, and they dont like each other.

User currently offlineHole_courtney From United States of America, joined Jun 1999, 569 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (15 years 4 months 2 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 1854 times:

when i went to school there (just visiting) in griefswald, i saw a couple of kids dressed in uniform-like clothes. I asked the girl i was with and she said that they were part of a "german pride" group. she explained that they were basically racist and didn't approve of any race other than german. she sounded really discusted when she explained it to me, so i take it that it's something that's frowned upon by quite a few people. While we were there, we only saw 2 black people in that city (of about 60,000 people.) quite surprising for someone from texas. The girl i stayed with also told me of the racial problems that you spoke of.

What a coinsedence that i spoke of the same city you grew up in!

"[He] knew everything about literature, except how to enjoy it." - Yossarian, Catch 22
User currently offlineLOT767-300ER From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (15 years 4 months 2 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 1849 times:

I didnt live in germany but i did live in Poland and i was born there. It wasent much diffrent though because ive been to east germany many times(as a kid). First of all almost everyone works for the government so the government has a monopoly. Second of all everything was controlled by the Soviets. They said that East germany had to make cameras, and they said we had to make planes (poland was great at that, plus polish are the greatest stunt aviators and record breakers of all times. We hold 10,344 records, for comparison America has 3,467 source:PLL Encyclopedia). Then there was cards for buying food,so you could only buy a fixed amount each month (that is if you found a shop that had these luxieries such as butter and fruit!). In school everybody learned russian which was a must, of course there was no english, but there was spanish and sometimes french. It was just awfull ill post more if you want me too.

User currently offlineJAT From Canada, joined Feb 2000, 1101 posts, RR: 9
Reply 8, posted (15 years 4 months 2 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 1841 times:

I now live in Canada but I briefly lived in the former (communist) Yugoslavia. Hearing these stories makes me realize how different and lucky Yugoslavia was from the rest of Eastern Europe. First, they weren't controlled by the Soviets and they weren't part of the Eastern Block. Citizens could travel without restrictions, stores were always well stocked, the market had a lot of imported products too. You could just go and pick up a car, like in the West. You could choose between domestic or foreing makes. I don't remember a lot of this as I was young but my parents told me a lot about it. The living standard was pretty high and people lived well. Then Milosevic came to power and destroyed it all but that is a different story.....

User currently offlineLHMark From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 7255 posts, RR: 42
Reply 9, posted (15 years 4 months 2 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 1832 times:

Vielen dank, XTristarx, fuer die geschichte!

Thanks to everyone from former East Bloc countries for their input. How did you guys learn your English?

"Sympathy is something that shouldn't be bestowed on the Yankees. Apparently it angers them." - Bob Feller
User currently offlineLH423 From Canada, joined Jul 1999, 6501 posts, RR: 52
Reply 10, posted (15 years 4 months 2 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 1828 times:

Jó napot,
I've been reading this post closely, because I'm very fascinated in what life was like behind the "Iron Curtain." Seeing as we have discussed what life was like in the DDR, Poland, and Yugoslavia, I am curious to see if any of our Hungarian users could provide some info on what life was like in Hungary under communist rule. From what I know Hungarians never liked communism, but accepted it as a part of life. Hungary was one of the most "West friendly" nations of any Warsaw Pact nation, with over a third of their exports heading to the West. This helped Hungary make an easier transition to a free marked based economy after communism collapsed in 1989. Also, if anyone has any info on life since the end of communism would be appreciated. I visited Budapest in August, and was amazed to see it mirror many other European cities, although it quickly became my favourite large European city.



« On ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux » Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
User currently offlineXtristarx From Germany, joined Aug 2000, 280 posts, RR: 2
Reply 11, posted (15 years 4 months 2 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 1826 times:

Bitte LHMark  
...my english is not so good, but i'm working on it (i think for a lot of people here my posts must be funny in that way  ). It was possible to learn english at school but it didnt was a must. It was a must to learn russian and you wouldnt believe how difficult that was. Russian was a must and than it was possible to choose between france and english. I learned russian and english. If you wanna know more feel free to get in touch LHMark...

User currently offlineLHMark From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 7255 posts, RR: 42
Reply 12, posted (15 years 4 months 2 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 1821 times:

Thanks, Tristar. I'll do that.

I was in Berlin at about this time last year, and became very interested in East Germany. Wandering the streets of Prenzlauer berg, thick with the ghosts of the past, evoked a feeling that you just can't get in the United States. All of the DDR websites are in German, and my German reading skills are not what they used to be (not enough practice). It's always a pleasure to talk to people who've actually lived through these experiences. That goes for you Hungarians, Poles, and all, as well.

"Sympathy is something that shouldn't be bestowed on the Yankees. Apparently it angers them." - Bob Feller
User currently offlineXtristarx From Germany, joined Aug 2000, 280 posts, RR: 2
Reply 13, posted (15 years 4 months 1 week 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 1809 times:

Hey Mark,
in the most east german citys you can see this, a bit strange mixture of the new and the past...
This is having a very special atmosphere. Specially the typically arcitecture. Living in some of those buildings is kind of trendy right now!

User currently offlineLOT767-300ER From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (15 years 4 months 1 week 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 1799 times:

Well ive been to hungary and bulgaria during those times. Food was the hardest thing to get, second being the difficulty of school. Oh yes fighting with ex-soviet troops and tanks on the streets was horrible also.

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