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LTU932
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Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Sun Jan 13, 2008 5:23 am

Interflug Questions (by Georgiabill Jan 10 2008 in Civil Aviation)

^^After reading some comments in the above thread on IF, I was thinking of starting this thread to discuss how life in communist East Germany (or DDR as we called it) was and also to reflect on the horrors of the communist regime lead by the likes of Ulbricht, Honecker, and others (e.g. the human rights violations in the DDR, the deadly shootings of people who were trying to get to the wall or cross the border to escape to the West, etc.) among other things. Of course, the SED, the ruling party, promissed the word for the citizens of the "Farmer's and Worker's State (Arbeiter- und Bauernstaat)", and in the usual communist manner, the propaganda machine of the regime, they tried to show that to the outside world, but the reality was that this was a brutal regime which didn't hesitate to shoot to kill those who were trying to defect, and imposing a system where party loyalty was the key, and not the person.

Even though unification with the West took over 40 years after the creation of the two German states, and despite the problems in the East related to over 40 years of a broken economy and communism in general, I still believe the wait may have been well worth it, because if we had gotten unification in the early 50's, it would have only happened on Stalin's terms and would have left us defenceless in the case that war between East and West would have broken out. The eventual unification process we did was at least as much as possible under our own terms, even if the allies still had a say on it and put some guidelines and a few of their own terms to the process.
 
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Sun Jan 13, 2008 5:50 am

Quoting LTU932 (Thread starter):
lead by the likes of Ulbricht, Honecker, and others (e.g. the human rights violations in the DDR, the deadly shootings of people who were trying to get to the wall or cross the border to escape to the West, etc.) among other things

Erich Mielke, head of the Staatsicherheit (Stasi) was another "hero of the DDR"...what a bastard he was. I have a book I'm reading about the Stasi...no Santa Claus, that's for sure.

East Germany, or der Deutsche Demokratische Republik, was about the size of the U.S. state of Tennessee. About 20 million people, I think. Anyway, they were the most spied on population...I think 1 out of every 5 people were being watched at any given time. Often, sadly, members of one family belong to the Stasi, and would turn in other members for perceived crimes against the state. Wow.

Quoting LTU932 (Thread starter):
the SED

What was the SED, and what did it stand for? Or was it the same as the Stasi?

Quoting LTU932 (Thread starter):
after the creation of the two German states

Both in 1949. Although, as one of my friends from Bonn described it, people in the West viewed the DDR not as an actual country, but as a rogue breakaway state, similar to the Confederate states during our Civil War, 1861-1865.

Three great movies that covered aspects about life in the DDR:
- Goodbye, Lenin! (2003)
- The Lives of Others (Oscar Winner from 2006 or 2007)
- Night Crossing (1982) Based on the true story of the Strelzyk and Wetzel families, who escaped by building their own hot air balloon in Sept. 1979.

I took a train from Munich to Dresden in July 2004. About halfway through the 7 hour trip, we crossed into what would have been the former DDR, near Hof. The train had to slow down considerably, and it was weird going through the countryside, because I felt like I had gone back 50 years in time. The station in Chemnitz (Karl Marx Stadt in the DDR days) and Zwickau were run down and deserted. Lots of older homes, rusted out factories, ghost towns kind of like our southwest. Dresden had a different feel, too. While modern in some respects, the atmosphere and personality seemed much more subdue than places like Bonn, Cologne, Munich, etc. I wasn't treated poorly, but people knew I was an American and didn't go out of their way to be friendly to me. Maybe the Russian influence? I stayed a day and quickly left for my favorite city...Berlin. That was my 2nd visit there. I did see the former East Berlin, and still pretty run down in places, which I saw on my way to Schoenefeld the day I flew to STN. Potsdam is great.

[Edited 2008-01-12 21:58:45]
 
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LTU932
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Sun Jan 13, 2008 6:25 am



Quoting N174UA (Reply 1):
Erich Mielke, head of the Staatsicherheit (Stasi) was another "hero of the DDR"...

After the wall fell, Mielke was basically booed by the Volkskammer after he said "Ich liebe doch alle Menschen (I love all people)", because the MPs realised how cynical that statement was in relation with the border shootings.

Quoting N174UA (Reply 1):
Although, as one of my friends from Bonn described it, people in the West viewed the DDR not as an actual country, but as a rogue breakaway state

Very true. Even after the signing of the "Grundlagenvertrag", which allowed both to join the UN back in the 70's, when the government in Bonn finally recognised the DDR as a sovereign state, the DDR was still unoficially seen as a renegade republic. Officially, Bonn still considered the Federal Republic of Germany and the DDR both as a single nation, even if they're two separate states, and citizens of East Germany were entitled to get the (West-)German passport if they made it across the border.

Quoting N174UA (Reply 1):
What was the SED, and what did it stand for?

Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands (Socialist Unity Party of Germany). It was the ruling party. STASI is an unofficial acronym for MfS, Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (Ministry of State Security).

Quoting N174UA (Reply 1):
Goodbye, Lenin! (2003)

A beautiful film, a nice blend of historical seriousness and comedy. Definitely one of my favourites.

Quoting N174UA (Reply 1):
The Lives of Others (Oscar Winner from 2006 or 2007)

It was mentioned in the other thread. If it ever comes on TV, I'll watch it.

Quoting N174UA (Reply 1):
Night Crossing (1982) Based on the true story of the Strelzyk and Wetzel families, who escaped by building their own hot air balloon in Sept. 1979.

I've never seen the full film, only part of it.

Another film I'd like to recommend is a German film named "Der Tunnel". It's the story of a man who wins the DDR swimming championship, escapes with a forged passport to the West and builds a tunnel to help other people escape. The film is based on the true story of Hasso Herschel (in the film, his name was changed to Harry Melchior plus some events in the film were fully fictional).
 
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Sun Jan 13, 2008 6:29 am

I have an old DDR stamp in my very first passport but I went there after the wall fell. No good memories about the trip as we were searched like terrorists.


My father had an friend in the DDR. She studied chemistry just like him and they met when he went to Berlin during a conference and he inveted her to Vienna. After 2 1/2 years !!!!! she was granted the departure allowance. She was so amazed about the shopping windows and the variety of products that she bitterly cried about the lies she was told by the DDR regime. My father offered her " asylum" if she wanted to stay in Austria instead of returning. She agreed but wanted the get some stuff from home so she went back to Berlin. She was arrested immediately after her return as they knew about her plans. Don't ask how they knew. After 3 months she was released and not granted another departure. She eventually commited suicide a year later. My father has still her last letter in which she !apologized! for returning home and telling him that she can't last no more. She was never burried just the body was burned and the ash was thrown into the dustbin.
 
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Sun Jan 13, 2008 6:41 am



Quoting N174UA (Reply 1):
SED

Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands. Unity party b/w the KPF, the hardline communists, and the SPD, the socialists.

Quoting N174UA (Reply 1):
Three great movies that covered aspects about life in the DDR:
- Goodbye, Lenin! (2003)

Ostalgie! Das Leben der Andere was 10x better.

Quoting N174UA (Reply 1):
Dresden had a different feel, too. While modern in some respects, the atmosphere and personality seemed much more subdue than places like Bonn, Cologne, Munich, etc. I wasn't treated poorly, but people knew I was an American and didn't go out of their way to be friendly to me.

It depends, did you speak German?

Quoting N174UA (Reply 1):
I did see the former East Berlin, and still pretty run down in places, which I saw on my way to Schoenefeld the day I flew to STN. Potsdam is great.

Prenzlauer Berg isn't too bad. Treptow, Neuköln, and Hellorsdorf are kinda crap, though.

You also can't really talk about the DDR without talking about the uprisings in June 1953. In some ways, 1953 was more important than 1961, as is was one of the last major uprisings until the late 1980s.


A good article on the final years of the DDR
 
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LTU932
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Sun Jan 13, 2008 7:03 am



Quoting Nosedive (Reply 4):
Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands. Unity party b/w the KPF, the hardline communists, and the SPD, the socialists.

The SED was formed as a merger of the SPD and KPD of the Soviet occupied sector.

Quoting Nosedive (Reply 4):
You also can't really talk about the DDR without talking about the uprisings in June 1953.

To commemorate the the June 17th uprising, June 17th 1953 was declared a national holiday by the government of Bonn and was named "Tag der Deutschen Einheit", and just 8 days after the uprising, the (West-)Berlin city-state senate renamed the road Charlottenburger Chaussee into Straße des 17. Juni.
 
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Sun Jan 13, 2008 7:04 am

I personally think if you want to see the influence of the "old" DDR, better do it within the next 5-7 years. I expect by 2014 a lot of dramatic changes, especially once Schoenefeld Airport is turned into Berlin Brandenburg International (BBI).
 
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Sun Jan 13, 2008 7:14 am



Quoting RayChuang (Reply 6):
I expect by 2014 a lot of dramatic changes, especially once Schoenefeld Airport is turned into Berlin Brandenburg International (BBI).

Sorry but this is really irrelevant. BBI won´t change a lot in the poor regions of the former DDR.
 
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Sun Jan 13, 2008 8:59 am



Quoting RayChuang (Reply 6):
I personally think if you want to see the influence of the "old" DDR, better do it within the next 5-7 years. I expect by 2014 a lot of dramatic changes, especially once Schoenefeld Airport is turned into Berlin Brandenburg Internatio

Could you explain that please? There is no logic in your thoughts.

Quoting LTU932 (Reply 5):

The SED was formed as a merger of the SPD and KPD of the Soviet occupied secto

No. The SPD in East Germany was forced into a merger with the KPD. The communists dominated the political scene in East Germany. The so called "Block Parteien" had no own political power. They were actually a sub organisation of the SED.



Quoting LTU932 (Reply 2):

Very true. Even after the signing of the "Grundlagenvertrag", which allowed both to join the UN back in the 70's, when the government in Bonn finally recognised the DDR as a sovereign state,

Well, not quite. That would have been against our constitution. Re unification and the existance of ONE Germany was a constitutional goal. That is also the reason why every East German was automatically a citizen of the Federal Republic of Germany. Also, the Federal republic was the only legitimate German state. The GDR was from the beginning to the fall a Dictatorship which had no legitimation by its sovereign, the people. The Grundlagenvertrag, which was negotiatied by the Brandt administration never negated these principles and Willy Brandt was always a strong supporter of the constitutional goal.

He was, in 1989 / 1990 much closer to Helmut Kohls political position than to his own party, the SPD, who, at this time favored two separate states.



.
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Sun Jan 13, 2008 9:11 am



Quoting LTU932 (Reply 2):
Quoting N174UA (Reply 1):
What was the SED, and what did it stand for?

Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands (Socialist Unity Party of Germany). It was the ruling party. STASI is an unofficial acronym for MfS, Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (Ministry of State Security).



Quoting LTU932 (Reply 5):
Quoting Nosedive (Reply 4):
Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands. Unity party b/w the KPF, the hardline communists, and the SPD, the socialists.

The SED was formed as a merger of the SPD and KPD of the Soviet occupied sector.

Since the civil war like November revolution of 1919, when the communist KPD tried to push through a Soviet style government against the ruling social-democrat party SPD (socialist, but democratic), there existed a bitter emnity between these two parties. The communists were actually the hardliners in favour of dictatureship of the proletariat, who split off the SPD in 1914, when the SPD supported WW1.
The merger in 1946 was casrried out under pressure by the Soviet government, who wanted to legitimise the communists. Most working class Germans were supporting the SPD and not the communists, through this forced merger, which only happened in the East, they hoped to get the support from the SPD follers in the East. In the West the SPD stayd anti-communist, their leader Kurt Schumacher (himself having spent several years in Nazi concentration camps) actually refered to the communists as "red-varnished Nazis" ("Rot lackierte Nazis").


Quoting Nosedive (Reply 4):
Quoting N174UA (Reply 1):
I did see the former East Berlin, and still pretty run down in places, which I saw on my way to Schoenefeld the day I flew to STN. Potsdam is great.

Prenzlauer Berg isn't too bad. Treptow, Neuköln, and Hellorsdorf are kinda crap, though.

Neukölln (with two "l") is actually sited in West Berlin, even though it has a Karl-Marx-Strasse (which is the most important business street of the district). It is a classical low income working class district with a lot of social problems, like unemployment, high non-integrated immigration etc..

Hellerdorf is an East German high rise area, made up out off prefabricated houses.

Jan
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Sun Jan 13, 2008 9:50 am



Quoting N174UA (Reply 1):

I took a train from Munich to Dresden in July 2004. About halfway through the 7 hour trip, we crossed into what would have been the former DDR, near Hof. The train had to slow down considerably

I remember taking a train to Magdeburg from Hannover (I think) in the summer of 1990. More specifically, I remember the recently-made-pointless hour long wait at the border. The train schedules had not yet been adjusted to the lack of searches. We just sat there for a long time and then started moving again.
 
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Sun Jan 13, 2008 10:21 am



Quoting N174UA (Reply 1):
Dresden had a different feel, too. While modern in some respects, the atmosphere and personality seemed much more subdue than places like Bonn, Cologne, Munich, etc.

Could please elaborate on this.

Quoting N174UA (Reply 1):
Potsdam is great.

Yep, it is Big grin But it's in the East, too.

Quoting LTU932 (Reply 2):
After the wall fell, Mielke was basically booed by the Volkskammer after he said "Ich liebe doch alle Menschen (I love all people)", because the MPs realised how cynical that statement was in relation with the border shootings.

It's very tragic this bastard was never trialed for his crimes in the GDR.

Quoting Nosedive (Reply 4):
Quoting N174UA (Reply 1):
Three great movies that covered aspects about life in the DDR:
- Goodbye, Lenin! (2003)

Ostalgie! Das Leben der Andere was 10x better.

Couldn't agree more.

Quoting Nosedive (Reply 4):

A good article on the final years of the DDR

Are you serious? While this article may describe some aspects of the GDR it is written by somebody with a crude concept of (German) history.

pelican
 
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Sun Jan 13, 2008 11:06 am



Quoting N174UA (Reply 1):
The Lives of Others

Excellent film

Quoting LTU932 (Reply 2):

It was mentioned in the other thread. If it ever comes on TV, I'll watch it.

Get the DVD. Get it yesterday. If not for the history, simply for the great acting.

Quoting Nosedive (Reply 4):

Prenzlauer Berg isn't too bad. Treptow, Neuköln, and Hellorsdorf are kinda crap, though.

I tend to like th area around Oranienburger Tor/Nordbahnhof as well.
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Sun Jan 13, 2008 11:28 am



Quoting Nosedive (Reply 4):
Neuköln

Neukölln, as said before was part of West-Berlin. No need to blush, though. In 1998 I was Beta-tester for a CD-ROM on a fictive love/crime story with some historic elements that focused around the fall of Berlin's wall. My main objection was that they claimed Kreuzberg was part of East-Berlin which it wasn't. They should have known better, because the editors and publishers came from Berlin.

Quoting Nosedive (Reply 4):
Prenzlauer Berg isn't too bad.

While gentrification has taken its toll, Prenzlauer Berg is still one of Berlin's most liveable boroughs. I'm going to move in February and will miss this "ghetto for the liberal/left top-earner". So much is for sure.

Quoting Pelican (Reply 11):
It's very tragic this bastard was never trialed for his crimes in the GDR.

He spent only a couple of years in prison and was then released on account of ill health. I have seen his former office lately. Good thing those times are over.

Quoting N174UA (Reply 1):
Dresden had a different feel, too. While modern in some respects, the atmosphere and personality seemed much more subdue than places like Bonn, Cologne, Munich, etc.

I think I know what you mean, as I had a similar feeling. I think it was just insecurity that caused the distance and unfriendliness, which I experienced as well.
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Sun Jan 13, 2008 1:32 pm



Quoting LTU932 (Thread starter):
I still believe the wait may have been well worth it, because if we had gotten unification in the early 50's, it would have only happened on Stalin's terms and would have left us defenceless in the case that war between East and West would have broken out.

Interestingly it recently came to light in russian archives that the idea actually came from Walter Ulbricht, in order to disrupt the west german integration into the free west and to elevate the DDR out of its pariah status.
 
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Sun Jan 13, 2008 2:08 pm

Quoting N174UA (Reply 1):
the SED

What was the SED, and what did it stand for? Or was it the same as the Stasi?

This Socialist Unity Party was the product of a "merger" of the Communist Party with the SPD of the GDR. Not really out of free will from the side of the SPD. The SPD chief Otto Grotewohl for years was the Prime Minister of the GDR. But the power in the GDR was with the SED leadership and that was in reality completely communist.

Quoting N174UA (Reply 1):
we crossed into what would have been the former DDR,

when we, a group of journalists, on board a Classic Air DC-3 enroute to Leipzig upon invitation of the tourist-office of that city came to that former border, we saw with amazment the broad border-strip, cutting through forests and valleys. It is obvious that this border will be visible for decades to come. Horrible !
 
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Sun Jan 13, 2008 3:10 pm



Quoting ME AVN FAN (Reply 15):
when we, a group of journalists, on board a Classic Air DC-3 enroute to Leipzig upon invitation of the tourist-office of that city came to that former border, we saw with amazment the broad border-strip, cutting through forests and valleys. It is obvious that this border will be visible for decades to come. Horrible !

In the old days, when flying on one of the Allied air corridors from Western Germany to West Berlin, you could easily see when you crossed the border: In the East the fields were huge, since they all belonged to cooperative farms, while in the West the fields were much smaller, since they belonged to individual, mostly family, farmers.

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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Sun Jan 13, 2008 3:35 pm

My father left East germany in 1952 with his parents. He came from a small town called Miesterhorst. He never went back untill 1995 when my Father , Grandmother and mother went back to visit family for the first time. They where stunned to see that the town did not change at all in the 40 + years they had been gone. The house they lived in was the same and even the neighbors. They remembered him because his name being Horst they used to call him Horsey. The mayor of the town was also a childhood friend of his. He had gone back twice since then but with his and his mothers recent passing they will have no more trips back.


He would tell me the story of them leaving to W Germany.They received permission to visit relatives in W Germany and bought roundtrip tickets. They packed a weekend bags and his father had a copy of a magazine with Stalin on the cover. Unknown to him his mother who was a seamstress had sewn all of their money into his pants and shirt thta he was wearing.. Once into W Germany my grandmother had a brother who was with the US Army and he helped them get to the US. He always loved to play ping pong because he learned in on the Ship coming across the Atlantic.
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LTU932
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Sun Jan 13, 2008 6:37 pm



Quoting PanHAM (Reply 8):
The SPD in East Germany was forced into a merger with the KPD.

What I said was that this was a merger between then. Whether it was one forced by the East KPD or not, that I didn't know.

Quoting PanHAM (Reply 8):
The Grundlagenvertrag, which was negotiatied by the Brandt administration never negated these principles and Willy Brandt was always a strong supporter of the constitutional goal.

So what does the Grundlagenvertrag actually say with regards to sovereignty of the DDR in relation to Germany's constitutional goal of unification?

Quoting Klaus (Reply 14):
Interestingly it recently came to light in russian archives that the idea actually came from Walter Ulbricht, in order to disrupt the west german integration into the free west and to elevate the DDR out of its pariah status.

That is interesting. So Ulbricht suggested this sort of unification to Stalin directly or to someone else in the Soviet regime? In any case, I'm happy that the Stalin notes were never really taken that seriously by Adenauer.

Quoting NoUFO (Reply 13):
He spent only a couple of years in prison and was then released on account of ill health.

The same with Honecker. First, after he fled to Moscow, the German government had to basically beg Russia to extradite him back to Moabit, where he'd be eventually released for his terminal liver cancer as well and later went to "exile" in Chile.

Quoting ME AVN FAN (Reply 15):
The SPD chief Otto Grotewohl for years was the Prime Minister of the GDR. But the power in the GDR was with the SED leadership and that was in reality completely communist.

Don't forget that the KPD's Wilhelm Pieck later became the first and only President of the DDR.

Another interesting thing is that, the man who commited a historical "blunder" by saying that the borders to the West are to be opened immediately, Günter Schabowski, has been going around the country telling his side of the story and apparently even showing regret for having been part of the regime. Anyone think Schabowski was being sincere with his regret or not? Either way, I'd like one day to go to one of his lectures and confront him with a few questions about the regime, especially since he's one of the very few people who openly talks about it.
 
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Sun Jan 13, 2008 8:00 pm



Quoting LTU932 (Reply 18):
What I said was that this was a merger between then. Whether it was one forced by the East KPD or not, that I didn't know.

A merger is voluntary on both sides. In business terms, that was a hostile take over. In reality, at gun point.

Quoting LTU932 (Reply 18):

So what does the Grundlagenvertrag actually say with regards to sovereignty of the DDR in relation to Germany's constitutional goal of unification

Whatver technical term they used, it was always a level below complete recognitition under international law. The Ferwal republic never really recognized East Germany as a sovereign state because that would have included the recognition of the citizenship. That, however, would have been contrary to our constitution. The treaty would have been voided by the Supreme Court. We bever had embassies, we had permanent representations, just to mention one of the technicalities.

POur aim was to easen life for the people in East Germany and their aim was to get hard currency. The DDR was bankrupt already in the seventies and they could survive only with the Billions we pumped into that system. .



Quoting LTU932 (Reply 18):
'm happy that the Stalin notes were never really taken that seriously by Adenauer.

Me too. If ot wasn't for Adenauer and his politics of leaning towards the West, we might be as poor as Romania today.

Quoting LTU932 (Reply 18):
adite him back to Moabit, where he'd be eventually released for his terminal liver cancer as well and later went to "exile" in Chile

They should have never let this scum bucket go on that VARIG jet. What really pisses me off is that his widow who lives in SCL draws a full pension and the victims of that regime get peanuts. There is no justice in life.
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Sun Jan 13, 2008 9:47 pm



Quoting OHLHD (Reply 3):
I have an old DDR stamp in my very first passport but I went there after the wall fell. No good memories about the trip as we were searched like terrorists.


My father had an friend in the DDR. She studied chemistry just like him and they met when he went to Berlin during a conference and he inveted her to Vienna. After 2 1/2 years !!!!! she was granted the departure allowance. She was so amazed about the shopping windows and the variety of products that she bitterly cried about the lies she was told by the DDR regime. My father offered her " asylum" if she wanted to stay in Austria instead of returning. She agreed but wanted the get some stuff from home so she went back to Berlin. She was arrested immediately after her return as they knew about her plans. Don't ask how they knew. After 3 months she was released and not granted another departure. She eventually commited suicide a year later. My father has still her last letter in which she !apologized! for returning home and telling him that she can't last no more. She was never burried just the body was burned and the ash was thrown into the dustbin.

that's a pretty sad story.


I met a couple from germany on a tour i went on in ireland. One was from the east, the other the west. They were fairly young(mid to late twenties), and we spoke a few times about the differences in their lives. Thye mentioned that depending on which side you were from, you would be more or less inclined to queue for stuff like to get into clubs, wait for busses, etc. is that kind of stuff true?

What other daily differences can one notice about people that lived on either side?
 
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Sun Jan 13, 2008 10:33 pm



Quoting ScrubbsYWG (Reply 20):
Thye mentioned that depending on which side you were from, you would be more or less inclined to queue for stuff like to get into clubs, wait for busses, etc. is that kind of stuff true?

Well, I remember my parents spending endless humiliating hours in queues e.g. for bananas before Christmas, for holidays in the spring and shopping for generic things such as "refrigerateor" or a "TV" - you either bought whatever they had in stock or you had a tough luck. Today, whenever I read an article about silly people volutarily queue up for the night before the latest overrated Apple gadget or a crappy Harry Potter book goes on sale I have to laugh.
Why not spare yourself the incomfort of standing like an idiot in a line if you can come back a day or two or 20 later and they still will have it.
No way you will ever see me standing in a line for a restaurant or a club, because a queue will forever be an epitome of socialist misery for me.
 
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Sun Jan 13, 2008 10:45 pm



Quoting ScrubbsYWG (Reply 20):
side you were from, you would be more or less inclined to queue for stuff like to get into clubs, wait for busses, etc. is that kind of stuff tru

Life was very basic in East Germany. Socialist economies simply don't work and the ordinary people are the victims of these so called experiments. The "owners" of these states, meaning the top 200 or 300 top guys plus what they call the "Intelligenzija", artists, sports stars etc made a good life. Katie Witt, the skating star, is well known in the US as well and she could travel at will. But she always was (and still is) a 150% commie and always was cosy with the regime. Just an example. The rest of the people had to eat shit and had to keep their mouths shut..

I have relatives in Dresden and I visited them several times from 1977 onwards. I could tell you a lot of stories. That was after the treaty when travel in that direction was made easy. Still, you needed an invitatiom for the VISA which was obtained at the boarder, you had to report with police the day after arrival and register for your permit to stay in Dresden, plus the "Blockwart" (a kind of a Kapo) of the building where you stayed had to be notified.

The rleatives always benefitted, you could buy at the Intershop things they could not get otherwise, only with DM oif course, and a 10 DM note bought a table for 4 in a Restaurant, by passing the queue.

Hard to believe and difficult to understand for people who have enjoyed the freedom of living in the Western World. The people had to arrange themselves with these conditions and make the best of it. After the re unification, the economy in the East crumbled because they were not competetive.

Some companies like Zeiss Jena surviived with a much smaller work force and a much higher productivity. One reason for the high work force in the GDR was that they had to queue for almost everything. How to do that whent he day has only 24 hours - simple - the "brigade" checks in for work in the morning , 2 or 3 work and the rest goes shopping for the others.

Like I said, socialist economies never work.

.
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Mon Jan 14, 2008 12:11 am



Quoting PanHAM (Reply 22):
Katie Witt, the skating star, is well known in the US as well and she could travel at will. But she always was (and still is) a 150% commie and always was cosy with the regime. Just an example. The rest of the people had to eat shit and had to keep their mouths shut..

I have to dig that video up, but there was a video on Youtube where Katharina Witt was speaking in front of the Volkskammer, probably in celebration of some anniversary of the FDJ (the regime's youth organisation).
 
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Mon Jan 14, 2008 2:40 am



Quoting ScrubbsYWG (Reply 20):
Thye mentioned that depending on which side you were from, you would be more or less inclined to queue for stuff like to get into clubs, wait for busses, etc. is that kind of stuff true?

Well, as L410 already mentioned, there were queues for basically everything - basic food items, TV sets, electronics, cars, etc. However, there were never queues to get into bars, clubs, etc... That's a Canadian speciality. I look at it the same was as LET - they're not worth a visit.
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Mon Jan 14, 2008 5:16 am

Looks like I was more tired than I thought last night. My apologies, to whomever. I would go back and correct what mistakes I could, but I'm drunk tonight  Silly
 
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Mon Jan 14, 2008 5:43 am



Quoting WildcatYXU (Reply 24):
That's a Canadian speciality.

i've stood in line to get into clubs in france, ireland, london, the US, and pretty much any country i've gone to.
 
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Mon Jan 14, 2008 5:55 am

Katie Witt, the skating star, is well known in the US as well and she could travel at will. But she always was (and still is) a 150% commie and always was cosy with the regime.

I'm partial towards Kornelia Ender & Renate Stecher.



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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Mon Jan 14, 2008 8:19 am



Quoting LTU932 (Reply 18):
Quoting PanHAM (Reply 8):
The SPD in East Germany was forced into a merger with the KPD.

What I said was that this was a merger between then. Whether it was one forced by the East KPD or not, that I didn't know.

The Western SPD was very much against the merger. In the east it was more or less only Otto Grotewohl, the leader of the SPD in the Easter zone, who supported the merger. Actually he was originally against it, but suddenly changed his mind after being ordered into the Red Army headquarters in Karlhorst in East Berlin. There exists the suspicion that they found something to blackmail him with. After the merger he was given the powerless position of prime minister.


Quoting L410Turbolet (Reply 21):
No way you will ever see me standing in a line for a restaurant or a club, because a queue will forever be an epitome of socialist misery for me.



Quoting ScrubbsYWG (Reply 26):
Quoting WildcatYXU (Reply 24):
That's a Canadian speciality.

i've stood in line to get into clubs in france, ireland, london, the US, and pretty much any country i've gone to

But probably not with an arrogant head waiter taking bribes to allow people in. In a way East Germany was very "spiessig" (best translated into "square" in English).

Jan
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Mon Jan 14, 2008 8:48 am



Quoting MD11Engineer (Reply 28):
s mind after being ordered into the Red Army headquarters in Karlhorst in East Berlin. There exists the suspicion that they found something to blackmail him with.

One could say - they made him an offer he could not refuse.

Well, the alternative was Siberia. It is hard to imagine for most of the younger ones here who never experienced what a dictatorship is. There was another feature of ZDF History running late last night reporting about highj school kids who made some remarks about the East German Government in the early 50s. Some of them have been excecuted and others senbtenced to 25 years, they have been deported to Russia, spend their time in the Gulag with hard labour just for a basic human right, free speech.

They called this illegitimate state GDR - German Democratic Republic. This was a 2/3 lie, the country was not democratic, it was not a republic but it was very much German in the bad sense,much like the other German dictatorship between 1933 and 45.
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Mon Jan 14, 2008 9:00 am

Just look at the entertainment favoured by Honecker: The DDR Fehrnsehballet

A row of young women (chorus girls) in skimpy clothes swinging their legs.

Jan
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Mon Jan 14, 2008 9:28 am



Quoting ScrubbsYWG (Reply 20):
Thye mentioned that depending on which side you were from, you would be more or less inclined to queue for stuff like to get into clubs, wait for busses, etc. is that kind of stuff true?



Quoting L410Turbolet (Reply 21):
Well, I remember my parents spending endless humiliating hours in queues e.g. for bananas before Christmas, for holidays in the spring and shopping for generic things such as "refrigerateor" or a "TV" - you either bought whatever they had in stock or you had a tough luck.

Oh how I hated shopping as a young boy. If a shop somewhere got some shoes for kids you had to act and rush to the shop in the hope to get a pair - so you had them when needed. It was important to know some shops where the chances to get what you needed were higher than in the average shop. So there was a shop were you could be lucky to get shoes for kids and other shops were you could get other shoes...

Quoting PanHAM (Reply 22):
How to do that whent he day has only 24 hours - simple - the "brigade" checks in for work in the morning , 2 or 3 work and the rest goes shopping for the others.

While this certainly happened it was definately not the rule. Most factories were just run down and full of obsolete technology -hence the need for many workers in an inefficient production process and because work was used as a way to control people more or less everybody had to work. For some people that meant they just had to be there...

Quoting MD11Engineer (Reply 28):
The Western SPD was very much against the merger. In the east it was more or less only Otto Grotewohl, the leader of the SPD in the Easter zone, who supported the merger.

Grotewohl was a traitor. Many SPD members who refused paid a high price and were interned in concentration camps and later often send to Sibiria.

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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Mon Jan 14, 2008 9:41 am



Quoting Pelican (Reply 31):
Quoting PanHAM (Reply 22):
How to do that whent he day has only 24 hours - simple - the "brigade" checks in for work in the morning , 2 or 3 work and the rest goes shopping for the others.

While this certainly happened it was definately not the rule. Most factories were just run down and full of obsolete technology -hence the need for many workers in an inefficient production process and because work was used as a way to control people more or less everybody had to work. For some people that meant they just had to be there...

Not to speak of the times when the factory did not receive it's allocated raw materials and the workers were just sitting around, twiddling their thumbs...

Jan
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Mon Jan 14, 2008 10:20 am



Quoting MD11Engineer (Reply 32):

Not to speak of the times when the factory did not receive it's allocated raw materials and the workers were just sitting around, twiddling their thumbs...

reminds me of that old joke - the state pretended that the workers got paid and the workers pretrended that they worked.

But the propaganda machinery - with the help of some useful id*ots in the western media, did a good job. The GDR also pretended it was the worlds 10th largest economy and the public in the west bought that lie.

Due to the internal German trade, the GDR was de facto a member of the EU and also benefitted of all the trade agreements the Federal Republic had.

They used own companies in the West to facilitate this trade. These companies were staffed by secret service (Stasi) agents.

..
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Mon Jan 14, 2008 11:26 am



Quoting Wingnut767 (Reply 17):
My father left East germany in 1952 with his parents. He came from a small town called Miesterhorst. He never went back untill 1995 when my Father , Grandmother and mother went back to visit family for the first time. They where stunned to see that the town did not change at all in the 40 + years they had been gone. The house they lived in was the same and even the neighbors. They remembered him because his name being Horst they used to call him Horsey. The mayor of the town was also a childhood friend of his. He had gone back twice since then but with his and his mothers recent passing they will have no more trips back.
--
He would tell me the story of them leaving to W Germany.They received permission to visit relatives in W Germany and bought roundtrip tickets. They packed a weekend bags and his father had a copy of a magazine with Stalin on the cover. Unknown to him his mother who was a seamstress had sewn all of their money into his pants and shirt thta he was wearing.. Once into W Germany my grandmother had a brother who was with the US Army and he helped them get to the US. He always loved to play ping pong because he learned in on the Ship coming across the Atlantic.

-
Interesting !! Just looked up the location (east of Hannover). Why not YOU sometimes paying visits there, in combination with more attractive destinations of course ? I know two persons, brother and sister, whose family moved out of the Ligure region of Italy to Egypt in the 1880ies, and both just in recent years have visited the area and also had some meetings with far away family. They BEFORE their trips were rather in doubt but then had most amusing encounters and now are in frequent contacts there.
-

Quoting L410Turbolet (Reply 21):
Well, I remember my parents spending endless humiliating hours in queues e.g. for bananas before Christmas, for holidays in the spring and shopping for generic things such as "refrigerateor" or a "TV" - you either bought whatever they had in stock or you had a tough luck.

-
Reminds me of my visit to Prague in 1990, just after Mr Havel having become President. Things however were still not really changed. One evening on the way back to the hotel I had the idea to buy a bottle of Coca Cola to take into the room, but when realising that the shop in question just had two bottles left, I considered it unfair to take them away from people more urgently in need than a "rich" tourist, and went to the bar of the hotel. Such matters for sure were far from easy for people affected !
 
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Mon Jan 14, 2008 1:43 pm



Quoting PanHAM (Reply 33):
The GDR also pretended it was the worlds 10th largest economy and the public in the west bought that lie.

Of the few who even knew about such a claim, almost all would have had a hearty chuckle about it...  silly 
 
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Mon Jan 14, 2008 2:03 pm



Quoting PanHAM (Reply 33):
The GDR also pretended it was the worlds 10th largest economy and the public in the west bought that lie.

-
THE public in the west ??? Most people were used to "success-stories" coming from East Berlin. I canNOT imagine many people to have bought that lie. Most people who spoke about such things were rather joking about such things. And by that I include leftists, even WestEuropean communists. I remember to have had air-transports of artificial eyes from a company near Leipzig to Buenos Aires. The cargo was dispatched from SXF via Budapest or Prague to Zurich. And then re-shipped from ZRH to BUE. Our agent in BUE told us that the merchandise according to the customer was top-quality. And Carl Zeiss Jena VEB still had a good reputation. And there was a company near Leipzig producing soup-dishes, which are very nice and quite solid, and found their ways into Swiss super-markets somehow. I also once, in Tunis, bought a bottle-opener "made in GDR" which I had in use for many years. So that there was a tiny number of companies in the GDR, which produced good merchandise. But such exceptions canNOT cover up the deficiencies of communist economy.
 
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Mon Jan 14, 2008 2:07 pm



Quoting Klaus (Reply 35):
Quoting PanHAM (Reply 33):
The GDR also pretended it was the worlds 10th largest economy and the public in the west bought that lie.

Of the few who even knew about such a claim, almost all would have had a hearty chuckle about it... silly

Especially since the people knew that the inofficial exchange rate (because officially East German currency was not to be exported or imported by order of the GDR government) was 14 East German Marks for one West German, though the official rate (one way only through official banks in the GDR) was one East German Mark for one West German one.

Jan
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Mon Jan 14, 2008 2:12 pm



Quoting Klaus (Reply 35):

Of the few who even knew about such a claim, almost all would have had a hearty chuckle about it

looking at your age bracket, you may be too young, but this was taken seriously in the 70s and the media did not report this with a hidden smile.

You should know that the GDR was viewed as the "better" German state by many leftwingers in the Federal Republic and as we can see today, with the Post Communists getting around 10% Germany wide in the polls, that nostalgia lives on.

Most of those in the West did not have the opportunity to experience the reality and unfortunately, too many in the east arranged themselves and are now unable to take care of their own affairs.
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Mon Jan 14, 2008 2:23 pm



Quoting PanHAM (Reply 38):
looking at your age bracket, you may be too young, but this was taken seriously in the 70s and the media did not report this with a hidden smile.

I grew up in the 1960 and 70s in a social democratic household. I've never met anyone who viewed the east german regime as anything other but a dictatorship running a failing economy.

Quoting PanHAM (Reply 38):
You should know that the GDR was viewed as the "better" German state by many leftwingers in the Federal Republic and as we can see today, with the Post Communists getting around 10% Germany wide in the polls, that nostalgia lives on.

Like today, only a tiny number of people were actual communists; And only a few of those again actually had any illusions about the DDR. Even most west-german communists were quite content living in the evil (but comfortable) capitalist west.

Sympathy for the DDR regime was never any noticeable factor in west german society.
 
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Mon Jan 14, 2008 2:53 pm



Quoting ME AVN FAN (Reply 36):
I also once, in Tunis, bought a bottle-opener "made in GDR" which I had in use for many years. So that there was a tiny number of companies in the GDR, which produced good merchandise. But such exceptions canNOT cover up the deficiencies of communist economy.

Actually those companies were not an exception. Many East German factories produced for the West German of the EC market. But those firms produced not very efficient and with the introduction of the DM they were far from being competitive and additionally lost their markets in the East. The result were many insolvencies. Even if a company was competitive after layoffs and other reforms it was often deliberately destroyed by competitors from West Germany.

Quoting PanHAM (Reply 38):
looking at your age bracket, you may be too young, but this was taken seriously in the 70s and the media did not report this with a hidden smile.



Quoting Klaus (Reply 39):

I grew up in the 1960 and 70s in a social democratic household. I've never met anyone who viewed the east german regime as anything other but a dictatorship running a failing economy.

First - during the sixties East Germany was not a failing economy although the GDR was far from being as prosper as West Germany. It started to go downhill in the 70s and in the 80s the economy was on its last legs.
Second - whatever the West thought of the East Germany economy they did not realise how bad the situation clearly was.
With all those credits after the new Ostpolitik was introduced the live of the GDR was prolonged.

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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Mon Jan 14, 2008 3:00 pm

A question for our German friends

How is the unification process at this time? Any regrets? Are there still bad feelings, Bias or any finger pointing or blame for any current problems?

Just curious
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Mon Jan 14, 2008 3:17 pm



Quoting Pelican (Reply 40):
I also once, in Tunis, bought a bottle-opener "made in GDR" which I had in use for many years. So that there was a tiny number of companies in the GDR, which produced good merchandise. But such exceptions canNOT cover up the deficiencies of communist economy.

Actually those companies were not an exception. Many East German factories produced for the West German of the EC market. But those firms produced not very efficient and with the introduction of the DM they were far from being competitive and additionally lost their markets in the East. The result were many insolvencies. Even if a company was competitive after layoffs and other reforms it was often deliberately destroyed by competitors from West Germany.

The GDR had some companies which were actually competitive, like the Carl-Zeiss-Jena Kombinat, but the management, where it was competent, generally had two problems:
a) If a factory made profits, they could not just reinvest them, the money went into the government budget and got handed out as the planners in the central commitee saw it fit.
b) restriction due to COMECON rules. E.g. the management and the engineers of the car manufacturer Wartburg had blueprints ready for a 4 stroke powered, cheap and quite modern car, which could have been sold in the West as well, but COMECON ruled that East Germany could only manufacture two-stroke cars.
Another example: The former Junkers aircraft factory in Dresden improved wastly on the IL-14 aircraft, they were building in licence in the 1950s, they also developed a jet airliner, the Baade B-152, which is the first German jet airliner.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/36/Baade-152-ZYA_B.png

The first prototype crashed on it's second flight, but the second prototype finished the testing programme.
The programme was stopped on order of the Soviet Union, which wanted to sell their own jet aircraft, the Tu-124.

Jan
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Mon Jan 14, 2008 3:49 pm



Quoting Wingnut767 (Reply 41):
How is the unification process at this time?

For an undertaking this huge, difficult and important (not only fo Germany but also for Europe), unification was always progressing relatively well. There's still a significant gap when it comes to income and employment, but there are certainly no regrets, and actually never really have been. Some former east-German states are now more wealthy than some in the west. And after having spend 13 years in Berlin, I sometimes have difficulties to grasp how much really has changed.
There are some quarrels now and then, but that could go as a tribes thing.

Main problem seems to be that women and intellectuals abandon some villages in the poorer areas of the new states, leaving elderly people and those who are at best half-witted behind, significantly reducing prosperity and chances of the village, but I don't blame them.
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Mon Jan 14, 2008 4:10 pm



Quoting PanHAM (Reply 38):
the media did not report this with a hidden smile.

I canNOT judge "the media" overall, but papers like Tages Anzeiger (Zurich), Le Monde (Paris) and Financial Times (London) DID report such things with a kind of "smile".
-

Quoting MD11Engineer (Reply 42):
COMECON ruled that East Germany

The father of a schoolfriend of me had a Wartburg car. Wartburg did sell cars in Switzerland. But do not ask me ANY technical details
 
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Mon Jan 14, 2008 4:50 pm



Quoting ME AVN FAN (Reply 44):
Wartburg did sell cars in Switzerland. But do not ask me ANY technical details

Very simple: Metal body, but three cylinder two stroke engine.

Jan
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Mon Jan 14, 2008 5:59 pm

As a child growing up in the USA, I remember seeing on the news the rise of the wall in 1961, during the worst days of the Cold War. My views of the DDR were further made harsher from the influnce of going to a Catholic grade school at the time. When I became an adult, I finally had a chance to see Germany - both sides.
On my 1987 trip to West Germany, I included a visit to both sides of Berlin and traveling by train through the East. The train entered the East near Wolfesburg (passing by the massive VW plant there). We made a short stop before the border to take on DDR border police to check our tickets and passports. We seemed to pass very fast thorugh a narrow ditch apparently near the border. We then stopped a few miles into the border to let off the border guards. The same thing happened upon entering West Berlin as to the train's operations. A similar set of circumstances happened on my return trip back to West Germany.
Both ways when in the east, I was shocked by the crude appearance, like things had not changed since WWII. Factories spewed thick clouds of smoke, there were still steam trains in operation (mainly for freight?), towns along the way looked unkept and dirty. Along the RR right of way, one saw small summer cottages on tiny plots. Of course, one saw a number of smog making Tarbants and other sights of another time and very depressing.
My visit into East Berlin was with an organized bus tour. We has two 'guides' with us, probably to keep us from seeing too much. We were kept far from their side of the Berlin Wall, being diven down the main avenues that they wanted us to see, made short visits into the Pergegom Museum, the Peoples Hall (?) and to a mounment to the USSR solders that 'liberated' them in WWII. Upon my return to West Berlin, the contrast became more apparent. I also saw up close the wall, and behind the Rheinstag (sp?) where the wall was only 5 meters away, there were crosses for those that died trying to escape from the DDR. Near there, I stuck out my tounge and made rude jesters to the guards in the East towers.
In June 1990, I returned to Germany then in the process of reunification. I traveled a similar route to/from Berlin by train, and it didn't look much differenet, and possibly even worse, but for more western ads, and more 'western' cars. I enteed East Berlin on foot at Checkpoint Charlie (I also visited the museum there) on one of the last days of it's existance. By this time, most of the wall had become souveniers. I got about US $5 = in DDR money. I walked around the city, part of the time with a college student from the USA studying Germany. That $5 paid for a nice lunch of a pork chop with potatoes and a beer, enterence to the Pergenmon Museum (best know for it's excellent Greek, Roman and Persian antiquities) a soda later on and a small souvenier. I walked thorough the People's Hall, a department store (still selling leftover DDR junk), looked in a bookstore noting math books in Russian, books on how to fix your Trabant and on other day to day issues. Best was that I could walk thorugh the streets like I was in the West side.
I also returned in 2000. By that time, Berlin had made major changes, major buildings were in the process of cleaning or restoration and it was still a mix of old and new. It was also a lot more expensive in the East side, I took a bus to an eastern area of the city, turning around at a place thick with Soviet era apartment buildings. Traveling by train through the old DDR, from a previous way and leaving via Lipseg to go to Pague, the ex-DDR areas still looked very somber, depressing and dirty.
 
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Tue Jan 15, 2008 3:36 am

Fast forward to 3 minutes 5 seconds in this vid, when Schabowski was asked when the borders were to be opened and he responded with: Sofort, unverzüglich (Immediately and without delay).



However nobody in the STASI, which was in charge of the VOPOs (Volkspolizei, People's Police) at the border knew about it, and initial orders stated that the border should remain closed, or at least that passport controls have to continue, but the angry mob at the Grenzübergang Bornholmer Straße prevailed and, though with a heavy delay, the border was finally opened by the VOPOs. Here's a vid of that, from the Spiegel-TV crew who was there.

 
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Tue Jan 15, 2008 11:40 am

Some countries within COMECON followed the rules, others didn´t, Romania and Yugoslavia was countries that didn´t
care much about the rules, DDR did. Only DDR goods I recall using was glassfiber fishing rods bought in Denmark, heavy but good quality.
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RE: Life In Communist East Germany Thread

Tue Jan 15, 2008 11:59 am

Quoting Alessandro (Reply 48):
Some countries within COMECON followed the rules, others didn´t, Romania and Yugoslavia was countries that didn´t
care much about the rules, DDR did.

-
Romania, quite in contrast to what we in the West usually were served by the media, was governed in a far worse way then most other communist countries, with the exception of Niorth Korea and Albania. And a bad dictator, Gheorgiou-Dei was replaced by one at least as evil, Nicolae Ceaucescu. In comparison with Mr Ceaucescu, Messrs Ulricht and Honecker were human-rights activists. And Romania in fact WAS a member of Comecon AND the Warsaw Pact, while Yugoslavia was NOT in the pact, and only associated with Comecon.
-
If you want to take into consideration two countries with a relatively mild communist rule you might take the Bulgaria of Todor Schivkov and the Hungary of Yanos Kadar.

[Edited 2008-01-15 04:01:17]

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