Wednesday, 5 December 2012

DDR Museum about life in East Germany

While researching our trip to Berlin we were told we had to find time to visit the DDR museum which explains life in East Germany during the cold war.  This is a fantastic museum, while I haven't taught my children much on the Cold War this was an excellent place to begin planting the seeds of this era into my children minds.

The Trabi car was the standard car of East Berlin.  It took as much as 16 years for someone to save up enough to purchase one and then wait to have one available to actually purchase.  The Trabi was a much loved car because it symbolized freedom of movement for many.  It was a simple car to maintain and many people were able to do their own maintenance and repairs on the cars.

Uniform of the FGR (Free German Youth) Created as a nonparty Youth organization in 1946, it slowly introduced young people into Marxism-Leninism, through youth clubs, festivals, groups and seminars.   It was not mandatory to belong to this organization, however non members were discriminated against when applying to secondary school, universities and even jobs.  This is why in 1985 nearly 80% of the youth belong to FGR  

The potty bench was used in day care facilities and was the first step to social education.  All the children were to remain on the potty bench until the last one was done, no matter how long it took.

Ration coupon books for purchasing food, clothes, furniture, books and anything else you might need.  There were no choices in what you purchased and there were often shortages and long lines for getting even the most basic supplies.

Due to the high cost of coffee on the international market the government came up with this version.  51% coffee,  34% rye and barley, and 5% of sugar beet or chicory or even spelt.  This mixtures was known to ruin many coffee machines and was eventually recalled after strong protests

A set up of the many listening stations to spy on the civilians.  Neighbors were encouraged to report on each other.  There were stories of families turning each other in.  Once the wall fell these records were released and there were many repercussions as people found out, family, friends or neighbors had been spying on them.  Some  were spying against  against their will while others did it voluntarily.

We saw an example of an apartment and the types of items found inside

Living room, my kids were fascinated with the rotary phone:)

East German jeans--at first banned as it was considered too Western.  But eventually this version came out in 1968.  It was not well received.

We learned about the use of steroids and doping and the need to make an impression on the world stage with sports.  Children as young as 10 were given questionable medication to enhance their skills.

Sample of the interrogation room.  People would be questioned for days denied sleep, water, and food 

A jail cell where you went after interrogation

I think out of everything I found this to be the most shocking-- This is an actual worksheet given to a school student.  math problems using military questions.  Example ten soldiers minus 5 soldiers equals what.  Also seen were questions about tanks, grenades and other military items.
The schools were designed to produce well rounded socialist personalities, they were taught to be loyal to the party, efficient and ready to defend the homeland at all costs.
Critical thought, creativity and individually had no place in East Germany

One of the signs about schools in East Germany--unbelievable!
The vehicles the leadership drove.  Definitely a step up

I think this says it all as to why communism failed!

This was a fantastic museum which gave a great insight as to what it was like living in East Germany.


  1. I'm so glad you posted this. I have heard of a Traubi car. I find the potty chair disturbing. Wow!

    Some day we hope to visit Berlin. Now our trip is planned.

    1. Julie you should definitely add this museum to your list when you visit Berlin...I thought the museum was wonderful and very hands on for children...

  2. I don't travel, but I love this sort of museum. Thanks for sharing your visit! I learned a lot of new things I would've normally missed just by reading your blog. If you keep this up, I'll never have to leave home. :)

  3. That is just incredible! I don't know why, but the potty seat bit disturbs me the most. I guess it's the idea that they were indoctrinated since birth. As homeschoolers, the whole idea is especially appalling. We value being allowed to raise our children as we believe is best, clearly that was not allowed there. Actually, homeschooling is still illegal in Germany...