I am a child of West Berlin and grew up with the GDR and the Berlin Wall. For me, a visit to the DDR Museum was a journey to the “East” of the city and also a little glimpse into the unknown past.
The DDR Museum is located in the Mitte district in the DomAquarée. It attracts countless visitors every year who want to gain an insight into the lives of people in the GDR.
During my tour of the museum, I not only looked at the exhibits, but also looked and listened a lot to the reactions of other visitors. This is certainly not representative, but it was striking that most of them seemed to be discovering completely new territory. Of course, people of a certain age did not experience the situation at that time, but even visitors my age were partly very clueless and astonished about a parallel culture in the “other” Germany.
About the exhibition at the DDR Museum
The exhibition comprises three large areas. In each area you will find exhibits that you can touch, doors and drawers to open and multimedia offerings.
The first section deals with everyday life in the GDR. For example, it deals with the topic of education. The educational stations are illuminated from kindergarten to work. A nursery school room gets me excited. I discover a lot of things that I know from my childhood and also liked to use: for example, the wooden scooter, Schnatterinchen and the Sandman.
The Konsum section brings back some memories of parcels we sent to relatives in the GDR. And of the search for shopping opportunities in East Berlin when we wanted to spend our 25 marks from the compulsory exchange before returning to the West. During my studies, that always went towards specialist literature or school books.
The highlight for many visitors to the DDR Museum is in the traffic area – a Trabi. Here you can get into the racing car and play through a driving simulation. It reminded me of my first ride in a relative’s Trabi. It was narrow, it was uncomfortable and every bump in the road could be felt. It was an experience I didn’t forget in a hurry.
For me as a sports enthusiast, the areas of sport and travel were particularly interesting. “Do it with me, do it after me, do it better” was always exciting for me to watch on television. Many well-known GDR athletes thrilled me at the time with their performances in competitions. Who wasn’t fascinated by Katharina Witt when she did her pirouettes on the ice or by Heike Drechsler’s long jumps? Today, people view sport in GDR times much more critically from a different point of view than they did back then. But that is another topic.
I could have spent hours in this area of the exhibition. At every corner there was something I remembered or something I had never heard of. For me, a successful mix!
The second area in the DDR Museum deals with the topic of “Party and State”. Here, the political structures of the GDR and its connections to other socialist countries are discussed. Looking into a reconstructed interrogation room and a prison cell makes me feel a little queasy.
It must have been a terrible feeling to know that there were people in one’s own acquaintances and relatives who passed on every utterance that was not in conformity with the state.
Finally, I visit the third area of the exhibition. A lift takes us to a faithfully reproduced WBS 70 panel-built flat. WBS 70 is the abbreviation for Wohnungsbauserie 70.
It was a type of prefabricated apartment building used in the GDR. Here, a 3-room flat has been reconstructed. You can look at the living rooms, kitchen and bathroom in almost every detail. It is possible to look into the cupboards and drawers and discover the original GDR exhibits.
I never experienced a flat in a prefabricated building in GDR times, but I have seen it portrayed here in numerous television productions.
I spent almost 1.5 hours in the museum. There was a lot to discover and read about. A visit that was worthwhile for me and that I can definitely recommend.
Monday till Sunday: 9- 21h
Discounts are available.
Disclosure: The visit to the DDR Museum and the use of the photos was made possible to me free of charge. Thank you very much! The article about my visit is based solely on my impressions and was written independently of the visit.