GDR Memories

 

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My 2. birthday - Nov 1985
I am Katha, born 1983 in Demmin (Mecklenburg - Western Pomerania) in the former GDR.
I've been living here in Norway now for more than 5 years - a little longer than I've lived in Great Britain. Norway and its people are now my second home. A home that reminds me so often of my first home - the GDR and Demmin.
Here, and by living remotely in a small village by the Sognefjord, I learned a lot. The Norwegians taught me to slowly become a little more proud of my home country, my origin and my family without taking the pride to an unhealthy level, if you know what I mean. My friends here found my origins exotic and the conversations were always filled with positive interest, something that I had only rarely experienced in Germany and when talking to people there.
This is also how this idea started with this account. Sharing what our life in the GDR looked like to an English speaking audience.
Welcome to @gdrmemories
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Erich is watching you 👀
Erich was everywhere. I remember his photo in every classroom before the wall fell in 1989.
I was in third grade and had to continue my school education in a complete new system in an unknown new city. Honestly it was hard to adjust as an East German kid in a, still for us, West German world.
Source: @soundslikeolive born in 1981 in the Niederlausitz / Lower Lusatia.
#gdrmemories #erichiswatchingyou
#erichhonecker #art #mixedmedia #abstract #visualart 
#borninthegdr #gdrhistory #lifeinthegdr #ddr #gdr #ddrkind #ddrculture
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Juliane
On 9 November 1989 the wall between East and West Germany came down and I find it hard to imagine what life had been like if it hadn’t. So to appreciate what has happened I meant to post a pic with a piece of the East Side Gallery where I take a stroll from time to time marvelling that only 31 years earlier people where shot who tried to enter that area. Anyhow, I found this pic and immediately remembered how I just could not get this (stupid) knot right. I was 9 when the wall came down and still was not able to tie my Pionierhalstuch properly! What can I say, luckily I didn’t need to figure it out anymore even though it still preys on my mind which is why I took this pic at Berlins @ddrmuseum 😝 
#germanreunification #november9 #november1989 #berlin #gdrmemories #gdr #ddr #ddrerinnerungen #unity #borninthegdr #gdrculture #culturalexchange #gdrculture #iamawitness #contemporarywitness 
#askme
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The Grandparents - NVA Waren Ecktannen
My two grandpas were refugees from the former German areas of Wolhynia and West Prussia. One settled near Seelow in Brandenburg, the other in Demmin Mecklenburg Vorpommern. Both had lost part of their siblings while fleeing and built their home in the GDR in the years after 1945. Neither of them fought in the war themselves, but they both witnessed it. 
 
So how did they live in this kind of “satellite” of the Soviet Union, the more or less same Soviet Union from whose Red Army they and their families had fled from? Did they agree with the politics in the GDR? Would they have preferred to live in the west?
 
I never asked these questions directly. Never brought it up to this day, but what I could assume from their stories was that they found their home in the GDR and therefore had no urge to move further west. They were happy and satisfied where they were, saw the good sides of the new political system and just wanted to live a quiet life in which they could raise their children in safety, without fear of another war.
#Seelow #Wolhynia #Prussia #germanancestry #genealogy #westprussia #borninthegdr #gdr #gdrmemories #demmin #warenecktannen #nva #germanhistory #modernhsitory #coldwargermany #ancestry #gdrculture #iamawitness #contemporarywitness 
#askme
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A little vaccination story

I would like to draw attention to my beautiful red vaccination pass that has accompanied me ever since I was born. When living in West-Germany I have encountered numerous doctors who hadn’t seen one before. So it always made me feel quite special, and I mean it in a positive sense. Once we moved to Berlin I was only one of many, which can also be nice 😉

Besides that, my husband and I got our COVID vaccinations whilst #travellingaustralia and were impressed how smoothly it went. We definitely feel better prepared for when we leave our little travel bubble soon and return to the normal world!

#gdrmemories #borninthegdr #gdr #ddr #vaccinationpassport #wearewitnesses #askus #gdrcommunity #gdrculture #germanancestry #germanhistory #gdrhistory #germanhistory #gdrchild #ddrkind #ddrgeschichte #modernhistory
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1st day of school
Mine was in August 1990. That meant that the Berlin wall had fallen, but the Germany was not reunited yet. All was in a state of limbo but life had to continue.
I remember vividly going to West Berlin for the first time to buy this white „Einschulungskleid“ dress that I am wearing. My grandmothers had joined us and we were in red double decker buses. These took us to a place called Lichtenrade. The smell of this place! The colours! I was overloaded by all the input!
By the way. The tradition of „Zuckertüte“ filled with little sweets, toys and school utensils is universal in Germany and not just a tradition for the GDR.
This picture here means a lot to me as I never had an „Einschulungsbild“ - a picture of my first day at school until last year. We had moved away from Blankenfelde shortly after as my dad lost his job at the NVA and I never got any picture of me posing with this spectacular hair do. Only last year I started a search finding my old class mates - voila here it is! 
#einschulung #firstdayofschool #gdrmemories #blankenfelde #gdr #ddrgeschichte #gdrculture #gdrhistory #borninthegdr #germanstudies #wearewitnesses
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Fernsehturm Berlin 1967/68

I was not born then, but my dad was and they luckily took some pictures when they travelled through Berlin. One of them was this one. Pretty boring at first but if you consider that this is the TV tower (Fernsehturm) in construction it is quite a significant picture.

For me the TV tower bore that lasting one lasting memory. 

Up there you were able to see the „Siegessäule“ (victory column) and once while I was there with my dad he pointed at that victory column telling me that I will never in my lifetime, be on that side and see that victory column close up.

How quickly things changed and how absolutely mind blowing it was to be there later in life walking past it, remembering that day with my dad.

#fernsehturm #berlin #gdronline #coldwar #gdrmemories #borninthegdr #lifeinthegdr #germany1968 #berlin1968 #tvtowerberlin #tvtower #ddrerinnerungen 
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Family holidays
Our annual holiday destination was not the baltic sea or the #Balaton, it was #Lebus in #Brandenburg, a tiny place a few kilometers outside of Frankfurt Oder. There, with my aunt Moni and her family, we stayed for several weeks in the summer every year, and what can I say? These are the most memorable and funniest memories one could wish for, those that are still associated with those “do you remember when we” moments…
 
When I was still an only child, the trip in the Trabant was a real experience, because grandma and grandpa often joined us. There is a lot of space in a Trabant!
We were very proud of that car, blue with a white roof, a car my parents had been waiting for a long time.
In Lebus and with his brother and his wife and children, my grandpa felt completely at ease. Not only grandpa, but we did too - my parents and I. The Skat, Rommé and Canasta nights were long. Sometimes tables and cards flew through the air when somebody felt they lost unfairly, but the next morning everything was forgotten again and we enjoyed some @nudossi_original on our bread in the morning😀
Did I miss travelling overseas? No. I did not know better and what we had literally was more than I could have ever asked for. I enjoyed every single minute of it.
#gdr #ddrgeschichte #gdrculture #gdrhistory #borninthegdr #germanstudies #wearewitnesses 
#holidaysinthegdr #lebus #frankfurtoder #gdronline #ddrgeschichte #balaton #balticsea
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Many of us can tell the stories of our grandparents and parents.  Stories of fleeing their homes. Stories of hunger, frost, loss and death. These stories are intertwined in us and can be found in many families all across the GDR.
In fact every 5th GDR citizen was not born here & had fled from the East in 1946.
These are our parents & grandparents who made us who we are.
——
Below % of refugees in the population
MV 41.7%
BB 21%
SN12.2%
TH 19%
ST 21.3%
Source: @ernstklettverlag Atlas zur Weltgeschichte
#germanstudies #refugees #Wolhynia #Prussia #germanancestry #genealogy #westprussia #borninthegdr #gdr #gdrmemories #demmin #easternprussia #westernprussia #pommerania #germanhistory #modernhsitory #coldwargermany #ancestry #gdrculture #iamawitness #contemporarywitness #grandmother #grandfather #meckpomm #brandenburg #sachsen #thüringen #sachsenanhalt #germanancestry #genealogy 
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It was no coincidence that I started playing handball at the local SV Einheit Demmin, and continued to do so until I was 25 years old. Playing in a club ran in the family.
 
There was my mother, who had played handball from childhood onwards in the same local handball club and was taught by the same coach as me. They were district champions (Bezirksmeister).
 
Then there was my dad a right striker at Demminer VB (now Demminer SV91). They managed to win the title with his club to be promoted into the district league (Bezirksliga).
No question, sport always played a big role in my parents’ youth, as well as in mine and in my sister's. My dad knew his high and long jump record hights and width by heart and I tried in vain to break them until I left school - without success.
Certificates from sports competitions were just as welcome as a good end of year school report.
 
From my parents to my great-grandmothers - sport was present everywhere and was practiced, watched on television and live. If someone in the family was playing locally or nearby it was not uncommon for the entire extended family to stand in the stands and cheer loudly.
 
This tradition was continued even after the reunification and is something that has shaped me and my family.
#Demmin #handball #gdrchildhood #ddrkind #gdrmemories #borninthegdr #germanstudies #germanhistory #sportsinthegdr #gdrsport #handballplayer #dividedgermany 
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1988- Herrmannshöhle Rübeland
I always wondered how many other families have one of these pictures at home. There must be quite a few.
I was 4 at the time, nearly turning 5 and it was my first time traveling with my parents and staying in a Bed & Breakfast. 
The «Harz» region and its stalactite caves were and are still a popular tourist destination. I remember becoming friends with the kid next to me on the picture and we were running through these caves all excited.
#rübeländertropfsteinhöhlen #harz #ddrurlaub #gdrmemories #gdrchildhood #gdrchild #ddrkind #gdrholidays #stalactite #gdronline
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My grandpa the breeder of racing pigeons
A refugee child from Bromberg, who first arrived in Berlin with his mother and brother. He was then sent further on. Final destination Demmin.
 
And what do you do as a teenager in Demmin, a town that had been nearly entirely burned down by the Red Army? You need a hobby. 
Others played football, went to wrestling clubs or athletics. My grandpa however wasn't interested in any of it.
 
His passion was and still is to race pigeons.
 
When he was young, he kept them in the basement of his rented apartment on Bahnhofstrasse. Later and when he owned a piece of land with a house, he cobbled together one pigeon loft after the other. In this loft he was and is still to be found today.
 
But it was not just to have fun. It was actually about tough competitions.
 
Almost every Saturday he drove to place the pigeon. Pigeon placement means selecting the best pigeons and then putting them in a (of course, self-made) wooden box ready for collection.
 
Punctually on the same or the next day (depending on the distance), a transporter loaded with hundreds of wooden boxes full of pigeons drove across the whole of the former GDR. Once the driver arrived at the destination, the pigeons were released and, equipped with rings around their feet, should find their way home to my grandfather's pigeon loft as quickly as possible.
 
So on these racing days he looked up into the air nearly every minute, he waited with pure tension on their arrival. As soon as he spotted a pigeon, he would whistle a certain melody to lure the pigeon into the loft, because he was only allowed to record the arrival time and ring number once the pigeon was in the loft. The fastest pigeon and its owner would then be crowned the winners. Sometimes he won races, sometimes the whole season and the big results were then announced in the monthly racing pigeon magazine.
 
Grandpa also took part in pigeon shows to which I was often allowed to join him. He won several prizes, bought sacks of corn and all sorts of grains so that his special racing pigeon would win the flight.

He recognizes his pigeons even when they are still metres above him flying through the air. He still gives them names and waves huge red flags through the air to drive the hawks away. Because hawks were the greatest enemies of his pigeons.

 

I've never had another friend who had such a cool hobby as my grandpa, and I wonder how many grandpas there will be in 20 years, that are taking care of his pigeons and are watching the air like my grandpa.


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Thanks to many very knowledgeable people on Twitter and Insta I was able to put together a first selection of books written by GDR born and / or raised authors that have been translated into English.
Jens Schöne - GDR “A history of the “workers and peasant’s state”
Jenny Erpenbeck - Visitation
Eugen Ruge - In Times of Fading Light
Maxim Leo - Red Love
Christoph Hein - Settlement
Christa Wolf - They divided the sky
Ulrich Plenzdorf - The new sorrows of young W
Thomas Brussig - Heroes like us
Brigitte Reimann: I Have No Regrets: Diaries, 1955-1963
If you know more, feel free to add them in the comments.
#maximleo #brigittereimann #christophhein #jensschöne #jennyerpenbeck #christawolf #thomasbrussig #ulrichplenzdorf #bibliophile #gdrbook #gdrauthor #englishgdrbook #gdrmemories #bookworm #leseratte
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Heimat
Until a few years ago, my “GDR background” wasn't even on my “identity radar” at all and it was only through a Norwegian book that dealt with the mass suicide in my home town Demmin, that I started to look more into this term „Heimat“, its people, my people in fact and how they had dealt with their past. 
Only then it suddenly became my own story, my own country that had not allowed any discussions about the atrocities committed by the Red Army at the end of World War II. 
My country that left its citizens alone to deal with the trauma they had experienced.
 
Since then I have become more and more intrigued by the time around 1945 and after as it has undoubtedly shaped me and my family. 
Now, physically distanced to this „Heimat“ and through the unbiased discussions with “non-Germans” around questions like „Where do you actually come from” or “how did you experience living in the GDR?“ helped me a lot to look into it all with a different mindset, different eyes.
I can only guess whether it is simply the use of English, i.e. speaking to „non-Germans“ and the struggle to find a translation for a GDR term, or the difficulty in explaining the general circumstances in the GDR. 
Or if it is the unbiased and unexpectedly highly interested counterparts I talk to who have seen and heard so little of the so-called “Ossi Wessi discussions” who literally hear of many things the first time in their lives - while they all expect there to be a fully reunited Germany, given that the wall fell more than 30 years ago.
 
In any case, these cultural differences and this struggle for words to explain it simply, these moments are incredibly reqarding as I suddenly started seeing my own history with totally different eyes. I needed to look things up, asked my parents and grandparents. Discussions started as to what things meant where the LPG head office was, what actually Glasnost and Perestroika were. And all of it brought us closer together but also closer to the our „Heimat“.
A process and a path, well worth the effort.
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Our talented contributor Doreen Trittel @hehocra from Berlin shared some of her thoughts with us. Thoughts on this very special day today.
Living with the wall was normal to me as a child. The wall belonged to us. I grew up in Berlin.
Still, I was always intrigued by what lay behind it. How the people are and how they live. Today it is unimaginable and it is a very emotional subject to me. More importantly, we all need to remember. 
This should never happen again.
„How do we want to live?
Definitely without walls !!!
Today, 60 years ago, the Berlin Wall was built. It separated people.  It shielded people.  It incarcerated people. It killed people.
 They stand powerful
 On borders, rigid
 Uncontrollable, seemingly
 To feel, to experience
 Get out of jail
 Live, laugh and love naturally.
 (c) Doreen Trittel
The walls are massive.  Walls separate.  Walls limit. … In the course of the peaceful revolution, the wall fell on November 9, 1989.  But what about the walls inside the people…?
 #westberlin #history #kunstandermauer #history  #memory #erinnernundverändern #wiewollenwirleben #menschen #berlinwall #BerlinerMauer #Mauerbau #13August1961 #berlin #bernauerstrasse #berlinmitte  #kunst #artoftheday #artremembers #arttransforms #artheals #dieheilkraftderkunst #powerofcreativity
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13th August 1961 -
Yesterday, 60 years ago the construction of the Berlin Wall began. The GDR regime separated families and locked out freedom for good. How @ahnenstory great-uncle Alfons (pictured here) then 27 years old, experienced this turning point, he told her in August 2001:
 “From 1960 to 1961 I was at the officers' school of the People's Police (Volkspolizei) in Aschersleben in what was then the Halle district (now Saxony-Anhalt). On the evening of August 12th and after a whole day of lessons in politics, we went on to some exercise in the evening. There was a football match against the district champions on the actual school premises that day. I was a passionate football player then and shot my team to victory with a 2:1 goal. Big cheers and applause, almost 800 spectators on the sports field - what a wonderful feeling.
But then the siren started: long - short - short. 
For three minutes. 
Alarm! 
Everyone ran back from the field to the dormitory. Back in the dormitory we were instructed to put on our uniforms and shoulder a gun. I was assigned to a truck several comrades were already sitting on. 
Around  20:30 a trek of almost 2.5 km left the city of Aschersleben - crews, guns, water cannons - I think we were roughly 1000 men. 
The regiment was led by radio, nobody knew exactly where we were going or what had actually happened. 
We arrived in Berlin around 6 a.m. on August 13, final destination. It became clear to me then that the reason for it all was that the capturing of West Berlin was imminent. By then we had heard rumours about it on and off. 
At the assembly point I received ammunition, 72 rounds. After that, I was asked to take up my post. 
So there I was on August 13, 1961, on the first floor of the war ruins of the former "Haus Vaterland" on Potsdamer Platz - ready to fire. 
But where was the enemy? 
Or did they expect me to shoot my own people? "
#coldwar #gdr #gdrmemories #gdrhistory #berlinwall #witnessaccount #germanstudies #germanhistory #germangenealogy #germanancestry #ddr #mauerbau #neverforget
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My granddad Einhard arrived in Germany and what should later become the GDR in the 1940s. He and his family had fled initially from Wolhynia to Poland and later from there to Germany. They settled in Hathenow, near Seelower Höhen together with his 3 brothers and 2 sisters. They were actually 8 children, however they had to bury his twin siblings while fleeing.

In the 1950‘s he met my grandma Sigrid and moved north, to Demmin (Mecklenburg Vorpommern) but the family continued to be very close mostly due to the ties they made when fleeing their home. 

So, when help was needed, everybody was there.

That is also the reason why every year during the harvest season the family met. These long travels, from Demmin to Hathenow always included a visit to Berlin. A Berlin in the 1960s, a divided Berlin.

And the crazy thing is they did not own a car. So all travels happened on a ES 250 motorbike with a side car. Otherwise they took the train to Podelzig and walked the 6km from there to Hathenow. Talk about luxury!

And after a break in the city, everybody was there to help with the harvest in Hathenow.

These close ties continued until my grandfather died in 2006.

#ddr #gdr #childhood #berlin #hathenow #gdrmemories #childhoodunplugged #childhoodmemories #growingupinthegdr #borninthegdr #wolhynia #refugees

My cousin the „Jungpionier“

Although my cousin was born in March 1983, so the same year as I, just 8 months before, she was the only one of us two that actually became a real "Jungpionier", because she started school in 1989.

I on the other hand was denied this "award". Unbelievable! She also had the pleasure of eight weeks of summer vacation, at least once in her life.
 
I had my first day of school in August 1990, a few weeks before the German reunification. So by then, the fall of the Berlin Wall was less than a year ago and I proudly displayed my white dress with its purple silk bow and uncomfortable patent leather shoes at the „Einschulung“ (first day of school). 
We had bought my entire outfit "in the West", in West Berlin a few days before. So my parents had spent their first ever «Deutsche Mark» they were allowed to use in the West for my «Einschulungskleid» (the dress you wear on your first day at school) and which is now in hindsight a really nice thing to remember.
           
But, more dissappointing for me was the actual fact, that I never became a "Jungpionier", never learned their songs or wore their blue shawl, and the tip of the iceberg - I never had 8 weeks vacation either.
 
In retrospect, pretty ridiculous thinking, at the time however I felt really mistreated!

#jungpionier #cousins #gdr #gdrchild #memories #germanhistory #modernhistory #socialhistory #borninthegdr #ddrkind #gdrstories #gdrchildhood 

geboren in Demmin Germany 

lives in Balestrand Norway 

The Loom Film Documentary producer 

writes in German and English 

life stories & memories from WW2 Germany, GDR, Norway 

GDR Memories  @gdrmemories


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