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April 23, 2011

Life in the GDR appears to have been somewhat awesome

We got into Berlin on Wednesday afternoon, and approximately four curry- and bratwursts later, one of our first stops was an English-language bookstore. I have been STARVED for a good book in English since I got over here, once I discovered that my Nook doesn't want to cooperate in France. I picked two books, one called A Woman in Berlin, about Berlin-post-war, and one called Stasiland, about Berlin-post-wall.

Stasiland is full of harrowing tales of what life was like in East Germany under the German Democratic Republic (Deutsche Demokratische Republik): never trusting anyone (they may inform on you to the secret police), no privacy, and no room for free thought. So I was prepared for a somber experience inside the DDR Museum.

What we got instead was a gee-whiz, hands-on collection of DDR memorabilia, with placards touting the ingenuity of the East Germans and making things like group bathroom breaks (a first lesson in Communist brotherhood-- no one can get up from the row of potties until the last one has finished) look positively adorable. 

These fun little guys taught the young comrades to eat more fruit, conserve electricity and use resources responsibly.
Here I am practicing the Lipsi dance, specifically created by the DDR in 1959 to be void of any and all sexuality and to counter rock 'n roll. Watch the video below to see what it looked like.

This diorama was dedicated to the East German penchant for promenading au naturel at the beach.
My favorite exhibit let you create a "new socialist human" bit by bit. You were given points for how well your choices conformed to the socialist ideal. I did well with my shoe choice ("Sturdy footwear is important for creating initiative in productive labor. Both feet firmly on socialist ground!"), but not so much with what I put in my left hand ("You have an exemplary husband! But why are you bringing flowers to work? Has your admirer just brought them here? Has he no job?").


  1. This is great Neenah. The question is, is this a tongue-in-cheek museum? Are they making fun of their past or is it done in all seriousness? By the way, I detected a TINY bit of coquettishness in that dance!

  2. I think the Lipsi should be the first dance you and Matt do together as Bride and Groom!!! BTW--who was that creeping in at the end of the video?

  3. WAP: I love the arm movement: it's a perfect Nina dance.