I hope you will enjoy this little excursion down the streets of what once was.......The Deutsche Demokratische Republik. I will try in this limited space and format to introduce those unfamiliar with just a taste of life in the DDR. For those of you like myself who lived it first hand, I hope it brings back memories.
No, not everything in East Germany was B&W but there was a serious lack of color when you walked the streets. The color schemes of your Trabis reflect this limited color scheme eventhough Trabis were often the most colorful thing to be seen. Color came from nature, the trees, flowers and sky. All else was coated in government produced shades of beige, grey, brown or blue.
Remeber the streets? No, My optimistic side wants to exclaim "they weren't all so dismal as this!" but then again...many if not most were. Most villages tried to keep their shabby, weathered buildings at least clean and respectable but then there were the big cities with their entire neighborhoods of derelect or dying structures. It cost the regime too much to tear down a building, or a block or a neighborhood so rather than do so, they simply bricked-in the first floor windows and doors and let the ruins stand...giving huge portions of the DDR that "freshly bombed out look".
It's no surprise that after the Fall of the Berlin Wall scores of movie makers flocked to the former DDR to take advantage of its "made-to-order" sets for their war movies about Yugoslavija or the Second World War.
Long gone are the days when the streets were relatively free from automobiles. Parking wasn't an issue and EVERYONE had a motorcycle! Those wonderfully perky MZ cycles available in 125 or 250cc varieties. No waiting time to buy one, unlike the Trabant which could take upto 12 years if you were lucky. Remember them? Available in nasty shades of blue, green, yellow or red and one ignition key fit them all...yep that was the MZ!
Ahhh, but to finally receive notice that your Trabant was on its way! What a day! You didn't care that it was first come, first served (bribes accepted). It didn't matter that you had no say in your cars color. You were THRILLED!
But...let's not just talk about the Trabant, despite its being the common thread that sparks the interest of many of us in the story of the country from which it came.
The DDR was a fascinating place. An isolated world of slogans and images juxtaposed onto a canvas that seemed to contradict the images forced upon it. If the State said you were happy, it had to be so. If the State owned papers all said it was experiencing an economic boom and life was good...who were you to argue? Erich Honeckers photo appeared daily on the front page of all of them shaking the hand of yet another nondescript smiling face, congratulating them for a job well done.
Of course there was no potato crop failue, the State just decided at random that you should all eat Lintels instead! Ahhh lintels, the healthy yet underated vegetable and staple of the German Working Class! Sure, you grinned a bit but never dared to question. Asking questions was the one thing that could make your peaceful, happy life in the DDR come to an abrupt end.