Bad times of terror, being pried and controlled in a country without the freedom to move – or good times with a high employment rate, good brotherhood and other amenities? The DDR Museum (GDR Museum) in Berlin may not give an exact answer on whether life in the former German Democratic Republic was more good than bad or vice versa. But at least, its exhibitions intend to illustrate life in the East of Germany between the 1950s and 1990 from many perspectives. Here is my review of our visit during the Country 2 Country Festival 2019 in the German capital.
GDR Museum – Location & Admission
The GDR Museum is located in close proximity to Alexanderplatz, right across Berlin Cathedral and thus in walking distance from many other Berlin tourist attractions. You are entering the museum from the River Spree Walk, it is located in some basement rooms.
If you just happen to be around, the admission to the museum is 9.80 EUR. We were able to have a 2.45 EUR discount with the Berlin Welcome Card, which combines free public transport with attraction discount. Tickets pre-booked online also lead to a reduced entrance fee.
GDR Museum – The Exhibition
You can roughly split the exhibition into two parts. The first part is showing the life in the GDR by topics. One of the first exhibits you will see is a model of the structure of the Berlin Wall, but very soon you will see the Eastern Germany typical Trabant car. There is more about consumer products, but also about sports or the reputation of certain jobs. This part of the exhibition is really wide. You may also visit a typical Eastern German kindergarten room or a prison cell. There is also a former Volvo government car.
Former GDR Style Flat
The second part of the exhibition is very concrete. You walk through an imaginary elevator and step into a typical GDR / Eastern Berlin flat. The rooms are made up as they have been in the past. When you listen to some of the visitors who lived in the GDR, you will hear words like “We had the same one” or “That is how it looked like at home”. Thus, I feel the GDR Museum must have made a great job here. Unfortunately, visiting on a Saturday, this part of the exhibition was extremely painful as the rooms are comparably small. It has been even more crowded than in the other part of the museum.
GDR Museum – Shop
There is no cafe or similar (would be fun, maybe…), but therefore, the shop offers a huge variety of typical GDR products and museum memorabilia. Definitely a nice finish of your visit, though it may add some expenses on your vacation balance.
GDR Museum – My View
The GDR Museum is trying to cover a lot of topics in a very limited space. Most of the topics are very well presented. For some of them, though, I would have loved to see some more arguments and critics. From a sports blogger perspective, of course, it is disappointing if you present the importance of sports for the former socialist country, but do not touch the topic of doping. Won’t say that the other countries did not look for an advantage on the pharmaceutical side as well, but I felt it is definitely worth mentioning.
An area I especially liked is the typical Eastern German (Eastern Berlin) flat. You could feel how people lived these days, and it is nicely arranged. Unfortunately, it is just massively crowded on weekends.
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