I grew up in East Germany, the DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republik) or GDR (German Democratic Republic), and since last year I live here again. The country is gone, but architecture, design and public art takes a while longer to disappear. Memories and stories even longer.
A while ago I ran the German Rocur Twitter account for a week, telling stories of my youth in East Germany. I found a lot of interest in daily life behind the Iron Curtain, apart from all the sensationalism. Then I started my own Twitter account to keep this going. That was long before I ever thought of moving back here.
Now I am here, in Rostock, main port city of the DDR and otherwise very much the province, a very different experience from Berlin, and definitely a very different experience from what’s described in the DDR Museum.
The logical thing is to offer tours through what’s left of the Northern provincial DDR. Plattenbau (prefab housing, above the view from my balcony), Kleingarten (allotments but with more permanent facilities), Ulrich Müther (architect of many public buildings that now struggle to find a place), the last original DDR recipe Broiler in the Neptun Hotel (that’s roast chicken), a shipbuilding museum that hasn’t changed since we went there as children to learn about our socialist achievements (we did have two shipyards in Rostock), and a whole lot of socialist classicism in the centre. Because we have one of the first wide, straight, purpose-built parade streets. Our Lange Straße is from 1953.
I plan to mostly use public transport, since our main public transport network is also from DDR times.
And of course we can also visit the Stasi museum.
I am developing relationships, so there will be East German cars to see and touch, a bunch of items to experience, and maybe I can even find someone with stories to tell who speaks English.
Tours will be available from next Spring. In the meantime I am very happy about feedback on this idea. And Facebook likes.
See you in East Germany!