Saturday, January 2, 2010

DDR & Stasi Museums

East Germany's official name was the German Democratic Republic (Deutsche Demokratische Republic or DDR). Near the Berliner Dom, is the DDR Museum, an interactive museum, covering the DDR's 40 years.

There are around 600 objects on display and the focus is on what daily life was like in the DDR. Themes such as work, school, shopping, leisure, fashion, culture, etc. are all featured. There is a replica of a typical East German flat and even a Trabant, the national car, that you can sit in.

The DDR Museum was very interesting. Entrance is 5,50 € and everything is in both German and English.

The Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, or Stasi, was the East German secret police. It was one of the most effective and repressive agencies in the world. The Stasi motto was "Schild und Schwert der Partei" (Shield and Sword of the Party).

They infiltrated almost every aspect of East German life. It has been estimated that there was one informer for every seven citizens.

The Stasi Museum has some fascinating exhibits but everything is in German. One of the better exhibits shows the array of surveillance equipment used to spy on the population. Everything from miniature cameras concealed behind button holes to listening devices in fake rocks.

One of my favorite movies is Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others). The movie shows to what lengths the government went to spy on its own citizens. There is one scene in the movie where an interrogator collects and preserves a scent sample from a prisoner in order to have it available for the dogs. There is even a display at the museum showing how they did this for real.

Here's the movie trailer for Das Leben der Anderen.

1 comment:

  1. Terrific post about the Stassi museum. I had the same criticism about it being only in German. They have a handout - but how many think to ask for it.