The DDR Museum | Attraction Guides | History Hit

The DDR Museum

Berlin, Berlin, Germany

Sarah Roller

24 Nov 2020

About The DDR Museum

One of Berlin’s newest sites, the DDR Museum examines what life was like within the former German Democratic Republic, and provides an incredibly vivid look into this 40-year period. The museum is a wholly interactive experience, wherein visitors enter a model of a GDR estate.

History of the DDR Museum

Through impressive interactive exhibitions, the DDR Museum throws visitors into the years of the German Democratic Republic, which existed primarily between 1949 and 1990.

Life in the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War was vastly different to the rest of Germany. The West in particular was heavily occupied by the US military, and the Soviet forces felt it necessary to counter this with a state-owned and run country of their own.

Surrounded by wall of security – both metaphoric and sometimes real – the GDR and its inhabitants were cut off from the rest of the world. This allowed the Stasi to watch over its citizens without interruption. This spying went on throughout the Eastern Bloc’s reign, until its economic collapse and the democratic mass movement that finalised its demise.

The museum actively encourages visitors to touch and experience the exhibitions, in a way that few others do. Visitors can stroll through a typical concrete-slabbed housing estate, into the buildings that are bursting with relics and real models from the lives of those who grew up and lived during this time. You can see first-hand how the Socialist ideologies of the Stasi were conveyed through real television shows and movies, read the diary of a GDR citizen, and even take a simulated ride in one of the beloved ‘Trabi’ cars.

The museum accurately reflects both a fondness for the culture that this period created, as well as emphasising the sinister side of life under the piercing gaze of the SED. It came about in 2006, after an ethnologist visited Berlin and looked for a museum detailing the DDR. He found nothing and decided this had to change.

The DDR Museum today

The museum is open from 9am to 9pm daily – allow a couple of hours for your visit as there’s a lot to read and digest. Don’t miss the living room exhibit which has a corner where you can listen to music producing in the DDR: it’s surprisingly funky.

Getting to the DDR Museum

The museum is in central Berlin, on the banks of the River Spree opposite the Berlinerdom. Take the footpath along the river off Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 1: the entrance is clearly marked. Rotes Rathaus U-Bahn is the nearest station: Museum Island is a 5 minute walk away.

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