Category Archives: Ostalgie

Berlin Then and Now (pt. 1) Fuer Immer in Freundschaft mit der Sowjetunion Verbunden

Berlin, wow, how things have changed!

Back in 1989, I took the photo below of a small memorial- this side reads “Fuer Immer in Freundschaft mit der Sowietunion Verbunden” rough translation: Always connected to the Soviet Union in Frendship.  You can see a Wartburg zipping by the Palast der Republik across the street in the background.

Memorial Across from the Palace of the Republic in the former GDR. The text on the left panel reads:
Memorial Across from the Palace of the Republic in the former GDR taken in 1989. The text on the left panel reads: Always connected to the Soviet Union in Friendship

That was then, this is now (2017 at least, photo below.)

Gedenkstein Am Lustgarten (Mitte) Herbert Baum
Gedenkstein Am Lustgarten (Mitte) Herbert Baum
Gedenkstein Am Lustgarten (Mitte) Herbert Baum
Gedenkstein Am Lustgarten (Mitte) Herbert Baum
Gedenkstein Am Lustgarten (Mitte) Herbert Baum
Gedenkstein Am Lustgarten (Mitte) Herbert Baum

Unfortunately there’s no Palace of the Republic across the street. I still regret leaving the GDR without taking so many photos. I just assumed it would be there anytime I came back.

Also, I should note: while researching this topic I found that this memorial is dedicated to Herbert Baum, a German, Jew, and Communist who led a resistance group against the fascists.

Welcome to our Museum, Comrades

The World Clock in Alexanderplatz, Berlin, Capital of the GDR 1987
The World Clock in Alexanderplatz, Berlin, Capital of the GDR 1989

Visiting a friend down in the Los Angeles area, Culver City to be exact I had another opportunity to visit the Wende Museum. The Wende Museum is focused on the Cold War, a particular interest to me.

Barren Avenue in Berlin, Capital of the German Democratic Republic, 1989
Barren Avenue in Berlin, Capital of the German Democratic Republic, 1989

Back in 1986/87 I was an exchange student in Southwestern Germany (technically the Federal Republic of Germany or as most English speakers referred to it “West Germany”.) It seems like ancient history now, but in the wake of WWII, Germany was occupied by the major victors divided into zones amongst them.

Intra-German frontier, Berlin 1987
Intra-German frontier, Berlin 1987

Where I lived in Immenstaad, and went to school, (now Bad) Saulgau was in the French occupied zone. I have no idea if the French really “occupied” this area though they did have a Garrison in nearby Friedrichshafen where you’d occasionally see French soldiers and military equipment.

Portrait of Michael Halberstadt on the Spree River, Berlin, 1987
Portrait of Michael Halberstadt on the Spree River, Berlin, 1987

In any case the “democratic” powers of France, United Kingdom, and United States got on pretty well. However the USSR…. not so much. The Soviet occupied Eastern portion of Germany became its own country in 1948. Except the western portion of Berlin and some other quirks, like a few spots in West Berlin that were run by the USSR (like the Soviet Memorials at Treptow and at Tiergarten.)

Soviet War Memorial, Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany
Soviet War Memorial, Tiergarten, Berlin, Germany

So, my first visit to the GDR was with a friend and classmate from the Gewerbliche Berufsschule Saulgau who had a sister who lived and worked in West Berlin.

Wende Museum of the Cold War, Culver City, CA
Wende Museum of the Cold War, Culver City, CA

Whew, this is getting longer than I planned. Short story, I visited Berlin, Hauptstadt der DDR in the summer of 1987 and was fascinated.

Wende Museum of the Cold War, Culver City, CA
Wende Museum of the Cold War, Culver City, CA

So just a couple blocks from my friends house lies the new location for a museum dedicated to my interest.

Wende Museum of the Cold War, Culver City, CA
Vintage Wartburg, Wende Museum of the Cold War, Culver City, CA

There were a bunch of busts of Lenin. I had a good time framing them with my new camera setup, I thought it worked well using the new Sigma Art 18-35mm f1.8 (hey, that’s sounding rather capitalistic- a product placement?) I liked the ability to get a shallow DOF with one little Lenin in front of a big Lenin.

Wende Museum of the Cold War, Culver City, CA
Busts of Lenin, Wende Museum of the Cold War, Culver City, CA
Wende Museum of the Cold War, Culver City, CA
Busts of Lenin, Wende Museum of the Cold War, Culver City, CA

I’m kinda bummed my friend is moving. I’d love to go back and spend some more time exploring Ostalgie.