The Lives of Others

22 10 2007

The Oscar winning film “The Lives of Others” from 2006 (“Das Leben der Anderen” in German) is another film about the days of the former German Democratic Republic, very different in ambience from the film Goodbye Lenin!.

The Lives of Others.

Click on the picture to buy the DVD.

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Goodbye Lenin!

20 10 2007

The film Goodbye Lenin!, from 2003, was the most prominent example of Ostalgie to the world outside Germany. The film is basically about a son who, for his mother’s health, tries to create a make-believe world, in which the Wall didn’t come done and the GDR didn’t disappear from the face of the earth.

Goodbye Lenin!

Click on the picture to buy the DVD.

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Ampelmann, the East German traffic light man

18 10 2007

My personal favorite Ostalgie item, as I mentioned before, is the Ampelmann, the man in the traffic lights of East Germany (“Ampel” is “traffic-light” in German).

Ampelmann.

My first encounter with the Ampelmann was actually in a traffic-light. I immediately liked that cute darling. And then I found out about his oh so naïve and sweet history, but also about its outrageous commercialization. I mean, I really wanted an Ampelmann bag, but not at these prices. So I settled for a woolen hat and shirt, and a little green man for my key chain. I also got a small book elaborating on the history of the man, the brand and the various products.

Ampelmann bags Ampelmann ice cubes

The Ampelmann was created by the traffic psychologist (what a weird profession, I’d say) Karl Peglau, in 1961. The rationale was to combat the danger of road accidents by using appealing symbols, since “road users react more quickly to appealing symbols” (well, maybe. I don’t believe it would have worked here). Read the rest of this entry »




Ostalgie in Berlin

16 10 2007

The official Berlin tourism site offers a program for East Berlin nostalgia tours, which you can find here. They claim that “The recent history in Berlin has many aspects and different ways of handling. On one hand there is the difficult historical discussion, on the other hand is the (n)ostalgic mood… Our tour shows both sides”.

Another option is taking the “Trabi-safari” tour, which costs between 25 to 35 euros, depending on the number of participants. Information about the “Trabi-safari” can be found in their website.

A Trabant.

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Ostalgie

14 10 2007

After dealing with the commemoration of the darker side of the communist regime in East Germany, I turn now to deal with the phenomenon of Ostalgie, also mentioned here before, in relation to the current situation of the German Unification.

Ostalgie is like it sounds – the German word for nostalgia for life in the former German Democratic Republic (Ost is east in German). Everybody knows, most of all people who actually lived there, that the tearing down of the Wall was not a spontaneous whimsical act that happened with no reason. So I think it’s pretty obvious that Ostalgie does not mean wanting to live again under a totalitarian dictatorship and the unbound reign of the secret police.
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The TV Tower (Fernsehturm) on Alexanderplatz

26 09 2007

The TV Tower (Fernsehturm) on Alexanderplatz is, as mentioned before, enormous. It can be seen from virtually everywhere in Berlin, and actually, it’s a very good navigation mark. It was built in 1969, and is 365 meters high (so every schoolboy could remember its height, you see…). Apart from fulfilling the former GDR’s technical need for a separate broadcasting system, it became an architectural and political symbol.

The TV Tower on Alexanderplatz.

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