10 things you never knew about socialist East GermanyPolls show former East Germans are happier with unification and the current state of the living in east germany today than former West Germans. There were far more working mothers in East Anabolic pathways release energy as they degrade polymers to monomers than in the Federal Republic and there were free nursery spots for every one of their children, tosay just weeks after birth. Moreover, all of the kids apparently received Christmas presents aplenty from Erich Honecker, the leader of the East German Socialist Unity Party from towhen Christmastime rolled around. The GDR model indeed looks enticing at first living in east germany today, especially in light livong the acute shortage of nursery spots across Germany today, a shortfall much more pronounced livinh western Germany, where fewer women work and there are far too few day-care options. Germany lacksnursery personnel — a consequence, no doubt, of the miserably low wages they receive.
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany - The Local
Polls show former East Germans are happier with unification and the current state of the nation than former West Germans. There were far more working mothers in East Germany than in the Federal Republic and there were free nursery spots for every one of their children, starting just weeks after birth.
Moreover, all of the kids apparently received Christmas presents aplenty from Erich Honecker, the leader of the East German Socialist Unity Party from to , when Christmastime rolled around. The GDR model indeed looks enticing at first glance, especially in light of the acute shortage of nursery spots across Germany today, a shortfall much more pronounced in western Germany, where fewer women work and there are far too few day-care options.
Germany lacks , nursery personnel — a consequence, no doubt, of the miserably low wages they receive. In East Germany, the profession was respected and, comparatively, decently compensated. And it was laid on pretty thick: One of the approved kids songs, for example, was "I want to be a Volkspolizist. The day-care centers were rigid, authoritarian, and uninspired, programmed to encourage "group-think" and not creativity.
Punishments could be severe, too: These days the most draconian a German nursery school teacher gets is speaking in a raised voice. And no wonder there was a spot for every kid: The adult-to-child ratio was just 1 to 9.
Recycling was vital business in the GDR, and not first and foremost for environmental reasons. The state lacked in raw materials and relied on recycling to bridge the gap. Kids could collect bottles, scrap metal, or paper as well as aerosol cans, paper bags, books, glasses, camera film, aluminum foil, and more and get paid for it. My friend Kristin told me: That was a good way to make new use of old stuff, created a community feeling and provided kids with an opportunity to earn some money.
In two hours, you could fill your trolley and earn 8 or 10 marks. For 8 marks you could pay for your school lunch for three weeks. As soon as the GDR agency in charge of recycling stopped paying in , the volume of materials it collected dived by 90 percent.
Soon after, it was forced to close all 16, recycling centers and fire 11, staff. Bockwurst, white-flour rolls, mustard from Bautzen, Spree River pickles. Cuisine across northern Germany is nothing to crow about — neither in the east nor the west.
But Ossies say the GDR sausages were tastier and still today swear that the very best come from the region of Thuringia south of Berlin. The meat products from Thuringia are mouthwatering, especially for any American who grew up with baloney and olive loaf. What I remember about East German Bockwurst was not the meat but the thin piece of stale white bread made with cheap flour that came with it — and that it cost about a quarter.
People across Central and Eastern Europe say the best jokes were aimed at the Communist regimes and thus had something subversive about them. Why are there no bank robberies in the GDR? Because you had to wait 12 years for a get-away car! The Ossi to the Wessi: GDR mothers donated , liters of milk. West Germany had nothing comparable. All but a handful of the milk banks shut down in Whether this was every good to begin with is contested terrain.
But only if the conditions are fully hygienic and the donated milk carries no diseases, like hepatitis and HIV. If skinny-dipping is your passion, the GDR would definitely have been the place for you.
No one batted an eye on the beaches of the Baltic Sea or in the Mecklenburg Lake Region when the whole family, junior high school classes, the next-door neighbors, and the postman all stripped down for sunbathing, a swim, and afterwards maybe even a few vigorous rounds of naked ping-pong.
The tradition has its roots in leftist, avant-garde culture of the s. For one, it was in-your-face, anti-bourgeois clothes, so uptight!
In the birthday suit all people are equal… There were camps, farms, and holiday packages that were extremely popular — not just among hard-core nudists.
In eastern Germany today, you still prepare yourself to see some serious skin should you summer along one of its waterways. The whole back-to-nature thing was a big deal for the Nazis, too. There was no East German Kate Moss. They certainly wear less make up and show less skin than those in Vogue.
There are no sex tips, but rather an emphasis on work, motherhood, and party politics. For all their libertine body culture, it all strikes me as awfully prude. In fact, it pushed the boundaries when it came to fashion and was considered vaguely oppositional for doing so.
And even though the models may not have flouted sexuality, the figure skaters made up for it. Anyone remember Katarina Witt in the Winter Olympics? Moreover, jealousy was rife in a country where so much cash and consumer goods came from outside the official economy, be it in the form of perks for the regime-loyal or care packages for people with relatives in the West. Lastly, of course, there was the secret police, the Stasi, which had recruited several hundred thousand "informal collaborators" from the population, which created an atmosphere of fear, distrust, and paranoia — not community or solidarity.
I asked my neighbor Gerd Poppe, a dissident in the GDR and one of the brave souls behind the democracy movement that eventually toppled the regime, what he missed about life before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Not a damn thing, he responded. No single aspect was imaginable outside of the parameters of the single-party state.
Paul Hockenos is a Berlin-based journalist. His recent book is Berlin Calling: Trending Now Sponsored Links by Taboola. By Paul Hockenos November 7, , 8: More from Foreign Policy. Voices Has Trump Become a Realist?