26 April 2011

A bit of German history: Grenzlandmuseum, Eichsfeld

I was at the Grenzlandmuseum last Sunday, a place just next to Duderstadt, about an hour's drive away from Göttingen. The weather was amazing - cloudless skies, permanent sunshine, and water never tasted so good.

The museum is located right where a border control between East- and West Germany used to be. It documents the history of the period when Germany was divided into two after World War II, from 1945 to 1990.

As most of us already know, the Berlin Wall, erected on August 13th 1961, was a symbol of this division, but it was more than just a concrete wall. The border also cuts right along Germany - barbed-wire fences, fences with detectors and automatic guns, and fences guarded by officers in watch-towers with their guns and dogs tied to a leash - almost 1400km long.

The decision to erect the border was made by East Germany. Tens of thousands of people died trying to cross into West-Germany. They were either shot, mauled to death, or killed after stepping on landmines places solely for one reason. The exact number of people killed throughout this period is unknown.


At the entrance of the museum.


An old military Trabant.
A Trabant was the only kind of car available for purchase in East Germany.
Those who purchased one had to wait at least 10-years until they get it.






A car made in West Germany.
I'm not good at this but I guess it's a Beetle.



One of the "Free Kommunists" who attempted an excape from East Germany and survived. :)



Me standing next to a replica of a part of the border. With bad-ass barbed wires.



A replica of what the border looked like in some parts of Germany.
I wouldn't want to touch that.


A fence with an automatic detector.
Alarm goes off when touched.



Display showing the different uniforms of the immigration officers.
From left: East German, West German, East German, West German.



The serious warning signs behind a uniform of an East German immigration officer.
The vandalized one (bottom-right) literally says, "Warning! Death border."




How the passports looked like.
Left: West-German passport.
Right: East German passport (not that they were even allowed to freely travel).



From what I understood, espionage was an expertise in East Germany.
Every civilian was being spied on, just to make sure that nobody shits with the government.
This was a working desk on which many spies worked at to write their reports on plain people, like you and me.



It's like a printer and a typewriter in one.


Weapons used along the border.


A declaration of freedom. The people of East Germany realized that they have been lied to all along. Socialism wasn't the right thing.

The headers read:
"The lies of Socialism
Yes! Freedom and Prosperity
Never again socialism!
Alliance for Germany."

And I tried my best to translate the entire text, which I found very interesting:

For 40 years we've had to live with the lie.
But socialism betrayed us.
The socialists told us:
Socialism was to be fairer and more social than the Federal Republic's economic order.
All lies.
The socialists told us:
Exploitation and Capitalism dominate in the Federal Republic. All lies!
Now we see it with our own eyes:
The people of the Federal Republic have better social services, higher wages, shorter working times and more leisure, a better environment and a simpler life. In brief: Prosperity for everyone.
And we? We worked just as hard yet our country is on the brink of a breakdown.
We owe that to 40 years of socialism.
That's 40 years too many.
We don't want to wait long. Nor do we want any new socialist experiments - not even through the backdoor of the SPD and PDS.
We want the social market economy.
We want freedom and prosperity for all.



Former East-German currency, Mark der DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republik).



Former West-German currency, Deutsche Mark.



More warning signs.
Very sad to read...
Borderzone, restricted zone, 100m until border, crossing allowed only with special permit, security strip: tresspassing prohibited.



"Trabi Town" was the nickname for Duderstadt.
During the fall of the Berlin Wall, and when the border was finally opened in late 1989, many crossed over into the city from East Germany with their Trabi cars.



A watch-tower.
And far in the distance was where the border between east and west used to be.



A patrol-helicopter that belonged to the Federal Republic (West Germany).

A former border-control office preserved as part of the museum.



I felt a bit sad the entire time during my stay at this museum. Just baffled at how difficult everything had to be made. I'm glad though that I know a little more now to be able to pass my Orientation Test in May. And I'm glad that there's now just one Germany. :)

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for walking us through that museum. Outstanding job. Very fascinating.

    And that recipe looks yummy. Like a European version of satay.

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  2. My pleasure. It was indeed an intriguing experience. And yes, you should try the Grillspieß. Sedap, lecker, delish!

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