If you remember your history lessons, when Germany lost at the end of World War II, Berlin was divided amongst the Allied Forces. The East went to the Soviet Union, while the West consisted of the American, British, and French occupation sectors.
East Berlin then became the GDR or German Democratic Republic (a socialist government which was essentially considered as a Soviet satellite). GDR citizens were then cut off from the outside world by the Berlin Wall and a strict surveillance of the Stasi (secret police).
So, what was life like under the Socialist East? If you’re curious to learn more about this part of history, then I suggest visiting the DDR Museum.
The DDR museum paints a vivid picture of what everyday life was back then in the GDR. You’re immersed in this extinct socialist society, where practically every facet of life was state-controlled. From how you were potty trained, to what your work/profession is going to be (there was zero unemployment), what music to listen to and what kind of clothes to wear, even where to go on a holiday.
I really loved the fact that DDR was highly interactive. Unlike most museums, you’re actually allowed to touch and interact with the displays, which makes it a more enjoyable learning experience! Open a drawer and find actual artifacts and read up on bits of trivia. Lift a telephone receiver and ‘eavesdrop’ on a conversation thru tapped phone lines.
One of the highlights is getting in a Trabi (the only car on GDR roads) driving simulator and “driving” back in time. There’s also a part in the museum which was set up to look like you’re inside an average GDR flat- you see the living room, kitchen, and bath, complete with furniture and knick knacks!
Plus, there’s also the DDR-Restaurant Domklause right beside the museum, where you can taste dishes that were popular in the GDR. Of course, we had to taste a couple of them! (Update: I just read in their website was the restaurant was closed last year to enable the enlargement of the DDR Museum’s exhibition. Not sure if they’re reopening, though.)
So if you have very limited time (or budget) to only see a couple of museums while in Berlin, I highly highly recommend that you make the DDR Museum one of them!
How much are the tickets:
- Adults – Eur 7,00
- Reduced – Eur 5,00 (for children, students, and disabled persons)
- Children below 6 yrs old – Free
If you’re visiting Berlin under a tight schedule I suggest buying your tickets online in advance. No need to queue up, and your ticket is valid during a specific timeslot. Plus, if you book way ahead of time, you can get hold of their best-price deal of Eur 5,00 for adult tickets! Neat, huh?
But just in case you want to go on a last-minute visit to the museum, you can still save via the Berlin Welcome Card which gives you discounts on partner restaurants, establishments and of course museums! When we were there in 2014, we just walked in, showed our Berlin Welcome Card and paid Eur 5,25 for an adult ticket.
Monday – Sunday : 10am – 8pm
Saturdays : 10am – 10pm
Where to find it:
It’s right on the River Spree, on the opposite side of the Berlin Cathedral (Berliner Dom).
Credits to: getyourguide.com for the header image