Truth or Legend? 7 (False) Facts about the GDR

The close to three decades since the fall of the Berlin Wall have been marked by a proliferation of urban legends and stereotypes about socialist East Germany. A closer look at the reality of everyday life in the GDR shows that while there may be some truth to some of these, others are complete fabrications. We’ve explored a few of the most prominent stories to help you untangle fact from fiction.

Image source: tiefpics – photocase

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East German Inventions: a Land of Ideas and Ingenuity

With constant shortages even of everyday items forcing people to improvise and make the most of what they did have, necessity was truly the mother of invention in socialist East Germany. The impetus to make up for the dearth of consumer goods available in the shops and to compensate for the gap in industrial and technological development between the GDR and its western neighbours gave rise to some ingenious innovations. Driven by the desire for economic self-sufficiency and a better standard of living, the willingness to experiment was reflected in the impressive number of patent applications filed with the East German Office of Inventions and Patents – around 130,000 by the time the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, compared to only 70,000 in West-Germany, which had a much larger population.

Image source: mischkaarndti – photocase

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Exercise and Entertainment for the Masses – the History of the Sport- und Erholungszentrum (SEZ)

The GDR’s first adventure pool is a hulking colossus of a building. When the Sport- und Erholungszentrum (SEZ for short) opened in 1981, it was located at the corner of Leninallee and Dimitroffstraße. Post-unification, both streets have been renamed and are now called Landsberger Allee and Danziger Straße. Purpose-built to provide ample space for exercise and entertainment for the masses, the SEZ proved a massive attraction from day one, attracting 16 million visitors in the first five years – 10,000 a day during peak periods. Without exaggerating, the SEZ was no less important than the Palast der Republik for the people of East Berlin and the whole of socialist East Germany.

Source:, Unsplash
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Strausberger Platz: The Best Locations for Any Occasion

Strausberger Platz is located at the very heart of Berlin, only a stone’s throw from some of the capital’s best restaurants, clubs and tourist attractions. Whether you’re just visiting Berlin or a Strausberger Platz resident, here are a few locations you should check out at least once…although you’ll probably come back again and again!

From historic GDR architecture to iconic sights and tips for a fun night or day out, we’ll bring you everything you’ll need to know to make the most of your time in the Strausberger Platz area.

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Strausberger Platz Gripped by Berlinale Fever: Festival Event at Tilsiter Lichtspiele

For ten days every February, it’s all about bears in Berlin: the Golden Bear and his silver brothers, to be precise – the much-coveted trophies at the Berlin International Film Festival, known as Berlinale for short. Industry experts from Germany and all over the world gather in the German capital to watch a fraction of the 400 films screened over the course of the festival. The entire city is in the grip of cinemania, tickets sell like hotcakes and would-be festivalgoers frequently find themselves queuing up for hours to get hold of some.

Berlinale 2018 Central Berlin
Berlinale award ceremony 2018. Image courtesy of © Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin / Velvet Creative Office

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