This is What Life was Like in Communist East Germany
This is What Life was Like in Communist East Germany

This is What Life was Like in Communist East Germany

Tim Flight - December 18, 2019

This is What Life was Like in Communist East Germany
West Berliners attempt to smash through the Berlin Wall, 1989. The Guardian

2. The Berlin Wall literally fell on November, 9, 1989

In 1989, national financial difficulties, and the collapse of communist regimes nearby undermined the SED’s rule. People could finally speak out against the GDR and demand reforms. The SED panicked. At a press conference on November, 9 a GDR politician announced East Germans had unlimited free passage to West Germany, effective immediately. He’d meant citizens could apply to leave, but East Germans took him literally. A mob immediately forced unprepared soldiers to let them through the Berlin Wall. East and West Germans started demolishing the hated Wall that very night. Germany officially Reunified in 1990.

This is What Life was Like in Communist East Germany
An empty nudist beach in Germany. CityLab

1. East Germans loved getting naked

A surprising one to end our article. Germans are associated with nudity around the world, and naturism was especially popular in the GDR. When vacationing, East Germans were fond of enjoying the outdoors entirely naked. So many people enjoyed Freikörperkultur (‘Free Body Culture’), as it’s known in Germany, the SED couldn’t do anything about it. Like jeans, nudity became a quiet means of showing resistance against the State. Although Freikörperkultur predates the GDR, it’s still seen as more of an East German thing today. Keep an eye out for signs reading ‘FKK’ if you visit Germany…


Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

Sourcing Journal – How Jeans Became A Symbol of Youth Empowerment During the Cold War

Berlino Schule – Kurt Drummer: The Most Followed Chef By DDR Housewives

History – Why Stalin Tried to Stamp Out Religion in the Soviet Union

Associate Press – History On Screen: East Germany Through Its Filmmakers’ Eyes

Wired – House of Horror: Inside the Infamous Stasi Prison

CNN – Nudity In Germany: Here’s The Naked Truth

DPA International – What’s Causing the Decline In Germany’s Fabled Nude Culture?

Betts, Paul. Within Walls: Private Life in the German Democratic Republic. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Fulbrook, Mary, ed. Becoming East German: Socialist Structures and Sensibilities after Hitler. New York: Berghahn, 2013.

Gieseke, Jens. The History of the Stasi: East Germany’s Secret Police, 1945-1990. New York: Berghahn, 2014.

Grieder, Peter. The German Democratic Republic. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

Vaizey, Hester. Born in the GDR: Life in the Shadow of the Wall. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.