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What do you think about the GDR? It was my Home.

I think, it was not good at all. Let's make that clear.

But the Idea of the GDR was very beautiful... Just the Idea. This was my Home, sorry for any sentimental feelings.

Hmm...

Pantalaimon 5 July 21
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I was an American exchange student to West Germany for 12 months from 1985 to 1986. I visited Berlin just once for 4 days, got to ride through the GDR countryside and spent a day in East Berlin. My opinion, for what its worth, is informed by that limited experience. But I was really shocked to see how much bombing damage from WWII still dotted the countryside in 1986. West Berlin was a glittering modern city, while the east was very drab. I was yelled at by a waitress for taking a photo of my own student group in a restaurant. Apparently, "Dass findet NICHT STAT!" My opinion is that neither socialism nor capitalism can exist in pure form. We need the promise of some personal rewards for creativity and hard work, but we also need a secure social safety net. The pitched arguments between capitalism and socialism seem to pretend that the option is either one OR the other. The reality is that the arguments are really about how much of each a person believes is best.

My concern with the GDR was not socialism, for that is an economic system. It was the autocratic rule and the intrusion into personal lives of the police state. Socialism is wonderful, but I'm rather partial to democratic socialism, and the GDR crushed any notion of real democracy. When I think of good socialism, I think of Sweden or Norway.

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Having lived in Communist Poland, which was not nearly as oppressive or dependent on the Soviet Union as the GDR was, I can tell you the ideals they preached had nothing to do with reality. While I had a good childhood there, I remember being told not to touch on certain topics in school, because it could land my whole family (and not just me) in deep trouble. I was nine or ten years old at the time. Since then I've heard tons of stories of oppression from family and friends back there. So beautiful ideals? Maybe on paper, but they were always only lipstick on a pig, not anything real or really intended to be implemented.
So what does that tell progressives? I'd say keep it democratic first. Marx was wrong - the "dictatorship of the proletariat" never ends of its own free will. Democracy may make it more difficult to enact progressive ideals (see the US today), but it's best to stay away from more "efficient" methods.

Skeptic68 Level 3 July 24, 2018
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Melancholic song by German communists fighting Franco while remembering the struggle for the homeland also...

Krish55 Level 8 July 24, 2018
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The GDR was founded by the communists who resisted Hitler and were his first victims. Some of them had fought in Spain against Franco. I like the music of Ernst Busch and Hans Eisler which expresses the revolutionary spirit of the 1930s. But why did communism become oppressive? Look at the specifics of the history... The Western capitalist countries, including the USA, invaded Russia to put down the revolution, thereby prolonging the civil war. When the US was winning WWII, it dropped the genocidal atomic bombs on Japanese civilians. This was a warning to the USSR. In Europe, the US created NATO, under the pretext of defending Western Europe. Having just experienced extermination in Hitler's camps and faced with an enemy capable of atomic genocide, it was inevitable that Eastern European communists would become oppressive to their citizens to defend their governments.

Krish55 Level 8 July 24, 2018

The GDR was founded by the Soviet Union, which didn't ask the people living there what they wanted. In fact, East Germany was the first of the Soviet Bloc countries to rebel against the Communists, in 1953. Also, the Communist propaganda of the time that East Germany was somehow free of the stain of Nazism had precious little relation to reality. Most East Germans had been just fine and dandy with Hitler until the very end of WWII.

@Skeptic68 The Nazi oppression wiped out resistance. The Soviet army defeated the Nazis. You are correct that the Soviets did exercise ultimate control over the East German communists. But a major reason for such control was Russia having been invaded twice by Germany in a generation and also by the West during the revolution.

@Skeptic68 In reality , if Germany , and its western allies had only accepted Stalin's offers , none of that would have had to happen . [en.m.wikipedia.org] , [worldhistoryproject.org]

@Marmion Yep, this fact of the USSR supporting a unified, neutral Germany is often left out in Western history.

@Marmion Yes, appeasement worked so well with the world's other great dictator of the time. </sarcasm>

@Skeptic68 Appeasement? How is a unified neutral country appeasement? Only a Militaristic aggressive attitude of "being with us or against us" sees it that way…

@Krish55 I was referring to your comment about accepting Stalin's offer. Not sure what offer you mean, but Stalin was about as trustworthy as his erstwhile ally Hitler, and left a lot more people dead.

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The concept was great, like democracy, cooperative societies, and communal living. Unfortunately, human nature most often takes over and what comes out was not what was envisioned in development. Or maybe it was by some. The GDR and the USSR were just two examples.

And we're living and struggling with another one right now. Humans can pervert any idea and rationalize why they've done it. But we can always resist.

josephr Level 7 July 22, 2018
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GDR? what is that?

squiggy_70 Level 6 July 22, 2018

German Democratic Republic. East Germany.

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I was in Germany for two years and lived in Berlin - then Niederfischbach near Siegen. I loved it we were only allowed to go to the east on certain days and had our passports stamped so that we couldnt stay overnight I was living in a tent on a campsite and many of the older people came over to visit their family from whom they had been separated but could only stay a short time - I asked one of the older women what it as like and she said it was pretty equal really some things were worse some betterI was impressed by all the beautiful countryside but rather alarmed at the size of your ants.ours are really small.

jacpod Level 8 July 22, 2018
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I agree with you that the idea was beautiful as was the idea of the Soviet union in general. Unfortunately, for various reasons the ideas were never able to be put fully into practice and a lot of things went wrong. I spent a year in the USSR in the 1960s and there were many things about it that I loved as well as many things I found oppressive. I never went to the GDR but I have heard that it was more oppressive than the USSR. You presumably only know about it from your parents who i imagine have mixed feelings about it, too.

CeliaVL Level 7 July 22, 2018

I was on a hiking trip in 2000. There were some Russians on the trip. They said they were happy about the progress under Gorbachev and wanted to keep the system.. is? from what I know.ther are 3 things I know about the old soviet. when the USA was in depression many people were looking to the USSR for work.. it seems Stalin did a lot to ruin it with his oppression. I also know the Mongolian tribes got food drops for the people who lived in remote areas. this of course was not Stalin. Then when the Soviet fell in 1999 thugs like Putin took over.and lastly; Old people where thrown out into the streets. so. I don't know about Germany

No I was there in 1989 with my husband and children and it was good on both sides he was an engineer/toolmaker and german engineers were not trained to be versatile so Many English and Turkish men were brought in to fill the gaps - I loved it .

@squiggy_70 One of the things I particularly like about the old USSR was the way jobs were found for everyone so that people felt they were making a contribution and earning, rather than being simply dependent on the state. Of course, the western/capitalist interpretation of this is that organisations factories, etc, were all overmanned and inefficient. Also. apart from the apparatchiks it was a very egalitarian society - teachers, doctors, tram-drivers all earned about the same.

@CeliaVL my friend who was ther said the concept of not being able to pay your rest was unknown, so no homelessness. lotsa of good stuff. that is what the Russians on this trip told me. Changes were made and people were happy. why did it fall apart. Yeltsin? corruption? it sure as hell wsn't Reagan

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Your profile says you are 28 years old if you lived there you did not live there for long as reunification occurred in 1990; you would have been less than a year old.

1999

1

The GDR? Well, looking at it from Spain, I felt sorry for its people and wished they could be free one day.
What do you exactly mean with 'the idea of the GDR was very beautiful'? It was a country controlled by the Soviet Union...

Hipatia Level 4 July 22, 2018

Spain was itself a dictatorship , a fact that the Spanish seem to not completely come to terms with . [ft.com] I suppose what I am trying to get at us that those in glass houses should not be so quick to cast stones .

@Marmion Spain was a dictatorship until Franco's death on Nov. 1975. Nothing like the DDR was, by the way. And plenty of time to feel bad about the East Germans before the fall of the Wall.
I really don't see a reason for your snarkiness, so cool down.

@Hipatia Not meaning to be snarky . Just putting things in historical perspective .

'Historical perspective' as you see it, it seems. You falsely assume that Spaniards have 'not completely come to terms' with the past. While there is still a small part of the population that will forever miss the regime, most of us have moved on decades ago. Notice that there is no ultra-right political party in Spain, in contrast with an increasing trend in Western Europe.

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German Democratic Republic. It was created after WW2.

It was basically 'East Germany'. Sorry.

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I'm not sure what the ideals of the DDR were and I only saw it from across the Fulda Gap while knowing that if a war starts while I'm here, I've got about 4 seconds to live.

After the wall came down, I had a good friend from East Germany. I know more about the struggles of its people than what it was meant to be.

ADD:
After looking at your profile, I believe you're too young to have lived in the DDR.

JimG Level 8 July 21, 2018

My parents lived there and I was born there. My Connection is extreme... It is so, so strong. So What do you want to tell me? My Connection with my DDR is 4ever!

You will never understand, Outsider. ?

What I do not understand is how someone who is 28 years old is sentimental about living in a country that hasn't existed for 28 years.

Most residents of East Germany were ecstatic over the country's demise.

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