What is meant by GDR

Knowledge pool
Everyday life in the GDR

  • What remains of the GDR - that was and is the question of many people in the former GDR. There were citizens' initiatives that advocated the preservation of the GDR traffic light man - with success, as you can see (source: Gerald Syring)
  • The dacha, the garden shed in the allotment garden, was painstakingly built because the materials could only be obtained with relationships, was one of the niches in which privacy was lived (source: Gerald Syring)


The visitor from the west heard the chugging of the two-stroke engines of the Trabis and Wartburgs while walking through the city, and smelled the exhaust fumes from the lignite heating. Typical of a country could be recognized with such simple sensory perceptions. It seemed as if all movements were slowing down slightly. People waited patiently in front of some shops. On closer inspection, you could see forced patience, the faces were more sullen than serene. In the bright morning, people wandered through the city in work clothes, doing their shopping. Those who waited until the end of work would find the shelves with the special goods mostly empty. The tranquility was an apparent one, an enforced one.


Competition, envy and resentment, they hardly seemed to occur in the GDR. The problems of everyday life, mainly caused by supply shortages, affected every ordinary citizen. The ubiquitous lack created social closeness. They helped each other and knew that it was a reliable quantity, with the help of which many an almost insoluble problem could be solved. Here it was a spare part that the neighbor had ready, there it was a handout with which the repair in the apartment was done more quickly than by hard-to-find craftsmen.

Niche society

In every society people create niches for themselves, refuges for a temporary retreat from society. The greater the demands on the individual by the state or society, the more necessary areas that are free from the state and society. In the GDR it was the family, the closest circle of friends, sometimes the work collective, often the allotment garden with the simple dacha, the car as a hobby. There were rooms within which no adjustment was necessary, opinions were expressed and plain language was spoken there. In the public sector you were well advised to make statements with caution and caution. Here you could find out the difference between the publicly used and the private language.