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East Germany

The opening lines of the East German National Anthem hint at the hopes and dreams the first socialist state on German soil wished to achieve. Having risen out of the ashes of World War Two, The German Democratic Republic had to become the model nation, which meant they would have to be the shining example of socialism in the eyes of Moscow. The First General Secretary Walter Ulbricht ruled in the image and manner of Joseph Stalin with public show trials and a secret police whose notoriety for destroying dissidents and so-called enemies of the state would only increase as the regime declined into economic ruin in the late 1980s.

In 1961, the GDR built the Berlin Wall with permission from Moscow, which separated physically the GDR from the western Federal Republic of Germany. Many people attempting to emigrate by trying to cross the border installations were killed by border guards and mines. The Wall would become a symbol of repression, even though the East German government tried to celebrate its construction as an anti-fascist protection rampart.

The East German collection highlights some of the aspects that marked the darkest aspects of the regime. The collection also focuses on the everyday life of ordinary citizens, party members, and the state apparatus in order to portray life in the former East Germany.


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