Story of the day: Nostalgie in East Berlin


Everyone loves Berlin. The sites, the clubbing, the Cold War frisson of tinker-tailor espionage.

For me, it holds a personal lure as I visited as a 16-year-old German A Level student at a time that the Berlin Wall was still a wall and people still got shot trying to climb it.

We even crossed Checkpoint Charlie into East Berlin for the day with our German teacher Mr Robson.

That’s why I particularly enjoyed researching this story for the Daily Express, revisiting the now-unified Berlin.

I was delving into the local nostalgia towards the old East, a trend sparked the film, The Lives of Others.

Here’s an extract:

Ostel, located just behind Ostbahnhof in the city’s north-east, has only been open three months but it’s already packed with a mix of German backpackers and curious foreign visitors with a penchant for retro design.

Daniel was born at nearby Alexanderplatz and was aged 18 when the Berlin Wall fell. “It was a good life in the GDR for kids,” he remembers, “with lots to do very cheaply.”

This fascination with GDR culture has spawned its own social phenomenon, Ostalgie, a contraction of “ost” (east) and “nostalgie” (nostalgia). The Ostel name is a play on this.

“I think Ostel is at the limit of good taste,” says Robert Rückel, director of the new GDR Museum, which tells the story of everyday life in the East via a series of compelling exhibits and newsreel footage. “We have to balance this nostalgia with an objective view of life in East Berlin at this time.”

Read the full story, Now the Cold War is cool in East Berlin.

Do you have a memory of East Berlin? Or do you know where Mr Robson is now?

Post your comments below.

And if you want a reminder of the film, here’s the trailer.

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