Object of the Week

Street names in the GDR

In the GDR, the names of streets, railway stations and central squares were named according to the ideology and structure of the state. We would like to show a few of the common and widespread names from the collection of the DDR Museum. (16 Nov 2017)

Socialist street names could be found everywhere in the GDR. Many have even survived reunification; Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse is home to the DDR Museum, after all. The names of streets, railway stations and central squares were named according to the ideology and structure of the state. In the 4 decades of the GDR's existence, the SED government also became an expert at immortalising the pillar saints of socialism. We would like to show you some well-known examples from our collection.

Strasse des Aufbaus (Street of Reconstruction)

In commemoration of the GDR’s reconstruction years and remarkable reconstruction achievements after the Second World War, many streets were named like this in the 1950s and 1960s. Industrial sites and urban areas in particular had been destroyed by the war and were, thus, honoured in this additional way.

Street sign »Straße des Aufbaus«

Strasse der Genossenschaften (Street of the Cooperatives)

Especially in small towns and villages, the streets were often named like this. The model for the name was the agricultural production cooperatives (LPG), which often represented the centre of the working world in village life. 

Street sign »Straße der Genossenschaften«

Platz der Jungen Pioniere (Young Pioneers' Square)

The pioneer organisation »Ernst Thälmann« gave its name to this square. Founded in 1948, most children became members of the GDR's pioneer organisation in the following years. Central squares near pioneer houses or large schools then received this name accordingly.

Street sign »Platz der Jungen Pioniere«


The multi-lane street known today as »Landsberger Allee« bore the name of the Russian revolutionary Lenin between 1950 and 1992. From the 1970s onwards, numerous new housing estates were built in the east of the capital of the GDR and several streets were incorporated into the avenue. With a length of 11 kilometres, the »Landsberger Allee« is today one of the longest streets in Berlin. Of course, there were also squares and streets with Lenin's name in other cities.

Street sign »Leninallee«

Ernst-Thälmann-Strasse (Ernst Thälmann Street)

Numerous places, businesses and organisations in the GDR bore the name of Ernst Thälmann – the communist murdered by the National Socialists in 1944. Born in Hamburg in 1886, Thälmann was chairman of the KPD from 1925 until his arrest in 1933 and represented the party in the Reichstag. The GDR stylised Thälmann as a socialist icon and, in addition to street names, created numerous monuments bearing his name. Some of the street names and monuments still exist today.

Street sign »Ernst-Thälmann-Straße«

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