GDR in Objects 1949-1990

The Head of Collections' 11 Favourites of the Collection Volume I

In this article, the head of collections Jörn Kleinhardt presents his eleven personal favourites from the eleven chapters of the first collection volume »GDR in Objects 1949-1990. Daily Life, Home, Consumption«. by Jörn Kleinhardt (17 Aug 2020)
The head of collection Jörn Kleinhardt at the collection of the DDR Museum holden the hot shoe Sandalon in his hands

Chapter 1  »Shopping« – Catalogue Genex Gift Service 1988

Via these catalogues, your relatives or friends in the Federal Republic of Germany were able to send you coveted consumer goods. The products ranged from chocolate and coffee to television screens, cars or entire prefabricated houses. Astonishing what one could buy, as long as they paid with West German money! GENEX GmbH and its catalogues served the GDR economy as a rich source of foreign exchange.

GENEX Catalogue issue from 1988

Chapter 2  »Food and Drink« – Nut nougat-cream Nudossi

The counterpart to the western Nutella enjoyed great popularity in the GDR, as it did with me. The addition of especially many hazelnuts gave the spread its typical taste. As the product was so tasty, we do not have an unopened package in our stock but only an empty cup. Not surprising.

Nudossi bread spread, empty package on red background

Chapter 3  »Luxury Foods, Alcohol & Tobacco« – Pack of Coffee drink powder Kaffee Mix                            

The GDR's coffee experiment in the late 1970s did not convince the population and quickly disappeared from the shops. It is all the more astonishing that our collection includes an untouched packaging that is almost four decades old. This has absolute rarity value and we had been actively looking for it for years.

Pack of a GDR coffee-mix

Chapter 4  »Hygiene and Cosmetics« – Footwarmer »Sandalon«    

As soon as I see these footwarmer I get a pleasant feeling and digress briefly in my thoughts. Then I think of a cosy living room and imagine my grandmother in this footwarmer. Typical childhood memories. Of course, this practical foot heating was not only to be found at my grandma's house but also in many households in the GDR. Beside the shown example, we also have numerous other versions of the popular hot shoe in our collection.

red hot shoe Sandalon on red background

Chapter 5  »Home Care« – Electric tie press       

I just find this object bizarre. It looks like a sword with a power plug and the exact function is only revealed when you look at the packaging. With its almost 65 years it looks like it has fallen out of time. However, it is still interesting. And the best thing is the durability as the heating function of the device still works.

Electrical tie iron

Chapter 6  »Kitchenware« – Colander                             

The enamelled colander is probably one of the oldest objects in our book. The underside is made from the cover of the filter of a Wehrmacht breathing mask. Due to a lack of material, improvisation was carried out shortly after the end of World War II and the thousands of pieces of equipment available to the Wehrmacht were used to make crockery for the population. So, our sieve has an eventful history behind it!

olive-green kitchen sieve on olive-green background

Chapter 7 »Fashion« – Dederon Shirt                           

The polyamide fibre Dederon had been produced in the GDR from 1959 onwards. The artificial word »Dederon« consists of the abbreviation DDR and an appended »on« and became established as a word mark in GDR use. From then on, numerous items of clothing had been made from this popular synthetic fibre. The »Graziella« shirt from the 1970s is symbolic of the entire Dederon product range for me.

white Dederon shirt on pink background

Chapter 8 »Home Furnishing« – Leaflet »Our Home«     

In 1977, the Wohnungsbaukombinat Berlin combine published this brochure with advice for newly built flats to tenants. The prefabricated residential quarters built in the 1970s offered comfortable apartments for the time and all kinds of innovations such as central heating, special ventilation in the internal bathrooms or special waste disposal facilities. In order to not overwhelm new tenants, the instructions for use of the apartments were needed.

Brochure »Our Apartment«

Chapter 9  »Home Accessories« – Bedside lamp made of matches

This lamp is a self-made unique object, which makes it very valuable. It was lovingly assembled from thousands of burned matches and shows a lot of creativity. Due to the cables and switches used, the state of preservation and the design, this unique lamp can be dated to the mid-1960s.

DIY table lamp made of matches

Chapter 10 »Consumer Electronics« – Games console »BSS 01«

Since only about 1000 pieces of this video game console were produced, we can consider ourselves lucky to have three of these devices in our collection. Childhood memories are attached to it. I played with it enthusiastically in the mid-1980s. Due to the low distribution of these devices, I had to go to the local »station of young natural scientists and technicians« youth centre to play with it.

GDR video console screen game »BSS 01«

Chapter 11 »Toys« – Electro kit »The Little Electrical Engineer«           

This electrical construction kit inspires me both by its appearance and design, which is typical for the 1950s, and by its pedagogical orientation. I liked educational toys in my childhood and also had an electrical construction kit. However, it was not such a wonderfully designed kit from the 1950s but a version adapted to the 1980s that was much simpler.

Game »The little electrical engineer«

Collection volume I »GDR in Objects 1949-1990« available in the online shop

The first collection volume »GDR in Objects 1949-1990. Daily Life, Home, Consumtion« is either available in the museum shop or in the online shop of the DDR Museum

Book / Collection Volume I »GDR in Objects 1949-1990 Daily Life, Home, Consumption«

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