DDR Museum

Leaf through original Communist school books and put your ear to secret police listening devices at this truly hands-on museum.

This popular and award-winning private museum aims to educate visitors about everyday life in socialist-era East Germany. DDR stands for Deutsche Demokratische Republik, which referred to the former East Germany. The English term is German Democratic Republic, or GDR.

Among the everyday artifacts here you’ll see magazines, canned food, government-issue kitchen and living room layouts, board games and typewriters. The museum encourages you to touch the exhibits; there are drawers and cupboards to explore, sofas to sit on, and Cold War-era television shows to watch.

Just inside the entrance sits one of the country's most iconic creations, the Trabant. These noisy little cars were the manufacturing pride of the East German government; more than 3 million were produced. Get behind the wheel of one of these vehicles and go for a simulated ride through East German streets.

While the museum highlights the domestic aspects of life under the GDR, it doesn’t shy away from the political realities of the times. Take a seat inside a recreated interrogation room used by the Stasi, the East German secret police. Or, listen in to a surveillance device used to spy on East German citizens. There's a second car in this museum, too, and it's very different to the standard Trabant. A luxurious Volvo limousine, one of the cars used by top members of the GDR government, gives insight into the lack of equality inside the country. Different kinds of media, from children's books to newspapers and TV newsreels, also give a sense of the propaganda prominent at the time.

This is a rather small museum, but it's very detailed, so allow a few hours for your visit. It can also get crowded; be prepared to wait to try the hands-on exhibits. If you get hungry, try some traditional German food at the museum restaurant next door.

The DDR Museum is directly across the canal from the Berliner Dom on Museum Island, and is easily accessible by S-Bahn, U-Bahn, bus, tram and canal boat.

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