25 years after the Wall fell seems like a good opportunity to address several myths that claims life in East Germany during the Cold War had many of the perks simply not founded in today’s modern Germany.
We kick off with child care. Apparently, every child born in East Germany had a place reserved for him or her in kindergarten. Child nurseries were available to everyone and they were opened for longer hours, a consequence of more working women in the East and the Communist doctrine of gender equality. Modern Germany lacks some 120,000 nursery personnel and finding a spot in one of the kindergartens can be a nightmare for young parents.
In truth, while there were enough places in state-owned nurseries, the East German government used them as the first step of the indoctrination of its newest citizens. One of the approved songs was “I want to be a Volkspolizist,” for instance.
Food is another thing some people deeply miss from East Germany. They claim that nothing can replace Bockwurst, white-flour rolls, mustard from Bautzen, Spree River pickles, or Thuringian sausages. But the truth is that all of those can be still found today in many shops – and some are even better.
There are other things people praise about East Germany, like mother’s milk banks and recycling. In reality, mother’s milk banks have been existing in the West for decades. Recycling, on the other hand, was a state-run business. They paid handsomely for any material people gathered from dumpsters, but as soon as they stopped, the entire industry stopped and 16,000 recycling centers were closed, with 11,000 staff laid off.
Some regret nudism, even though the cult of the human body was originally a Nazi thing. Others lack the sense of communal solidarity, although it applied only to those who fully conform with the state’s definition of the proper citizen. Some even claim that jokes in East Germany were funnier, proving the fact that German humor is no laughing matter.
Psychologists claim that these regrets are normal and that people tend to remember good things and forget bad, and that even some bad memories get twisted over time, like food from your childhood always tasting better than the one you are eating today. Even though, there are those who don’t miss anything from East Germany and remember it the way it was, a cruel dictatorship.