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This week’s post will wrap up my examination of the lives of Benno and Christel B., two GDR citizens from what has been labelled the Aufbaugeneration (“Construction Generation”), a cohort born between 1920-1935 which made up a significant chunk of the socialist regime’s loyal supporters. (For previous entries on this subject, see Part 1 and Part 2.) By considering a number of items and documents which once belonged to the couple I hope to illustrate a number of storylines from the GDR’s history. Here I’ll focus on the life of Benno B. after he and his wife Christel made the fateful decision to leave their Heimat northeast of Berlin for Hoyerswerda, the GDR’s second “socialist city” which sat in the relative isolation of the Lausitz, the country’s brown-coal mining region.

Plaster of paris bust of V.I. Lenin presented to Benno B., most likely in 1970 during the so-called "Lenin Year" which marked the 100th anniversary of the philosopher's birth (photo: R. Newson).

Plaster of paris bust of V.I. Lenin presented to Benno B., most likely in 1970 during the so-called “Lenin Year” which marked the 100th anniversary of the philosopher’s birth. (photo: R. Newson).

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My pair of mocha cups (see below) were the gift of a friend whose father, a native Berliner who always kept a suitcase in the city, as the song goes (lyrics in English here). Where he got them from, I’m not sure, but they apparently appeared on the scene in the early 1990s and were likely from the Palace’s Espresso und Moccabar.

Mocha cup and saucer from the Palace of the Republic

The ‘Coffee Crisis’ of 1977 and the Palace of the Republic
East Germans loved their coffee. By the 1970s, they were spending the equivalent of 3.3 billion East German marks a year on it, almost as much as they spent on furniture and more than double that used for shoes. Read More

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