The German Democratic Republic (GDR) was a communist state established in 1949 within the boundaries of the Soviet Occupation Zone in Germany after the Second World War. Those who lived in the GDR spanned various generations from those who were born in the Weimar Republic or Nazi Germany to those who grew up in an already divided Germany.
Through a genorous grant from the Mead Endowment at the University of Virginia, these documents from the GDR were acquired on eBay as part of History Professor Kyrill Kunakhovich's project to curate a "GDR Living Room." The exhibit project is a collaboration of Prof. Kunakhovich with the help of undergraduate volunteers. The Living Room aims to research, reflect, and exhibit ordinary life under the GDR. The objects and documents show the different attitudes and aspects of life that varied in different generations and members of GDR society.
The trasncriptions will also become part of a digital collection project put together by an undergraduate as part of a course on digital history taught by Drs. Loren Moulds and Jim Ambuske. This collection hopes to extend the understanding of East German society beyond the temporary exhibition. Furthermore, it would become a resource for students and scholars of the history of the GDR.
Many of these documents are personal in nature. Through these documents, we are able to learn that life under socialism was a unique mixture of the ordinary and the unordinary. Thoughts reflected in these documents are also both foreign and similar to our contemporary lives under liberal capitalism. We hope that knowledge of these documents will create knowledge for students of the GDR on how ordinary Germans lived under socialism.
These documents temporally span the last few years of the Second World War, the immediate postwar, and the early years of the GDR. They reflect the change in commerce between the political changes, i.e. transformation of private enterprise into people's owned enterprises (VEB).
Gazettes were a common publication method of new laws and regulations from the state. The plans outlined in this issue reflect the execution of the GDR's socialist planned economy based in five-year plans.
These postcards contain correspondence both across the Germanies and within the GDR. The postcards reveal multiple avenues of life under socialism, such as relationships, travel, work, study, etc.