Untouched East German flat offers a peek into communist life

28th January 2009, Comments 0 comments

Witnesses say it was akin to entering ‘a time warp.’

Berlin -- Almost 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, an untouched corner of former East Germany has been discovered behind the door to a Leipzig home.

When architect Mark Aretz stepped into the fourth-floor apartment, it was like entering a time warp. The calendar on the wall dated back to August 1988 and the last remnants of the owner included a postcard dated April 11, 1989.

"As we opened the door, we felt like Howard Carter discovering the grave of Tutankhamen," Aretz said. "Everything lay in a mess, but it was a historical treasure trove, a portal to a time long gone."

Littered around the flat were long-forgotten East German relics such as "Vita" cola, "Marella" margarine and an empty bottle of "Kristall" vodka, colloquially referred to as the "blue strangler."

The rooms were decorated with furnishings dating from the 1950s to 1980s, and the toilet was located on the communal landing, as was common for East German tenement blocks.

It appears that the resident, a 24-year-old man in trouble with the law, had disappeared in a hurry during the tumultuous events of 1989, the year the fall of the Berlin Wall opened the way to the West.

In his apparent haste he had left behind identification documents, his driving licence and a savings book, as well as personal letters.

Although none of the items were considered rare enough to exhibit, Aretz said it was remarkable that they were still "intact after so much time".

The last time he had experienced such a find was in 1997 -- "and even then it was unusual," he said.

The discovery was made in 2008, when the apartment was earmarked for renovation. Now it's been emptied of its relics and is being converted into a modern 2-room apartment, upgraded to include a toilet.


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