Back in the GDR

by Chris Bertram on August 3, 2003

I’m very much looking forward to seeing Goodbye Lenin!, especially because I’ll be interested to find out how far the film tallies with my own (admittedly brief) experience of the GDR. I spent a week there in 1984, staying with some medical students in Leipzig whom my girlfriend had made friends with in Hungary on an earlier holiday. They’d been very interested that we thought of ourselves as Trotskyists and we, in turn, were keen to discover what a “deformed workers’ state” (to use the official Trot jargon) was like. At the time (early Thatcherism) Britain was in a real mess, and the claim was frequently made that the GDR had a higher per capita GDP than the UK. So we went there expecting both a somewhat repressive society and one where living standards were similar to our own. So what did we find?

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