Time passes by slowly in the eastern suburbs of Hellersdorf. Nothing seems to really happen, except that old people stare at drunk people from their balconies.
But as soon as you set foot inside the free Museumswohnung, it’s like travelling 25 years into the past. Within the GDR-era apartment, you will find a socialist interior straight out of the 1970s and 1980s. The shelves are lined with Marxist books and the kitchen is full of East German curiosities such as Maoritraum (kiwi fruit liqueur). Other products, like the carpet, are made in former socialist brother states such as Mongolia or Albania.
Every Sunday, guide Wolfgang Sawatzki helps curious visitors answer their questions about the GDR. In 1986, he explains, around 42,000 apartments were built in Hellersdorf. The Museumswohnung is a WBS 70, a type of Plattenbau that could be erected in an average of 18 hours. To get a flat, a family had to fill in a form and show that they had at least one child. The monthly rent for the 61sqm flat was only 109 East German marks – one-ninth of a worker’s average income. Furniture, on the other hand, was expensive – a colour television cost 6000 Ostmarks!
The Museumswohnung was launched in 2004, during a large-scale renovation of the neighbourhood that took two years to complete. Rents skyrocketed and nowadays, a WBS 70 apartment will set you back between €440-480 a month!