Unbelievable, it is already 30 years ago when Germany East and West reunited. When the wall came down in Nov 1989, I wanted to go to Berlin but couldn’t. My first trip to the now open German Democratic Republic (DDR) was in May 1990 when I visited an East German penpal. Back then, I was collecting coins, including DDR coins. I met my penpal for the first time in his small hometown of Klingenthal, Saxony. His family was amicable, and I had a great time there for a few days. Also, sitting in and driving a Trabbi. The East German plastic car. We wanted to go to a coin auction in Leipzig but skipped the plan after finding a huge open-air flea market in Leipzig with unique antiques. No wonder, as East Germans couldn’t sell or export abroad. Everything they collected over 40 years you could find there—a collectors wonderland. And, oh wonder, I also met by random a fellow collector from the West on this vast flea market. German Reunification
Before we went to the market, we stopped at a typical DDR restaurant for lunch after our hours-long drive. We could order only the dish of the day and waited a long time for our food. We sat at our table for quite a time; some people got served before us even they came after us. Asking the male servant about this, he answered, “But these are important local guests.” The dish was simple, enough, and surprisingly – delicious. We still paid in East Mark for our inexpensive dishes. German Reunification
The grocery stores we visited had almost no goods to offer anymore. Leipzig was full of abandoned Trabbis in front of abandoned flats. We saw some of these flats. The doors unlocked, and we thought the tenants just left moments ago as we could still find so many stuff in these flats—dishes, books, clothing, photographs.
I visited Saxony Switzerland, a hilly climbing area, and a national park around the Elbe valley south-east of Dresden. Together with Bohemian Switzerland in the Czech Republic, it forms the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. Just beautiful. I remember we paid for a typical Saxony sausage with a bun and a drink one East Mark. German Reunification
Well, my passport still got a stamp when entering the DDR but not when leaving.
The first and the last DDR passport
For me, as a German, the passport history of the DDR is most exciting. To collect travel documents of a state which existed just 40 years is a challenge nowadays, especially for the very early types from 1955-1961. An ordinary citizen could not get a passport before 1955. Only Diplomats and Functionaries had passports for foreign travel from 1950 on. I do also hold a Seamans passport from 1953. German Reunification
The German Democratic Republic was founded on 7 October 1949. The first passport law was issued in 1950, an update in 1954.
Passport 1955 German Reunification
Until the wall in August 1961, someone can find travel to quite exotic places. I do have passports with several exotic visas like Burma, Vietnam, DPRK!
This passport is most likely one of the very last travel documents issued by the government od the DDR!
The last DDR Visa? German Reunification
This Federal Republic German passport probably shows the last DDR visa issued by the border troops. After the wall was open a visa was not anymore required, but passports still got stamped. My German passport has a DDR stamp from May 1990. Two months later on 1 July border control between the two German states became obsolete. This means I do have also one of the last DDR stamps in my travel document.
DDR passports remained in use until 31 December 1995. I am still on a quest for a passport issued in Stalinstadt!