When I visited my friend Andi in 2013 in Dresden, we also visited the DDR Museum in Pirna. Some time ago, I joined a FB group and got randomly in touch with the owner of the museum, Conny Kaden. I told him how impressed I was with the museum and that we actually have briefly met at the cashier’s box. I remembered to have seen this document from Stalinstadt but couldn’t remember if it was a passport or ID issued there. Conny finally enlightened me again and said it was an ID of a man born in Stalinstadt (now Eisenhuettenstadt). Wich is as rare as an ID/passport issued there. GDR Stalinstadt Museum Pirna
But before I go into details of Stalinstadt and this specific identity card, let me introduce the DDR Museum in Pirna, which you MUST VISIT when you are in or around Berlin.
The DDR Museum Pirna in Saxon Switzerland shows a journey into the everyday life and history of the GDR. When you enter the DDR Museum, you are in a building that is over 140 years old and was always used as barracks until 1990. Built for the Imperial Army, the Nazis moved into it in the 1930s. After the war, it was used by the barracked people’s police and then by the NVA. In GDR times, the Pioneers and the Chemical Troops were housed here. The former used heavy equipment such as the Soviet Kraz with pontoons to practice laying bridges across the Elbe. GDR Stalinstadt Museum Pirna
Today, the barracks houses the DDR Museum Pirna, which opened in the summer of 2005 and initially started with 250 square meters of exhibition space and now on over 2000 square meters with indoor and outdoor exhibition tells the visitor a lot of interesting and worth knowing about the everyday life of people in the GDR.
With the Trabi or a motorcycle of MZ from Zschopau, we drove over the country and sometimes abroad. In the CSSR, there were many things that we did not have. So go over and buy. But for 60 crowns = 20 marks, there was no world to buy, and thus some more money must be smuggled. But STOP CUSTOMS CONTROL! Who smuggled how and how much show us countless original photos made available to us by former GDR customs officers. Absolutely interesting, and much of it has never been published before.
This is just a glimpse of what you can explore at the museum. There is so much to explore, and it’s fantastic. For me, it was a memorable experience to visit the museum. Here some photos from my 2013 trip…
P.S. The DDR Museum in Berlin, which I visited also, gives you only a minimal view of the daily GDR life. Clearly, they have the location advantage in the capital. But again, to get a much broader and deeper picture of life in East Germany, the DDR Museum in Pirna is a much better choice. It takes you 2,5 hours from Berlin to Pirna in the wonderful Saxon Switzerland area.
GDR Identity Card …born in Stalinstadt
Eisenhüttenstadt is a town in the Oder-Spree district of the state of Brandenburg on the western bank of the Oder River. It was established as a planned town following July 1950 as a socialist residential town for the Eisenhüttenkombinat Ost (EKO) ironworks combine. It was built near the historic town of Fürstenberg (Oder), which had existed since the 13th century. Called Stalinstadt in 1953, it was united in 1961 to form Eisenhüttenstadt. GDR Stalinstadt Museum Pirna
Stalinstadt existed only for eight years. The population, when founded in 1953, was only 2400. In 1955 already 15.100 and 1961 the peak was 32.970.
After the death of Stalin, a campaign for the “industrialization of construction” was launched by Nikita Khrushchev in December 1954. In it, he called for standardized housing made of prefabricated elements and reinforced concrete. At the same time, he rejected the monumental buildings of Socialist Realism. Such buildings would not promote the comfort of the inhabitants but would only lead to more difficult use and high costs. After the German translation of the speech was submitted to the Central Committee of the SED in February 1955, all plans for Stalinstadt were also changed. The planned monumental city hall was never built, and apartments were only constructed as prefabricated buildings, as was the case throughout the GDR. GDR Stalinstadt Museum Pirna
Stalinstadt developed into a divided city. Those who got one of the new apartments were usually honestly delighted by the living conditions. Most of the workers, many of whom were young and without families and one-third of whom were displaced persons from former German territories, continued to live in barracks, often ten to a room with several beds. Their main leisure activity remained visiting pubs and drinking, as well as brawling.
Because of its original propaganda as an exemplary city, Stalinstadt remained symbolically important in the minds of the GDR population and politicians even after its rather discreet renaming as Eisenhüttenstadt in 1961. GDR Stalinstadt Museum Pirna
Even with its founding, the town had a special position as the “first socialist town” in the GDR, both in terms of news and propaganda and in matters of everyday life. The numerous reports in the media from the beginning on the “founding of the city from nothing” and the artistic representations contributed to creating a legend. Stalinstadt was, even after it was renamed Eisenhüttenstadt, the “built utopia of the early GDR years.” Socialist society was to develop here without any remaining ballast from past times. The new man was to emerge, the city and the plant were to show themselves as a laboratory of a future society, culture, and way of life. In addition to the monumental buildings of the initial phase, there were also symbols here, such as the red stars on public and factory buildings, which shone at night when the plan was fulfilled.
Unique to Stalinstadt was the complete lack of private ownership of land and houses, and churches. It was also the only town in which there were no private crafts and service businesses of any kind. Even in neighboring Fürstenberg, these were subject to greater restrictions than in other towns in the GDR. It was impossible to maintain the original ban on allotment gardens, which had been justified because they were bourgeois and kept the population away from the community. Residents had simply resorted to self-help and planted gardens outside the city gates. In the early 1960s, Ulbricht then declared allotment gardens to be a proletarian pastime.
In the GDR, the city was a “special supply area,” and the ironworks combine a “focal point operation,” so both received preferential deliveries. In the early 1960s, the supply of everyday necessities in Stalinstadt was also considerably better than in comparable cities in the GDR. GDR Stalinstadt Museum Pirna
Given the short existence of the city under the name STALINSTADT, the circumstances as described with the rather low number of citizens, we can assume not many ID cards/passports will exist with a POB Stalinstadt or documents issued there. I was contacting the city archive of Eisenhuettenstadt, but the support and feedback were weak.
The GDR ID card displayed in the DDR Museum in Pirna is hence a true treasure! Many thanks to Conny Kaden for allowing me to display the documents here.
Probably the last German citizen to receive a GDR identity card was the writer Ronald M. Schernikau, who described his path in the autobiographical work “die tage in l.”. He had come to the West with his mother when he was six years old, but always felt closer ties to the East. “Most people think I’m crazy,” he said, but, “I fit better in the GDR.”. That was in September 1989, when the dreamy socialist had no idea that the GDR’s days were already numbered.