Curse of the Communist Mummy

A developer in Leipzig has uncovered a one-bedroom apartment abandoned in the waning days of East Germany:

A wall calendar showed August 1988, and the kitchen cupboard and drawers contained plastic crockery and aluminium cutlery along with communist-era food brands such as "Vita" Cola, "Marella" margarine, "Juwel" cigarettes and a bottle of "Kristall" vodka.

"When we opened the door we felt like Howard Carter when he found the grave of Tutankhamen," [Mark] Aretz told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.

"Everything was a mess but it was like a historic treasure trove, a portal into an age long gone."

Despite the calendar, the place seems to have been occupied well into 1989: It includes a search warrant dated May of that year. (That may explain why the occupant was absent.) The revolt against the Berlin Wall broke out in September.

For a slideshow of the apartment, go here.

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  • ||

    Jenkies!

  • Naga Sadow||

    Dammit! Was the apartment walled off or just abandoned and never lived in again. I find that hard to believe. Bums tend to break into any type of dwelling if abandoned.

  • ||

    Wow. A communist-era apartment complete with search warrant and missing occupant.

  • Kolohe||

    Reminds me of Fallout 3.

  • ||

    Reminds me of Good Bye Lenin!.

  • Seward||

    Jesse Walker,

    What, no reference to Good Bye Lenin!?

  • Paul||

    At least they have free access to healthcare.


    That never gets old.

  • Seward||

    Episiarch,

    Curses! I was beaten to the punch! :)

  • Jesse Walker||

    Obviously I was falling down on the job. This does scream out for a reference to Good Bye Lenin.

  • Michael P.||

    Though I've seen a lot of bizarre Communist era accoutrements I cannot figure out why that cabinet drawer is upside down and has a big hole cut into the bottom.

  • Paul||

    ...but seriously, kind of fascinating. Slide show was cool.

  • Seward||

    Jesse Walker,

    What I found interesting in the movie and this article was the need of the East German state to create consumer goods with what look like trademark names. If I recall correctly from the movie the goods even had labels which had designs on them, as opposed to simple informational lettering. Why not call margarine, well, margarine? I can think of a number of different reasons, but it does make me smile to think of a communist state mimicking capitalist advertising.

  • Naga Sadow||

    For some reason, I begin thinking of Poe and his "The cask of Amontillado" when I look at that picture.

  • sage||

    Was there a dog there for them to shoot? Oh wait, this wasn't over here.

  • ||

    I'm hoping that someone will preserve all the artifacts and re-create this as a museum exhibit.

    Somewhat related, the Spy Museum in DC had some really exhibits on the Stasi and life in the DDR last time I was there several years ago.

  • Reinmoose||

    Re: Seward at 1:46
    I thought much the same thing. Why even bother naming the cola?

    At least they have free access to healthcare.


    That never gets old.


    They're also guaranteed a job! Is that such a horrible thing?

  • ||

    Jesse, Seward, for more anti-capitalism stuff, also starring Bruhl, check out The Edukators. It's an interesting look into some modern anti-capitalist thought.

  • bruce||

    will the communist mummy liberate the implements of production into the hands of the proletariat and smash the plutocratic bourgeoisie? there's a movie script awaiting.

  • Seward||

    Tonio,

    There is also The Lives Of Others. For as much as a lot of libertarians complain about Europe, Europeans seem to make a lot more and a lot better movies about the history of communism.

  • Seward||

    Reinmoose,

    I'd be curious to know if there were various brands of cola, pickles, etc. in the DDR and if there was significant brand loyalty.

  • ||

    I cannot figure out why that cabinet drawer is upside down and has a big hole cut into the bottom.

    If yesterday was any indication, I'd hazard a guess that someone made it into a bong.

  • Naga Sadow||

    SugarFree,

    An entire cabinet drawer? Thats pretty damn impressive.

    Thurgood Jenkins: The MacGyver smoker is a very handy guy to have around, especially when it comes to reefer.
    McGayver Friend: Hey, man, we're out of papers.
    McGayver Smoker: All right. Then get me a toilet paper roll, a corkscrew and some tin foil.
    McGayver Friend: We don't have a corkscrew.
    McGayver Smoker: All right. Then get me an avocado, an ice pick and my snorkel.
    McGayver Smoker: [Friend looks at him funny] Trust me, bro. I've made bongs with less. Hurry up!

  • ||

    I contend Communism would be workable if it was an entirely bong-based economy. [cough, cough]

  • Ska||

    Reminds me of Fallout 3.

    I could see it - the cramped, abandoned appartment with the crappy furniture, a bottle of Nuka cola, Dandy Boy apples, Cram, Sugar Bombs, and a bent tin can. The signs of uniformity at each different location. Too bad there were no mirelurks.

  • ||

    NutraSweet, how do I know the color blue to you is the color blue to me? My hands are HUGE!

  • Marco||

    Leipzig. That's my city! Perhaps it's the most liberty-minded city in the former Communist East of Germany. Therefor the Nickname is "City of Liberty". No surprise, that the peaceful freedom revolution at the end of the 80s took start there with a mass-demonstration of 70 000 people (with a total city population of 500K). The Communist dictatorship gathered ten-thousands of military, paramilitary and police forces with the advent of this protest. Documents have shown that the Communists were willing to have a "Chinese solution", that means to slaughter the protesters. But the number of protesting people was way to high for that.

  • Elemenope||

    There is also The Lives Of Others. For as much as a lot of libertarians complain about Europe, Europeans seem to make a lot more and a lot better movies about the history of communism.

    It might have a little to do with them having had recent direct experience with it. Here, it is an academic issue. There, people know people who were affected.

  • kinnath||

    For as much as a lot of libertarians complain about Europe, Europeans seem to make a lot more and a lot better movies about the history of communism.

    Out of respect, perhaps.

  • That Son-of-a-Bitch Van Owen||

    Even the original German article made the Good Bye Lenin! reference:

    "wie ihn das aus der Zeit gefallene Plattenbauappartement im Filmhit "Goodbye Lenin" verströmte"

    My German is very rusty so that stood out while I was trying to understand any of the article.

  • Marco||

    Seward,

    yeah, The Lives of Others is a brilliant which spread conroversy here in Germany as well as The Downfall. Both movies were made out of an nonconformist perspective and it took a lotta courage for the directors to make these movies. because their view on history isn't the politically correct one.

  • ||

    Naga,

    Except for the wine, I don't think the cupboard was as full in the bricked-in wine cellar.

    For the love of God, Montressor! For the love of God!

  • ||

    re: Fallout 3

    It's a pain in the ass it get, but the MIRV (unique Fat Man) is awesome. It fires 8 mini-nukes at once. And there is a gatling laser that can be found at any point in the game lying a pool of blood at the very bottom of the Deathclaw Sanctuary.

  • ||

    The Lives of Others is a brilliant which spread conroversy here in Germany as well as The Downfall

    Bruno Ganz was incredible in Der Untergang. Just amazing. And I thought the high-water mark of Hitler impressions was John Cleese's Mr. Hilter. Well, I was wrong.

  • Reinmoose||

    "Filmhit"

    something tells me that's not an old German word...

  • ||

    Epi,

    "Now look at the stars... They say the stars are just billions of tons of hot gas... but I think they're just God's salt.. and God's just waiting to eat us"

  • Marco||

    "wie ihn das aus der Zeit gefallene Plattenbauappartement im Filmhit "Goodbye Lenin" verströmte"

    The author compares the "aura" of the apartment to the setting of the "Goodbye Lenin" movie, a comedy movie about the end of Communism.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Pro Lib,

    Yes. For the love of God.

    *places last brick in place*

  • alan||

    Seward | January 30, 2009, 1:46pm | #
    Jesse Walker,

    What I found interesting in the movie and this article was the need of the East German state to create consumer goods with what look like trademark names. If I recall correctly from the movie the goods even had labels which had designs on them, as opposed to simple informational lettering. Why not call margarine, well, margarine? I can think of a number of different reasons, but it does make me smile to think of a communist state mimicking capitalist advertising.


    Reminds me of the old debates between Mises and socialist when it became a commonly held position that the free market could be mimicked by giving the bureaucrats autonomy to run things and make market like decisions. To which, Mises replied, 'Entrepreneurs are not middle managers for whom there is minimal risk involved.'

  • Marco||

    Episiarch,

    ja, a lotta people who watched the movie the first time had the same thoughts as I had: "Was this a documentary?"

  • Seward||

    Marco,

    There is also a great German movie about a fellow who helped people escape from the DDR by building a man-sized tunnel under the Berlin Wall. Appropriately named Der Tunnel. And of course The Nasty Girl.

  • alan||

    'Entrepreneurs are not middle managers for whom there is minimal risk involved.'

    Well, there is risk, to life and limb, perhaps, depending on who is boss at the time, but not the sort of risk conducive to market based decision making.

  • ||

    NutraSweet, I can't believe you are quoting Jennifer Love Hewitt romantic comedies. What next, quotes from The Gilmore Girls?

  • Seward||

    alan,

    Well, also, bureaucrats simply lack the knowledge carry those transactions forward efficiently. There was a Soviet economist in the 1960s who argued that the Soviet system was not sustainable because according to his predictions it was going to take the entire Soviet population in the near future to "plan" the economy, and there would be no one left to execute the plan.

  • ||

    Just because you are dead inside is no reason for the rest of us not to live.

  • Marco||

    Seward,

    another great movie about the GDR is the tv film "Wir sind das Volk" ("we are the people" - the most popular slogan from the 1989 revolution)
    http://www.sat1.de/filme_serien/wirsinddasvolk/

  • Ska||

    It's a pain in the ass it get, but the MIRV (unique Fat Man) is awesome. It fires 8 mini-nukes at once.

    I have a nicely repaired gatling laser (but I also have Falkes running around with me), but yeah, I have to explore to find that armory (or is it the national guard?) so I can get the Fat Man.

    I haven't played FO3 in a few months, but I'll pick it up again. Sort of like Oblivion - I took a year off, picked it up again and didn't stop playing for a month.

    Besides, I've been playing CoD4 a lot and I'll be pissed that I can't headshot a mutant from 100 yds with an unscoped LMG.

  • ||

    My third time through my insomnia and OCD compelled me to gather all the unique weapons, armor, and bobbleheads. I still now to get the evil achievements.

  • Lesbian Until Graduation||

    I saw Vita Cola sold a couple of days ago at a Halal food specialty store in Florida.

  • ||

    I still now to get the evil achievements.

    And grammar lessons.

  • ||

    Just because you are dead inside is no reason for the rest of us not to live.

    If you want to call that living.

  • Ska||

    This is my second play through - I have most of the unique weapons, and I plan to get all the bobbleheads and really check out EVERY damn spot before I beat the last mission. I'll probably make an evil character after that, but by then the level 30 DLC will be out.

    So many good games, so little time to play them.

  • ||

    Wait, Fallout 3 is an RPG with leveling?

  • ||

    Yep. The regular game maxes at 20, but the expansion pack adds ten more levels.

  • ||

    So, how good is Fallout 3? I liked Oblivion quite a bit. My last serious gaming dive was into Mass Effect, which was enjoyable, but it didn't take me six months like Oblivion.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I'd be curious to know if there were various brands of cola, pickles, etc. in the DDR and if there was significant brand loyalty.

    Tangentally related, I know in The Russians, Hedrick Smith relates how Russians would look for any goods made in Eastern Europe. They would buy them - without ever having seen them before - over any similar Russian goods.

    It is interesting that Communists didn't introduce generic groceries, but I guess that's one more innovation that was left for capitalism.

  • Ska||

    I really want to know how they're adding 10 levels, because as it stands I have 100 in all the weapons classes (except melee), science, repair, and lockpick. Medicine and speech are both in the 70s/80s. The only attributes I have shitty stats in are barter, unarmed, and melee. I pretty much have 95% hit in VATS always, and with Grim Sprint never run out of VATS. So, I crit every time and can use VATS at will, plus have Fawkes laying down gatling laser support fire.

    Level 30 monsters need to be some hell spawn bad ass mothers.

  • ich weiss nicht||

    My guess is that the drawer is a cutting board, and that the hole is for putting a bowl in, or maybe a trashcan underneath.

  • Ska||

    Fallout 3 is pretty fucking outstanding. If you liked Oblivion, and are into a sci-fi themed, more mature version of it, you will totally dig it.

  • ||

    PL,

    Fallout is based on the Oblivion engine, but it fixes some of the quirks of OB. Gameplay is exactly the same except for VATS. Which is a bit hard to explain so I'll let the link handle it. You buy and sell things, you have a house, the gear degrades and you repair it, etc. The leveling is handled better as well. You gain experience points, and they give you points to distribute to your skills.

  • ||

    Ska,

    New enemies and perks. Broken Steel. That page also links to the two other expansions.

  • Ska||

    Damn surf control, I'll actually have to wait until I get home to check that link out. ;)

    I'd like to see the next Elder Scrolls handle leveling better. I hate that you have to game Oblivion's skill system.

  • ||

    Seward: Thanks.

    Have only played a couple of hours of FO3, but it rocks. The Oblivion engine is pretty good, but the Morrowind universe sucked on many levels (PI).

  • ||

    So, how good is Fallout 3? I liked Oblivion quite a bit.

    I also found it awesome.

    If you liked Oblivion and/or liked Fallouts 1 and 2 and/or like sci-fi themed games, you will love Fallout 3.

    I hate that you have to game Oblivion's skill system.

    Actually, FO3s skill system is pretty similar to the first 2 Fallouts.

  • Geotpf||

    Naga Sadow | January 30, 2009, 1:28pm | #

    Dammit! Was the apartment walled off or just abandoned and never lived in again. I find that hard to believe. Bums tend to break into any type of dwelling if abandoned.


    Looks like it was just locked up, abandoned, and forgotten about, although other apartments in the building remained occupied. It probably was not on the ground floor and opened into an interior hallway. That is, image a twenty story apartment building. If a single apartment on the 15th floor was locked up permanently, would anybody notice, other than the landlord wanting to rent it out to another tenant, assuming there was no smell (no dead body) and no busted pipes or the like? Of course, during the fall of communism, records of who should be paying rent to whom were a bit confused. (I bet there's plenty of people who basically haven't paid rent since then.)

  • ||

    What would be awesome is if they could track down whoever used to live in that apartment and find out what happened to him.

  • ||

    Der Untergang (Downfall) is (IMO) one of the greatest films of the last decade. And by that I mean, it is THE definitive film on Hitler and the last days of the Nazi regime. It's up there with Judgement at Nuremburg, and All Quiet on the Western Front.

  • ||

    Michael P. - the cabinet drawer has a hole where you would put your washing basin to wash dishes, you then take it to the toilet to empty when finished.

    My wife is Czech and she remembers her Grandparents kitchen was very similar.

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