DDR Diary

Every time I’ve returned to Greifswald since 1989, memories from my stay there return. Today Greifswald is a beautiful, charming mid-sized city, the architectural style is the same as in other Northern German cities with a Hanseatic past, and the city centre is full of life and activity. You have to make an effort to find traces from the DDR era; even the boring grey tenements in Schönwalde look lighter and happier after renovation. And friendly greetings in shops and restaurants are no longer the exception.

When I arrived there in September 1981, the city looked completely different: the city was gray and shabby. During the year I spent there, many of the old buildings in the city centre were torn down one by one. And Schönwalde, “my” neighbourhood, consisted of row upon row of grey blocks of flats that could only be distinguished from one another by their street number. I had got my foreign lectureship at Greifswald University through the Swedis...

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