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Eisenhüttenstadt - a piece of GDR on the Oder

“You have been to Moscow and Miami, Milan, Tokyo and New Delhi, Phnom Penh and Angkor Wat.

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Eisenhüttenstadt - a piece of GDR on the Oder

“You have been to Moscow and Miami, Milan, Tokyo and New Delhi, Phnom Penh and Angkor Wat. And where was I? In Eisenhüttenstadt.” These are the lyrics to the song “Eisenhüttenstadt” by the post-punk band Eight Bucket Chicken Hearts.

Now we are also in Eisenhüttenstadt. Many years after Moscow, Miami, Milan and Angkor Wat. The sun is laughing from the sky. Full of curiosity, we embark on a tour through the socialist planned city that was designed when the GDR was still young and didn't know any prefabricated buildings.

Eisenhüttenstadt was conceived as an ideal city in which working, living and relaxing should form a symbiosis. Garnished with buildings that emulated the Soviet confectionery style. Significantly designed by the architect Kurt W. Leucht, who had previously worked on Stalinallee, today's Karl-Marx-Allee in Berlin.

Eisenhüttenstadt was also called differently, until 1961 Stalinstadt. The flagship project was launched together with the first large steelworks in the GDR, the Eisenhüttenkombinat Ost. We start our walk on the Lindenallee. An extra-wide street, little traffic, lots of free parking spaces. Empty also on the sidewalks. In GDR times, the city still had over 50,000 inhabitants. Since reunification, their number has more than halved.

We pass the former textile department store Magnet, today's Lindenzentrum, on whose mosaic wall a dove of peace created by Walter Womacka rises. We think about what used to be on the schedule at the Friedrich-Wolf-Theater. With its columns and the gable triangle, it looks a bit like an ancient temple.

We walk into the so-called residential complexes - especially complexes I-III are worth seeing. They are designed differently depending on the time of construction, mostly four or five-story rows, some with arcades and historicizing bay windows, others with folkloric reliefs and paintings.

What they all have in common is the huge green inner courtyards. Empty benches are grouped around empty water basins, decorated here and there with a nude sculpture.

The path also leads past the Documentation Center for Everyday Culture in the GDR. The small fine museum is housed in a pretty building. With the ocher facade and the balustrade on the roof, the building almost has the character of a spa. It used to be a daycare center.

The permanent exhibition shows the contradiction between what the GDR promised and what made up people's everyday lives. Family and work, education and consumption are among the topics. The exhibits - including clothes made of the synthetic fiber material Präsent 20, but also a canary-yellow swallow - make you smile, marvel and frighten.

With our heads full of thoughts, we continue to stroll through the quiet city. Find the way to the first self-service department store in Eisenhüttenstadt. The hall dates from the 1960s and is reminiscent of the purist design language of the Bauhaus.

The building is empty. The Hotel Lunik is no different. Once the first house on the square, today a lost place.

Getting there: A regional express (RE1) runs from Berlin Central Station to Eisenhüttenstadt in around 90 minutes. From the train station it’s around two kilometers on foot or you can take the 453 bus to the tourist information center on Lindenallee, which is the best place to start your city tour.

City tour: You can get a free flyer and map for the tour at the tourist information on site. With photo stops and a visit to the museum, you should calculate four to five hours.

Information: tor-eisenhuettenstadt.de

The article is an excerpt from the book that has just been published, “Berlin Außenrum – Brandenburg Overland Adventure” by Michael Bussmann and Gabriele Tröger, Michael Müller Verlag/mm-wandern.com, 240 pages, 17.90 euros. The book describes 33 extraordinary experiences around Berlin off the beaten track. The authors are travel book authors and travel bloggers (hierdadort.de).

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