Ostalgie


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Communist housing units in Warsaw

“Ostalgie” is the term used for having nostalgic feelings for the old ways of life behind the Iron Curtain. It emerged after the destruction of the Berlin Wall and the rush to capitalist-type economic systems destroyed the way of life which had existed since 1939. People in the Eastern Bloc countries began to miss some of the certainties of life and products of the Communist Era; people from the West began to yearn for a view of the life style which had been denied them for 50 years.

Ostalgie is evident in the recreations of aspects of Communist life in former Communist countries. Go to East Germany, Poland, Hungary or the Czech Republic and take a tour in a Trabant. Relive the olden days in Warsaw with a visit to the Communist Museum with it’s replica Socialist Style flat.In Tallinn, visit the Energie or Narva coffee shops and see how it used to be, down to the decor and the brightly coloured cakes. In Warsaw, visit the Red Cow pub and marvel at their artifacts. Wander round old markets and pick up a statue of Lenin. In Riga, go to Agenskalns Market and get yourself a Soviet lapel pin or an old piece of equipment. The huge Victory Monument is still looming large in Riga, if you want to cross the river and marvel at it. In Budapest, don’t forget the Monument Park which is full of Communist Statues. In Lithuania visit Kaunus and see the remains of the Soviet monuments on the streets. The restaurant Marxism in Budapest is a reminder of how the food used to be. If you go behind the National Museum in Tallinn you can see an abandoned lot of old Communist statues, including a rather nice Lenin.Unfortunately, the statues and red stars have largely disappeared in Prague. There used to be a rather nice one outside the main station.

Obviously, no one misses the KGB in its various incarnations, the spying, the secret photography, the phone tapping, the prison cells, the sudden executions, the lack of free speech, the tanks on the streets, the food shortages and the blocked television channels. It seems, though, that there is a yearning for some of the simplicity and certainties of the old Communist days in our consumerist society.