I never get tired of mentioning how much I detest museums and most exhibitions. Unless I have a very specific interest in something that is shown, I would rather spend my time and money on strolls through forgotten streets and eat artisan cakes. But the Stasimuseum caught my attention, not necessarily for its content (as German born and bred, what do I not know about the Stasi and GDR?), but it is located in the former Ministry of State Security of the GDR. And you know I drool for historical sites.
The ministry’s headquarters were built in the sixties in Lichtenberg, and the first house of the museum were the offices of the Minister Erich Mielke. After the wall came down, citizens of Berlin secured the house and decided to make the whole complex a Research Center and Memorial, while House 1 became the Stasimuseum. I could tell you more but if you want to know stuff about the GDR, just visit the museum.
The museum is particularly interesting because the offices were mostly preserved in their original condition. Walking through the rooms is super eerie: somehow, it reminds me of the aesthetics that I remember from public authorities in Damascus (where time, fashion-wise, has also stood still since the 70s). But mostly it just reminds me of what I learned about the GDR in school. Fair enough I guess.
I fell in love with the cafeteria. From the TV to the drip coffee, everything felt spookily authentic. You weren’t allowed to touch anything so naturally we touched everything. From every angle, I was tempted to take Instagram pictures and pretend to be from a different time, but then I realized how much this idea sucked. Also: the coffee was really, really good.
If you want to enlighten yourself about the GDR history, then a visit to the Stasimuseum is your way to go. It’s not something I would put on my list of things that you necessarily HAVE to do or see while in Berlin, but I reckon after 8 years it was sure worth a visit on a grey Sunday afternoon.