Jun 20, 2007

Berlin hotel recreates East Germany

Why would ANYONE pay money to live like the East Germans used to live? Next thing you know they'll rebuild the wall for sentimental reasons...

Yahoonews: The Ostel offers a renewed whiff of life in the former German Democratic Republic, welcoming travelers with portraits of communist leaders adorning the walls.

Furnishings — except for mattresses, bed linens, sink and toilets — are the real thing, dug up by founders Daniel Helbig and Guido Sand from flea markets, friends, family and eBay.

But Helbig made clear it was not about pining for a return to the police-state. "We had the idea of preserving a bit of GDR culture ... (but) we are not crying for the East German regime," said Helbig.

The Ostel, which opened on May Day represents a broader phenomenon known as Ostalgie, or fascination with life in the former East Germany. The Ostel, located in an old Communist-era building just steps from the East Side Gallery, the longest remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall, takes pains to be as authentic as possible.

There are rooms that replicate bedrooms from typical East German apartments, from about $50. At the other end of the scale, $12-per-bed Pioneer Camp dorm rooms feature two bunk beds and spartan living conditions evocative of the summer camps of the Free German Youth, the party youth organization.

Ostel employee Liliana Lehmann, 25, whose early childhood was spent under communism in East Berlin, said the hotel was a break from the bustle of today's capitalist capital.

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