East Germany: Back to the DDR
“45,000 sections of reinforced concrete – 3 tons each. Nearly 300 watchtowers. Over 250 dog runs. 20 bunkers. 65 miles of anti-vehicle trenches – signal wire, barbed wire, beds of nails. Over 11,000 armed guards. A death strip of sand, well-raked to reveal footprints. 200 ordinary people shot dead following attempts to escape the communist regime. 96 miles of concrete wall. Not your typical holiday destination.’’
Berlin – Wünsdorf-Waldstadt – Eisenhüttenstadt – Frankfurt Ostbrandenburg – Schwedt – Usedom – Rostock – Schwerin – Glewe Stendal – Halle Neustadt – Leipzig – Karl-Marx-Stadt – Dresden
Whilst we’re known for pioneering travel into the unrecognized and republics of the former USSR as well as volatile places like Chechnya and Dagestan, you could be forgiven for thinking that Germany is a rather tame destination for us. But our tours aren’t designed for Oktoberfest or quaint Bavarian towns. Germany (more precisely, East Germany) is awash with dark tourism sites. From the grim final days of WW2 to its position as a highly militarized and secretive region under the reign of the communist German Democratic Republic for the entire span of the Cold War, The history of East Germany certainly has a lot of what we like!
Each year we run a number of private tours for individual clients or small groups to explore the remnants of the Second World War and the Cold War. Tours focusing on Soviet-era military bases, the history of the infamous Stasi secret police, the battle of Berlin and Soviet and Nazi bunker tours. Whilst some former East German cities have attractions relating to the communist period, such as the DDR museum in Berlin, Checkpoint Charlie or the tourist section of the Berlin Wall, there is a whole host of sites left largely unexplored.
Day 1 – Berlin
- Arrival into Berlin at your own leisure and check into our centrally located hotel
- Evening meetup with your Soviet Wastelands guide to head out for an evening dinner and tour brief
- Overnight in Berlin
Day 2 – East Berlin
- Breakfast at the hotel before we hit the ground running with a tour of East Berlin taking in the former Lenin square, the Stasi HQ, Thälmann monument, Volkspark Friedrichshain, Gedenkstätte der Sozialisten and tick off the huge amount of Socialist mosaics and monuments around the former HQ city of the German Democratic Republic.
- After a classic East German lunch we’ll head to outer Eastern Berlin and take in the iconic and enormous Soviet victory complex in Treptower park which was built as a mass grave and to commemorate 7,000 of the 80,000 Red Army soldiers who fell in the Battle of Berlinin 1945. The focal point of the memorial is a 12-m tall statue of a Soviet soldier with a sword holding a German child, standing over a broken swastika. According to Marshal Chuikov, the statue commemorates the deeds of Sergeant of Guards Nikolai Masalov who risked his life under heavy German machine-gun fire to rescue a three-year-old German girl during the final storm on the center of Berlin.
- We’ll then jump on the very efficient Berlin metro and head out to the Soviet-German Museum of Karlshorst. The iconic and bullet riddled villa is the exact place where the capitulation of Nazi Germany was signed by Willhelm Keitel in the final days of WW2.
- Dinner and overnight in Berlin.
Day 3 – Wünsdorf-Waldstadt, Eisenhüttenstadt and Frankfurt an der Oder
- After breakfast at the hotel we’ll pay a visit to a Soviet military base in Wünsdorf-Waldstadt, now abandoned at the fall of the Berlin Wall, this is where one of Germany’s last remaining Lenin monuments remains to greet the intrepid travellers who make the journey to this forgotten base.
- We’ll then drive to Eisenhüttenstadt, a classic DDR city overflowing with Communist nostalgia and decay in equal measures. Here we’ll enjoy a typical East German lunch before we transfer to Frankfurt an der Oder, another classic DDR town located on the Polish border with an ample supply of Communist monuments and relics.
- After a walking tour around Frankfurt an der Oder we’ll quickly transfer into Poland to tick off two countries on the trip. We’ll visit the town of Słubice for a quick walk around, perhaps a sample of Polish vodka and a walk to the ruins of Kleist Tower which was a Prussian built tower blown up by the German army in 1945, who feared the advancing Red Army would utilize it as an observation point on their march to Berlin.
- Dinner and overnight in Frankfurt an der Oder.
Day 4 – Ostbrandenburg, Schwedt and Usedom
- After a hearty German breakfast we’ll indulge in the nostalgia and Soviet monuments of long forgotten villages in Ostbrandenburg.
- Stop in the area of Seelow, scene of one of the most vicious battles in the dying days on WW2: the battle of Seelow Heights. There is still a huge Soviet monument dedicated to the fight.
- After lunch we will head to the city of Schwedt built in classic concrete, Social realism style.
- We’ll then begin our journey to a Communist resort from the DDR era: the island of Usedom, which is still littered with Communist relics and abandoned Red Army bases.
- Dinner and overnight in Usedom.
Day 5 – Rostock, Schwerin and Glewe
- We’ll start the day with a classic Pomeranian breakfast and visit the city of Rostock, an infamous East Germany city that was the scene of horrific race riots in the chaotic days of the 1990’s, they are classed as the worst mob attacks against migrants in postwar Germany.
- We’ll have lunch in Rostock before transfering south to the city of Schwerin, this is the capital of Mecklenburg-Vorpommer and boasts one of Germany’s last surviving, defiant Lenin monuments which we will be able to visit and photograph.
- We will also visit Jamel. An infamous and rather poor village which is inhabitied by people nostalgic for the days of the 3rd Reich and Nazi sympathisers. We won’t overstay our welcome here and after checking it out we’ll head to the DDR town of Neustadt-Glewe.
- Dinner and overnight in Neustadt-Glewe.
Day 6 – Stendal, Halle Neustadt and Leipzig
- After breakfast we’ll head to the town of Stendal, formerly a DDR frontier town. Here we will make our way through overgrown woodland to check out a long forgotten Soviet monument.
- We’ll head on to the village of Tangerhütte, now semi deserted, it was known for it’s metalworking craft back in the DDR.
- We’ll then reach the city of Halle Neustadt, a rather dystopian city full of brutalist architecture, socialist nostalgia and DDR relics.
- Lunch in Halle Neustadt
- We’ll hit the road and head to Leipzig, a deeply historical city and a centre of trade since at least the time of the Holy Roman Empire. After heaving bombing in WW2, it was handed over to the Red Army, rebuilt and became an industrial powerhouse in the DDR and played a major role in German history, culture and economy as a whole.
- Dinner and overnight in Leipzig.
Day 7 – Karl-Marx-Stadt and Dresden
- As the trip slowly begins to wind down, we’ll visit the town of Chemnitz, formerly known as the industrial town of Karl Marx Stadt and still features a gigantic bust of Marx himself in the centre of the city.
- After touring the city and enjoying lunch, we’ll head to Dresden. A heavily industrial city that was decimated in WW2 following the infamous bombing campaign on the city. We’ll tour the city and take in it’s DDR relics and nostalgia
- Dinner, farewell drinks and overnight in Dresden.
Day 8 – Head home or onward travel
- We’ll have a last farewell German breakfast together before bidding you farewell
- We can arrange transfers to the airport, train station or bus station to assist you with travel home or onward travel within Germany or Europe.
- End of tour.
Price at request