Try as we might, we could not spend 25 East German marks — 12 cents! — in a day. Food was cheap, but revolting. They couldn’t even get soft-serve ice cream right. It drooped out of the machine in a shade of pink which was probably meant to look cheerful, but instead made you think of off-brand attic insulation. And there really wasn’t anything else to buy, other than a few stamped-tin souvenir trinkets. Everybody came back to the checkpoint still carrying tiny, worthless bills, and coins which weren’t much more substantial in your hand than the trinkets. The man at the desk relented and let us bring home his country’s worthless Monopoly money as our only souvenirs of the trip. Later, Doc Kalmar — our German teacher and tour guide — told us all something very simple and very profound. “That was the wealthiest city in the wealthiest communist country in the world.” East Berlin was the height of Communist achievement. That was their shining city on a hill — a place where a bunch of rowdy teenage boys found it impossible to spend a dime each. And every other communist city in the world was even worse off. Typically, much worse. Now go look through Koppelkamm’s entire photo essay with that in mind. Remember, too, just how quickly capitalism was able to repair decades of communist mismanagement. These photos weren’t taken decades apart. Some of them show the difference less than ten years could make. Just ten years to lift 17 million people out of 40 years of grinding poverty. One last thing. We’re hurting. We’ve been hurting. But if 17 million Germans could recover from almost half a century of Soviet oppression, think of how quickly we can recover from four years of Democrats.Here's the link. Wow. Just Wow! Photo Gallery: East Germany's Transformation
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