“What did you buy back then with your 100 DM Begrüßungsgeld?”
This question has been posed surprisingly few times until now. Almost 30 years after the fall of the Berlin wall and the peaceful revolution in the GDR, practically no research or surveys have been done on how the 100 DM Begrüßungsgeld was used. Begrüßungsgeld means “welcome money”, a cash handout to which every East German citizen was entitled to, as a welcome gift, when first entering West-Germany.
This is especially surprising considering the range of exciting and deeply personal stories that have come to light. As we suspected before we started this project – and now know for certain – exploring the theme of the ‘welcome money’ has given new insight into private and social issues from both East and West. What does it tell us about the time of reunification that a 15-year old who boy bought himself a skateboard and fruit yogurt? Or that the parents of little Yvonne gave her the board game Monopoly? What significance did the welcome money have for those who consciously refused to pick it up at all?
Now in 2018, we address these questions about the Begrüßungsgeld (welcome money). Was it saved or, as primarily intended, spent on consumer goods? And if so, what was purchased with it? The answers to these questions forms the base of the project “100 DM – Revolution and Consumption: Desires of a Generation”. The project tells of the very personal, very human stories alongside a striking picture of the item that was bought.