Collectors buy up items from communist East Germany at museum auction
Cars, furniture, children's toys and other artefacts from the former East Germany went to auction in Berlin over the weekend, drawing intense interest from collectors fascinated by the everyday items of the now defunct communist state.
The auction sold off the entire collection from a private museum dedicated to the German Democratic Republic in the small eastern German town of Döbernitz, located about 20 kilometres north of Leipzig.
Collectors paid about €240,000 ($260,000) in total for pieces from the museum's collection. Fetching the highest bids were two East German vehicles: a Barkas ambulance, which sold for €18,000, and a rare rugged offroad variation of the iconic Trabant small cars, which went for €7,000.
The DDR Museum in Döbernitz was created by Manfred Hüsges, who grew up in the West German industrial city of Mönchengladbach. Hüsges amassed a collection of more than 40,000 objects from East Germany.
He opened the museum in a former dance hall in the town in 2014. Several unsuccessful attempts were made to keep the museum operating after Hüsges died several years ago.
At Saturday's auction, collectors could buy entire display cases and shelves as well as a model railway, dolls, lamps and radios.
A "Pebeland" display built with Pebe plastic bricks, East Germany's version of Lego blocks, shows a town complete with an East German army barracks, a shop and a town hall.
Christina Schulze, an art historian with the Historia auction house that handled the sale, described it as a success. She noted that the collection of another defunct DDR museum in Dresden went to auction in July but raised only €170,000.