The People's Mansion
Beverly Hills, California
November 12, 2016
On November 12, 2016, an Embassy of the German Democratic Republic officially represented the perished East German state in Los Angeles for four hours. Visitors entered the “People’s Mansion” through a hall adorned with a monumental flag and tapestries. In the office, they found a map used in preparation for the occupation of West Berlin and a series of East German and Soviet state portraits, some of them caricatures. Busts of political leaders stared at a video of Günter Schabowksi giving his famous press conference that resulted in the fall of the Berlin Wall. One room showcased materials related to travels by car (Trabant), train (Deutsche Reichsbahn), or plane (Interflug), as well as on the cruise ship M.S. Völkerfreundschaft, which offered passage to high party officials and winners of the East German lottery. The family room contained games and toys and a table set with cutlery, plates, and glasses from the Palace of the Republic in East Berlin, which, among other things, housed the East German parliament. Another room offered a wide range of East German radios, record covers, and artwork related to dance and music in the GDR. On a darker note, spy equipment typically used by the Stasi (the infamous East German secret police) was displayed throughout the Embassy building, which for one day resurrects state socialism in Beverly Hills.
“The People’s Mansion,” at 809 N. Linden Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210, was a one-day pop-up exhibition organized by The Wende Museum, featuring objects from the Museum’s collections of art and artifacts from the Cold War.