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German Democratic Republic Laundromat

March 10, 2016 - mirrormirror -

here’s the true story about a clever man, who made a little fortune after the 2nd World War by tricking the victorious allies and then both German countries . . .

the piece of history was brought to be by my grandfather early 2016. a few weeks later he shot himself with a world war II gun nobody knew about. I wish I could have recorded more stories of a time from which almost all eye witnesses have been passed away, but I’m glad to share this one…

it all starts right after the gunfire stopped in 1945. the Nazis lost the war and Allies and Soviet Union divided Germany into zones.
in one of the zones, close to the territory that would soon be part of the German Democratic Republic, lived a man. he was the son of my Grandfathers mothers brother. being trapped beyond a demarcation line (green line / temporary border e.g. within ceasefire), he was pretty much immobilized, until he found a bunch of uniforms in my great-grandfathers closet and took one associated with the railway company. dressed up as a career railway employee he traveled through the Soviet sector to get to Leipzig, where he was born. only with the cover up and without valid documents he managed several safe trips into the east of Germany, controlled by the Russians.
not much later he managed to get a higher position in the newly founded GDR railway ministry, from where he started a regular life within the socialist part of divided Germany. but he was going for more. through his position in the train ministry he gained access to royal archives, that stored documents from centuries. he came up with the idea to contact people all over the world and offer his services to find proof for aristocratic ties within Germany and Europe, like what Earl or Lord had something with this or that aunt or uncle to pour some blue blood into the veins of the family tree. my grandfathers cousin traveled the world for the GDR bringing light into some forgotten heritage tales. and he knew money. a certain amount he’d bill his clients to show his supervisors, that he was following the rules.
the way more funky version of this story is, that he actually got his customers to transfer the bigger chunk of the paychecks to a bank account of my grandfathers mother, my great-grandmother. these dollars eventually made it into my granddads living room, where he helped packing the cash up into coffee packs making sure they’d weigh exactly as much as the packs with the original product in it. right after that my great-grandmother would send the money into the GDR – hoping the customs wouldn’t find it – where my Opas cousin could spend it on his relatively luxurious lifestyle.


original ‘Trabant’ somewhere in East Germany 2013

another very effective way to transfer the valuable bills was ordering and buying cars in the GDR, but paying them with west money. that way the family, or friend could obtain a ‘trabbi’-vehicle literally decades earlier, than other citizens – according to my grandfather three ‘Trabant’ found their way to new homes quickly by skipping pretty much every socialist barrier at that time.

well the moral of this story is: where’s a will there’s a way and laundry is fun, but laundering money is even funner.

my far far relative suddenly stopped all his affairs (for unknown reasons) and remained a good fellow citizen, until the day he died.

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