From cradle to grave, the East German government cared for its citizens, providing childcare, housing, and job assignments.
Even now, shops peddling goods from the GDR years dot the former East. They appeal to those afflicted with Ostalgie, nostalgia for life under the bygone socialist regime.
But despite the modern, sanitized images of East Germany––from the tourist haven of Checkpoint Charlie to the toy Trabants present in every souvenir shop in Berlin––the GDR went to extreme lengths to keep its citizens in line, tracking millions of people with unprecedented surveillance and driving them to unimaginable paranoia. One of its most brutal tools, the Berlin Wall, took root 59 years ago today.