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The Last Remaining Part of East Germany? Posted by on Nov 6, 2019 in Culture, Geography, History, Intercultural, Travel

Following the end of the war in 1945, Germany was divided in two. One side, the east, became Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR) while the other side, the west, became Bundesrepublik Deutschland (BRD). When the country was eventually reunited in 1990, the BRD absorbed the DDR, and so what was formerly East Germany ceased to exist.

… Or did it?

DDR flag. Image via Pixabay.

It is said there is one, remaining part of East Germany that was forgotten about. It is called Ernst Thälmann Island, and it lies in das Kuba (Cuba).

During the time Germany was divided, the DDR had strong connections to Cuba and its then-leader, Fidel Castro, especially since they were united in their contempt for the United States. On a state visit to the DDR in 1972, the East German and Cuban leaders exchanged gifts- though they were not equal in measure: Castro received der Teddybär (a teddy bear), while East Germany received a Cuban island. Yes, so strong was their connection that Fidel Castro announced he would dedicate a small die Insel (island) to the DDR.

Fidel Castro. Image via Pixabay.

And that he did. Until 1972, the island, which sits off the south coast of Cuba, was called Cayo Blanco del Sur. Castro then changed its name to Ernst Thälmann Island (Ernst Thälmann Insel in German; Cayo Ernesto Thaelmann in Spanish).

Ernst Thälmann was a German politician and activist, and leader of the Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands (Communist Party of Germany) from 1925 to 1933. Thälmann was imprisoned for 12 years by the Nazis, and eventually shot by order of Adolf Hitler.

Ernst Thälmann. Image via Pixabay.

Not only was the island named after Thälmann, but one of its beaches was renamed to Playa República Democrática Alemana – ‘Beach of the German Democratic Republic’ – where a bust of Ernst Thälmann was unveiled during a ceremony following the renaming of the island.

The idea was for the island to become a holiday haven for East Germans, but this never happened- probably because of the bad financial situation in East Germany at the time.

So is Ernst Thälmann Island the last remaining part of East Germany? Therein lies the mystery! Both Germany and Cuba insist the transfer of the island was merely ‘symbolisch’ (symbolic), and that Ernst Thälmann Island never officially became East German territory.

Today, the island is uninhabited.

Cuba- Kuba. Image via Pixabay.

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About the Author: Constanze

Servus! I'm Constanze and I live in the UK. I'm half English and half German, and love writing about German language and culture. I also work as a group fitness instructor.


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