I am reading an autobiographic graphic novel by a person who grew up in the GDR.

In one episode, she describes her experiences with communist bureaucracy. Eight months pregnant with her first child, she lives in a dilapidated, stinking one-bedroom flat. She has applied for a better one at the Wohnraumlenkung, but hasn't heard anything new about it for months.

She goes to confront a bureaucrat in the department that is sitting on her application. She is told that not being a member of the party, nor having earned any other merits, she is unlikely to ever be given a better flat.

She threatens to write to the newspaper, or to complain to a superior authority. Both things the bureaucrat brushes off with a laugh.

Then she threatens the bureaucrat not to attend the next election.

This gets her a new flat within weeks.

I would like to understand why.

Is this question suitable on History.SE?

1 Answer 1


We already have a bunch of questions on how people lived in a particular place at a particular time - development of societies is an important area of historical research as well. So I would consider this question on-topic, even though the story ending sounds pretty unrealistic and is probably pure fiction.

  • Thanks. It does claim to be an autobiography. It may well be made up, though.
    – Pekka
    Nov 7, 2011 at 14:38
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    @Pekka: I'm not sure how it was in the GDR but I have a hard time imagining that somebody would be intimidated by a threat like this in the USSR. Oh, and flats were indeed a very precious commodity so the rest of the story is sound. Nov 7, 2011 at 14:44
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    yeah. I know that there were periods during which the GDR was very keen on keeping up democratic appearances to prove the superiority of its system over Western Germany - while reaching 99% approval rates on every election, of course. Maybe it has something to do with that. We will see, I'll ask it on the main site!
    – Pekka
    Nov 7, 2011 at 14:48

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