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Deutsches Technikmuseum - May

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The Websites of the donation Stiftung Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin at a glance:


The donation contains six locations:

Exhibit of the Month May 2014

Photo: White glass bottle with a golden shining screw cap and a slight yellowed label.

The 0.7 litres bottle "Companion’s Death", retail price 1,12 M. © SDTB / C. Kirchner

"Kumpeltod (Companion’s Death)", a potable liquor for mineworkers in the GDR, ca. 1968

This "potable liquor for miners" was an alcoholic beverage that was given to miners in the Soviet Union and, later, in the GDR as a payment in kind to supplement their wages. Crews of merchant ships were known to receive such allocations as well.

But these weren’t the only groups. Workers and staff at the VEB Erdöl-Erdgas Grimmen in Vorpommern (publicly owned gas company) were also privy to such rations. Upon boring a 2,300 metre deep hole, workers had discovered oil in the city of Grimmen in 1961. This was the first oil deposit to be found within the borders of the GDR. The subsequent hope that the GDR could free itself from dependence on Russian oil, however, was never realized.

Tax-free miner’s hooch - reselling forbidden
This potable liquor for miners could be purchased with tax-free vouchers provided by the company. It came in bottle sizes of 0.5 litres, 0.7 litres or even 1 full litre. Any reselling of the bottled liquor or the vouchers was forbidden and could lead to criminal prosecution.

Photo: Enlargement of the label with the name of the distillery: VEB “Sonne” in Richtenberg

The label including the essential specification © SDTB / C. Kirchner

These spirits, which had an alcohol content of 32 percent, were manufactured in the vicinity of mining operations in places like Nordhausen, Senftenberg, Lübben or Lauter. For the oil field workers in the north of the GDR, this "Bergmannsfusel" (miner’s hooch) came from the VEB "Sonne" in Richtenberg, which was a subsidiary of the VEB beverage combine "Hanseat" in Rostock.

In contrast to the miners that worked underground, who were allotted two litres per month, the aboveground miners were only allotted one litre. In practice, however, amounts far greater than the one-litre-limit would suggest were given out.

Our exhibit of the month is a gift from the Reinkenhagen Oil Museum, which is located in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.