“Schrankwand zu verschenken” — 12689 Marzahn

Modular wood-veneer cabinets known as Schrankwand were highly popular in Germany during the 20th Century. Mass-produced in local workshops, the Schrankwand became nearly ubiquitous in post-war households in both West Germany and East Germany as their societies and economies were rebuilding from WWII, and it remained commonplace even after German reunification in 1990. The Schrankwand was custom-assembled to cover an entire living-room wall and to safely store the family’s valued possessions. It had a special compartment for everything, from the television set to the crystal glassware collection. A symbol of domesticity and middle-class respectability, the Schrankwand was the backdrop to three generations of German family life.

Nowadays the Schrankwand has fallen out of fashion. These imposing pieces can often be found on classified websites, being given away for free to whomever can disassemble them and carry them off. This is the story of one donated Schrankwand and the home it inhabited, in an industrial district of the former East Berlin.


A plastic tiara almost like Cinderella’s
Diamonds wreath an arresting white circle, red-rimmed
Proclaiming “40” in bold black letters
Like the speed limits stuck to rear bumpers of LkWs
You really couldn’t miss it
Her 40th birthday
With her girlfriends
Drinks and dancing
In a young-looking dress
Those laurels now resting on a red feather boa
Another memory behind the glass doors
Of the birch veneer model she chose
For the living room that would be their very own
A much more modern style than her mother’s
People in those times didn’t have many choices
Not like your generation, who can do anything
Anything at all

Her family in photos
On display shelves above the flat-screen television
The novelty frames profess Love in wooden letters
To remind her

An olive carpet kept spotlessly clean
Bed made

Her son’s school medal got pride of place
On the face of the glass door in birch veneer
She bought a self-adhesive hook to hang it just so
It catches your eye while you’re watching TV

She hung a memory, so his wouldn’t be lonely
Her key to the city
From the M6 tram terminus
Good times forged in silver plate
She can get to Alexanderplatz in just 40 minutes
That’s plenty of time to think
About how it really has been 30 years since that night
She spent glued to the TV in her mother’s living room
Moving images cast soft reflections on high gloss finish and Bohemian crystal
Lacy handkerchiefs protected cherry veneer
You really couldn’t miss it
Only his telephone call could tear her away from the set
Life was so different in those days when they’d just met
Nowadays she can go out anytime she likes

Getting home is easy too
After a girls’ night out
We just look for the LED sign
M6 to Betriebshof Marzahn
You really can’t miss it, even after a few Cosmopolitans

Maybe she doesn’t go all that often, come to think of it
Our neighborhood has everything we need
The supermarkets around here are bigger
And our birch veneer model has a bar compartment
We could serve ourselves anytime we like

Look, we bought these shot glasses on vacation
A beach holiday in Mykonos
Don’t they look nice lit up like that

We have Monopoly and four other board games
Right there on the open shelving
We could play them anytime we like

Our friends sent us these postcards here
Mallorca is lovely this time of year


Berlin — 12689 Marzahn
ID: 1310895574
Art: Schränke & Schrankwände
Versand: Nur Abholung



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