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The term Ostalgie (along with the phrase Soviet chic) is also occasionally used to refer to nostalgia for life under the socialist system in other former communist countries of Eastern Europe, most notably Poland and the Soviet Union.
After the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 and the German reunification that followed a year later, many of the symbols of the German Democratic Republic were swept away. Almost all GDR brands (DDR in German) of products disappeared from the stores and were replaced by Western products. However, with the passing of time some East Germans began to feel nostalgia for certain aspects of their lives in East Germany. Ostalgie particularly refers to the nostalgia for aspects of regular daily life and culture in the former GDR, which disappeared after reunification.
Next to nostalgia for everyday aspects of life, 'Ostalgie' was also inspired by the alleged absence of unemployment and poverty in the GDR. Indeed, ostalgie could be inspired by the longing of the Ossies for the social system and the sense of community of the GDR. When the renowned West-German magazine Der Spiegel asked former GDR-inhabitants whether the GDR "was the better state" (compared to present-day Germany), 57% of them answered yes. To the statement of the interviewing journalist that "GDR inhabitants did not have the freedom to travel wherever they wanted", Germans replied that "present-day low-wage workers do not have that freedom either".
Many businesses in Germany cater to those who feel Ostalgie and have begun providing them with artifacts that remind them of life under the GDR; artifacts that imitate the old ones. Now available are formerly defunct brands of East German foodstuffs, old state television programmes on video and DVD, and the previously widespread Wartburg and Trabant cars. In addition, life in the GDR has been the subject of several recent films, including Leander Haußmann's Sonnenallee (1999), Wolfgang Becker's internationally successful Good Bye Lenin! (2003), and Carsten Fiebeler's Kleinruppin forever (2004).
Those seeking the preservation of East German culture banded together to save Ossie Crosswalk Man (Ost-Ampelmännchen), an illuminated depiction of a fedora wearing man in crosswalk lights. Many German cities in and near the former East German border, including Berlin, Lübeck and Erfurt, still retain the use of the Ampelmännchen at all or some pedestrian crossings due to its cultural relevance, and many souvenirs sold in East Germany and in Berlin make use of the icon.
See also 
- Die anderen Bands
- Culture of the German Democratic Republic
- Vita Cola: an example of a product revived by Ostalgie
- Ampelmännchen: the waiting/walking man used in East German pedestrian traffic lights, which became a distinctive mascot for the Ostalgie movement
- Trabant: East German automobile produced until 1991; for some, an icon of East Germany.
- Yugo-nostalgia: a similar phenomenon in the former Yugoslavia
- The Legend of Rita: Film precursor of Ostalgie (2000)
- Good Bye Lenin!: A satirical film involving a post-reunification deception. (2002)
- Sonnenallee: Film that has been accused of "glorifying" the GDR (1999)
- The Lives of Others: Film that could be seen as a counterpoint to Ostalgie (2006)
- Banchelli, Eva: Taste the East: Linguaggi e forme dell'Ostalgie, Sestante Edizioni, Bergamo 2006, ISBN 88-87445-92-3.
- Banchelli, Eva: Ostalgie: eine vorläufige Bilanz, in Fabrizio Cambi (Hg.): Gedächtnis und Identitat. Die deutsche Literatur der Wiedervereinigung, Würzburg, Koenigshausen & Neumann, 2008, pp. 57–68.
- Berdahl, Daphne: On the Social Life of Postsocialism: Memory, Consumption, Germany (2009)
- Rota, Andrea: Testi pubblicitari ostalgici: una breve analisi semiotica, In Linguistica e filologia 24/2007, pp. 137-152, ISSN|1594–6517.
- Julia Bonstein, "Heimweh nach der Diktatur", in: Der Spiegel, 27/2009
- Williams, Carol J. (April 28, 1999), "Quaint Crosswalk Symbol Starts a German Movement", Los Angeles Times, "He's dorky and thought a bit sexist, but 'Ossie' endures as a sign that not all things East should go kaput."