Gregoire Cachemaille Photography

© Gregoire Cachemaille

In a hurry

The fence still surrounds the building, but the portal has no lock; open it. Climb the stairs, the moss under your feet will damp the noise of your footsteps. Push the door and there you are. The former Embassy of the Republic of Iraq in the German Democratic Republic is a forgotten oddity of History.

It was built in 1974 when Iraq and the GDR enjoyed good relations - Iraq was the first non-socialist country to recognize the young German republic in 1969, and as a sign of gratitude, was granted "perpetual and exclusive rights" for the site of the embassy by the GDR government. Both countries kept tight relations, but things changed with the German reunification in October 1990. As the West was basically taking over East Germany, the good old friend suddenly transformed into an enemy as the first Gulf War broke out. The staff of the embassy hastily left the country and never returned.

The embassy still stands today, never cleared up by German authorities who would require a special authorization to enter Iraqi property. After years of abandonment, looting, illegal parties and several fires, the sheer amount of items still filling every room clearly shows how quickly the embassy was evacuated. The whole place is covered with books, binders, propaganda material and thousands of various documents: visa application forms, pictures of smiling soldiers, and of course, a young and friendly-looking Saddam. Most of the furniture is still there as well, with typewriters with Arabic keys still on their desks.

And in the kitchen, some mummified garlic rests in its tray.