In 1969, Iraq were the fourteenth nation to give the German Democratic Republic full diplomatic recognition. They were also the first non-communist state to do so and quickly became vocal supporters of their global recognition. These two socialist ‘brother states’ began a close relationship that started with political cooperation but extended to economic, cultural and national security matters.
As the GDR grew in power and recognition, they consolidated their burgeoning relationship with Iraq by building them a dedicated embassy in the desirable area of Pankow, northern West Berlin, in 1974. Throughout the 70’s and 80’s they continued to enjoy good relations, marked by bilateral agreements on national security and warfare – reportedly the development of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons – and officials were afforded freedom of travel from East to West Germany.
This special relationship was cut short by the fall of the Berlin wall and the reunification of the East and West. The embassy staff were almost immediately ordered to leave and not return. The large, grey concrete building has been left unattended and uninhabited since 1990 and will continue to be vacant until Iraq decide otherwise. Iraq still have ‘perpetual and exclusive rights’ to the site in Pankow, having been granted them by the GDR at the time of construction, and so the decision on what to do with the building lies with them.
Until such a time, the building will remain a memento of Iraq’s short lived ‘brotherhood’ with the GDR. The colourfully upholstered furniture, still bright amongst the faded wood and peeling decor, and masses of printed propaganda strewn across the unlit offices hinting at the recent history of the building. Now, the building is a point of curiosity for those visiting Berlin, a recommended tourist spot for anyone with an interest in recent history or a camera and a blog.