The Bit of East Germany That Might Still Exist

This video was made possible by Curiosity
Stream. When you sign up at the link in the description
you’ll also get access to Nebula—the streaming video platform that HAI is a part of. 1990 was a big year in history: the Hubble
Telescope was launched into space, the Game Boy was introduced to Europe, MC Hammer told
us that we couldn’t touch this, and of course, the country of East Germany ceased to exist—well,
except that maybe it didn’t. Now, many of you probably already know a decent
amount about East Germany and how and why it fell, because, like all Half as Interesting
viewers, you’re a highly educated and sophisticated person, but on the off chance you forgot,
let’s do a quick review, starting at the beginning. About 13.8 billion years ago, the universe
underwent a sudden expansion, changing from an extremely small, dense collection of matter
into everything. This would eventually lead to World War Two,
at the conclusion of which Germany was simultaneously occupied by a number of the Allied powers
who had just picked up the W—the US, the UK, France, and the Soviet Union. The areas that the US, UK, and France had
occupied were unified into a country called the Federal Republic of Germany, or as it
was more commonly known, West Germany. The area that the Soviets had occupied became
the German Democratic Republic, or East Germany. For the next 51 years—a period also known
as the Cold War, or as I like to call it, the Chilly Conflict—things stayed that way. West Germany was a capitalist state that had
independence and made the song 99 Luftballons, and East Germany was a communist state that
was mostly run by the Soviet Union, and because of its struggling communist economy, could
only afford 47 luftballons that it had to evenly divide among its citizens. But then, in 1989, the Berlin Wall fell, and
East Berlin and West Berlin all had a big party together and for some reason David Hasselhoff
was there, and soon after, in 1990, East Germany rejoined West Germany and together they became
the Germany we know and love today—the one with Angela Merkel and giant mugs of beer
and most of the EU’s economy and impressive failures of infrastructure projects, and with
the reunification of the two Germany’s, the country of East Germany was no more. Except, that is, for Ernst Thalmann Island. It’s a tiny strip of land—10 miles or
15 kilometers long and only 1,600 feet or 500 meters across—located off the southwest
coast of Cuba in the Gulf of Calzones, which I have to imagine is the cheesiest, sauciest
part of Cuba. Oh wait damn it’s the Gulf of Cazones. Anyway, this tiny island just might be the
last remaining piece of the East German empire. See, back during the Cold War, East Germany
and Cuba were really good friends, like Joe Biden and Barack Obama, or like Joe Biden
and a cone of ice cream, or like Joe Biden and the Amtrak Northeast Corridor. East Germany was communist, Cuba was communist—they
were like two communist peas in a communist pod—and in 1972, during a state visit to
East Germany, Fidel Castro, then the leader of Cuba, promised that he would donate a Cuban
island to his friends in East Germany, which was definitely a better gift than what the
East Germans had gotten for him, which was a teddy bear. Seriously, that’s not a joke—look it up,
they actually got Fidel Castro a teddy bear. I mean, technically they did give them a gift,
but only bear-ly. An island might seem like a big gift, but
Cuba contains about 4,000 small islands, so giving up just one wouldn’t be too big of
a deal, and it was a nice show of support that would strengthen ties between the two
nations, plus give East Germans a little vacation getaway spot during the cold German winter
months. Soon after his announcement, Castro held an
event to make things official—during a state visit by an East German diplomat, Castro took
the tiny, uninhabited island that had previously been known as Cayo Blanco del Sur, and gave
it the equally tropical-sounding name of Ernst Thalmann Island, after a German communist
named, you guessed it, Ernst Thalmann, who had been the leader of the German Communist
Party from 1925 to 1933. Ernst Thalmann Island had never been populated,
but in 1972, the iguanas and birds who lived there were joined by a new friend—a massive
stone bust of Ernst Thalmann himself. Things stayed mostly quiet there until 1975,
when the East German government sent a singer to the island to record some footage for a
music video, because after all, nothing says, “hip new music,” like government-backed
communist propaganda. Despite these efforts, Ernst Thalmann Island
never really took off—it was kind of like Google+: nobody ever went on it, and before
long it was completely and totally forgotten. So forgotten, in fact, that in all of the
documents that were signed when East Germany rejoined West Germany, there was no mention
of Ernst Thalmann island, which means that it never officially rejoined West Germany,
which in theory, would make it the last remaining part of East Germany. But, as countless memes have taught us, there’s
often a difference between what happens in theory and what happens in reality. In 2001, a German newspaper suddenly remembered
Ernst Thalmann Island and contacted Cuba to see what the deal was, and the Cubans responded
that actually, the transfer of the island had only been, “symbolic.” Whether this is actually the truth is up to
interpretation which is why we say this island just might be a bit of East Germany. When the current German government was also
asked to comment, they agreed—presumably because at that point, they had much bigger
fish to fry than disputing the claim over a tiny island in Cuba that may or may not
have belonged to a country that doesn’t exist anymore, and it feels unlikely they’ll
change their mind, especially considering that these days, there’s another island
that’s giving them plenty of headaches. But you know what gives me plenty of headaches? The inherently unstable nature of existing
online video platforms that disincentivizes experimentation. That’s why a bunch of creators, including
myself, got together and founded Nebula. It’s built by us to fulfill all our hopes
and dreams of a video platform so that we can make the best stuff we can in an ecosystem
that supports us. The best part about Nebula is that you can
get it essentially for free. Curiosity Stream and Nebula have partnered
so that, when you sign up for a Curiosity Stream subscription, you get a Nebula subscription
included at zero extra cost. That means you get Nebula, the platform built
by creators home to all of our existing content plus plenty of originals, and Curiosity Stream,
the well-established platform home to thousands of documentaries and non-fiction titles, for
just $20 a year by signing up at At that cost, it’s really a no-brainer,
but keep in mind you’ll also be supporting HAI and so many other independent creators
by signing up.

  1. You know when you go on Wikipedia link-clicking sessions for fun? Well, how about you moneti$e that (except, for legal reasons, not actually) by submitting topic suggestions to our suggestions bin. If we end up using your suggestion, we'll send you a free HAI t-shirt:

  2. If your stuff on Nebula is as pointless as this video it will never take off. I can't believe I wasted six minutes of my life on this only for you to tell me it was never Germany's Island in the first place therefore absolutely nothing else you said in the video mattered.

  3. "nothing says hip new music like government backed communist propaganda".

    Kind of a weird statement to make. As if American popular media wasn't( or isn't) explicitly used as government backed propaganda.

  4. Little Spanish lesson here!
    The Gulf of Calzones would actually literally translate to the Gulf of “Pants” in Spanish, which made me ask, before the reveal, why would Cuba name a bay after pants?

  5. When HAI skips over 13.8 billion years of history: okay
    When my history teacher skips over 13.8 billion years if history: frick…

  6. This video is 100% going to be about that gottdam Cuban island.

    If it is, then TL;DR -> no. It's not a part of East Germany. It's Cuba.

    Even if it wasn't Cuba, it would just be Germany. When East Germany reunited with the West, all parts of East Germany became Germany.

  7. i hate it when people call a win or a loss a "W" or an "L" – "win" and "loss" both only have one syllable, no need to shorten either

  8. The German Gouvernment didn't say it was symbolicly given to them they denied it was given to them at all and said that it was just renamed

  9. The Chilly Conflict: HAI's nickname for the Cold War

    The Chili Conflict: My digestive system after a few bowls of five-alarm

  10. In 1:58 the word federal in federal republic of Germany is spelled fderal
    Add that in your next mistakes video 😉

  11. I remember how subbubble or whatever that was called, and Vessel completely failed. I expect nebula to also fail. doesn't seem any different

  12. I am from Germany and i can confirm, HIER IST KEIN “bit“ of EAST GERMANY!!!! hier ist only one multinational Deutschland,ONLY!!!!!

  13. you made a joke about what joe biden loves and didn't mention sniffing women (especially little girl's) hair? because that's his one true love
    -2 points for you bro
    interesting video though, thumbs up from me 🙂

  14. We all know Rocky 4 is what brought down the Berlin Wall

    “If I can change…and you can change…EVERYBODY CAN CHANGE!!!!!”

  15. Ernst Thälmann.
    Spelling correction:
    "Th" – can be pronounced as "t".
    "ä" – can be pronounced as the "a" in "cAn".
    "mann" – has the "a" of "pArt" and the double "n" means that the "a" is pretty short.

  16. HAI: [ riffs on communism ]
    Also HAI: [ participates in a democratized workplace where the workers own the means of production ]
    Me: 🤔

  17. …Or like Joe Biden and sniffing women. Or like Joe Biden and groping little girls. Or like Joe Biden and his dentures.

    Wait, Obama didn't even endorse Joe Biden.

    Wait, these are ALL horrible examples of good friends.

  18. 4:32 I know there's a country that never signed any 'End of World War I' papers; Russia? Japan? Can't remember who, though.

  19. The explanation of how it came to that was very great, but you could have gotten a little bit more back in time ;P

  20. "Nothing says hip new music like government backed propaganda"

    Bruh there are gen z kids that can sing the national anthem of the USSR, you wouldn't know hip new music if it took from its ability according to your need.

  21. It was mistake treating France as an equal partner after WWII. They really didn't provide any substantial help during the war. In fact they helped the Germans more than the Allies. Might shoukd have added the Italians too.

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