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  1. #1

    Default The Smell of Communism

    I was intrigued to read of an exhibition in Sunderland in the UK of "impossible" or "Extinct" smells. One of these was the Scent of Communism.
    The closed market system of the Deutsche Democratic Republic imposed severe restrictions on the production, importation, and sale of goods in former East Berlin. The effects of this system were felt in everything from buying a house to a bar of soap, so with these restrictions came a smell. It is recognised as the smell of communism and it was (and still is) found in parts of Poland, former East Berlin and regional provinces of China like Guanzhow.

    These places, like closets unopened for years, languished in the stale air of imposed uniformity. Enclosing this smell was the Berlin Wall with its political division as strong above ground as it was immediately below. Berlin’s subway system was designed before the iron curtain. During the cold war many of the subway lines going from east to west were closed to eliminate the possibility of defection. However, Friedrichstraße Station, located in East Berlin, remained open as a transfer station for West Berliners. Walking across Friedrichstraße’s platform to the connecting train was one of the few places for those of the free world to sniff this hint of communism.

    The creator of the smell for this exhibition was Sissel Tolaas, a Norwegian researcher in smell who has done some amazing work on the smell of cities.

    Now dear friends --- How would YOU start to create the smell of communism?
    *** The Man in the Bow Tie ***

    Edmond Roudnitska: "A Life of Perfume" - Newly Published -
    http://www.lulu.com/shop/edmond-roudnitska/a-life-of-perfume/paperback/product-23790632.html


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  2. #2

    Default Re: The Smell of Communism

    What actually is this smell? What aromatic agents are responsible for it, and how did they manifest themselves into something as abstract as "communism"?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: The Smell of Communism

    *pours fine Russian vodka into perfume bottle*

    Sent from my ONEPLUS A5010 using Tapatalk
    Cheers, Happy Perfuming!
    Will

  4. #4

    Default Re: The Smell of Communism

    @Con-Li ---- yes thats what I'm asking!! - Im trying to get hold of the originator of the scent but at the moment I have no ideas.
    *** The Man in the Bow Tie ***

    Edmond Roudnitska: "A Life of Perfume" - Newly Published -
    http://www.lulu.com/shop/edmond-roudnitska/a-life-of-perfume/paperback/product-23790632.html


    Complete Steffen Arctander Volumes in Perfumers Library
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  5. #5

    Default Re: The Smell of Communism

    .... hic
    *** The Man in the Bow Tie ***

    Edmond Roudnitska: "A Life of Perfume" - Newly Published -
    http://www.lulu.com/shop/edmond-roudnitska/a-life-of-perfume/paperback/product-23790632.html


    Complete Steffen Arctander Volumes in Perfumers Library
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  6. #6

    Default Re: The Smell of Communism

    Just an anecdote.

    I've got family who lived through Communism in Eastern Europe, and this one time I was given a product to try that used to be very popular back then but is still being sold, for sentimental reasons I presume. Roughly translated, it was called a 'chocolate-like article', translated it's probably compound chocolate. Real chocolate was a luxury good reserved as a treat for the select few, whereas the masses were fed with the cheap stuff.

    Imagine the worst quality chocolate you can buy, which contains little cacao and plenty of sugar and some dubious fats to keep all of it together. Ironically, I find a lot of fragrances don't have a very good cacao note. Montale's Chocolade Greedy reminds me of that product I tasted somewhat.

    Another thought I just had is that the soap and laundry detergent must have been very basic and available to all, so I suspect that was an universal scent of the time.

  7. #7

    Default Re: The Smell of Communism

    Possibly the smell from poorly maintained sewers, gas pipes, engines and brake pads. Possibly also the smell of old clothing.

    For sewers, you can add a trace of skatole. For gas pipes, add something sulphurous like ethyl mercaptan or dimethyl sulfide. For engine exhaust, you can try indole, thymol, 6-methyl quinoline, guaiacol and a trace of cade oil. For overheated brake pads, try something with a sharp burnt note like 2,5-xylenol. For old clothing, add something musty like m-cresol, p-cresol, castoreum and ambrinol.

  8. #8

    Default Re: The Smell of Communism

    @pears - excellent - first class --- now just add the smell of a Trabant (any ideas on creating the smell of 2-stroke)/
    *** The Man in the Bow Tie ***

    Edmond Roudnitska: "A Life of Perfume" - Newly Published -
    http://www.lulu.com/shop/edmond-roudnitska/a-life-of-perfume/paperback/product-23790632.html


    Complete Steffen Arctander Volumes in Perfumers Library
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  9. #9

    Default Re: The Smell of Communism

    an interesting add to this.

    On December 28, 1989, a slim young woman named Susanne Böden was handing out leaflets in East Berlin with her little sister. The leaflets promoted free speech for citizens of the Deutsche Democratic Republic. Shortly after she started handing them out, Susanne was arrested by the Stasi, or East German secret police. She stood trial at Stasi headquarters
    in East Berlin and was served with a caution. Before being released, the Stasi gave her a square of fabric to wipe against the back of her neck. This fabric was then kept by the Stasi in a sealed jar with her name on it.
    A person’s body odour is as distinctive and traceable as a fingerprint. The Stasi tracked the movements of suspected dissenters with trained sniffer dogs. To get the scent of their suspects, the Stasi employed a variety of methods such as breaking into apartments and stealing dirty clothes or sitting suspects in a heated room for questioning. The Stasi would then save a patch of fabric from this chair’s upholstery that had absorbed the suspect’s body odour.
    The Berlin Wall fell within months of Susanne’s trial. During the ensuing celebrations Stasi Headquarters were ransacked. Inside a small room at the headquarters, revellers found hundreds of jars labelled with people’s names and stuffed with bits of fabric.

    The Japense Artist Maki Ueda, created a scent for the exhibition which highligted this.
    *** The Man in the Bow Tie ***

    Edmond Roudnitska: "A Life of Perfume" - Newly Published -
    http://www.lulu.com/shop/edmond-roudnitska/a-life-of-perfume/paperback/product-23790632.html


    Complete Steffen Arctander Volumes in Perfumers Library
    www.SteffenArctander.com

  10. #10

    Default Re: The Smell of Communism

    I was going to say... potatoes, 2-ethyl-6 vinyl pyrazine along w 4-methyl thio butanol, costus Oliffac for the human smell of unwashed hair, a touch of hydroxycitronellal and methyl ionone bc I feel like they were probaly used in soaps, and fill it with Stoli.

    Also + the things Pears mentioned. I bet we could make a good stinking perfume lol.

    Quote Originally Posted by leonardpayne View Post
    an interesting add to this.

    On December 28, 1989, a slim young woman named Susanne Böden was handing out leaflets in East Berlin with her little sister. The leaflets promoted free speech for citizens of the Deutsche Democratic Republic. Shortly after she started handing them out, Susanne was arrested by the Stasi, or East German secret police. She stood trial at Stasi headquarters
    in East Berlin and was served with a caution. Before being released, the Stasi gave her a square of fabric to wipe against the back of her neck. This fabric was then kept by the Stasi in a sealed jar with her name on it.
    A person’s body odour is as distinctive and traceable as a fingerprint. The Stasi tracked the movements of suspected dissenters with trained sniffer dogs. To get the scent of their suspects, the Stasi employed a variety of methods such as breaking into apartments and stealing dirty clothes or sitting suspects in a heated room for questioning. The Stasi would then save a patch of fabric from this chair’s upholstery that had absorbed the suspect’s body odour.
    The Berlin Wall fell within months of Susanne’s trial. During the ensuing celebrations Stasi Headquarters were ransacked. Inside a small room at the headquarters, revellers found hundreds of jars labelled with people’s names and stuffed with bits of fabric.

    The Japense Artist Maki Ueda, created a scent for the exhibition which highligted this.
    Wow, that is really creepy and very interesting.


  11. #11

    Default Re: The Smell of Communism

    Quote Originally Posted by leonardpayne View Post
    @pears - excellent - first class --- now just add the smell of a Trabant (any ideas on creating the smell of 2-stroke)/
    The odour of [E]-nerolidol has previously been described as "oil of car", presumably meaning motor oil (see Table 1, below):

    https://www.semanticscholar.org/pape...bcf21/figure/0


    This may partly be explained by the fact that it has a waxy odour – motor oil being composed of hydrocarbons slightly shorter than paraffin waxes. By that rationale, it may also be worth adding other materials with a waxy odour. Providing that the auxiliary notes are masked by other components then it might work. You'll have to see for yourself.
    Last edited by Pears; 8th August 2019 at 01:58 PM.

  12. #12

    Default Re: The Smell of Communism

    Quote Originally Posted by Pears View Post
    Possibly the smell from poorly maintained sewers, gas pipes, engines and brake pads. Possibly also the smell of old clothing.

    For sewers, you can add a trace of skatole. For gas pipes, add something sulphurous like ethyl mercaptan or dimethyl sulfide. For engine exhaust, you can try indole, thymol, 6-methyl quinoline, guaiacol and a trace of cade oil. For overheated brake pads, try something with a sharp burnt note like 2,5-xylenol. For old clothing, add something musty like m-cresol, p-cresol, castoreum and ambrinol.
    I suppose if I’m a communist, I smell real damn bad

  13. #13

    Default Re: The Smell of Communism

    The environment might not smell so great, but I wouldn't feel comfortable generalising about the people. Each person is different. I know that you're only joking though.
    Last edited by Pears; 9th August 2019 at 02:02 AM.

  14. #14

    Default Re: The Smell of Communism

    Absolutely lovely topic!
    Pear- I think cadaverine use for brake pads also. This smell contain penetrating aspect off burnt protein and burnt bakelite horrible stink.
    I'm from Poland and Poland is very communistic smelling country. Scent from communism time is usually stinky, nightmarrish.
    I remember gelatin glue named in ,,pearl" scent with old ,,library" type furnitures. This stink is very persistant and penetrating. I think that ambrarome abs+skatole 1% with artificial ,,butter" aroma ( diacetyl?) in 3:2:1 in is good mix, sometimes trace of M-cresol maybe also be good, I also detected trace amount of sulphurous garlic and fishy like note in this glue ( maybe trace garlic oil be good! and maybe tiny amount of trimethylamine) This glue smell very horrible, stinky and sexy in the same time like human purulence and also similar to human feces, smegma, and rotting corpses.
    Other similar connotation is pretty oud base, civet, ambrinol and other ,,skatolic" molecule mixed with cinnamic-balsamic and leathery notes. I also good result in discrete,, masculine smegma" undertone in one my perfumes from cinnamon cassia EO mixed with lactoscatone and castoreum. This gelatin glue vibe is often in masculine, dirty frag, often modern like Dylan Blue Versace.
    Probably this ,,balsamic" and leathery part from true gelatin glue is from butyric or valeric acid, hexanoic acid, diacetyl and m-cresol.
    Toxic stinky building material used to treate wood and wooden materials, like creosote used for railroad ties and telecommunication poles with smell very similar to indolarome but stronger and more penetrating. I think that indolarome is very good for creosote effect in perfumes.
    All builting, especially school and public commnunistic ,,sam" from 60s and 70s contain treated ,,xylamit" soft fiber board under spout. Result is catastrophic, because strong stink persist to nowadays. This is very strong ,,sticky" horrible, scent popular named ,,scent of old", very creepy and anxiety-induced because ,,xylamit" is often used to treated wooden house, especially wooden shingles. Kazimierz Dolny- beautiful small city contain characteric building with old wooden shingles treate ,,xylamit" and well also treated this whose water is polluted and unfit to consumption, very toxic. Other similar stinking chemical is ,,lindane" old pesticide which smell practically identical to ,,xylamit" which very polluting earth. Stinky smell of lindane especially sometimes exist after rain or moisture evenings, or nights with dew. Sometimes used also german fiber board named ,,basileum" contain chloronaphthalene.
    I detected weak vibes this scent in masculine modern frag. Sometimes Dylan Blue Versace, 1MIllion paco rabbanne, probably from high dose ,,almondy" coumarin and damascones ( damascone smell slighty similar to this varnish), Tea Rose Perfumer Workshop scent slighty vibe this also. This ,,xylamit" stink is often mixed with laundry aroma in some house create a similar to mixture to indolarome+magnolan, or ahtranilates and indole overdose sometimes Twilly Hermes and Giorgio Beverly Hills and Sweet Redemption Killian and Lush Lust smell this anxious smell or creosote/indolarome/skatole-derivates vibe.
    I'm suspect that my dead grandparent house is contaminated this scent. My perfume passion is mostly is from this mystery house- smell laundry, often beef, potatos and sauerkraut from kitchen and creepy, low ( not strong) purring note undertone which penetrating my grandparents bodies- hair, clothes, breath. I often similar effect to my granparent house, when I mixed indolarome+magnolan, but this scent contain more apo-patchone coueur ( which smell similar to xylamit) and slighty boiling groats, maybe touch of indole, dimethyl anthranilate and para-methyl quinoline+acetic acid vibe.
    For this xylamit, I last time I think that cypriol EO is also good for this frag! You try apo patchone coueur+indolarome+cypriol+benzyl alcohol and touch aphermate, damascone alpha, to touch! Maybe result is very similar creepy scent! High dose dimethyl anthranilate also be good! And undiluted giant amount indole, maybe a enormous xylamit stinkbomb sillage, very creepy like naphthalene which smell similar to creosote and xylamit.

  15. #15

    Default Re: The Smell of Communism

    If he can stand the cadaverine, then by all means. A little benzothiazole would provide a burnt rubber note.

    Yes, cheap construction materials would certainly make sense. Here's an interesting article on the smell of prefabricated houses:

    https://www.baubiologie-regional.de/...ricated-house/


    For the chloranisole he can try para-methyl anisole. If the chloronaphthalenes smell anything like the naphthalenes, then I would suggest indole and a little nutty pyrazine. A little ambrinol and melafleur will enhance the musty and chloric qualities.

    Aside from chloronaphthalene, Xylamit also contained chlorophenols. These are often used in antiseptics and smell somewhat reminiscent of the xylenols (available from Liaison Carbone).
    Last edited by Pears; 10th August 2019 at 03:17 PM.

  16. #16

    Default Re: The Smell of Communism

    I like the concept of "the scent of a place". I always remember places by their scent and recall scents of places I lived 30 years ago. But the scent of an era? I reckon it would be very different in different places. Maybe the least common denominator can be found?

  17. #17
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    Default Re: The Smell of Communism

    "Smells like Soviet spirit: a brief history of perfume and cosmetics"
    The Guardian Article

    https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=...u-ApqRl2JZJiGf

    https://www.fragrantica.com/perfume/...skva-4758.html

  18. #18

    Default Re: The Smell of Communism

    Pear- Yes I agree! I mean this scent! This wooden house is also prefabricated ,,holiday" house in polish mountain also, very stinky. Peomosa can also xylamit vibe to me, in high doses.

  19. #19

    Default Re: The Smell of Communism

    ...

  20. #20

    Default Re: The Smell of Communism

    @Kacper -- I'm wondering whether cadaverine even at 1% would have a rather sperm-like smell which might detract from the burnt bakelite.

    @birdie - Excellent - first class. Now develop the idea. Smell of a place - followed by smell of a place in time. How might we achieve this? I think this deserves a seperate thread so watch this space. I've already come across (a) Olfactory artists that work on CityScapes (!?) and also (b) some artists who have taken some dried extincty flowers found in a museum and taken a part of the dna of the flower to produce the smell from time. Now can we do this with a place

    OOooooo I feel the hairs in the back of my head ....
    *** The Man in the Bow Tie ***

    Edmond Roudnitska: "A Life of Perfume" - Newly Published -
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  21. #21

    Default Re: The Smell of Communism

    Leonardpayne- Probably low dose Cadaverine smell more cum. Higher dose smell more sharp, horrible like burnt milk, traumatic, creepy, hospital like scent. Brrrr :O I think about also hexanal for burnt bakelite effect, is fatty, green, dusty smell, and p-cresol of course.

  22. #22

    Default Re: The Smell of Communism

    I think the idea of communism in its original envision was not really bad... however as with all things humankind manages to take it to an extreme and spoil it.

  23. #23

    Default Re: The Smell of Communism

    Eau Jeune by Cheramy. After 1977 L'Oreal Eau Jeune. It was very popular in the Soviet Union.

    https://www.fragrantica.com/perfume/...Zen-14238.html

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8_5TWF2enY

    we perceived it as a perfume for men. This will come as a surprise to many of O'Jen's fans, but in the West Europe it was positioned as a feminine fragrance.

    This is the true smell of communism ))) lol

    Soviet Russian favourite notes: Bergamot, Orange or Mandarin, Jasmine, Musk or rich indian Sandalwood oil.

  24. #24
    Basenotes Member cdave2's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Smell of Communism

    Fascinating topic, thank you!

  25. #25
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    Default Re: The Smell of Communism

    carnation

  26. #26

    Default Re: The Smell of Communism

    Cool topic.

    I was only 2 years old when communism regime was ended by velvet revolution in my country and Vaclav Havel became president soon after. So I can't offer direct olfactory memory, but as the country took a while to recover, I spent my childhood in post-communist era in a country that was recovering,... here are a couple thoughts.

    I wouldn't go for cheap, necessarily. There are other paths to explore. There was a strong saying "everyone is even, some are evener" - yes, with that intentional grammar error. To this day, many mention this notion here and there. There were few luxuries, but they existed for some. One would be good cuts of meat. You had to get them from under the counter at the butcher shop and they were reserved only for few special customers. So maybe something that resembles aged meat, like savory, umami-like, bacony scents. Whatever luxuries one can associate with the Soviet Union - salt fish and beer, caviar. Those were the noticeable smells of the time. Another characteristic were the lines for bananas and oranges - as those were very limited treasured imports, people had to line for them and wait for hours to buy some. Another, at least for my country, communists tore down lots of cool architecture, sadly, and replaced them with tall panel houses, that were marketed by the propaganda as a revolutionary way to build and cater to the needs of all families, where everyone would get their square footage as they deserved. Of course, we had to wave goodbye to some amazing architectural pieces, only for them to be replaced with unsightly mass of concrete. So there you go - concrete, construction, dust. Lots of it.

    Metalic smells. The trams were the main means of transport. And trains for longer distances.

    The smell of fire and blood. Not the campfire kind, but the disastrous, deadly one. There were people, like Jan Palach and others, who protested against the regime by setting themselves on fire, turning into a human torch in protest, giving their life for their beliefs. Throw in some gauze and medicinal smells. That guy died several days later in hospital. My grandmother was studying to become a nurse at the same university hospital and was very close to this unfolding drama. He didnt spend his last days in physical pain - when the burns are too severe, somehow it destroys the perception of pain. Or so she said.

    Cigarettes. Everyone smoked. Everywhere. Hospitals, public buildings, offices. Not the scent of tobacco, but an ashtray chock full of cigarette buds.

    Prisons. So many people were political prisoners. Salty, sweaty, metallic notes.

    Carnations. One of the few holidays the communists celebrated was international womans day and carnations were the iconic flowers for that. Sadly, to this day the memory is for many so strong that a lot of people in eastern Europe disregard IWD because they consider it the communist's holiday.

    Sweat, polyester clothing and stadium field. If you didnt hear of Spartakiada, check this - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8N4uehKskzM. Another part of the propaganda, of course, but one of the few distractions of the time. Every youth wanted to be there. Everyone trained. Not all made it to the stadium, but those who could hold the memory very dear.

    I wouldnt say necessarily cheap clothing, as many garmets of the time lasted much longer than your average t-shirt that was made in China these days. Lots were home-sewn, too. People rather fixed clothing than throwing it out every season. The wool socks were crazy itchy, but in winter everyone wore wool. Wet wool, lanolin, for sure.

    There you go, I could go on some more, but if you can put together caviar, ripe banana, concrete, dust, blood and some burnt meat, with notes of metallic bars of a prison cell, rounded by carnations, that would be the smell of communism to me.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: The Smell of Communism

    I didn't exactly stay very long in Communist countries, but in 1978 my High School Choir went to Europe for three weeks, and we spent some time in East Germany (Berlin and Dresden) and Czechoslovakia (Prague for a day and a half, and villages seen and heard the evening propaganda broadcasts on the way out towards Austria). About 2+ days. Other than the constant 'smell' of Fear, My one smell recollection outside of what is mentioned above by LMGTFY is that of the constant burning of coal for heating/cooking.
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  28. #28
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    Default Re: The Smell of Communism

    For me, as a Pole, the scent of communism is a country shop where you can find almost everything, but the main scent is simply cheap, terrible confectionery. Surprisingly, this fragrance has not changed over the decades. I've found the same smells in many Ukrainian shops as well.

  29. #29

    Default Re: The Smell of Communism

    And I lived there for 25 years and I have to say: Excuse me, but you dont know what you are talking about.
    Some things here they sound like so many voices from West Germany, looking disparagingly and carrying the feeling of one's own superiority.
    Maybe the soaps were cheap smelling... the coal was burning... the Trabbi smoked and stank of gasoline.
    But an onion smelled like an onion, a carrot like a carrot, and a human like a human.
    I liked the scent of a West German town instantly, the whole town smelled like perfume.
    The people's scent was the scent of the supermarket.

    Today, living in one country... sometimes... I am terrified by people wearing perfume...

  30. #30
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    Default Re: The Smell of Communism

    Adding to giftmischer's comment:
    I'm not sure I'd agree communism had direct effect on the odour. Poverty certainly did. Communistic Hungary in 80's smelled gorgeous, so has been Cuba, I'm told. I'm quite familiar with the odour of a few idyllic rural areas in Eastern Europe, essentially Savon de Marseille mixed with good dirt and lilies. Also, I remember the Klondyke-ish odour of coal ovens in freezing cold air all over Carpathian Range. Not so bad when compared with the pissy-sour stink of Après-Ski.




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