In the old days, the only time an American saw an East German army uniform was on the other side of the Iron Curtain.
Now you might see one on the other side of the street.
Uniforms made to be worn by East German soldiers are being hawked by military surplus stores in the area.
Sunny's Surplus, an Elkridge-based chain, bought a tractor-trailer load of East German army merchandise from an importer about six weeks ago. Now Sunny's is advertising the gear as the area's "most original Halloween costumes."
Sunny's has the soldier's winter hats, with fuzzy flaps and the Deutsche Demokratische Republik insignias, for $11.99. Steel helmets are going for $9.99.
Larry Switzer, Sunny's vice president, said all of his 20 stores are carrying the East German merchandise, including unworn dress uniforms, new summer and winter utility uniforms, knapsacks and mess kits.
H&H Surplus & Campers' Haven in downtown Baltimore also bought East German merchandise and is selling both new and used uniforms, blankets and map cases. Used boots are available for $40. New blankets are $17.
Both H&H and Sunny's bought the merchandise from an Atlanta importer that is affiliated with a German company that bought all of the East German military goods.
The uniforms were sold several months ago in anticipation of German reunification. East Germany not only lost the cold war, its soldiers now are wearing West German uniforms.
Ken Rosenblatt, president of H&H, said sales of the East German goods have been "moderate, not phenomenal."
Sunny's has converted the European sizes marked on the clothing to American sizes to assist buyers. The enlisted men's uniforms are of cotton and polyester. The officers' uniforms are made of wool and polyester.
The uniforms have been popular with collectors and curiosity seekers, but Switzer said sportsmen also are buying the overcoats for this year's hunting season.
"There's a lot of interest in this right now," he said.
"And the timing was good with Halloween."