GHDI logo
German History in Documents and Images
return to system

A Family Flees from East to West over the Border in the Bavarian Forest (1948-49)
From the end of the Second World War until the early 1950s, the zonal borders (and later the inner-German border) remained relatively open. Those seeking to migrate could make their way through fields and forests and cross the border without encountering significant obstacles. The vast majority of those fleeing went from East to West, and most of them were young. But entire families and older people also braved the journey in order to resettle. This photograph shows a family fleeing from East to West over the border in the Bavarian Forest. After the sealing of the inner-German border in 1952, the only remaining flight route for East Germans was the border with West Berlin, which existed as a virtual island within the surrounding territory of the GDR. The construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961 put an end to this option, and the number of new arrivals from the GDR dropped dramatically. Photo: Hilmar Pabel.