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Xenophobic Sentiment in the GDR (March 7, 1989)

Although the number of migrants in East Germany was much smaller than in the West, xenophobia was just as present there as in the West, if not more. This anonymous rhyme, which bowdlerizes a well-known Christmas poem, is a case in point.

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Anonymous Poem Sent from the Publicly Owned Enterprise Plasta Espenhain to Horst Schumann, First Secretary of the SED District Leadership in Leipzig

As I leave the department store,
there’s nothing left on the shelves or floor.
And out there on the steps and bins
the Poles are sitting with their kin.
And outside before the giant gate
the Germans patiently stand and wait.
And at the market as I walk around
I see a bunch of Czechs abound.
They went shopping, their pockets are full,
they found a final deal to pull.
And as I was riding home on the bus,
the guy sitting opposite me was a Rus’.
Enraged I ran into the store to buy cheese,
in front of me stood a Vietnamese.
I tripped out the door, poor me oh my,
in front of me was a Cuban guy.
Come on, dear Erich, be our guest,
from all that is yours, give us half the rest.
The Pole has money, the Russian has light,
we have friendship, that’s enough, all right.

Source: Anonymous Poem Sent from the VEB Plasta Espenhain to Horst Schumann, First Secretary of the SED District Leadership in Leipzig, Received on March 7, 1989; reprinted in Henrik Eberle, ed., Einverstanden. E.H. Parteiinterne Hausmitteilungen. Briefe, Akten und Intrigen aus der Honecker-Zeit [Agreed. E.H. Internal Party Correspondence. Letters. Files and Intrigues from the Honecker Era]. Berlin: Schwartzkopf & Schwartzkopf, 1999, pp. 311-12.

Translation: Allison Brown

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