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The Politburo of the Central Committee of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany: Report by the Commission on Questions Concerning Republikflucht (June 25, 1956)

On the one hand, this detailed report by the SED Commission on Republikflucht articulated the official line of the state and the party – that West Germany was deliberately wooing away East Germany’s skilled workers to weaken the GDR. On the other hand, however, it conceded that the GDR’s unsatisfying political and economic conditions played a role in the problem. The report recommended a number of improvements, but they were mostly cosmetic in nature (e.g., offering better leisure-time activities and a larger selection of magazines). The data collected by the GDR confirmed that it was above all young and well-trained individuals who were leaving for the West.

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The Politburo of the Central Committee of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany
Report by the Commission on Questions Concerning Republikflucht

Berlin, June 25, 1956

The Causes of Republikflucht

According to the records of the HVDVP [Main Administration of the German People’s Police], a total of 270,115 persons fled the republic in 1955.

Republikflucht is being systematically organized by Bonn agencies, which regard it as an essential means for continuing the “Cold War.” It must be assumed that the Kaiser Ministry*, in conjunction with the various agencies in charge of Eastern affairs and espionage, is working according to a uniform plan to organize Republikflucht and is currently carrying out its work on German integration chiefly from the perspective of weakening the German Democratic Republic through the systematic extraction of certain occupational groups from the GDR. The current economic conditions in West Germany are being exploited as the chief instrument in this process.

The immediate goal of the organizers of the Republikflucht is as follows:

1. Impeding and delaying the planned economic reconstruction [of the GDR] and weakening the GDR’s ability to defend itself;

2. Strengthening the economic and military potential of West Germany, whereby those who fled the republic are simultaneously being exploited to hinder the struggle of West German workers against monopolies;

3. Exploiting Republikflucht for propagandistic purposes to intensify the agitation against the GDR and to heighten international discrimination against it.

a) In carrying out these plans, various means and methods are being used to woo workers away from the GDR on a widespread basis. The Western press and inflammatory [radio] stations repeatedly highlight the need for workers and the allegedly better working and living conditions. In particular, skilled workers in various occupational sectors are being urged – partly surreptitiously, partly openly – to flee the republic. Here, certain enterprises and bureaucracies are promising pension, retirement, and other benefits to the targeted GDR citizens. The financial compensation for war losses [Lastenausgleich] promised by the Bonn agencies is playing crucial role in the luring away of citizens.

The economic attraction of West Germany, under the current the economic conditions, is aiding the efforts of West German recruiting agencies.

The sending of inflammatory pamphlets and job offers to citizens of the GDR – materials that contain, alongside the usual defamation of the GDR, the call to flee the republic – is being organized on a large scale by West German agencies.

It is also significant that those who have fled the republic are sending letters to acquaintances and family members in the GDR and urging them to come to West Germany.

b) In a number of cases, especially in organizing the Republikflucht of particularly important skilled workers, who are simultaneously being used for espionage, Republikflucht is being directly organized by agents of the most diverse headquarters and branches in West Germany and West Berlin.

c) This hostile activity is abetted by a number of factors that make it easier for the enemy to realize his plan.

* Refers to Jakob Kaiser, Federal Minister for All-German Affairs from 1949-1957 – trans.

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