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The Causes of Migration to the West: Report from a Central Committee Brigade on Security Issues (May 24, 1961)

At the beginning of the 1960s, the exodus from the GDR to West Germany continued unabated. Issued a few months before the erection of the Berlin Wall, this May 1961 report by the Central Committee Brigade on Security Issues placed particular emphasis on the influence of Western contacts. The report did concede, however, that economic difficulties, bureaucratism, and arbitrariness in the granting of travel permits had a negative impact on living conditions in the GDR. Additionally, the report mentioned that Republikflucht was also motivated by a spirit of adventure and personal problems.

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Goal of the deployment of the brigade:

Improving the public educational work of the German People’s Police in the district of Halle in connection with the fight against Republikflucht, especially among skilled workers, young people, doctors, and teachers. [ . . . ]

The brigade worked as an independent working group in the complete brigade [Gesamtbrigade] of the Central Committee, which was under the authority of the Division for State and Legal Issues. [ . . . ]

Causes for, reasons behind, and abetting factors in Republikflucht and recruitment methods

The brigade and the German People’s Police in Halle thoroughly examined a series of flights from the republic, from the workplace to the place of residence. The process revealed a great many causes for, reasons behind, and abetting factors in Republikflucht and recruitment methods, which are closely related and work together.

All cases showed the most diverse links and contact with relatives, acquaintances, and escapees in West Germany and the influence of trips and visits to the West. With many people who committed Republikflucht, the flight was encouraged by doubts, uncertainties about the outlook of the development in Germany, combined with a lack of belief in the correctness of the policies of the party and the government. Not least, the intensified ideological-political diversions of the enemy, and the enemy’s direct and indirect influence played an important role here. In the first few months of the year, this intensified activity was seen in Halle in the form of leaflets, flyers, graffiti, controlled rumors, incitement, and the defamation of the party and the government and of functionaries of the party and the government. [ . . . ]

It is a fact that a large portion of all strata of the population watch and listen to Western television and radio programs in order to inform themselves about the situation.

Many young people maintain direct and indirect ties to Western radio stations, film clubs, jazz clubs, and so on. This activity plays a vital role in reinforcing vacillation, uncertainty, disbelief.

A portion of the citizens who committed Republikflucht listened to the agitation relating to the proposals on the conclusion of a treaty to solve the West Berlin question, that this would “close the borders to West Germany, sever ties to relatives, deepen the division . . .” etc.

In connection with the growing nuclear armament of the Bundeswehr and the intensification of the situation in Germany, a number of citizens have committed Republikflucht out of fear of conflicts, and they believe that they would feel safer in West Germany.

Experience has shown that every time the enemy takes measures to intensify the situation, there is a rise in Republikflucht.

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