German Embassy | Documentary
A short documentary for the Embassy in Prague about the refugees 1989.
“What are you remembering and what has changed in your life since the political change in 1989?” On 30th September we asked this question for this short documentary to the former refugees of our celebrations for the 25th anniversary of the departure of the GDR refugees via the embassy to the Federal Republic.
East German refugees in the German Embassy in Prague
In the eve of the Revolutions of 1989, the palais became the resort of numerous East German refugees who had reached Prague, climbed over the fence and camped out in the grounds. While there were small groups hiding there occasionally since the embassy was opened in 1974, the number rose to several thousands in September, causing serious problems of supply and hygiene.
Behind the scenes the West German government negotiated with East German authorities and the Soviet Union how to solve these worsening conditions. When Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher in the evening of 30 September stepped on the balcony to announce an agreement on the refugees’ voyage to West Germany, the crowd cheered on the keyword Ausreise (departure). This event marked an emotional and significant moment in German history.
Until on 3 November the East German authorities closed the border with Czechoslovakia, many more GDR citizens fled to the embassy in the following weeks, wearing down the patience of the Czechoslovak authorities which gave in eventually, letting all East Germans travel directly to West Germany. Thus, they broke their part of the Iron Curtain, the Czechoslovak border fortifications during the Cold War. On 9 November 1989 the Berlin Wall fell, and the Czechs would succeed in the Velvet Revolution.