Patrick Major

The erosion of the Wall: travel and emigration as long term factors in the crisis of the Gdr

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  • Abstract

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Keywords: Berlin Wall, Frg, Gdr, Emigration, Consensus

In East Germany hundred of thousands of requests of permission to travel abroad were submitted each year. From being a privilege of the few these trips became a right invoked by many. One of the main consequences was to transform the Gdr in a two-speed society, divided between those who were easily allowed to travel abroad (State officials and citizens with "first-grade" relatives living in the West), and those who considered themselves "hostages" of the lucky few. These tensions played a crucial role in the delegitimization of the East German regime, contributing to the formation of the first dissent movement. Within such movement one can find the emergence of a rudimental embryo if not of a civil society, at least of a civic consciousness and a protest culture.

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