Primary Sources

Letter from GDR Ambassador to Hungary, Gerd Vehres, to Foreign Minister Osker Fischer


Hungary began dismantling the barbed wire along its border with Austria in May, 1989. Over the summer months, thousands of East Germans risked their lives crossing over the Hungarian-Austrian border before heading north to West Germany. East Germany pressured Hungary to close its border with Austria, but on September 10, 1989 the Hungarian government announced that it was officially opening the border and no longer recognizing or enforcing the travel restrictions placed on East German citizens by the GDR government.

In this report dated September 10, 1989, East German Ambassador to Hungary Gerd Vehres assesses the authenticity of Hungarian claims that it had no other choice than to act as it did. In his report, Vehres vehemently attacks Hungarian intentions, arguing that the government had cooperated fully with the West German government and deliberately undermined the interests of East Germany and all Hungarian claims to the contrary should only be viewed as an attempt to stall and mislead East German officials. He ends his report with his support for Hungary to be excluded from the community of socialist states.


Gerd Vehres to Osker Fischer, 10 September 1989, trans. Christiaan Hetzner, Cold War International History Project, Documents and Papers, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).

Primary Source—Excerpt


Thus far, the course of today's discussion in the Central Committee of the HSWP permits me to draw attention to still some further things in connection with the entire event....

2. In spite of the verbally declared willingness on behalf of the Hungarians to solve the problem facing the GDR [East Germany], the discussions with the GDR (Foreign Minister, Head of the Consular Affairs Department, MfS, DRK) present an attempt at stalling and deliberately misleading the GDR. The Hungarian organs undertook no serious attempts of their own to persuade those GDR citizens wishing to emigrate to return to the GDR. The efforts by our embassy's consular section to contact the GDR citizens in these [refugee] camps and explain the GDR's point of view, were both delayed and impeded. Simultaneously the Hungarian media provoked and supported a campaign directed against the GDR, which, upon seeing it, encouraged the GDR citizens staying in the camps. Battle groups, which were temporarily placed at the border as reinforcements, were defamed by opposition groups, anti-socialist forces, and the majority of the press.

3. The campaign is judged at the same time to be a coordinated and successful attempt by imperialist states, in particular the FRG [West Germany] to take advantage of the political and economic position of the HRP [Hungarian Peoples' Republic] to exert pressure on the Hungarian leadership to solve the problem of those GDR citizens wishing to leave with the aim of looking out after all Germans. The imperialist policy of discriminating was here consciously directed to foil, via purposeful insertion of extensive economic means into Hungary, the already initiated solutions in accordance with the Berlin Formula for the FRG representation in Berlin and Prague with regard to the HPR. With the massive scale of the migration [Ausschleusung - exfiltration] of thousands of GDR citizens, a socialist country will establish a publicly-effective precedent supporting the FRG position, which is not in favor of international laws. That follows the initiated process of expelling Hungary from the socialist state community. Characteristic for the preparation and implementation of the [Ausschleusung - exfiltration] was that the FRG always more openly and directly conducted the maintenance and care of the camp "the consular responsibility for GDR citizens" and the deliberate preparation of the [Ausschieusung - exfiltration] campaign. The Hungarian organs tolerated and covered up these acts by the FRG.

How to Cite this Source

Gerd Vehres, "Letter from GDR Ambassador to Hungary, Gerd Vehres, to Foreign Minister Osker Fischer," Making the History of 1989, Item #415, (accessed May 28 2021, 3:24 pm).