A special East German passport with plenty of US visas came to my desk. The travel document was issued in 1979 and several times extended till 1993. There are five visas stamped to the USA, which proves the bearer of this passport must have been someone “important.” Traveling to the USA at that time was not normal at all. But I couldn’t find any information on the woman. Even if she was a pensioner, traveling to the United States was tricky for pensioners, but she wasn’t even close to retirement age. East German passport USA
Traveling to socialist countries
It was possible to leave for Poland and ČSSR without a visa for some time. There the Lipno Lake and the High Tatras Mountains were popular destinations. East Germans needed an exit permit to go to Hungary to the Balaton or the Black Sea beach in Bulgaria. Something as exotic as a trip to Cuba was theoretically possible but not realistic for ordinary mortals because it was far too expensive. East German passport USA
With the FDJ to the USA
A particular form of the west journey was possible for groups of the FDJ (Freie Deutsche Jugend – Free German Youth). Selected members were brought to youth meetings in the Federal Republic (often to “friendly” parties), and some even came on organized trips to the Western European states or the USA. Representation of the GDR was one of their most distinguished tasks. And they were to be proof of the freedom to travel so often questioned by enemies at home and abroad. East German passport USA
It must have been a strange situation for border officers in the US. A great document of Cold War traveling.