Almost thirty years after the wall came down on 9 November 1989 and twenty-nine years after the German reunification on 3 October 1990 this passport is now on my desk – and it could be possibly the very last one issued by the German Democratic Republic (GDR).
1 November 1989:
Due to pressure from the population, passport- and visa-free travel from the GDR to the CSSR is permitted again. Once again GDR citizens flock to the German embassy in Prague to obtain their departure for the Federal Republic.
3 November 1989:
In the evening, Egon Krenz assures in a television and radio speech the SED willingness to renew, promises, among other things, publication of a draft travel law.
5 November 1989:
Over the weekend of 4-5 November, a total of 23,200 GDR citizens will travel to Germany via the CSSR.
6 November 1989:
The SED leadership publishes the announced travel law draft. The total travel period is limited to thirty days per year.
7 November 1989:
Following the CSSR protests, the SED Politburo decides at its regular Tuesday meeting to bring the departure section of the draft travel law into force early and to have a similar regulation drawn up.
8 November 1989:
More than 40,000 GDR citizens have traveled to Germany via the CSSR in recent days. The pressure of the CSSR on the GDR takes on ultimate forms. GDR ambassador Ziebart is summoned to Prague to receive a request from the Czechoslovak Foreign Ministry.
- Four officers of the Ministry of the Interior and the State Security meet in the Ministry of the Interior to draft a new exit regulation following the Politburo’s mandate. Travel and exit should still have to be applied for.
9 November 1989:
- During a smoking break at the Central Committee, members of the Politburo confirm the draft travel regulation drawn up by the officers. It is forwarded to the Council of Ministers.
- Egon Krenz reads the travel regulation draft in the SED Central Committee, which he now has before him as a draft resolution of the Council of Ministers including a press release.
- Krenz hands over the draft resolution of the Council of Ministers and a corresponding press release to Günter Schabowski, who is currently acting as spokesman for the SED Central Committee.
- International press conference on 9 November 1989 in East Berlin: Günter Schabowski, since 6 November Secretary of the Central Committee of the SED for Information, announces the new travel regulation. When asked by a journalist when the provision was to come into force, he replied: “Immediately, immediately.”
- AP broadcasts as breaking news: “GDR opens border”; DPA at 19.41 hrs: “The GDR border … is open.” The agency reports become the TOP news on television and radio in the main news time until 8.15 pm. The “Tagesschau” reports “DDR opens border.”
1 July 1990:
The border control between the two German states became obsolete.
The passport you see here was issued on 1 October 1990 in Hoyerswerda, just two days before the reunification! I have never seen a later date than this one. What is exceptional at this passport the validity was only two years. Standard was ten years, but I guess during these changing times the state officials didn’t know how to act. According to the unification treaty, GDR passports remained valid until 31 December 1995. Thus, it would have also been a huge logistic and bureaucratic obstacle to issue new West German passports for millions of East Germans. By the end of the GDR only four million citizens, out of sixteen million had a GDR passport – that’s 25%.
A real treasure of German passport history and I am happy to have it in my archive. P.S. I have in my Federal German passport a GDR stamp – somewhere in May 1990.