ON PROBATION IN PRODUCTION
Wolfgang B. and his family go to the GDR at the end of June 1959. B. had prepared for the move with a number of visits there. Material hardship and a lack of job prospects force him to the East. At the same time, he is a committed socialist. He is promised a university space in the GDR.
I am well on my way to languishing in production.
However, before he is admitted to study he must spend a “probationary period in production,” as do other migrants from West Germany. After one, sometimes two years, a factory can delegate an immigrant to university, but is not obliged to do so. After one and a half years in the GDR, B. is bitterly disappointed. He does heavy manual labour and reports that he is treated with contempt, resentment and indifference. He finally quits and gets a seasonal job as a museum guide. The museum director would like to give him a permanent position as an assistant, but the mayor refuses to allow it because of B.’s West German background and presumably short stay in the GDR. He does not want to delegate him to university study either. By January 1963, B. is so frustrated that he submits an application to emigrate back to West Germany. It is probably approved.