Stasi Report on Motives for Emigration, 9 September 1989

Stasi Report on Motives for Emigration, 9 September 1989


This blunt analysis by the Ministry for State Security (Stasi) reveals the background of the mass exodus and the full extent of the failure of “real existing socialism.”


The overwhelming majority of these people has an essentially negative view of problems and failures in the development of society, especially in their private lives, personal living standards, and so-called everyday shortcomings; based on this attitude and on comparisons with conditions in the FRG and West Berlin, they assess developments in the GDR negatively.

The advantages of socialism, such as social security and protection, are acknowledged; however, they are no longer seen as decisive factors in comparison with the problems and failures that have emerged

The essential reasons for, and causes of, efforts to leave the GDR, either illegally or through emigration — which are echoed in numerous petitions to central and local organs or institutions — are:

  • dissatisfaction with the supply of consumer goods
  • annoyance at inadequate services
  • impatience with problems of medical care and treatment
  • limited opportunities for travel within and outside the GDR
  • unsatisfactory working conditions and discontinuity in the production process
  • inadequacy and inconsistency in applying or carrying out the principle of merit pay, as well as dissatisfaction with the development of wages and salaries
  • annoyance at bureaucratic behavior by the heads and employees of state organs, industries, and institutions, and at unfeeling treatment of citizens
  • lack of understanding of the GDR’s media policy.

Sources: Gransow, Volker and Konrad H. Jarausch, eds. Uniting Germany: Documents and Debates, 1944-1993. Translated by Allison Brown and Belinda Cooper. Rhode Island: Berghahn Books, 1994.


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