Flight in Divided Germany
The exhibition documents the causes, progression and consequences of German-German migration from 1949 to 1990. It focuses on both sides of the inner-German border since both states were affected by the migration of GDR citizens to the Federal Republic.
The exhibition allows visitors to trace the steps of people who went through the refugee center after fleeing or emigrating from the GDR. Their personal experiences are placed in the context of political developments in the East and West: Why did they leave the GDR? How were they able to cross the border despite the many bans and security measures? What challenges did they face after they arrived in the West? The 450 m² exhibition space is divided into seven thematically structured rooms presenting numerous objects, documents, photographs and media stations.
The reception center in Berlin-Marienfelde was the first stop for GDR citizens arriving in the West. Through the reception procedure they became a mere number among many, yet each of their stories remains unique. Using eyewitness accounts and personal mementos, the exhibition provides insight into the experiences and expectations of the people who came through the reception center. Their time here became a biographical link between their old life in the GDR and their still uncertain future.
The reception center served a number of functions: newcomers received food and housing at the site but were also examined and transferred to a different location from here. Decisions were made here that set the course for the next phase of their lives. The exhibition’s presentation of objects left behind by the center’s administration show the political and administrative challenges faced and the efforts made to control the influx of people from the GDR.