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Inside Berlin’s Marienfelde Refugee Center: 1961

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Marienfelds Refugee Camp, Berlin, Germany, processed and gave sanctuary to refugees who’d left East Germany (GDR)  for West Germany. It was the gateway to a new life.

Between 1949 and 1990, 1.35 milllion people passing through the Marienfelde Refugee Center in Berlin.

These picures are from Sept. 5, 1961.

Construction of the Berlin Wall on 13 August 1961 brought the mass exodus of East Germans to an abrupt end. These people are some of the last who made it out – until the Wall came down on 9 November 1989.

The wall has gone. The course of the Wall runs through the city center with a double row of cobblestones on public streets and sidewalks.

West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, right, greets a woman on August 22, 1961 during his visit at the Marienfelde refugee camp in Berlin, Germany, where East Germans that fled the communist regime are admitted. (AP Photo) Ref #: PA.10484742  Date: 22/08/1961

West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, right, greets a woman on August 22, 1961 during his visit at the Marienfelde refugee camp in Berlin, Germany, where East Germans that fled the communist regime are admitted. (AP Photo)
Ref #: PA.10484742
Date: 22/08/1961

 

Sen. Claiborne Pell (D-Rhode Island) talks with a mother and two children, all three newly arrived refugees from communist East Germany. The conversation took place during Pell's visit on July 22, 1961 of West Berlin's largest refugee center, Marienfelde. (AP Photo/Reichert) Ref #: PA.7278691  Date: 22/07/1961

Sen. Claiborne Pell (D-Rhode Island) talks with a mother and two children, all three newly arrived refugees from communist East Germany. The conversation took place during Pell’s visit on July 22, 1961 of West Berlin’s largest refugee center, Marienfelde. (AP Photo/Reichert)
Ref #: PA.7278691
Date: 22/07/1961

 

Tears of happiness and relief ran over the face of this woman when she was ready with the reception formalities after she fled with about 1,000 other people from communist East Germany to West Berlin. On the same day the minister for All German Affairs, Ernst Lemmer, was looking after the refugees and paid a visit to the refugee camp in Berlin-Marienfelde. Here Lemmer is talking to the woman and says some comfort words and holds her hands in Berlin, Germany on July 13, 1961. (AP Photo/Werner Kreusch) Ref #: PA.9730823

Tears of happiness and relief ran over the face of this woman when she was ready with the reception formalities after she fled with about 1,000 other people from communist East Germany to West Berlin. On the same day the minister for All German Affairs, Ernst Lemmer, was looking after the refugees and paid a visit to the refugee camp in Berlin-Marienfelde. Here Lemmer is talking to the woman and says some comfort words and holds her hands in Berlin, Germany on July 13, 1961. (AP Photo/Werner Kreusch)
Ref #: PA.9730823

 

A mother and her two children, refugees from communist East Germany, wait at the Marienfelde Receiving Camp in West Berlin, Germany on August 2, 1961, as the husband completed registration formalities at the administration office. More than a 1,000 refugees are pouring into West Berlin every day. (AP Photo) Ref #: PA.10810047  Date: 02/08/1961

A mother and her two children, refugees from communist East Germany, wait at the Marienfelde Receiving Camp in West Berlin, Germany on August 2, 1961, as the husband completed registration formalities at the administration office. More than a 1,000 refugees are pouring into West Berlin every day. (AP Photo)
Ref #: PA.10810047
Date: 02/08/1961

 

 

Marienfelds Refugee Camp Berlin, Germany Marienfelds Refugee Camp Berlin, Germany Marienfelds Refugee Camp Berlin, Germany Marienfelds Refugee Camp Berlin, Germany Marienfelds Refugee Camp Berlin, Germany Marienfelds Refugee Camp Berlin, Germany Marienfelds Refugee Camp Berlin, Germany Marienfelds Refugee Camp Berlin, Germany Marienfelds Refugee Camp Berlin, Germany Marienfelds Refugee Camp Berlin, Germany Marienfelds Refugee Camp Berlin, Germany Marienfelds Refugee Camp Berlin, Germany

 

The Museum:

The Marienfelde Refugee Center was a station on the way to the West – and not only for East German newcomers. Starting in 1964, an increasing number of ethnic German emigrants from Poland – and later the former Soviet Union – came to Marienfelde. Until Summer 2010 the Berlin Central Reception Center for Repatriates (ZAB) was located on the grounds of the former Marienfelde Refugee Center.

 

Marienfelds Refugee Camp Berlin, Germany

 

With declining numbers of refugees arriving after the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961 and the policy of détente in the 1970s, the refugee center faded into the background of public consciousness. On July 1, 1990 – the day of German Economic and Monetary Union – Marienfelde’s role as an intake center for refugees and repatriates from East Germany finally ended.

 

Marienfelds Refugee Camp Berlin, Germany Marienfelds Refugee Camp Berlin, Germany