From 1949 until 1990 roughly four million people left the German Democratic Republic for a new life in the west and the Federal Republic of Germany. Over a million of them passed through West Berlin and the Marienfelde Refugee Centre. Alongside the East Germans heading West, the centre was also responsible for processing all arrivals from the socialist bloc, whether they were seeker asylum, political defectors or anything else.
Before an individual could move on from West Berlin, he or she needed to be processed by members of the Allied intelligence services – American, British and French. This process was designed to establish whether refugees were bringing with them any information that could be useful in the Cold War intelligence war… therefore the amount of time individuals had to stay at the camp could stretch out depending on circumstances. Since 1990 the centre remains in use, processing ethnic Germans from eastern Europe moving to Germany, and it is also one of the main Berlin centres for processing asylum seekers – 90% of which are sent back to their country of origin.
On Tuesday 10th September we are offering a free tour to Marienfelde, to learn more about the fascinating history of the place.
Please note that although the tour is free for Circus guests, places are limited so you will need to sign up at reception, and you will also need to purchase a public transport ticket to get you there and back. It promises to be a really interesting tour, so we hope there will be a lot of people joining us on Tuesday morning for the trip south to Marienfelde.