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Giffey pays tribute to transit agreement 50 years ago

Berlins Regierende Bürgermeisterin Franziska Giffey

Berlin's Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey.

Berlin's Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey has praised the so-called transit agreement.

The first German-German agreement at government level came into force 50 years ago on 3 June 1972 and brought relief for travellers between the then Federal Republic and the western part of Berlin. "Compared to the Warsaw and Moscow Treaties of 1970 and the Four-Power Agreement of 1971, the Transit Agreement was a small step," Giffey said on Friday. "But for Berliners it was a big step that improved their lives in practical terms."

Considerable degree of reliability through transit agreement

Many older people in the western part still remembered the uncertainty and trepidation of travelling by car through the GDR to the Federal Republic before 1972. "One felt helplessly exposed to arbitrariness and harassment by the so-called border organs. The transit agreement brought a considerable degree of reliability in the summer of 1972, for which the West paid considerable sums of West German marks," said Giffey.

Transit agreement against searches and harassment

The transit agreement stipulated that the movement of people and goods between the Federal Republic and West Berlin was to be handled without hindrance and in the "simplest, fastest and cheapest way". The searches and harassment by GDR border officials that had been customary until then were to cease, according to Living Museum Online (Lemo), a cooperative project of the German Historical Museum Foundation, the Foundation House of History of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Federal Archives.

Another agreement signed on December 20, 1971

A short time later, on December 20, 1971, an agreement was signed between the Senate and the GDR that improved the possibilities for West Berliners to travel and visit the city. From then on, they were allowed to stay in the eastern part of the city or in the GDR for 30 days per year without having to give reasons. Additional trips for urgent humanitarian and family reasons were also possible. Due to the two agreements, the number of visits to the GDR increased just as rapidly as the number of trips to and from West Berlin since 1972, according to Lemo.

Author: dpa/
Publication date: 3 June 2022
Last updated: 3 June 2022

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