East Germans Free to Leave
Hungary officially lifts travel restrictions abroad
September 10th: The scene surrounding the temporary refugee camps that had popped up in Budapest was a surreal one. People hugged each other in joy while others blared their car horns as they left the city. Earlier in the day, the Hungarian Foreign Minister had announced that starting at midnight, thousands of East German refugees staying in Budapest were free to leave for the recently opened border with Austria.
At least 7,000 East German refugees traveled to Budapest. Most were able to arrive in the city as "tourists", who once arriving, would immediately declare their intentions to either seek asylum in the West German Embassy or travel to the West.
The decision to officially allow refugees to leave the country represented the first crack in the relatively common policies of the Warsaw Bloc. Never before had a nation within the Bloc openly broke from the consensus that citizens under Communist rule should not be allowed to leave the East.
Eastern governments, especially East Germany, were furious by the decision. But their accusations and protests were largely ignored by the Hungarian Government. Hungary would respect the human rights of those people within its borders.