Publication: The Times

Full Citation

  • Title 900 East Germans in 'Great Escape'
  • Author Bonn, John England (Reuter)
  • Publication Title The Times
  • Collection The Times Digital Archive, 1785-2008
  • Date Monday,  Aug. 21, 1989
  • Issue Number 63478
  • Page Number 8
  • Place of Publication London, England
  • Language English
  • Document Type Article
  • Publication Section News
  • Source Library Times Newspapers Limited
  • Copyright Statement © Times Newspapers Limited.
More than 900 East German refugees who made: a mass escape from Hungary to Aus - tria on Saturday arrived in West Germany/yesterday in a special train and coaches char - tered in advance of "The Great Escape" by the West German.Embassy in Vienna. Another 200 were expected. the East Germans , many familiesamongthem ; escaped across the border into Austria when Hungarian border guards unlocked -, a / . frontier gate at Sopron for a pan - Euro pean picnic, in the small town on Saturday/afternbori. The border guards did noth - ing as the refugees pushed the gate open and; ran laughing and . weeping into a crowd of Austr ians waiting to cross into Hungaryfor the / .international event.; ' ' . ' ' ' / : / . " .- ' . - The West German,. Hungar - ian arid Austrian governrnerits had; goodadvance; informa - tion ;of the: mass-breakout , Bonn .sources said yesterday. The West.Gerrrtan erribassy in Vienna had coaches waiting for the refugees at the police statibn.at-St ;MaTgaretherii%n Austrian village .only;a-, few fcilPmetrps : frorn the border>to rdriye thern; straight to Wenria. ; There, West German. Eni - ibassy - staff-worked ihtp: Hhe early hours of yesterday^ issu - ing West Germari passpprts to theescapers .. ' and providing them with pocket money for their journey to- West Germany . .-.. ' ., ; .; : In Bonn, Herr Hanns Schumacher, spokesman for the" Foreign Ministry, quoted Graf Dietrich von Bruhl; the West German Ambassador in Vienna, as saying: "We . are working to-a 200 percent un - b .ureaucratic process." ; "Within hours of their escape, a total of 661 Refugees were on their way by train and coach to three reception; cen - tres in Bavaria^ Hesse, and Westphalia.;. . " -. \. f . ; v: About-170 . refugeesiarriyed yesterday at the ma'in centrSat Giessen, near, Frelnkd^rt, which: was built itpiaccom- ' modate 500 p>b^letbutis/ presently dealing with-2 ,200. Others, mostly .fatnili.es> w-jth : yourig children, were sent; to- a centre near Nuremberg, as well' as to a newly opened former Nato barracks at Schoppingen, near Munster. The desperate mass escape came only a day after the East German Government re - affirmed its hard line on more than 300 East Germans who have taken refuge in West German diplomatic missions in East Berlin, Budapest, Prague and Warsaw in the hope of emigrating, to the Budapest (Reuter) — Thou - sands of people packed Buda - pest 's Roman Catholic Basili - ca yesterday to file past the Holy Right Hand of St Ste - phen — the eleventh-century severed limb of Hungary's founding king, a relic- with - drawn for four decades. / West.: Herr Iludolf Seiters,: the Bonn Chancellery: Minister, flew to Berlin last:Friday^tcp be told by Herr-. Herbert - JCrplin - owsk i i the deputy; EasCGer - mah ; Foreign; Minister^ that the' ^refugees; in ;;the . emissions. cp'uid;hp/r*; Tpr--nbihi .n^mp ' .re. than:-: fteedbnT,vfrpiri /^ prPsebutibhifV;they;ileft/themi, vol - untarily : Herr Krohnowski s firm statement disappointed hopes in Bonn that indirect contacts between Herr Helmut Kohl, the West Ger - man Chancellor, arid Herr Erich Honecker, the East Ger - man leader, might have led to some easing of East Berlin's views on the refugee problem. But Herr Kohl, who will return to Bonn today from a holiday in Austria, is expected tomake further approaches to Herr Honecker. : Several hundred East Ger - man refugees are camped around Budapest, and many of the -200 ,000 East German holidaymaicers now in Hun - ga ry are expected to.fail to return home when the East German holidays are over at the end of this month. While the West German Government is bound to ac - cept all the East Germans who manage to escape from their country, and dqes: willingly, some critical voices are now being heard in Bonn over the refugees in the diplomatic missions. ; Frau Dorothee Wilms, the West German Minister for Inner-German Relations, yes - terday renewed an appeal to East Germans not to use the missions as an "escape tunnel" . . . She said that the embassy refuge route could not be a way out for many other East Germans who wanted to emi - grate to. the West. : .- ;> ,,. !; :; Herr ' Ludwig Stiegler, ; a Social Democrat MP, called on - Bonn not to allow East Germans to take refuge in West German embassies in future, in. order to avoid straining East-West German relations. . He said Herr Honecker should honour.such an under - taking by letting the refugees now in the missions emigrate to the West. _• "/' -.. The East Germans \vho fled at the weekend made the event the greatest mass escape since the Berlin Wall was built, oh August 13, 1961. Some who arrived at the Giessen recep - tion centre said: they had been given the tip- about the/escape route by "the West German Embassy in Budapest. Others said . they had been told/by Hungarian aid organizations; From John England ; Bonn :