West package

west package was the name for packages, common in the GDR, which were sent by West German relatives to relatives in the GDR.

Because east and West German families could visit themselves because of the already promptly introduced travel restrictions only heavily or not at all, packages became fast a symbol for the fact that the families did not want to accept the nationally ordered separation. Thus personal contacts decreased, but the west package, which was sent away regularly at least to Christmas, remained existing over the decades. For lack of sufficient possibilities for telephoning this was often beside letters the only contact, which remained at the same time to many families and the lack supply existing in the GDR linderte.

Contents were various. Beside clothes and bedlinen above all sweets were sent away to bake-add and coffee. This enclosing foil packing was often used, in order to smuggle and to the relatives to it also the possibility for buying in the Intershop to give - illegaly - West German money hidden from the eyes of the transillumination plants of the public security into the east. Package controls of the GDR thereupon however intensifies, so that such packages became to often suppress with their all contents by the state security service.

Those contained nevertheless on the average approx. 25 million packages, whose dispatch taxreducing valid the West German senders could make, per year about 1000 tons coffee and five million articles of clothing, those, even if they often did not fit, when exchange commodity were of privately on privately desired.

While first on the part of the GDR one tried, the dispatch and the distribution of these packages to obstruct (approximately by the demand of a disinfection proof for used articles of clothing), the packages were a late firm component in planning for the supply of the population. Thus decided to 28. June 1977 the Politbüro of the SED over a first collecting main “for production and supply of coffee and products of cocoa” for decrease of foreign exchange consumption for the import: “Further it is to be counted on the fact that… an increase of the supply… by other sources, like e.g. by transnational package and package traffic and with the purchase in the Intershop … will take place. “

In response also the DDR-Bürger tried to make for their West German relatives a joy. Obgleich viele nicht so recht wussten, was man denen, die aus "Ostsicht" eigentlich alles hatten, noch hätte schicken können, waren in den ca. annually 9 million east packages of books, records and all kinds of nationaltypical products, particularly from the ore mountains.


  • Christian Härtel/Petra Kabus: The west package, CH. On the left of publishing house 2001, ISBN 3-86153-221-2

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