Süddeutsche Zeitung, Monday, November 13th, 1989, p. 1


Notes about the welcome money

This is an English summary. The full article is only available in German.

This weekend showed us money circulation at it's best: Tourists got their DM 100 welcome money from banks, then spent it in department stores, and couriers brought them back to the banks who sometimes suffered lack of cash to satisfy the unusual weekendly needs. On the the other hand, the GDR state bank hat to ask for some change in the west because they ran out of DM 10 bank notes and DM 5 coins to hand over to those leaving for a visit to the West.

How will the East get its money back? Surely not by discriminating against tourist from the West. At present, anyone from Berlin, Magdeburg, or Leipzig may visit the West using a Visa issued in a matter of minutes, while a visit from West to East still depends on a Visa which needs as long as ever.

It's a strange world: If you want to visit to GDR, you have to pay an entry fee as before (*), if someone from the GDR visits the West, he or she is given money. These are great days, and everything changes. Thus we want to call out to the young man who felt "like a beggar" when he picked up his welcome money in Kassel: Take it easy, you have to be able to take in great days like these! In the mean time, we hope that the near future will bring improved travel laws for the Westerners also.

Annotations: (*) - The term "entry fee" refers to a forced money exchange of DM 25,- for M 25,- when visiting the GDR. This rule has been in place for quite some time as a means for the GDR to get hold of convertible currencies.

  Frederik Ramm, 2001-04-27