Commemorative plaque commemorates East Germans' 1989 exodus |

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Commemorative plaque commemorates East Germans' 1989 exodus

Commemorative plaque commemorates East Germans' 1989 exodus

A plaque commemorating East Germans' road to freedom in autumn 1989 was installed at the Prague Liben railway station today since some 13,000 people were driven with special trains to West Germany from there 30 years ago.

Before, the East Germans had to spend up to weeks at the West German Embassy compound before the Communist government in East Germany allowed them to travel on.

The plaque was unveiled by former German federal minister for special affairs Rudolf Seiters, who was one of the negotiators on the refugees' fates, and one of them, now the director of the Dresden Symphonic Orchestra, Markus Rindt. Rindt spoke about the tension and uncertainty among the refugees, adding that the Communist regime did not allow people to freely travel and study. "Only at the moment I boarded the train (in Liben), I realised that this will be possible," Rindt said.

Not only peaceful demonstrations, but also tens of thousands of refugees leaving for the West across Hungary and Czechoslovakia were vital for the fall of the regime in East Germany, Rindt said.

He said he wished the people fleeing oppression, violence and war were welcomed, especially in the former GDR, just as the East Germans were welcomed in West Germany 30 years ago.

The German diplomats also spoke about the events of the time as the moments which entered history and as milestones on the road to a peaceful revolution and German reunification. "The trains of freedom were a major step towards the reunification of Germany and Europe," the plaque says in Czech and German.

The historical events were also commemorated by the exhibition Refugees from GDR On The Road From Prague to Hof, installed at the railway station. The atmosphere was described by a German train with period carriages, which came to Prague from Dresden like 30 years ago.

Some 20 historical vehicles made in East Germany came to the Malostranske namesti square in Prague to commemorate the event, too. Among them, there were mostly the Trabant and Wartburg cars from the automobile plant in Eisenach.

The show was seen by German Ambassador Christoph Israng.

According to estimates, East Germans left some 1,600 cars on their flight to West Germany. The cars were then returned to the former East Germany.

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