E. Germans Flock to Embassy in Prague
Communist Leader Krenz Hints at Further Reforms, Closer Ties to West
PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia--More than 1300 young East Germans jammed the West German Embassy yesterday to seek new lives in the West, and many scoffed at promised reforms in the communist homeland they left behind.
In East Berlin, Communist Party leader Egon Krenz urged closer economics ties to the West and said a new law permitting travel to the West would be announced next week. Several top Communist officials resigned, including the wife of former leader Erich Honecker.
At least 8000 East Germans swarmed into Czechoslovakia after a month-old travel ban was lifted on Wednesday, the official East German news agency ADN said. It is the only country East Germans can visit freely.
Most of those flooding into the embassy in Prague were in their early 20s. At least 200 to 300 children could be seen playing peacefully in the embassy grounds.
"We want reforms without borders," said one of the new arrivals, a 24-year-old truck driver from Leipzig.
"I don't believe anything will change there," said another young man who declined to give his name. "The reforms are only for the outside world."
As darkness shrouded the embassy, East Germans continued to arrive, with at least 20 people gaining entry in just one 15-minute spell.
The refugees simply walked in the giant wooden doors of the Palais Lobkowicz, the elegant Baroque palace that houses the West German Embassy in Prague's ancient Mala Strana district.
A Czech police officer outside the embassy said he and his colleagues had orders not to interfere with any East Germans seeking entrance because this was a matter for East and West Germany alone.
Several refugees chatted with reporters through the railings of the embassy garden, some sipping beer and listening to music. Others waved from upper-floor windows in the embassy.
Shipments of tents were ordered from West Germany to cope with what embassy sources expected would be a renewed influx over the weekend. West German Red Cross helpers and medical supplies were dispatched from Bonn.
East Germany has agreed to allow East Germans at the embassy and at the West German Embassy in Warsaw to renounce their citizenship and go to West Germany, which automatically gives them a new passport and assistance in starting a new life.
East German diplomats are processing only about 100 people a day in Prague, and more than 1000 are still waiting in the West German Embassy in Warsaw.
East German Ambassador Helmut Ziebart urged his fellow citizens to seek legal emigration in East Germany, rather than go through other countries. But many complained that it takes years for such requests to be granted.
West German coaches were used to ferry the processed East Germans to the Czech border with Bavaria at Waidhaus. Some East Germans who boarded a bus yesterday appeared rather drunk, witnesses said.
Czechoslovakia's normally conservative state-run media, which gave only scant reports on the exodus of 15,000 East Germans through Prague last month, swiftly reported the latest arrivals.