East German Envoys Urge Refugees to Return

From Associated Press

East German diplomats set up an office near a refugee camp Wednesday to try to persuade thousands of their countrymen to give up dreams of a new life in the West.

By late Wednesday, about 5,600 East Germans hoping to flee to West Germany via Hungary and then Austria had registered to do so, officials of West German charities said.

Hungarian charity officials said a sixth refugee camp has opened.

At the Zugliget refugee camp in Budapest, First Secretary Dieter Grahmann of the East German Embassy began distributing leaflets Tuesday promising the refugees that no harm would come to them if they returned home. He left quickly after an angry crowd gathered.

On Wednesday, he returned with a colleague and set up for business in a trailer across from the camp. Small groups gathered near the trailer shortly after it was manned at 9:45 a.m., but no one went inside.

"They must really be stupid to come here," said a refugee from Dresden. "But I guess they have no choice--it's either victory or Siberia for them."

Grahmann told reporters the refugees are free "to discuss the situation" with him or a colleague. The East German Embassy said the trailer will reopen today.

Hungarian Red Cross officials at nearby Csilleberc camp said an East German diplomat carrying leaflets was barred from entry because "it would have been difficult to guarantee (his) safety," the official MTI news agency reported.

Meanwhile, 30 East Germans, apparently frustrated at waiting for a promised freedom convoy from Hungary to the West, fled illegally Tuesday night to Austria, Red Cross officials there said.

In May, Hungary partially cleared barbed wire and other barriers from its border with Austria, an action that helped spark the current exodus of East Germans into Hungary.

West German officials, who had seemed optimistic last week that a mass transit westward could begin in days, now are more cautious.

In Bonn, where West German officials have been negotiating with Communist East German leaders over the refugee standoff, government speaker Hans Klein said East Germany showed no flexibility.

However, in East Berlin on Wednesday, the official ADN news agency blamed Bonn for the lack of progress in the talks.

More than 6,000 East Germans have fled through Hungary and Austria to West Germany since Hungary began clearing its westernmost border in May.

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