Western package

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A western parcel sent back because of the post war . The West stamp for 1 DM shows the Melanchthon House in Wittenberg in the GDR.
Music cassettes were removed from the western parcels by the Stasi and used to record eavesdropping.

Westpaket was the common name in the GDR for parcels that West Germans sent to family members and friends in the GDR.


After the Wall was built in 1961, East Germans could not visit West German family members at all, or only with difficulty. So personal contacts decreased. As suggested by the Office for All-German Aid in Bonn, many West Germans sent East German relatives more or less regularly - for example for Christmas or for a birthday - parcels from the West . In return, there was the Ostpaket , which often contained Dresden Christmas stollen . In the absence of sufficient phone calls, this was often the only contact that many families had left with them alongside letters. Western packages were pleasant additions for daily and long-term needs.

The contents of the western parcels had to be labeled as a present, no merchandise and contain a table of contents. In addition to clothing and bed linen , it was mainly sweets , coffee and baking ingredients that were sent . Sending money was forbidden, but attempts were sometimes made, e.g. B. to hide in coffee packaging.

For the packaging of the parcels, “beautiful” materials like z. B. used wrapping paper that was not available in this quality in the GDR and was therefore gladly kept and reused by the recipient.

It was forbidden to send "non-visually readable media" such as sound carriers. So were audio cassettes regularly confiscated by the East German authorities. Sending war toys was also prohibited.

The average of around 25 million parcels, which the West German senders were able to claim for tax deduction , contained around 1,000 tons of coffee and five million items of clothing per year. Both were also in demand as barter goods from private to private.

While the GDR initially tried to hinder the dispatch and delivery of these parcels, for example by requiring proof of disinfection for used clothing, the parcels were later an integral part of the plans for supplying the population. For example, on June 28, 1977, the SED Politburo decided on a first draft “on the production and supply of coffee and cocoa products” in order to reduce the consumption of foreign currency for imports during the coffee crisis in the GDR : “It is also to be expected that [ ...] an increase in supply [...] from other sources, such as B. will take place through cross-border parcel and parcel traffic and when purchasing in Intershop . "

More recent research into gift parcel traffic between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic during the time of the German division has shown that the sending of parcels from the West only contributed to the maintenance of personal or family relationships to a limited extent and that it was often abandoned after reunification than through permeability the border no longer needed it.

See also


  • Christian Härtel , Petra Kabus (Ed.): The West Package. Gift shipment, no merchandise. Ch. Links, Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-86153-221-2 .
  • Volker Ilgen: CARE package & Co. From the gift of love to the western package. Primus, Darmstadt 2008, ISBN 3-896-78344-0 .
  • Konstanze Soch: A great pleasure? Parcel traffic within Germany during the Cold War (1949-1989). Campus, Frankfurt am Main / New York 2018, ISBN 3-593-50844-3 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Westpaket  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Rolf Roßmann: History: From the scent of the Western packages | svz.de. Retrieved May 12, 2019 .
  2. Cf. Konstanze Soch, A great joy? , P. 226ff.