Screening Refugees in Cold War Germany

Migrants welcomed to Germany in dramatic gestures less than a year ago now seem to many to present abiding threats to Europe's public order, with concerns accentuated by recent terror assaults in Paris, Istanbul, Brussels, and other cities. Those fleeing warfare, economic deprivation, and political repression face intensifying efforts to gauge not only the hazard they appear to pose to domestic security, but also the opportunities they may offer in supporting intelligence actions considered vital to European and American strategic interests.

Photo: Notaufnahmelager Marienfelde Tag nach dem Mauerbau, 14.8.1961, Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-p060458, CC-BY-SA 3.0 (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bundesarchiv_B_145_Bild-P060458,_Notaufnahmelager_Marienfelde,_Tag_nach_dem_Mauerbau.jpg)Keith R. Allen explores interactions of spies and refugees throughout the Cold War and beyond. Large-scale multinational operations to vet those seeking refuge in Germany emerged during the final months of the Second World War and continue to the present, a time when Germans are struggling to integrate the largest influx of migrants since the earliest days of the Cold War.


Keith R. Allen, PhD, historian and exhibition organizer, is a research fellow at the DFG-funded project on "Refugees and Western intelligence services in Cold War Germany", Justus-Liebig-University, Gießen. He presented his project within the framework of the 6th Brown Bag Breakfast at the Berlin Center for Cold War Studies on 17 May 2016.

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