Photo. Refugees waiting to be admitted to the Marienfelde Refugee Center, August 14, 1961
© DHM-Schirner

May 2013

Passengers' Tickets for British European Airways (BEA)

Passengers' Tickets for British European Airways
The word “refugee” is written on the inside of tickets 608437 and 604838 for BEA Flight Number 096. For the two passengers who flew to Munich on May 13, 1954, this was a voyage into a new life.

People who fled to West Berlin from the German Democratic Republic (GDR) couldn't travel via land or water into the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), since then they would have to pass GDR inspectors. The only safe way was by the three flight paths that connected West Berlin and West Germany from 1945 to 1990. Once refugees were recognized, officials in West Berlin booked open seats for them on British European Airways (BEA), Pan Am, or Air France flights. The Allies' airlines were the only ones allowed to fly in and out of Tempelhof Airport.

The decision about where to live in the future was not made by the refugees alone. Only about 10% of the 1.35 million refugees who came through the Marienfelde Refugee Center were able to stay in West Berlin. The rest were spread out among the states of the FRG - each state had a quota based on size, number of residents, and economic factors.

We don't know if the two passengers on BEA Flight Number 096 stayed in Munich or built their lives somewhere else later on. At any rate, that Bavarian city was an important stop for them - after Marienfelde - on their way into the West.