Photo. Laying the Foundation Stone of the Marienfelde Refugee Center, July 30, 1952. The Senator for Social Affairs, Otto Bach, is placing the deed in the foundation stone.
© Landesarchiv Berlin


Until summer 2010 the Berlin Central Reception Center for Repatriates (ZAB) was located on the grounds of the former Marienfelde Refugee Center. The Center was part of the Berlin State Office for Health and Social Affairs, which in turn was under the jurisdiction of the Berlin Senate Office for Integration, Labour and Social Affairs.

The ZAB was responsible for processing and counselling those ethnic German re-settlers from eastern and southern Europe assigned to the federal state of Berlin. The ZAB also offerd new arrivals transitional housing until they were able to secure their own apartments. The average length of stay was four months.

Also located on the grounds of the former Marienfelde Refugee Center were offices charged with three different tasks: the rehabilitation of the victims who suffered political repression in the former East Germany; the determination of status according to the German federal law pertaining to those expelled from eastern and southern Europe; and the processing of new Jewish immigrants.

Legal Foundations

Resettlers are members of ethnic German minorities whose place of residence was – at the end of the Second World War – east of Germany’s present-day eastern borders. Over the years, these individuals have come from a variety of countries, including but not limited to Poland, the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Romania. These individuals were forced to leave these regions as a result of the war or were expelled from them, as described in the first paragraph of the German federal law pertaining to expellees.

As ethnic Germans, these individuals are entitled to enter the Federal Republic of Germany and to receive German citizenship. A precondition to citizenship is that these individuals participated in German culture and language and acknowledged their allegiance to Germany in their respective countries of origin.

Since 1990, applicants are checked to see if they meet all the requirements. In 1993, a law to resolve the effects of the Second World War was passed, requiring applicants to establish the fact of their persecution in their countries of origin; solely in the case of re-settlers from the successor states of the former Soviet Union was it possible to assume that persecution of this nature had occurred. Since 1996, all those seeking to enter the Federal Republic of Germany as re-settlers must take a test to prove the have sufficient command of the German language.

Declining Immigration

From 1950 to the mid-1980s, roughly one and a half million re-settlers came to West Germany. At the end of the 1980s, the number of immigrants rose dramatically. In response, in 1993 immigration quotas were established: no more than 220,000 individuals were permitted to enter the newly-reunified Germany each year. In 2000, the annual contingent was halved. Since then, immigration of those defined under the law as re-settlers has virtually come to a halt: in 2006, fewer than 8,000 of these individuals came to Germany.

The general trend for Germany also applies to Berlin: according to the “Koenigstein Formula”, the federal state of Berlin has agreed since 2005 to receive 4.93% of the re-settlers passing through the Central Processing Office in Friedland (in the federal state of Lower Saxony). Although the 2005 quota (4.93%) represents a significant increase from the 2004 quota (2.7%), the actual number of immigrants assigned to Berlin has declined significantly. Whereas 1,743 were apportioned to the German capital in 2005, in 2006 only 393 repatriates came to Berlin. Due to declining immigration on the part of re-settlers, the ZAB in the Marienfelder Allee was closed in summer 2010.

December 2010 the area was reactivated and is now a residential home for asylum-seekers.


Would you like to know more about the ZAB?

Please contact
Silvia Kostner
+49 30 90229-1014