Explanations of terms from the field of provenance research and Proveana's four research contexts.

An overview page with all terms is also available.


Departure from the country

If GDR citizens intended to move to a non-socialist country or West Berlin, they had to submit either a substantiated request to leave the country (e.g. for the purpose of "family reunification") or a voluntary request to renounce their citizenship (voluntary request for expatriation) to the responsible city or district council. If their request was granted, they had to list the property they wished to take with them and have it approved by designated experts, who took the items away and checked their compliance with various regulations such as the →Cultural Property Protection Decree. Any belongings that were not allowed to be exported either remained in the possession of a family member still living in the GDR or were placed in the care of a public collection. By virtue of a law passed in 1972 (Gesetzblatt I 1972 No. 18, p. 265), those released from citizenship included "all persons [who had moved] their place of residence to outside the GDR before 1 January 1972". Those who were expatriated renounced all rights and claims (e.g. to assets and property) in the GDR. (MD)

  • Confiscation of cultural goods in the Soviet Occupation Zone and the GDR

Desertion from the republic

Attention, this is a problematic term from contemporary historical linguistic usage. The current use of this term is inappropriate or only common in the scientific context with appropriate labeling. Such terms can be discriminatory, euphemistic, ideologically tinged neologisms and/or ideologically motivated neologisms.

From 11 June 1953 to 1990, "Republikflucht" (desertion from the republic) was the official term used in the GDR for those who "left the national territory without notice", i.e. those who illegally relocated from the GDR to the Federal Republic of Germany or other non-socialist countries without the approval of the authorities, either by risking their lives to flee across the national border or by failing to return to the GDR after a trip abroad (→expatriation and →departure from the country). However, the term "Republikflucht" had been used by the →Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschland (Socialist Unity Party of Germany, SED) outside of their official publications before 1953.

Those who fled the republic were considered traitors. In accordance with the "Verordnung zur Sicherung von Vermögenswerten" (Regulation for the Protection of Assets) of 17 July 1952, they lost their entire abandoned property through confiscation and seizure. From 1953 ("New Course"), those who had deserted the republic were able to appoint an administrator for the assets they had left behind; failing this, a curator in absentia would be appointed by the state notary or a trustee would be appointed by the district council. When the Passport Act was redrafted in 1957, however, the administrators appointed by deserters were often no longer recognized in administrative practice. And when Directive No. 52 was adopted by the Ministry of Finance (MdF) in 1958, private assets belonging to deserters were generally placed under state trusteeship and exploited (e.g. through sales or donations to museum collections). These institutions usually acquired the deserters’ property through the culture, finance or state property departments of the district councils or through the →Volkspolizei (People’s Police).

In 1957, it became a punishable offense to even allegedly prepare to desert the republic, to make an attempt to desert the republic or to aid and abet someone else to do the same. This gave rise to arbitrary state measures (similar to fictitious →tax offenses); complicity and failure to report desertion from the republic were also punishable offenses. In addition, a law was passed in 1972 to revoke the citizenship of anyone who had moved their place of residence to outside the GDR before 1 January 1972 (Gesetzblatt I 1972 No. 18, p. 265); their personal rights to own things, some of which were in museums and other collections and had been treated as third-party property under state trusteeship, were considered to have lapsed and were usually inventoried as a result. (MD)

  • Confiscation of cultural goods in the Soviet Occupation Zone and the GDR

Deutsche Kolonialzeitung

The →Deutschen Kolonialgesellschaft (German Colonial Paper) was the main publication of the German Colonial Society (Deutsche Kolonialgesellschaft) that was first issued on a monthly basis from 1884 and later became a biweekly (and sometimes even a weekly) publication. The magazine was published as Der Kolonialdeutsche from 1923. In 1929, it was merged with the Übersee- und Kolonialzeitung, which appeared for a time in parallel with the magazine, and the publication was then renamed the Deutsche Kolonialzeitung, Übersee- und Kolonialzeitung. (JH)

  • Cultural goods and collections from colonial contexts

Duplicate Resolution

  • Cultural goods and collections from colonial contexts