German Democratic Republic and Adoption


During these decades, under the direction of Margot Honecker, wife of Communist Party and government head Erich Honecker and minister of education, the authorities in the GDR (the former East Germany) forced the adoption of the children of political dissidents, including people who fled or emigrated to the West, or who attempted to do so, into politically reliable families.

Under the GDR constitution it was a legal duty of parents to rise their children as good Communists. To attempt to leave the country was both a criminal offense in itself and an offense against that clause of the constitution. Similar programs were operated in Fascist Spain, during and after the Civil War, and in Argentina, during the Dirty War.

Since East German law explicitly provided for removing children from such parents and placing them for adoption, under the terms of the German reunification treaty, no one can be prosecuted for it. It is not known how many families were involved, but after reunification a file of letters from over 200 couples was found in the archives of the State Security Police (Stasi), begging for the return of their children. A very few of these families have been reunited since the reunification of the two Germanys, not always successfully.

A similar policy was used by fascist Spain under General Franco. See also under Nazi Germany, section 2, for other GDR Stasi abuses of adoption.


McElvoy, Anne. "Calls for Justice Fail to Trouble Honecker's Wife," The Times [London], 1 August 1992, p. 8 Allen-Mills, Tony. "Germans Bay for Blood of the 'Lilac Dragon,'" Sunday Times [London], 2 August 1992, p. 1/14 Television program: Geraubte Kinder: Zwangsadoptionen in der DDR. Westdeutscher Rundfunk, broadcast 16 August 2001