East Germany has agreed to let the 4,700 East Germans holed up in the West German Embassy in Prague travel to West Germany, a top-ranking official in Bonn said Tuesday.
Rudolf Seiters, chief of staff to Chancellor Helmut Kohl, said the first train of East German refugees would be departing Prague for West Germany some time after 8 p.m.It was the second time within a week that East Germany had reluctantly agreed to allow its citizens to emigrate West. During the weekend, about 7,000 refugees fled to the West from West German embassies in Poland and Czechoslovakia.
Earlier Tuesday, about 250 East Germans stormed past police and into the West German Embassy, and witnesses said some refugees were injured. East Germany then blocked citizens from traveling to Czechoslovakia in an effort to stem the flow to the West.
Until Tuesday, East Germans needed neither a visa nor a passport to travel to Czechoslovakia. The state news agency ADN said that effective immediately, such documents would be required. That will efectively block ordinary citizens from going there.
The ADN dispatch said the move was based on reports indicating "that certain circles in West Germany are preparing provocations in conjunction with the celebrations of our 40th anniversary" on Saturday.
ADN did not say anything about changes in travel to Poland, where East Germans also have holed up in the West German Embassy. East Germans currently need government permission to travel to Poland.
In Bonn, chief government spokesman Hans Klein said East German leader Erich Honecker had refused to talk to West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl by telephone about the refugee crisis.
Honecker aides said that preparations for Saturday's 40th anniversary of the Communist nation precluded an "appointment for a telephone call," Klein said.
The anniversary celebration, which is to include a visit by Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev, comes amid perhaps East Germany's most embarrassing diplomatic crisis: the exodus of thousands of its citizens.
In another development, the Soviet Communist Party daily Pravda accused West Germany of interfering in East German affairs by allowing its embassies in Prague and Warsaw to grant asylum to refugees.
"Political leaders of West Germany have made naked attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign East Germany," Pravda said.
East Germany during the weekend reluctantly allowed 7,000 of its citizens who had holed up in the embassies in Poland and Czechoslovakia.