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Wednesday, 1 June 1960

Mr Swartz (DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND) z asked the Acting Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -

1.   Is he able to state whether collectivization of farms has been introduced in East Germany and whether all private ownership of land has been terminated in that country?

2.   Is he also able to state whether large numbers of refugees have fled from rural areas in East Germany to other countries to escape from this Communist system?

Sir Garfield Barwick - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   Collectivization. - (a) A drive to complete the collectivization of all arable land was begun in East Germany some three months ago. (b) On 15th March, the Baltic State of Rostock became the first of the fourteen East German States to announce that collectivization was complete within its borders. On 15th April, Herr Ulbricht, head of the East German regime, announced that with the completion of land collectivization in Karl Marx State (formerly the State of Chemnitz) all arable land in East Germany was now under public ownership. (c) Thus the East German regime has become the first of the Soviet satellites to claim 100 per cent. collectivization of all arable land. (The next two in order of land claimed as collectivized are Czechoslovakia and Hungary, both of whom claim over 70 per cent.)

2.   Refugees from East Germany, - (a) Over the first sixteen weeks of this year, from 2nd January to 29th April, some 49,877 people fled from the eastern zone of Germany, compared with 48,806 people for the corresponding period last year. This is despite the fact that refugee figures, chiefly due to stricter East German border control measures, have shown a significant decline in the early part of this year. For instance, 24,936 refugees from East Germany entered the Federal Republic and West Berlin during the first seven weeks of 1959, compared with only 21,902 in the first eight weeks of this year. It is important to note that the rapid increase in refugee crossings for this year came in the period late February to early April, when the collectivization programme was reaching its climax. (b) Official figures regarding the occupation of refugees reaching East Germany in 1960 are not available as yet, so that it is not possible to say definitely whether the increase is made up largely of people from rural areas or not, but unofficial figures indicate that about 3,000 (or nearly 25 per cent.) of the 12,500 refugees who left East Germany in April this year are from rural areas, compared with an average of 4.5 per cent. for the whole of 1959. (c) In a recent statement the United States Under Secretary of State, Mr. Douglas Dillon, said that "more than two and a third million East Germans and East Berliners have, during the last ten years, exercised the only franchise available to them and have voted with their feet against Communist rule by fleeing to West Berlin and the Federal Republic ".

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