It is a rather unknown chapter in the history of the GDR: More than 23,000 contract workers from Mozambique worked in agriculture, industry and handicrafts in the GDR for several years from 1979 onward on the basis of a bilateral agreement between the two socialist countries. However, their expectations of good training and pay in Europe were disappointed. Instead, they expected hard physical labor for a fraction of the wages they were entitled to.
The vast majority of them returned to their country of origin after German unification in 1990 due to expired residence permits and increasing xenophobia. There they are now called "Madgermanes" and some have been fighting for decades to get their outstanding wages paid.
This relatively unknown chapter of GDR history was the subject of an online event organized by the joint project Mod-Block-GDR and the Research Centre for Eastern Europe in cooperation with the Schwankhalle Bremen on 17 November 2020. The event was moderated by Mareike zum Felde, research assistant in the joint project Mod-Block-GDR.
The author Birgit Weyhe presented parts of her graphic novel "Madgermanes" (avant-verlag 2016) in an online reading and reported from interviews with former contract workers. Emiliano Chaimite, former contract worker and now a nurse in Dresden, then spoke as a contemporary witness about his experiences in the GDR, during the transformation, the path to his right to stay after 1990, and his current commitment to integration.
Readings and interview with the contemporary witnesses are available in German at the following link: