In the early 1970s, the GDR signs labor treaties with several Eastern European states, motivated by its precarious economic status and a rising wave of emigration.
While the GDR initially described the labor recruitment agreements arranged by the FRG as exploitative [see: Bilateral labor recruitment agreements of the FRG, 1960-1968] and distanced itself from them, its government finally decided, in response to a rising wave of emigration and a moribund economy, to also recruit so-called guest workers from abroad. These contracts were first restricted exclusively to COMECON countries (members of the Soviet-led Council for Mutual Economic Assistance), but later went on to encompass other socialist or communist-ruled, non-European countries such as Vietnam and Mozambique [see: Labor treaties between the GDR and non-European states, 1976-1986]. The GDR’s contract partners were referred to as “brother countries”. The first recruitment agreements were signed with Poland (1971), Bulgaria (1973) and Hungary (1973).