World: Torschlusspanik

Last week a curious and serious malady was affecting Communist East Germany and reaching almost epidemic proportions. The name of the disease was Torschlusspanik, which literally means "fear of gate closing." Everything East German leaders did to shut off the flow of refugees to the West seemed, instead, to spur it on. The day that Deputy Premier Willi Stoph announced new secret measures to halt the refugees—ostensibly at the urging of "delegations of workers"—1.532 East Germans beat it over the border and checked into the big Marienfelde refugee center in West Berlin.

As party officials scuttled about, attempting to scare the East...