When the Vietnamese contract workers first arrived in the GDR, many recount their first experience with snow. It was cold in the buses that took them from the airport to the dormitory in the city that was to be their home from now on, thousands of kilometers away from Vietnam. They had never seen snow before.
From the end of the 1970s, the GDR concluded state treaties with so-called socialist brother states on labor migration. One of these was with war-torn Vietnam in 1980. The initial goal was to train the contract workers to rebuild the shattered Vietnam, while at the same time rebuilding the factories there. By the end of the 1980s, some 60,000 Vietnamese were living in the GDR. The contracting parties to the agreements were the states of Vietnam and the GDR, not the workers themselves. They worked primarily in light industry, such as textile and paper processing.