The term expatriation stands for the deprivation or divestment of the citizenship. Citizens who were living outside the GDR or who stayed outside the GDR could be "deprived of their citizenship due to gross violation of the obligations of each citizen" (Staatsbürgerschaftsgesetz - Citizens Act). A famous example is the songwriter and singer Wolf Biermann. During a concert in Cologne he was deprived of the citizenship of the GDR amongst other things because of his "hostile behaviour towards the German Democratic Republic ". His expatriation was met with a storm of indignation inside as well as outside the GDR and triggered a long-lasting crisis with the relationship of many intellectuals in the GDR with the leadership of the SED.
In the final instance, the government of the GDR discredited itself with the tool of expatriation, especially as it was making use of a method which had been introduced for the first time by the National Socialists (laws of 14th July 1933 regarding the withdrawal of nationalisation and deprivation of citizenship). In the Federal Republic of Germany, the German citizenship may not be withdrawn in accordance with Article 16 of the Basic Law.