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East German customs fee on vital items irks Poles

The way Polish tourists see it, their East German comrades are taking advantage of their economic troubles. Border guards recently resurrected a 23 -year-old customs law that allows them to charge tourists for carrying Western goods through East Germany, the newspaper Sztandar Mlodych reports.

Poles are convinced the regulation is being used to discourage them from traveling to the West to get such basic day-to-day items as soap, coffee, sugar, diapers, and razor blades, which are impossible to buy in Poland. The East Germans are demanding to be paid in hard currencies -- preferably West German marks -- at the rate of about $12.50 for every person in cars carrying Western goods.

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