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Migration between select “Third World” and “Second World” countries were often organized around bilateral labor migration regimes. As a result, individuals from Angola and Mozambique who came to work and train in East Germany are categorized as labor migrants; an analysis of workers’ motivations to migrate is missing. On the basis of oral history interviews collected in Angola and Mozambique, this article examines the myriad reasons for which young Angolan and Mozambican men and women temporarily relocated to East Germany. These reasons included economic, educational, emotional, and security considerations. The migrants’ complex understandings from below are discussed through the categories of labor, educational, war and emotional migration, providing an important corrective to the top-down designation as “labor migration.” Rather than abandoning the term altogether as an analytical category, this article suggests that it may serve as a shorthand, provided that scholars take seriously the motivations for migration, rather than obliterate these motivations through an uncritical use of the term. This approach challenges the prevailing conceptions of migrants as passive participants in socialist labor migrations, as well as the limited conceptions of labor migration often adopted by outside observers.