Thousands of requests to view Stasi files | Free press

Berlin (dpa) – The Federal Commissioner for the Stasi documents, Roland Jahn, has presented the 15th and final report on the work of the federal authority.

The former GDR opposition member emphasized in Berlin on Friday that the files remained open even after millions of GDR state security documents were transferred to federal archives. Dpa summarizes questions, views and selected points about future work with the Stasi legacy.

WHAT WILL BE OF THE STASI DOCUMENT AUTHORITY?

The special authority will be disbanded by the summer and the archive with the files of the GDR State Security will be part of the Federal Archives. About 1,300 employees are taken over. The Stasi Records Act will continue to apply. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, brave civil rights activists saved much of the Stasi files from destruction. The creation of the authority and the archive is considered an achievement of the peaceful revolution.

WHO CARES FOR VICTIMS IN THE FUTURE?

The position of a victim ombudsman must be established directly with the Bundestag. Your cast has not yet been determined. Jahn’s term of office expires in June. He himself does not want the new position in his own words. Now younger people have to take responsibility, the 67-year-old said. Doing justice to the victims of the SED dictatorship and at the same time building a bridge to the next generations is determined for the future.

WHY DOES THE ARCHIVE OF STASI DOCUMENTS COME INTO THE FEDERAL ARCHIVE?

According to the report, the reform aims to pool skills, technology and resources. Then there is digitization – many papers are in bad shape. Work with the Stasi files must be made future-proof, he said.

WILL THE STASI DOCUMENTS BE MOVED?

No. The Bundestag has established by law that the archive at the historic site of the former Stasi headquarters in Berlin and at 13 East German sites will in its entirety be part of the national memory in the Federal Archives, as Jahn explained. The requests for inspection of files could be made as before.

ARE PEOPLE STILL INTERESTED IN A LOOK AT THE STASI FILES?

In 2019 and 2020, up to 4,500 people per month requested access to files that the State Security had illegally opened about them. From the beginning of 1992 to the end of 2020, requests have been made to view the Stasi files more than 3.3 million times, the archives authority said. In the 30th year of German unity, approximately 37,400 people applied for this in 2020. In addition, there were approximately 4,500 applications for rehabilitation applications in the past year. Since its inception, the Special Authority has received a total of 7.3 million requests and applications, including from authorities and scientists.

WHICH INVENTORY COMES UNDER THE ROOF OF THE FEDERAL ARCHIVE?

Stasi’s legacy alone encompasses more than 69 miles of written material. There are also hundreds of thousands of photos and sound documents. In addition, more than 15,000 bags contain torn and unopened papers. The virtual reconstruction that has been planned on a large scale has not yet been realized. According to Jahn, this remains a challenge.

IS DEALING WITH THE GDR PAST STILL NECESSARY?

From Jahn’s point of view, the Stasi files can aid in intergenerational dialogue. They can be used to raise awareness of democracy and human rights. Documents of wrongdoing would be kept, as well as evidence of the will to be free. The opportunity to deal with a piece of German history has no end date.

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