Federal Commissioner for the Stasi Archives
|Federal Commissioner for the Stasi Archives|
|Formed||3 October 1990|
|Jurisdiction||Government of Germany|
|Agency executive||Roland Jahn, Federal Commissioner|
The Federal Commissioner for the Stasi Archives is an upper-level federal agency of Germany that preserves and protects the archives and investigates the past crimes of the former Stasi, the secret police and intelligence organization of the communist German Democratic Republic (East Germany). Since March 2011, Roland Jahn has been head of the agency.
The agency is subordinate to the Representative of the Federal Government for Culture (Bernd Neumann, CDU). As of 2010, it has 1687 employees.
The agency is formally called the office of The Federal Commissioner Preserving the Records of the State Security Service of the former German Democratic Republic (German: Der Bundesbeauftragte für die Unterlagen des Staatssicherheitsdienstes der ehemaligen Deutschen Demokratischen Republik, usually referred to as Der Bundesbeauftragte für die Stasi-Unterlagen and abbreviated BStU).
In German, the office is informally often referred to as the Gauck office (German: Gauck-Behörde), Birthler office (German: Birthler-Behörde) or Jahn office (German: Jahn-Behörde), always after the incumbent federal commissioner.
During the regime's final days, Stasi officials destroyed documents with paper shredders, by hand or they burned the files. The burning of files lead to the first occupation of a Stasi-Building on December 4, 1989 in Erfurt. This morning some women saw dark fume smoking above chimneys of the Stasi. They knew that Stasi in Erfurt was heated with gas, which only makes white smoke. They combined, that dark smoke was the result of burning papers. With the help of other citizens they directly started the occupying of the local secret police Buildings. They also called the military prosecutor, who sealed the buildings, and formed a citizen's committee (Bürgerkomittee) for inspection of the remaining files and surveillance of the work of the state-security officials. This became an example for things, happened during the next days in Stasi-buildings all over the GDR. At last in a public demonstration, the citizens finally gained access to the Stasi headquarters in Berlin on January 15, 1990 to halt the destruction there.
In 1992, following a declassification ruling by the German government, the Stasi records were opened to public access, leading people to look for their files. Timothy Garton Ash, an English historian, wrote The File: A Personal History after reading the file compiled about him while he completed his dissertation research in East Berlin.
In 1995, the BStU began reassembling the shredded documents as well; since then the archivists commissioned to the projects had reassembled 400 bags; they are now developing a system for computer-assisted data recovery to reassemble the remaining 15,000 bags — estimated at 33 million pages.
The CIA acquired some Stasi records concerning the espionage of the Stasi. The Federal Republic of Germany has asked for their return and received some in April 2000. Since the year 2003 the data of the so-called Rosenholz files is a part of the Stasi Records of the BStU.
At its zenith, the Stasi had records on some 6 million people. It also had an archive of sweat and body odor samples.
The agency is headed by a Federal Commissioner, elected by the Bundestag. Since 1990, the following persons have been Federal Commissioners
Controversy erupted after an investigation, whose report had been leaked to the media, found out that the BStU at one point employed at least 79 former Stasi members and still employed 52 as of 2009. The great majority of these were hired from the "bodyguards" branch of the Stasi; some were former archivists and some were just technicians. There was suspicion that some of these former Stasi officers managed to manipulate records, so nowadays no former Stasi officers are allowed to enter the Stasi Archives by themselves. The report recommended, for several reasons besides the issue of former Stasi officers working for the BStU, to integrate the BStU into the German Federal Archives. It also reported there was a constitutionally questionable situation. In summer 2008, the German Parliament decided to found an expert commission to analyze the role and future of the BStU.
- "Czech Prime minister Petr Nečas: The years of totalitarianism were years of struggle for liberty". Platform of European Memory and Conscience. 14 October 2011. Retrieved 14 October 2011.
- Functions of the BStU, from the English version of the official BStU website
- "Picking Up the Pieces". The New York Times. July 17, 2003.
- "New Computer Program to Reassemble Shredded Stasi Files". Der Spiegel. October 5, 2007.
- "Stasi files return to Germany". BBC News. April 5, 2000.
- ""Rosenholz"-Unterlagen künftig nutzbar". BStU. 27 Juni 2003.
- "Stasi still in charge of Stasi files". Wikileaks. October 4, 2007.