Werner Teske

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Werner Teske (24 April 1942 – 26 June 1981) was a Hauptmann (Captain) of the Ministry for State Security of East Germany who was executed after having been found guilty of "planned treason". He was the last person to be executed in the German Democratic Republic, and the last person to be executed in Germany.[1]


Werner Teske was recruited by the Ministry as a student. After obtaining his doctorate in economics, he became responsible for economic espionage in foreign countries for the General Reconnaissance Administration (Hauptverwaltung Aufklärung), the intelligence arm of the German Democratic Republic's Ministry for National Security. Starting in the mid-1970s, Teske considered a defection into West Germany. He planned to use some Stasi information and materials as an "entrance fee".[1] After some irregularities in his work had come to attention of the Ministry, he was seized and the documents cache was found. He was tried at the 1st Military Criminal Division of the Supreme Court of the DDR[2] and, despite the defence counsel's argument that the defection had never been realized and no information had reached the West, Teske was sentenced to death in 1981. The severity of the sentence might have been because another Stasi senior officer, Werner Stiller, had indeed succeeded in defecting to the West two years earlier, disclosing some highly sensitive information.[1]

The execution was carried out by Herman Lorenz shortly afterwards, when Teske was shot in the back of the head using a semi-automatic pistol. This took place in the basement of the prison in Alfred-Kästner-Straße, Leipzig, after which the body of the executed prisoner was cremated. The trial, execution and funeral all were kept secret by the East German authorities. The information was even withheld from Teske's closest relatives e.g. his wife did not know she was a widow until after German Reunification in 1990. Until then she had (wrongly) assumed that her husband was being held somewhere in custody.

The sentence against Teske was overturned in 1993, and two of the jurists involved were sentenced for perversion of justice in 1998. These rulings were justified by the fact that the original decision had been disproportionate even according to East German law, since Teske had planned but never actually committed the offenses he was sentenced for.


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