Germany may be experiencing a new round of cuddly nostalgia about everyday life in East Germany, but memories of its darker side have resurfaced following the arrest of a suspected member of the regime’s assassin squad.
Swedish journalist Cats Falk, whose body was found in this car, was believed murdered by the Stasi.
East Germany may have imploded in 1989 when the Berlin Wall fell, but the failed communist state has been making a comeback – at least in the minds of some Germans – following a recent wave of German television revival shows.
Ostalgie, a play on words meaning nostalgia of the East, has gripped many Easterners as they look back fondly at the everyday life during their salad days before the German Democratic Republic (GDR) was swallowed by the capitalist West Germany in 1990.
But just as some critics have warned Ostalgie often glosses over the GDR’s nastier side, a prime example of how ruthless the totalitarian regime was surfaced this week: German federal prosecutors announced that they had arrested a suspected East German contract killer on Monday.
Identified only as Jürgen G., as is the custom in Germany not to give the last name, the 53 year-old is thought to have worked as a hit man from 1976 to 1987 while part of a GDR commando unit. “The suspect is believed to have killed a number of people that were considered by the GDR regime to have committed treason or likely to,” prosecutors said.
It is the first time anyone has been arrested for suspicion of working as an assassin for the East German state. The highly feared East German secret police, or Stasi, has long been suspected of having a death squad, even though top communist officials denied its existence after the Wall fell.
Stasi expert Hubertus Knabe believes the organization may have had hundreds of operatives for “liquidating” traitors. “Besides sabotage they were also supposed to murder,” he told the German news agency DPA.
Although there have been several mysterious deaths beyond East Germany’s borders that have been linked to the Stasi, there has never been hard evidence to prove the existence of the killer commandos.
Lutz Eigendorf died under mysterious circumstances in 1983.
Lutz Eigendorf, an eastern soccer player who defected to West Germany in 1979, died in an apparent car crash in 1983 in the western town of Braunschweig.
Although alcohol was found in his bloodstream, the level was considered far too high for Eigendorf to have drank in less than two hours. Having once played for the Stasi-favored BFC Dynamo in Berlin, it is rumored Stasi boss Erich Mielke personally ordered his murder.
And according to the Berliner Zeitung newspaper, a three-man killer squad from the Stasi was also involved in the 1984 death of Swedish television journalist Cats Falk, who was investigating illegal high-tech shipments between the GDR and Swedish arms firms.
** ARCHIV ** Undatiertes Archivbild von Cats Falck, einer TV-Journalistin, die am 19. September1984 und sechs Monate spaeter mit ihrer Freundin Lena Grans tot aufgefunden wurde im Wagen von Lena Grans im Hafen von Stockholm. Die Tat soll in Verbindung zu geheimen Stasi-Killerkommandos stehen, wie der Berliner "Tagesspiegel" am Freitag, 26. September 2003 meldet. (AP Photo/Bengt Nordin) ** SWEDEN OUT **
The paper on Thursday said it had received information indicating Falk and her friend had been drugged by the East German operatives before their car was pushed into a canal in Stockholm.