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Staff at Berlin Newspaper Call for Probe into Stasi Past

Staff at a Berlin newspaper, rattled by admissions by two editors they once worked for the feared Communist East German secret police, have called for a probe into their Stasi files.

Berliner Zeitung building

Over the years, German media has grappled with the Stasi past of some employees

Employees at the left-leaning Berliner Zeitung, once the mouthpiece for East Germany's communist regime, have agreed to allow their Stasi files to be scrutinized following admissions by two editors that they worked for the dreaded East German secret police.

Privacy laws prohibit the publisher from carrying out an investigation. But 85 of the 89 journalists working for the paper voted in favor of asking the administrators of the Stasi archive to carry out an investigation.

"The editorial staff has decided upon this path, because an examination of all employees by the publisher is not possible because of the Stasi records law," Thomas Rogalla, a spokesman for the editorial staff, wrote Wednesday.

Blow to credibility

Stacked Stasi files

The Stasi files are not public

Editor Thomas Leinkauf admitted on Saturday that he had been a Stasi informant for two years in the 1970s while he was a university student.

At a staff meeting on Monday, a second editor, Ingo Preissler, announced he had been a Stasi informant for 10 years from when he was 18 until the peaceful revolution that toppled the Communist East German regime in 1989.

Josef Depenbrock, the newspaper's editor-in-chief, said that the paper's "credibility and independence have been harmed" by the revelations.

The newspaper was started by German communists in 1945. But in recent years it has tried to attract readers from western Berlin and currently has a daily circulation of approximately 185,000.

The Berliner Zeitung was considered one of the official mouthpieces of the communist regime. After 1989, the newspaper was privatized. It is now owned by the British firm Mecom Group, which has numerous regional newspapers throughout Europe.

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