High-Level Germans to Face Stasi Checks Until 2011 | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 01.12.2006
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Germany

High-Level Germans to Face Stasi Checks Until 2011

Germany approved continuing checks on the leading public servants' pasts for involvement with the East German secret police, while the office that maintain the records faced criticism for employing former Stasi members.

A man searches through files on shelves

The history of officials -- including those in sports -- can be checked until 2011

High-level officials will continue be subjected to checks over whether they worked for the Stasi for another five years, according to a decision reached in German parliament on Thursday. The law also allows the history of leading officials in sporting bodies to be examined.

The original legislation was introduced in 1991, the year after East and West Germany were reunified, but was due to expire in December.

There had been a proposal -- supported by all parties except the opposition Left Party, which is composed mainly of East German former communists -- not to renew the law and therefore end the process of carrying out background checks.

But after protests from groups representing victims of the East German regime, a compromise was struck maintaining the checks until December 2011.

Stasi officials working on files

A woman holds a folder while standing amongst the achive Stasi files

The Stasi Data Authority employs over 50 former Stasi members

The authorities who manage the archives containing millions of files compiled by agents regarding their fellow citizens confirmed press reports on Thursday that it employs 52 former Stasi officials.

Marianne Birthler, the head of the Stasi Data Authority, said it was necessary to employ Stasi officials because of their knowledge of the files, though she said she could understand the suspicion it would cast on the authority's work.

"I would have wished that this decision was made differently in view of the symbolic level involved," she said, adding that German employment law kept her from being able to make significant changes to the office's personnel.

Of the 52 people involved 41 are reported to be employed as the building's watchmen, while the others are involved in the authority's administration.

No group of people from the former communist bloc were as highly monitored as the East Germans. There was one Stasi officer for every 180 people, compared with one KGB officer for every 595 people in the Soviet Union.

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