Confidential Report on BStU - May 2007

In November 2006 allegations began circulating in Germany, most notably in the German newspaper Die Welt that the BStU (the office of the German Federal Commissioner Preserving the Records of the Ministry for State Security of the GDR/DDR), which has the task of guarding Stasi files, had been infiltrated by a number of former Stasi officers and informers. In response the German government commissioned a confidential investigation.

By May 2007, the investigative team, led by Professor Hans Hugo Klien, a former judge of the German Federal Constitution Court and CDU politician, had completed its report into the infiltration. A summary of that report can be seen in English below. You can see the full document in its German original here.

Confidential Report on the BStU

Summary of the Report:

Described as a report on the employment of former Ministry of State Security (MfS; “Stasi“) members by the Federal Commissioner for Stasi Files (BstU), this confidential document was presented to German authorities in May 2007.

It gives the results of an investigation into the employment of former Stasi members with the Federal Commissioner for Stasi files (BStU) that was commissioned by the German government’s Commission for Culture and Media (BKM), the federal regulatory authority in charge of overseeing the BStU.

The Authors:

The report's authors are: Prof. Dr. Hans Hugo Klein (Christian Democratic Union – CDU party), a former member of the German parliament (Bundestag) from 1972–83, judge at the German Federal Constitutional Court (1983–96) and professor of Public Law at Göttingen University (1968–2001). Prof. Dr. Klein was assisted by Prof. Dr. Klaus Schroeder and Dr. Steffen Alisch, researchers at the Free University of Berlin’s “Research Association on the SED State” (Forschungsverbund SED-Staat der Freien Universität Berlin).

Part I (history and legal context):

Part I of this report offers historical context of the creation and rationale of the BStU, sketching the transformation of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in 1989/90. It describes the MfS’s infiltration of the Citizens’ Committees that tried to prevent the destruction or loss of Stasi files during the change in East Germany and reports on the continuity of employment of former MfS staff members in the BStU file archives. These included former high-ranking MfS officers who were nominally retained for their experience and expertise, allowing them to secure resources and jobs and to make particularly sensitive files “disappear”.

The authors cite the case of former MfS general Edgar Braun, who removed files that could have been damaging to West German intelligence services as well as documents related to training provided by the Stasi’s HA XXII (Main Department XXII, Counter-Terrorism) to Abu Nidal’s Fatah Revolutionary Council.


The authors discuss the controversy over the fate of Stasi files during and after the negotiations for German reunification in 1990–91. After the East German elections in March 1990, newly appointed minister of the interior Peter-Michael Diestel was charged with dissolving the Stasi structures. He subsumed all further work in this regard under the aegis of his ministry and relegated the Citizens’ Committees to a consultative function.

After public criticism of this approach, responsibility for Stasi dissolution was transferred from Diestel’s ministry to a Volkskammer (People’s Chamber) parliamentary committee headed by deputy Joachim Gauck in June 1990. This committee formulated a law, passed in August 1990, mandating the retention of Stasi files as well as investigation of their political, historical, and legal implications. The law included a right-to-know for victims of Stasi surveillance.

During this transition period, the archives continued to be controlled by MfS staff; an unknown number of files were confiscated by the GDR prosecution service, supposedly in preparation of charges against former Stasi chief Erich Mielke.

In view of issues discussed further below, relating to responsibility for oversight failures, special attention is given to the legal framework of the BStU, which was constituted by a law passed in December 1991 as an independent legal entity under the auspices of the BKM (which commissioned this analysis). The BStU is one of the most independent entities under administration by the German federal government. Although it is required to report to the parliamentary committee on Culture and Media at least biennially, the authors point out that the Bundestag has no real oversight over, or influence on, the activities of the BStU, which is not subordinated to direct administration by any ministry. Only the government cabinet can supervise its activities, raising constitutional issues as to public accountability.

The broad-ranging independence of the BStU is justified by the necessity to preserve its freedom from political interference; however, the authors (citing the published legal opinion of author and retired judge H. H. Klein in footnote 60) question whether the lack of parliamentary oversight can be reconciled with the Basic Law of Germany.

Part II (recruitment of former Stasi):

Part II of this report discusses the recruitment and terms of employment of former Stasi members in the BStU. Joachim Gauck’s work as special representative of the federal government began on the day of German reunification, 3 October 1990. By the time the BStU published its first report in 1993, it employed approx. 3350 staff members, mostly former East German citizens selected for their “experience and qualification”, with preference given to those over 50 years of age who had worked for the public administration or other public institutions of the former GDR. According to interviews with the authors, former members of the grassroots Citizens’ Committees found it difficult to find employment with the BStU. On the other hand, at least 72 BStU employees in 1991 had stated their former involvement with the MfS in job interviews, either as full-time employees or (in at least five cases) as “Inoffizielle Mitarbeiter” (IM; “Inofficial Employees”, i.e. informers). In addition to former MfS staff, many BStU employees had previously served in the GDR’s public administration, including as members of the Ministry of the Interior, the People’s Police, the armed forces, or in the public prosecution service.

The next section includes a typology of former MfS members employed by the BStU. Nearly all of the persons investigated for this report were hired by Gauck as early as 1990–91. Seven of these were former MfS archival clerks, though not trained archivists, whose insider knowledge was deemed indispensable and who had reportedly helped Citizens’ Committee members to prevent the destruction of files in the early days of the East German revolution. They ranked as Senior Lieutenants, Captains, and Majors within the MfS. Two other staff members are characterized as former intelligence analysts of the MfS whose tasks included operative intelligence fieldwork. This section also includes examples of former MfS informers and other intelligence operatives who were also employed by the Gauck Authority.

The authors question whether former MfS staff were indeed recommended by members of the grassroots Citizens Committees, as claimed by the heads of the BStU, and imply that the decision to employ such individuals was largely underwritten by the BStU chiefs themselves. In this context, the report discusses internal BStU discussions on the continued employment of former MfS staff and the conversion of their contracts from temporary to unlimited employment in June 1997.

The bulk of former MfS staff who were employed by the BStU after 1990 were former guards tasked with the protection of GDR public officials and buildings. This activity often included secret police tasks, including monitoring and suppressing dissent among the population. The authors indicate that in these cases, personnel files were especially hard to come by and often incomplete. The last main group of BStU employees investigated for this report consisted of former regime cadres and executives of state-run companies who had special expertise on the structures and workings of the former East German state.

Generally, under the terms of the Unification Treaty and the regulations on employment in the public administration of the Federal Republic of Germany, employment of former Stasi members by the state (either in their former capacities or under new contracts) was only admissible under certain, closely circumscribed conditions, as their loyalty to the tents of the constitution and their commitment to the democratic system was considered questionable. Nevertheless, neither the BStU nor the German Ministry of the Interior appear to have deemed it necessary to investigate in detail the terms or circumstances of former Stasi members’ careers, and seem to have been satisfied with their loyalty and performance in the years following Germany’s reunification.

Part III (former Stasi work areas and interactions):

Stasi documents stacked on shelves

Part III of the report discusses the areas of work of the former MfS members in the BStU, and particularly within the staff representation groups (Personalräte). The vast majority of the former Stasi staff were taken from the MfS personal protection detail (Hauptabteilung Personenschutz). Some of these worked as clerks and administrators, while most of them found work in the BStU's internal security/guard service.

However, the document cites the cases of at least two former high-ranking Stasi officers who had previously worked in the "Zentrale Auswertungs- und Informationsgruppe" (ZAIG; Central Analysis and Information Group), who were employed as special researchers. In this capacity, they were entrusted with investigating the possible Stasi involvement of East German politicians including former GDR prime minister and CDU politician Lothar de Maizière, former prime minister of Brandenburg and SPD federal minister of transport Manfred Stolpe, and current head of the Left Party, Gregor Gysi, who was active as a dissident lawyer in the GDR. These two researchers were able to access the archives without external supervision.

Altogether, the BStU is believed to employ 56 former full-time MfS members (i.e. excluding informers), including five majors, 12 captains, and 20 senior lieutenants.

The authors point out that the former Stasi members have been particularly active in the BStU's Personnel Committees (staff representation), via their work in the Police Trade Union (Gewerkschaft der Polizei, GdP).

Part IV (security checks on former Stasi members):

The next section (Part IV) discusses internal security checks of former Stasi members and their outcomes. These investigations are described as being cursory and superficial; they made no attempt to enquire as to the details of former MfS staff members' involvement in the East German apparatus and merely concluded what was already known from the beginning of their employment with the BStU, namely that they had previously worked for the Stasi.

The authors of this document specifically noted in their report that they asked for, but were refused, access to the files of the persons in question.

Part V (internal and external debate about former Stasi employment):

Part V is a summary of public and internal debates concerning the employment of former MfS staff with the BStU. Within the BStU, staff members were particularly outraged when it emerged to which extent the staff representation groups had been permeated by former Stasi members. It was suggested to the authors that complaints concerning the employment of former Stasi members at the BStU, i.e. the rationale for the entire current investigation, were in fact grounded in an internal power struggle between delegates to the Employee Committees.

The report goes on to describe the public (mainly parliamentary and media) debate about this issue, which began immediately after reunification and culminated in a series of reports in the German daily Die Welt at the end of 2006 and early 2007. In addition to the matter of former Stasi members' employment per se, questions in this context included why, if their knowledge was considered indispensable, no attempts seems to have been made to encourage a transfer of their knowledge to other employees untainted by previous MfS work, and why the former Stasi members were offered open-ended work contracts when their temporary contracts expired. These matters were also discussed in the BStU Advisory Board (Beirat) and in the German parliament (Bundestag).

The authors conclude that both of the latter bodies were misled as to the total number of former MfS staff employed by the BStU and the capacities in which they were employed. The heads of the BStU also falsely gave the impression that offers of unlimited contracts for former MfS staff were mandated by German employment law, when they themselves had in fact argued to give them such contracts as early as 1991. The members of the Advisory Board were also led to believe, falsely, that former full-time MfS staff would leave the BStU when their temporary contracts expired.

Members of parliament were misled as to the number of Stasi informers working with the BStU and as to the work of the two former high-ranking Stasi officers mentioned above.

Part VI (abuse of files by former Stasi members):

Shredded Stasi documents in bags

Part VI analyzes the possible manipulation, theft, or other abuse of files by the former MfS staff working at the BStU. The authors found only two cases where such abuse of trust may have taken place - one concerning the attempt to sell BStU research results to a German intelligence agency, and another case where no conclusive evidence of wrongdoing could be found. The authors believe that most of the Stasi's most sensitive files had already been destroyed in the interim period between the end of the SED regime in November 1989 and the reunification of Germany in October 1990. Nevertheless, the authors cannot exclude the possibility that other kinds of manipulation may have taken place without being detected.

Special attention is devoted to the question of whether researchers formerly associated with the East German intelligence apparatus inappropriately trivialized the work of the Stasi in their analyses. In particular, this document looks at an assessment compiled by two BStU researchers and former Stasi officers after 11 September 2001 on the extent of support and training provided by the MfS and the East German police to terrorist groups.

In the substance and language of their report dated 27 March 2002, the former Stasi officers played down the work of the MfS and pointed out that it had only supported "freedom fighters, not terrorists" in their "fight for liberation". The authors contrast such semantic and political dialectics against another, separate report that sharply criticized the MfS's support and training for groups including the West German Red Army Faction (RAF), the group surrounding Ilich Ramírez Sánchez ("Carlos the Jackal"), and the Abu Nidal Group.

Furthermore, the authors criticize the fact that former high-ranking Stasi officers were charged with analyzing the potential Stasi involvement of leading East German politicians (see above).

Part VII (summary):

In their Summary, the authors of this report conclude that in the period from 3 October 1990 until the time of writing in May 2007, the BStU employed at least 79 former Stasi members. At the time of writing, 56 former MfS staff remain in the employment of the agency, including 54 former full-time Stasi members and two former "Inofficial Employees" (informers). The majority of former MfS staff were former members of the MfS personal protection detail (Hauptabteilung Personenschutz), whose tasks included violent repression of dissent in the former East Germany. The fact of their employment with the BStU was largely concealed from parliamentary oversight, the media, and the general public. Whether any of the current or former BStU staff members were involved in such repressive activities is near-impossible to determine in the absence of related investigations or files.

It is difficult to assess whether any of the files entrusted to the agency were stolen, destroyed, or manipulated by former Stasi members or other staff, for whatever reason. The authors indicate that many of the Stasi's most sensitive information had already been destroyed during the transition period preceding the reunification of Germany. It is also pointed out that the BStU has employed, and continues to employ, staff who were otherwise formerly loyal (to varying extents) to the SED regime and who are also viewed with suspicion by victims of oppression in the former East German state. Tensions remain between former East German civil-rights activists, who constitute a small minority of the BStU staff, and former loyal supporters of the GDR state, who represent the overwhelming majority of its employees.

The authors indicate that cooperation with the BStU administration was not constructive and that they did not receive the degree of insight into the agency's internal workings that they would have required. They point out that there may be further employees at the BStU with a Stasi part that they are not, or have not been made, aware of.

Part VIII (recommendations):

The authors offer nine recommendations (Part VIII) in order to remedy this state of affairs:

(1) The BStU should be integrated into the regular federal archiving system of the German state, ending its status as a separate entity free of parliamentary oversight, which the authors consider constitutionally questionable. Should that not be possible, they recommend that it be reconstituted as a special archive coming under the supervision of a cabinet ministry.

(2) They recommend that the BStU commission a historical investigation of its work beginning on 9 November 1989, the day the Berlin Wall came down.

(3) They recommend more transparency in internal and external investigations of BStU staff.

(4) They recommend immediate, in-depth investigations of all former MfS staff on a case-by-case basis to determine the extent and nature of their work for the East German secret service.

(5) They recommend that staff members shown to have had a particularly close affinity to the former state be removed from leading positions in the administration of the BStU, and to investigate the role of the other East German state organs besides that of the MfS in the repression apparatus.

(6) The recommend the establishment of an external entity providing oversight and mediation to defuse internal conflicts and tensions within the BStU.

(7) Former MfS members whose work involves contact with applicants requesting insight into files, especially with victims of the former regime, should be shifted to other positions involving neither personnel matters nor access to applicants or Stasi files.

(8) The agency's internal security services, hitherto dominated by former MfS staff, should be handled by external private companies who must pledge not to hire former Stasi members. Alternatively, the leadership of the internal security service must be rearranged so as not to consist exclusively of former MfS staff, as is currently the case.

(9) The BStU should begin efforts to make its archives compatible with thos of the German Federal Archive (Bundesarchiv). This would also put an end to reliance on the "insider" knowledge of former Stasi members concerning the structure and specific characteristics of record-keeping by the former East German secret service.

*NOTE: Large portions of this summary were cut and pasted from WikiLeaks.Com which at the time this page was written had recently been shut down by a federal judge in the U.S. for publishing unrelated documents. We are happy to have made a copy of this important document. WikiLeaks can still be reached via their IP Address.

Inspect the full document in its German original here.


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