Agency handling Stasi files to remain open

10th December 2004, Comments 0 comments

10 December 2004, BERLIN - The German government denied a newspaper report on Friday that the special office handling the files of the former East German secret police might soon be closed down. Government spokesman Hans Langguth at the weekly press conference said that the number of applications of people seeking to look at their files has receded, but there is still a long way to go in coming to terms with the files kept by the erstwhile "Stasi" or state security apparatus, of the former communist East G

10 December 2004

BERLIN - The German government denied a newspaper report on Friday that the special office handling the files of the former East German secret police might soon be closed down.

Government spokesman Hans Langguth at the weekly press conference said that the number of applications of people seeking to look at their files has receded, but there is still a long way to go in coming to terms with the files kept by the erstwhile "Stasi" or state security apparatus, of the former communist East German regime.

"I see no end for the foreseeable period of time," Langguth said about a report in the daily Berliner Zeitung newspaper that the agency handling the Stasi files might soon be closed down.

The report followed the surprise announcement a week earlier when Interior Minister Otto Schily disclosed that on 1 January 2005, the Stasi files agency was to be transferred from his ministry to Minister of State for Culture, Christina Weiss.

The Berliner Zeitung report said Schily's move was a portent that various operations of the Stasi files agency, now headed by former eastern German pro-democracy activist Marianne Birthler, were to be spread out to other government agencies and institutes, including the Federal Archives office in Koblenz.

But Culture Minister Weiss said the newspaper report was baseless. She said that in talks she held with Birthler the two agreed to work on a strategy for the long-term prospects for the Stasi files agency.

The agency's chief duty is to handle average citizens' applications to look at their own files in order to see what kind of information the communist regime's security apparatus had collected about them, and who had been informing on them to the Stasi.

The Stasi files total some 40 million documents collected on hundreds of thousands of persons during the 40 years of the communist East German state. The files take up 180 kilometres of shelf space at the Berlin archives where they are now stored.

The agency says that even today, 15 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it receives up to 8,000 applications per month by people wanting to see their files. 
 

DPA

Subject: German news

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