Thousands of former Stasi remain in local government

10th July 2009, Comments 0 comments

The Financial Times Deutschland said that in Saxony-Anhalt alone, which with 4,400 former Stasi members has the highest number of any German state, 1,722 now worked for the police and 1,976 in the culture ministry.

Berlin -- Twenty years after the Berlin Wall fell, around 17,000 ex-members of the hated East German secret police, the Stasi, work in local government, according to research by a newspaper published Thursday.

The Financial Times Deutschland said that in Saxony-Anhalt alone, which with 4,400 former Stasi members has the highest number of any German state, 1,722 now worked for the police and 1,976 in the culture ministry.

In addition, Klaus Schroeder, a Stasi expert from Berlin’s Free University, told the paper he believed there were also "several tens of thousands" of "unofficial agents" of the Stasi working in government positions in eastern Germany.

"This is on a scale that no one suspected," Schroeder said.

Background checks on officials were often "standardised and perfunctory" despite a 1991 law requiring states to perform them on all public officials, he added.

The official responsible for Stasi files in Saxony-Anhalt called for further examination of officials' backgrounds.

"It's a matter of political hygiene," Gerhard Ruden said.

The despised Stasi was responsible for spying on and imprisoning hundreds of people who criticised the regime in the German Democratic Republic, the communist country where Chancellor Angela Merkel grew up.

The issue of former Stasi employees serving in the civil service has hit the headlines after allegations that two policemen guarding Merkel's weekend residence outside Berlin were ex-Stasi men.

The government initially denied the reports but has since acknowledged that one of the guards is a former Stasi employee.

According to government sources, the man was not part of Merkel's closest circle and was not one of her bodyguards.

An association representing the victims of Stalinism (VOS) slammed the employment of former Stasi officials as a "scandal" and a "slap in the face for Stasi victims."

AFP/Expatica

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