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What is the Stasi Records Agency?

The Agency of the Federal Commissioner for the Stasi Records (BStU) safeguards and administers the records of the former State Security Service of the GDR. It makes them accessible on the basis of the Stasi Records Act (StUG).

Building of the BStU--Federal Commissioner for the Records of the State Security Service of the former German Democratic Republic in der Karl-Liebknecht-Straße in Berlin.Building of the BStU--Federal Commissioner for the Records of the State Security Service of the former German Democratic Republic in der Karl-Liebknecht-Straße in Berlin. Source: BStU / Böttcher

The agency has its central office in Berlin (two locations) and twelve regional offices in the former city capitals of the GDR. It operates within the Ministry of the Commissioner for Culture and Media (BKM).

Tasks

In addition to the safekeeping and securing of archival holdings, one of the Stasi Records Agency’s most important tasks is to provide people access to files that concern them. They can then clarify what influence the Stasi had on their destiny (Paragraph 1 of the StUG).

The Stasi records are also made available to scholars and journalists who want to engage in a historical and political reappraisal of the GDR dictatorship.

In response to petitions from public and private agencies, the agency provides information from the files about individuals in public service or in prominent social positions. The notification will include any evidence that exists in the files to suggest that collaboration with the MfS took place in the past. The requesting agency is responsible for determining what consequences this information should have. The agency also provides information for the purpose of rehabilitation, compensation, criminal persecution, danger prevention and pension concerns.

Stasi Records Act also specifies that the agency is responsible for providing the public with information about the structure and methods of the Stasi and how it operated. This is done through research, exhibitions, events and educational programs for schools.

Chronology of events

  • Winter 89/90:
    Stasi offices and later the Stasi central headquarters of the GDR in Berlin are occupied
  • October 1990:
    Joachim Gauck is appointed Special Commissioner for the Stasi Records
  • December 1991:
    The Stasi Records Act (StUG) comes into effect; Joachim Gauck is "The Federal Commissioner for the Records of the State Security Service of the former German Democratic Republic"
  • January 1992:
    Citizens view their files for the first time
  • September 2000:
    The Bundestag elects Marianne Birthler as Commissioner, re-electes her January 2006
  • January 2011:
    The Bundestag elects Roland Jahn as Commissioner, re-elects him June 2016
  • December 2011:
    The 8th amendment to the StUG comes into effect

The current and former commissioners: Roland Jahn (he took office in 2011), Marianne Birthler (2000-2011) and Joachim Gauck (1990-2000).The current and former commissioners: Roland Jahn (he took office in 2011), Marianne Birthler (2000-2011) and Joachim Gauck (1990-2000). Source: BStU / Steffen Freiling

What does the BStU archive contain?

  • Documents: 111 shelf kilometres (ca. 887 million pages)
  • Photos, negatives and slides: 1.7 million
  • Film, video and audio recordings 30,100
  • In ca. 4,500 index files: approx. 41 million file cards
  • Filmed documents: the equivalent of 47 shelf kilometres
  • Fragmented material: more than 15,500 bags
  • Discs, hard-discs and magnetic tapes: more than 10,000

The Berlin archive of BStU.The Berlin archive of BStU. Source: BStU / Dresen

How many requests have been received?

Application from 1991 to end 2016

  • Requests and petitions: 7.11 million
  • Requests from citizens to view and receive records: 3.16 million
  • Requests from journalists and scholars: 33,106
  • Petitions for the examination of public service employees and pension concerns: 3.41 million
  • Petitions regarding rehabilitation, compensation, criminal investigation: 504,811

The Stasi Records Agency

Download our brochure and get more information on the accessible  Brochure: The Stasi Records Agency (PDF, 1MB, accessible).

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