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About the archives of the BStU

The BStU archives in the Berlin central office and twelve regional offices are responsible for the safekeeping, utilization and accessibility of all records of the Ministry of State Security (1950 - 1990). The archives also contain records from various precursor organisations such as the K 5 political police and from the ministry’s successor organisation, the Office of GDR National Security.

In addition to written documents, the archive also contains a large amount of stored audio-visual material such as photos, slides, film and sound recordings. The documents consist of existing files that the State Security Service had archived earlier as well as material that the MfS was using in its service units just prior to the Peaceful Revolution in 1989/90. About half of the entire 111,000 metres of documents is stored in Berlin.

One of the many shelves in the BStU Archives Berlin.One of the many shelves in the BStU Archives Berlin. Source: Franziska Gilli

One of the main tasks of the archives is to make the records accessible to citizens and to research and media institutions. The BStU makes the results of this archival work available online through a file index (in German only).

Since the files are in constant use, the archives also have to address issues of restoration and conservation to ensure that the records continue to be available in the future.

The archives of the central office in Berlin-Lichtenberg are located at an authentic historic site. The Ministry of State Security was based in Berlin-Lichtenberg from 1950 to 1990. It first occupied a building that had previously housed the former Lichtenberg finance office and gradually expanded from there. The buildings that used to stand at the site were either torn down or converted into office buildings. New office high rises and archive buildings were built; a church and two streets disappeared. Over time the headquarters of the State Security Service came to occupy an entire sealed-off block.

Documentary "Experience the Past"

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A video documentation about the work in the archives of the BStUSource: BStU

Documentation

Watch a video documentation about the manual and virtual reconstruction of shredded documents.

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