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European Network of Official Authorities in Charge of the Secret Police Files

In December 2008, the first network of secret police agencies in Eastern Europe was founded in Berlin under the chairmanship of Marianne Birthler, then-commissioner of the Stasi Records Agency. When it was founded, The "European Network of Official Authorities in Charge of the Secret Police Files" had seven members: Bulgaria, Germany, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary.

The founding of the European Network in Berlin, December 2008The founding of the European Network in Berlin, December 2008 Source: BStU

The Network Reader, currently only available in English, provides an overview of the legal foundations, structures and activities of the Network.

The Seven Founding Members

In Germany, the demands made during the Peaceful Revolution to make the Stasi files publicly accessible were fulfilled when Germany was reunified on 3 October 1990 and the Special Commissioner for the Stasi Records began his work. The position of Federal Commissioner for the Stasi Records was established when the Stasi Records Act was passed on 29 December 1991. The Eastern European states required more time to get started.

Poland: IPN (1998/2000)

The Institute of National Remembrance – Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation (Instytut Pamieci Narodowej, IPN) was established by the Polish Parliament through the act of 18 December 1998. It began operations in mid 2000. One of its four main departments is involved in activities that go beyond archival work. The "Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation" is part of the IPN, but also a special branch of the public prosecutor’s office of the Republic of Poland. It investigates the war crimes and crimes against humanity that were committed when Poland was under German occupation and when it was ruled by a communist dictatorship.

Romania: CNSAS (2000)

The National Council for the Study of Securitate Archives (Consiliul National pentru Studierea Arhivelor Securitatii – CNSAS) was founded in 2000 following a long and heated debate. The "Law on Access to personal files and to expose the Securitate as a political police," passed by the Romanian parliament in December 1999, formed its legal basis.

Hungary: ABTL (1997/2003)

After the Hungarian Lustration law was found to be unconstitutional, the investigation law was amended and the "Historical Office" was founded in 1997. The latter was an archive providing citizens access to information about them that had been gathered and stored by state security organisations. Its work came into question in 2003 when it became known that the former prime minister had been involved with the Stasi. In reaction to this scandal, the parliament passed a new law in 2003 calling for the foundation of the "Historical Archives of the Hungarian State Security Service" (ABTL).

Slovakia: UPN (2003)

The Slovakian "Institute of National Memory" (Ustav Pamäti Naroda – UPN) began operating in 2003. It was created in 2000 from the Ministry of Justice’s "Division for Documenting Communist Crimes." Overriding the former president’s veto, in 2002, the National Council of the Slovakian Council passed Law no. 553/2002, calling for the establishment of this institution.

Bulgaria: COMDOS (2003)

On 19 December 2006, the Bulgarian Parliament passed the "act on access to and disclosure of documents and on announcing affiliation of Bulgarian citizens with the state security and intelligence services of the Bulgarian national army." Following many years during which efforts were made both to open and to destroy the files, the time was right for the "commission for access to and disclosure of documents and on announcing affiliation of Bulgarian citizens with the state security and intelligence services of the Bulgarian national army" (COMDOS).

Czech Republic: USTR (2007)

On 1 August 2007, law no. 181/2007 on the "Institute for the Research of Totalitarian Regimes, the Security Services Archive and the amendment of a few laws" came into effect in the Czech Republic. It provided the legal basis for establishing extensive public access to the secret police files. The Institute for the Research of Totalitarian Regimes and the Security Services Archive (USTR) began operations in February 2008.

Five Guest Members

In 2013 the Network granted additional countries guest status at its annual conferences. Since then representatives of the three Baltic states, as well as two institutions from Slovenia, have participated in the conferences:

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