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The founding of the European Network in Berlin, December 2008

International Exchanges

The Stasi Records Archive was the first institution established worldwide to make secret police files publicly accessible. This experiment was realized because the "freedom for my file" demands made during the Peaceful Revolution were heard and respected by the political leaders.

The information collected by the Stasi was to be made available to help people understand their personal fates. The Stasi Records Archive was also established to immediately address the injustices committed by the communist dictatorship in the GDR.

The BStU was rather alone when it began addressing its special task in 1990. Now, however, many changes have taken place internationally in this area, especially in Eastern Europe. In late 2008, a network was established between secret police archives in Eastern Europe to coordinate their work and promote exchanges. Several other archives and initiatives are also currently involved in the historical reappraisal of communist dictatorships.

Additionally, many efforts are being made to address past military dictatorships and other tyrannical regimes in Latin America, Asia and Africa. This includes the UN in Ruanda and ex-Yugoslavia and the efforts to come to terms with the end of Apartheid in South Africa. During visits to the Stasi Records Archive or at conferences organized by the Archive, the German example is frequently cited as a model for providing access to secret police files.

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

When the network was founded in 2008, 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.

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.

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