Frequently Asked Questions About the Future of the Stasi Records Archive
What is the current status of the process of transformation?
On 19 November 2020, the German Bundestag passed the necessary legislative amendments for the transformation. They will come into force on 17 June 2021. At that time the Stasi Records Archive will become part of the Federal Archives.
Will access to the Stasi records change?
No. The Stasi Records Act (StUG) remains in force and will continue to provide the legal basis for access to records in the future. For this purpose, the Federal Archives Act will henceforth refer to the StUG. This means that under the umbrella of the Federal Archives, access to the Stasi files is guaranteed as before, with the same procedures and staff.
What will become of the Office of the Federal Commissioner?
The Federal Commissioner for the Stasi Records will be further developed into a Federal Commissioner for the Victims of the SED Dictatorship. This office will be located at the German Bundestag. The central task of the SED Victims Commissioner will be to act as an ombudsperson in politics and in the public for the concerns of the victims of the SED dictatorship in the GDR and of communist rule in the Soviet occupation zone in Germany and will help increase awareness of victims of communism in Germany.
What happens to the twelve branch offices?
The previous twelve locations of the BStU in the eastern federal states will be further developed. The files of the respective federal states will be consolidated in Erfurt, Frankfurt (Oder), Halle (Saale), Leipzig and Rostock. In the future, each of these locations will have a modernised or new archive building. At the locations without files in Chemnitz, Dresden, Gera, Magdeburg, Neubrandenburg, Schwerin and Suhl, as well as in Cottbus, information, consultations and file inspection will continue to be possible. This is the first time that it has been legally stipulated that Stasi files are to be kept at regional locations. This reorganisation will take several years. The archive locations and branch offices are integrated into the regional memorial landscape and support its fields of activity.
What are the plans for the Stasi headquarters in Berlin-Lichtenberg
An Archive Centre will be built at the site of the Stasi Records Archive in Berlin-Lichtenberg. The plans include four components:
- A centre of excellence to preserve holdings (restoration and digitisation)
- A computer centre to store digitised documents
- Storage rooms for all files on the GDR administered by the federal government: the Stasi files as well as the files of the central GDR authorities and the Foundation of Parties and Mass Organisations in the GDR (SAPMO) that are administered by the Federal Archives
- A user area with a reading room, in which the special libraries of the Stasi Records Archive and the SAPMO are integrated.
- The Archive Centre is a cornerstone for the further development of the historical site “Stasi Headquarters. Campus for Democracy”, a site of German dictatorship and democracy history with educational and information services provided by various organisations. These include civil society partners such as ASTAK e. V., which has run the Stasi Museum at the site since the 1990s, the Robert Havemann Society with its permanent open-air exhibition “Revolution and Fall of the Wall” that opened in the courtyard in June 2016, as well as the Archive of the GDR Opposition, victims associations and other initiatives.
-The Federal State of Berlin supports the development with its 2018 resolution “to set the course for the Campus for Democracy in Lichtenberg.” Jointly with civil society partners, the Stasi Records Archive will contribute its part to the development of the site by distinguishing the archive as a place of learning.
Will the files be moved to the Federal Archives in Koblenz?
No. The files remain where they are: in Berlin at the historical site of the former Ministry for State Security and in the five eastern federal states. Background: About 50 kilometres of the total 111 kilometres of Stasi files are located in Berlin; the remaining 61 kilometres are distributed among twelve archive locations in the eastern federal states.
What advantages does the implementation of the future concept provide to users?
Over time the investment in preserving the records and improving digitisation will result in easier access. Work and services, in particular in regard to record cataloguing, archive-appropriate document storage and digitisation, will be further improved. This will also impact the effectiveness with which requests to view the Stasi records are handled. As part of the Federal Archives, the Stasi records will be more strongly integrated into the structures for preserving the national written heritage. Additionally, with the Stasi records more efficiently embedded into the context of all documentary holdings of GDR history, it will be easier for scholars and other users to contribute to the reappraisal of the SED dictatorship. And in the future, it will also be possible to view Stasi documents at the Federal Archives’ locations in Koblenz, Bayreuth, Ludwigsburg or Freiburg.
How will research in the Stasi Records Archive continue?
To improve the research possibilities for research, education and the media and to meet the increasing demands of a changing academic landscape, research at the Stasi Records Archive is being further developed in the direction of source-based research. Research on sources is based on the three pillars: basic research, research of written documents and editions. Consultation and requests to view records will be expanded through improved research occurring simultaneously in the holdings of the MfS and other GDR institutions.
Will there be continued vetting?
Yes. When the Stasi Records Archive is integrated into the Federal Archives, the records can still be used for the process of vetting. As before, the Stasi Records Act provides the basis for this. The 9th amendment of the Stasi Records Archive passed by the German Bundestag on 26.9.2019 allows for vetting to continue until 2030.
Will there be less personnel at the Stasi Records Archive ?
The staff of the Stasi Records Archive will be fully integrated into the Federal Archives. Employment contracts and employment relationships will be transferred to the Federal Archives as the legal successor to the Stasi Records Archive . There will be no dismissals as part of the transformation. There are no plans to transfer employees to other authorities of the federal administration as part of the transformation. The Stasi Records Archive and Federal Archives share the common goal of avoiding relocation of their staff.