Saturday, 16 January 2010

Another important day

Today Germans commemorate the peaceful storming of the Stasi Archives on January 16, 1990 by East Berlin citizens. People were afraid that the MfS (Ministerium für Staatssicherheit), the former Secret Service of the German Democratic Republic would destroy all the files on GDR citizens they had created so industriously. And right they were. After the fall of the Berlin wall in November 1989, the removal of travelling restrictions for East and West Germans and the beginning of a dissolution process of the GDR state and government the Secret Services obviously tried to cover its tracks. Its members were already busy destroying the files. But they were defeated by the sheer amount of them. Because of the courage of the people who stormed the archives an incredible amount of files was recovered and even those that had been shredded could be restored in later years. First by hand like a jigsaw puzzle and later by scanning the pieces and letting a computer do the work.

After reunification which took place later in 1990 an institution was set up in 1991 that takes care of the Stasi files. They were registered and catalogued and people could apply for permission to have a look at them. Up to 6.5 million applications have been made, 103000 still in 2008. For most of them it must have been a severe shock to see who of their friends and neighbours had spied on them and fed the Secret Service with information. We know now that the Secret Service had 91000 full time employees and 189000 so called "inofficial" ones. 7000 people worked at the Stasi headquarters in East Berlin alone.

Part of Mausi's family lived in the GDR so Mausi has personal experiences what life was like in the GDR. But since 1990 a whole generation has grown up that has not. Therefore days like today are important to keep the memory alive and be grateful that a part of Germany is no longer a dictatorship.

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