Biedermann and Arsonist

No Institution since the annexation of the GDR to the BRD has so sharply been criticized as the "Bureau of the Federal Authority in charge of the Documents of the State Security Service of the Former German Democratic Republic", generally referred to simply as the "Gauck-Commission". Documents forwarded from this agency to officials in the New-States (formerly the East German states) showing a citizen's connection with the Ministry of State Security (MfS) often leads to job termination. 

The victims of the Gauck-Commission are branded as "informal collaborators" - as IMs. And, as a rule, an examination of the documents by the authorities does not take place. With these politically und judicially highly questionable measures, GDR citizens are harassed and robbed of their means of existence. In this way, with the help of the Gauck-Commission, the Federal Government practices Victors' Justice and thus continues the Cold War on German soil. For the ultra-Conservative forces on the Rhine the Gauck-Commission presents the most important propaganda instrument in Eastern Germany. There are several reasons for this. It is the intent of the government to distract disillusioned people over the miserable consequences of re-unification by discrediting every aspect of the GDR. But the practices of the agency are not only a pain for those affected, but for all those who had no dealings with the Stasi-apparatus at all, but simply got mentioned in their files. The searching in the Stasi-files thus contravenes the regulations to protect data privacy. Nonetheless, the interest of those to access their files, who had material collected on them, is understandable. However, the results have shown that many of those who were affected can hardly view themselves as political martyrs, but as average citizens, who had had gossip gathered on them. The main focus of their campaign has been against prominent personalities who have held official functions, against intellectuals, scientists, artists and members of the SED; but also against those who after 1990 were active in the SPD or PDS. In this way, the CDU's prospects for elections in the East were to be improved, after the FDP's diminishing size no longer posed a serious threat. The main focus of attack is the PDS, denunciated as "Radical Left" by Bonn's Interior Ministry. In the inflated revelations and accusations concerning a factual or an alleged co-operation with the MfS, the critical question is pushed aside, as to what a signature (of co-operation) actually means. Did the person in question ever deliver information, did the person sign under pressure, or was co-operation freely given, or if a co-operating person actually harmed anyone or not. However, these types of details, which would in countless cases exonerate an individual are of no interest to the Gauck-Commission. What counts for them are horror stories which can constantly be fed to the media. Since these "Ideologue-Bureaucrats" (Gesinnungsbürokraten) place the figure at 172 000 "informal co-operators" their continued existence for the next coming years is secured. How high Bonn values the activities of this agency is revealed through a comparison of the number of personnel employed by the Gauck-Commission in comparison to the Ludwigsburger central agency to collect data on Nazi criminals. In Berlin and the other branches of the Gauck-Commission there are more than 3000 on staff, in Ludwigsburg there are only two dozen left. The distracting from the BRD's undigested Nazi past is another essential reason for the disproportionately large costs incurred by the Gauck-Commission, who's yearly budget amounts to 250 million Marks. In early 1997 the BRD's Federal Accounting Office, to cut costs, suggested to close down several outpost branches. However, Theo Waigle, the Federal Finance Minister refused to do so, even though, he himself couldn't secure the millions needed to cover the Federal Budget.

A look back

A historical look back seems to be in order: After the creation of the BRD in 1949 the activists and collaborators of the Hitler-dictatorship were able to secure their influence in the civil services. The pursuit of war criminals and mass murders proceeded at a slow pace. Most of the culprits were never even charged with anything, others were acquitted, or if interned were released early. High ranking Nazis ascended to top positions. Just one example, to be reminded of, is Hans Globke -- Konrad Adenauer's closest adviser. As commentator to the "Nuremberg Laws" he produced judicial documents for the extermination of German Jewry. To this day, the rest of the Gestapo-files are not open for public view, as is the case with the card index of the NSDAP members in the former US-documentation Center in Berlin - whose takeover several German governments have refused. In the spring of 1997 the German public was alarmed by reports that 50 000 NS-criminals, including voluntary foreign SS-recruits, were receiving war victims' compensation. Now Washington is putting pressure on Bonn because East-European Holocaust victims have received no or only minimal compensation. If the Federal Republic of Germany were really the pure "nation of laws" (Rechtsstaat) that its politicians, on a daily bases claim it to be, then a final reckoning with the Nazi past would have taken place long ago. Also necessary, after German reunification, would have been a disclosure of the illegal activities of the Federal Intelligence Service, particularly, since the BND was an outgrowth of the Wehrmacht's Gehlen-Organization that employed Gestapo- officers. For the pretended indignation over the Stasi-files Joachim Gauck presents the ideal actor. For his clients he represents a perfect casting. For in his black and white view, there were in East Germany only two categories of people, namely Stasi-victims and Stasi-perpetrators, good and evil, brave democrats and abysmaly evil communists. The extent to which Mr. Gauck's one-sidedness and grotesque exaggerations can take is revealed by his mega-revelation this year, whereby ostensibly 30 000 informal Stasi collaborators (IM's) were active in the old Federal Republic (West-Germany). According to the Schmidbauer-List -- named after the secret service minister in charge --, there exists a list composed of only 2000 persons (from the West), who allegedly worked with the state security apparatus of East Germany. A following enquiry in the Bundestag by the German Greens remained unanswered - supposedly, this list does not exits now. When the issue is the activities of the secret services Bonn constantly plays with a stacked deck, especially since, Bonn remains silent to the activities of the BND and the CIA in the former GDR. Joachim Gauck studied in Rostock theology and was active as a community pastor in Mecklenburg. During the events, leading to unification, he was one of the founders of the "New Forum" and for a few months was part of the last Volkskammer (Peoples Chamber in the GDR). The television-critic Peter Hoff: "This man gives one a chill, Gauck exudes the most horrendous self-righteousness, a feeling of coldness, reminiscent of the few encounters I've had with the powerful elite in East Germany". Behind this smooth manners lies a fanatic. Gauck receives a compensation similar to that of the president of the Federal Intelligence Service (BND), the Federal Bureau of Criminal Investigation (Bundeskriminalamtes), and the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Verfassungsschutzes). Just as with these top officials his activities are beyond public control and scrutiny. The closeness between the managers of the Stasi-documents and the methods of the secret services can also be seen from the fact that Gauck's representative, Hans Jörg Geiger, through the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution was made president of the scandal ridden Federal Intelligence Service (BND). In his new position he desperately tries to play down the scandals of the BND. Herein is the last BND scandal over the plutonium-deal which got stuck in the parliamentarians fact-finding committee. Today's Bundestag representative Rainer Eppelmann (CDU) questions why an examination of his Stasi-file reveals that the documents of his contacts with the CIA are missing. If the completeness of the documents can't be guaranteed then it would seem that the kilometer long files are worthless. The West-German public hardly takes notice anymore of the victims of these politically motivated disclosures when it doesn't concern prominent personalities. Some of the more crass examples have been documented by Gisela Karau and Jens Vetter in their report "Gauck-Victims" (Gauck-Opfer) -- Spottless-Verlag Berlin. Allow for one example to suffice: Dr. Rudolf Mucke a medical doctor for occupational medicine founded in the 70's a youth club, that US-Radio station RIAS certified as a "resistance commitment" (Widerstandsengagement). Because Mucke had had contact with some Stasi people, he was declared as "unacceptable" by his employer at the Berliner Charite-Hospital. A couple of days later he jumped to his death from a railway bridge. But the god-like robe carrying Mr. Gauck couldn't allow such tragedies to bother him. One of his most prominent adversaries was the now deceased philosopher Wolfgang Harich, who as a long time opponent of Walter Ulbricht (the GDR's first head of government) spent many years in penitentiary. In 1995 Harich pressed charges against the Gauck-Commission because of "abuse of authority" (Amtsmissbrauchs). Without his permission Stasi-files concerning him, labelling him as "a spy", were given over to a publicist. When it has to do with opponents of the clique in Bonn, Gauck's zealousness has no boundaries. The clearest example of which is the years long attack against Brandenburg's Minister President Manfred Stolpe (SPD) and the leading personality of the PDS, Gregor Gysi. Although Stolple was, in fact, the official contact person from the protestant church to the Stasi, and although after re-unification the church reaffirmed its trust in him, the search for incriminating material still goes on. Considering the immense problems facing Eastern Germany today it seems totally absurd to try to prove an ostensible awarding of a medal to him by the Stasi at his home in a so-called "conspiratory dwelling" (konspirativen Wohnung), particularly, after the witnesses were debunked as liars. And against Gregor Gysi there is constantly new material cooked up to try to prove that while practicing law (in the former GDR) he worked with the Stasi. Herein Gauck's like-minded colleagues from the citizens group ("Bürgerbewegung" - the group of people that initiated much of the revolt in the former East-Germany) weighed in with the most insidious vituperations. The inconsistencies and contradictions in the Gauck-Commission's paper mountains of files are all to obvious. Totally unbelievable appears the claim that Gysi's Stasi contacts were so careful in their dealings with him that other departments of the Stasi-Ministry were kept in the dark. Till this day, there is no legal proof of the accusations levelled against Gysi. But, at root, its not an issue of finding proof. For these "Ideologue-Officials" (Gesinnungsbehörde) it suffices that Gysi's name regularly appears in the media. Considering such degusting practices, who can still wonder, that the granddaddy of contemporary German literature, Stefan Heym, has accused the Gauck-Commission of being "worse" than the "middle aged Inquisition". This reminds the writer Stefan Heym of the persecution of the Jews in the so-called  "Thousand Year Reich". Gauck's reaction to Heym's assessment was one of arrogance and of offence; like the head of a petty office he stated: "with indignation I take note of the way Heym discredits an instrument of the democracy movement". Typical of the political position of the "head file snooper" is his uncalled-for lecturing. Thus he accuses the SPD of not having supported the citizens groups before re-unification, and that the Left, as a whole, had too little distance to the GDR government. Mr. Gauck forgets that all West-German governments had to be interested in having a positive working relation with the GDR in order to allow the border to become more penetrable.

Perpetrator-file Gauck?

The last GDR Interior Minister, Peter-Michael Diestel (CDU), has made the serious accusation that Gauck self-righteously determines for himself what files are "Victims' Files" and which ones are "Perpetrator Files". Diestel rejects this bureaucracy's "file snooper lecturers" because they haven't lead to "one single indictment against a criminal, coercer, torturer, or the like". That which speaks the most against Mr. Gauck is his own past in the GDR. Sven Dorlach has investigated this in his brochure "The Case Gauck" (Der Fall Gauck: Spottless-Verlag, Berlin). Gauck's subjective analysis that the file on him represents a "classical Victim's File", with which he tries to pull himself out of the affair, doesn't make sense with Dorlach's findings. That becomes particularly clear in the minutes of a Stasi-captain, with whom Gauck held a detailed conversation on 28 July 1988. The contents show that Gauck must have been handled like a privileged citizen. He was able to travel several times to the west, and his sons, which had moved to the west, were able to freely re-enter the GDR. For ordinary mortals such privileges remained mere fantasies. And Gauck's nagging and ranting about certain activities of the MfS (Ministry for State Security in the GDR) would also have had grave consequences for originally GDR citizens. Gauck had called for better relations with the ministry and expressed his feeling that he believed the MfS "would bring about a real positive contribution to the development of socialist society". These types of utterances clearly reveal the opportunism of this "civil rights advocate". With his type of Stasi-file, anyone looking for a job at an official government office (in today's Germany) wouldn't even get the opportunity to work as a doorman. The Stasi-captain suggested to his superior to archive Gauck's file as "OV Larva" (operative alias 'Larva') and to add a history of former IM activities. Favorably, impressed he added, "Further, it seems reasonable to maintain contact with Gauck on a long-term basis and to arrange for a further discussion in 1988." The former department head in the Rostocker committee to breakup the MfS, Ralf Merkel, has severely incriminated Gauck. Accordingly, Gauck appeared on 2 August 1990 and requested to see his Stasi-file documents. Contrary to the rules he spent several hours alone with his file and afterwards was not examined. Peter-Michael Diestel called this behavior "clearly illegal" and "unlawful". The dubious behavior of the head of this agency reflects the dubious manner in which it conducts its business. The Bonner "board of inquiry to investigate the assets of the GDR" early this year, withheld from the Gauck-Commission 13 481 documents on certain people; allegedly by accident, even though there were several requests made for these documents. The list of these people are seen as explosive. Is there a certain group of people to be protected? If Gauck were to have even more influence than he has he would have all people he doesn't like banded from carrying out their profession (Berufsverbot). On Saarland's radio station he accused the West-Germans of having played down the harm of the East German system. Gauck referred to the alleged 30 000 Stasi co-operators in the BRD. At the same time he criticized that West-German firms do not scrutinize there leading personnel for possibly having had co-operated with the Stasi. Earlier he had already complained that West-German firms had employed workers in the GDR who were with the Stasi, and that these firms today haven't got the slightest interest in having them scrutinized by his officials. Time is working against people like Gauck. More and more people are hardly taking notice of his "revelations". If the strived for "inner unity" is ever to come about then there's no place left for the Gauck-Commission. The call for an end to the Stasi-file investigations can no longer be overheard. But there are still too many narrow minded representatives of the CDU in the East and fundamentalists of the former East German civil rights movement (ehemaligen Bürgerrechtsbewegung), preventing this, who would just as soon declare themselves holy. Were this "cult of the file" to end, many of the alleged "heros of the people" would see their status diminished. This is reflected in the wish to have a foundation created in their honor. If Chancellor Kohl were not dependent on the anti-communist votes of the CDU he would have gotten rid of this "cult of the files" a long time ago. As a savvy politician he knows that in the long run the methods of the Gauck-Commission can only harm him.

  Horst Hartmann, Mannheim


Translation from German into English by Alant Jost

German Original: