Stasi documents

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The documents of the Ministry for State Security of the GDR , or Stasi documents for short , can be divided into card files, files, audio-visual media and machine-readable data (floppy disks, magnetic tapes, magnetic disks, databases). So far, around 41 million index cards and 111 kilometers of files have been found. In addition, 1.85 million photographs, 2,865 films and videos and around 23,250 tapes are kept in the Stasi records authority. In addition, there are around 15,500 containers with previously unseen, torn documents. The so-called Stasi Records Act regulates the use of the records that are administered by the Federal Commissioner for the Records of the State Security Service of the Former German Democratic Republic (BStU). Among other things, it also stipulates that the documents are evaluated, sorted, indexed and stored according to archiving principles.

The records from the Ministry for State Security and the documents from the district administrations of Potsdam and Berlin are stored in the archive of the central office in Berlin-Lichtenberg. In twelve of the formerly 15 district cities of the German Democratic Republic there are now branch offices of the BStU. In them, the documents of the respective district administrations of the State Security Service are archived and made accessible to the public.

Some of the documents such as the so-called rosewood files or the documents obtained through the spy James W. Hall ended up in the USA after reunification and are only partially available in Germany. The accessibility of the files for third parties is also a controversial topic, as Helmut Kohl's proceedings show.


Rescue and opening during the turn

District archive in Erfurt, December 4, 1989

From mid-November 1989 employees of the State Security began to transport and destroy parts of their documents on instructions from Erich Mielke . After the Ministry for State Security was converted into the Office for National Security and the People's Chamber had appointed Wolfgang Schwanitz as the new head , he renewed the instructions of his predecessor Mielke on November 22, 1989 under "strictest secrecy". Civil rights activists soon noticed that things were being burned in State Security buildings and that objects were being removed by truck. For this reason, vigils were set up in front of several buildings and entry was forced. On the morning of December 4, 1989, the district office of the MfS in Erfurt was occupied and on the evening of the same day further occupations followed, for example in Greifswald, Rostock, Bad Doberan, Stralsund and Wismar. As a result, Schwanitz gave the order to stop the destruction of the files. In February 1990, with the consent of the Round Table, the Council of Ministers issued an order to destroy the electronic data carriers. With the self-dissolution of the Enlightenment Headquarters , its files were largely destroyed (see also: Rosewood files ). As an additional clause in the Unification Treaty it was agreed, among other things, under the pressure of a hunger strike by civil rights activists in September 1990 at the headquarters of the State Security in Berlin, several vigils and against the original intention of representatives of the Federal Government and the Minister of the Interior Peter-Michael Diestel that the The blocking period for archived material ( Federal Archives Act ) that is otherwise common in West Germany is not applied and that Stasi victims can view their files ( Stasi Records Act ).

After the turn

Legal dispute over access to files

After the fall of the Wall, there were repeated disputes because the files are not only used for private file inspection, authorities and researchers, but also for media representatives and parliaments.

For example, Helmut Kohl's court dispute , the so-called Kohl case, was very prominent . Other prominent cases concerned Gregor Gysi and Manfred Stolpe .

Handover of documents to the USA

13,088 pages of documents that the spy James W. Hall sent to the MfS about the activities of the National Security Agency against the Federal Republic became the property of the Gauck authorities and were in 1992 in breach of the Stasi Records Act with the approval of the Federal Ministry of the Interior brought back to the US.

The rosewood files , which were sent to the USA in 1990, were returned to Germany in 2003 and can be viewed.


From the parts of the documents that had been destroyed in the last few months of the GDR, many thousands of sacks with materials that had been shredded to different degrees were found that were supposed to be reconstructed. By December 2018, the contents of around 500 of the around 16,000 sacks could be processed manually and around 1,630,000 sheets of written material could be reconstructed. In 2007, a machine reconstruction project began. The Fraunhofer Institute for Production Systems and Construction Technology in Berlin developed the Stasi shredding machine , the authority designation "Virtual Reconstruction of Pre-Destroyed Stasi Files". The partially shredded paper scraps are shrink- wrapped, scanned, differentiated according to several characteristics and then put together virtually.

Types of documents

Written material

The records are divided into archived files, i.e. documents that were archived by the State Security Service itself, and documents from the service units. The latter are files that were still being processed in 1989/90. These are so-called "active" processes (operational processes, i.e. observation of and measures against certain persons) and administrative records. The archived files are completely accessible via personal files, but only in rare cases can they be researched by topic. The documents of the service units are archived at the BStU so that they are subject-related and person-related accessible. So far, 81 percent of the records of the service units have been archived.

Important file categories

IM file: The file for an unofficial employee (IM) usually consists of three parts in accordance with the file management principles of the MfS. Part I, the so-called personnel file, contains documents pertaining to the IM. These are documents that came up during the review of the IM candidate, the advertising resolution, the obligation (if made in writing), regular assessments of the basis of the cooperation, the attitude, as well as the skills and possibilities of the IM, as well as documents any post-advertisement verification measures. Part II, the so-called work / report file, consists of the reports of the IM and the meeting reports of the command officer. Part III, the so-called attachments to the personnel file, contains receipts for salary payments, bonuses, vacation pay and other amounts of money paid or material assets handed over to the IM.

Operational identity check: The operational identity check (OPK) is a conspiratorial process for the education and surveillance of people. It was usually created when there was suspicion of politically inconsistent behavior or to check officials. An OPK also took place in advance of an unofficial activity in foreign espionage.

Operational process : An operational process (OV) is a conspiratorial investigation against unknown persons or against persons who had committed a criminal offense under the GDR legislation or who intended to do so. The cause was often non-conforming political behavior. Each OV had an alias.

Card indexes

The files are, on the one hand, information stores and, on the other hand, finding aids for file research. The personal files were - and still are - necessary to be able to search out the files archived by the State Security Service itself.

The card index F 16 is the central real name index. It is sorted phonetically and contains the full name, address and other personal information of the person recorded. However, the reason for the collection is not given.

This first defines the F 22 index (transaction index). This card index makes it clear whether it is, for example, a process involving an unofficial employee, an operational process (e.g. the observation of a civil rights activist) or another type of process. In the F 22, however, the real name is not mentioned, but the code name. The connection between the files can only be established via the unique registration number.

The card index F 77 contains the code names and is also sorted phonetically. The MfS created them for statistical analysis purposes.

The Kerblochkartei (KK) noted occupation, party affiliation, hobbies, inclinations, habits and interests.

Audiovisual media and machine readable data

Audiovisual media are taken to mean photographs, videos, films and sound carriers. There are around 1.4 million photo documents (photo positives and negatives, slides, microfilms), 31,300 sound documents and 2,734 films and videos with recordings. The machine-readable data are floppy disks, magnetic tapes and magnetic disks from the Ministry for State Security and the district administrations of the MfS. There are approximately 7,832 disks. The machine-readable data also includes the databases of the State Security Service.


In order to counter speculation, Peer Steinbrück , the SPD's candidate for chancellor in the 2013 federal election , published his Stasi files. Among other things, it contains notes about his alleged political views; On the part of the press, this assessment of Steinbrück by the Stasi was sometimes described as "amusing".


  1. a b c Status: December 2018. Source: BStU: Documentation and indexing of the documents
  2. ^ Stasi media library of the BStU: November 6, 1989: Instructions from the minister to reduce files in the district and property offices .
  3. Stasi media library of the BStU: November 22, 1989: Letter from the head of the AfNS, Schwanitz, to the heads of the district offices about the “reduction of the inventory of registered processes and files as well as other operational materials and information” .
  4. Stasi media library of the BStU: Telegram dated December 4, 1989 from the chief of the Erfurt State Security, Major General Schwarz, to the head of the AfNS, Lieutenant General Schwanitz “about the forced entry of oppositional forces to the District Office for National Security Erfurt”; Memorial plaque for the Stasi occupation, in: Thüringer Allgemeine from October 27, 2012 .
  5. Federal Commissioner for the Stasi Records: Autumn Storm 1989 in the former Rostock district ( Memento from September 27, 2008 in the Internet Archive ).
  6. Stasi media library of the BStU: December 4, 1989: Telex from the head of the AfNS to the heads of the district and district offices to stop the destruction of files immediately (3:30 p.m.) .
  7. Agreement on the Unification Agreement of August 31, 1990, September 18, 1990 .
  8. Chronicle of the Wall September 1990 .
  9. Destruction of traces in the office of Der Spiegel 30/1999.
  10. ^ BStU: Reconstruction of torn documents .
  11. ↑ State of the art and cataloging of the documents. Federal Commissioner for Stasi Records, accessed on June 9, 2013 .
  12. MfS-Lexikon: Operative personal control (OPK) .
  13. ^ MfS-Lexikon: F 16 (person index) .
  14. The central case file "F 22" on
  15. Machine- readable data carriers on
  16. stasi-akte-stb-data. (PDF; 12.7 MB) In: . Retrieved March 4, 2020 .
  17. Steinbrück's Stasi files: "In the conversations he describes himself as a Marxist" .


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