Previous: What Happened to the East German Army?
What Happened to the East German State Security Police and the Internal Police?
In “East Germany’s Stasi a Quarter of a Century After It Was Dissolved ”, 2014, we read:“the Stasi expected some kind of deal that would have prolonged the life of the East German state with West German cash. It was not an entirely unrealistic expectation. The West German government had paid for all sorts of things in the past, including the exit of East Germans and the dismantling of the automated tripwire at the Wall.
“I talked to a lot of the Stasi people, and they said that they were told during the period of upheaval, ‘Stay in your barracks, don’t do anything. The Wall’s open, we’re going to cut a deal, and everything will be okay,’” David Crawford told me. “If these people had been told, ‘Stay in your barracks, we’re going to have reunification, and when it’s over you’re going to get 800 DM a month as a pension, and you’re going to be unemployed, and you’re going to be a pariah to society, and you’re not going to be able to work in the public service,’ there might have been a lot of public resistance. People might have said, ‘Hey, wait a second, I don’t want to go into something where people are going to be investigating whether or not I’ve broken any laws over the last 20 or 30 years.’”
Thus, junior officers of the State Security police didn’t put up active resistance to unification because their leadership deceived them. And, as we shall see later, they had good financial reasons for doing so.
“Stasi officers reportedly had discussed re-branding East Germany as a democratic capitalist country to the West, but which in practice would have been taken over by Stasi officers. The plan specified 2,587 OibE officers (OffiziereimbesonderenEinsatz, “officers on special assignment”) who would have assumed power as detailed in the Top Secret Document 0008-6/86 of 17 March 1986”.
So, East German security apparatus prepared for "unification" 4 years before it happened! They hoped for a deal that would preserve the East German state apparatus.
“On 7 November 1989, in response to the rapidly changing political and social situation in the GDR in late 1989, Erich Mielke resigned. On 17 November 1989, the Council of Ministers (Ministerrat 'der DDR) renamed the Stasi as the “Office for National Security” (AmtfürNationaleSicherheit – AfNS), which was headed by Generalleutnant Wolfgang Schwanitz. On 8 December 1989, GDR Prime Minister Hans Modrow directed the dissolution of the AfNS, which was confirmed by a decision of the Ministerrat on 14 December 1989.”
“As part of this decision, the Ministerrat originally called for the evolution of the AfNS into two separate organizations: a new foreign intelligence service (Nachrichtendienst der DDR) and an “Office for the Protection of the Constitution of the GDR” (Verfassungsschutz der DDR), along the lines of the West German BundesamtfürVerfassungsschutz, however, the public reaction was extremely negative, and under pressure from the “Round Table” (RunderTisch), the government dropped the creation of the Verfassungsschutz der DDR and directed the immediate dissolution of the AfNS on 13 January 1990. Certain functions of the AfNS reasonably related to law enforcement were handed over to the GDR Ministry of Internal Affairs. The same ministry also took guardianship of remaining AfNS facilities.
When the parliament of Germany investigated public funds that disappeared after the Fall of the Berlin Wall, it found out that East Germany had transferred large amounts of money to Martin Schlaff through accounts in Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein, in return for goods “under Western embargo”.
About Martin Schlaff, Wikipedia writes that he was born 6 August 1953, in Vienna, Austria, to Jewish refugees from WWII. “He is an Austrian businessman. He was occupied in trade with East Germany before the German reunification. According to the German parliament’s investigations, Schlaff was an unofficial employee of the Stasi.”
“High-ranking Stasi officers continued their post-GDR careers in management positions in Schlaff’s group of companies. For example, in 1990 Herbert Kohler, Stasi commander in Dresden, transferred 170 million marks to Schlaff for “harddisks” and months later went to work for him. The investigations concluded that “Schlaff’s empire of companies played a crucial role” in the Stasi attempts to secure the financial future of Stasi agents and keep the intelligence network alive.”
Those agents of the Stasi who didn't find "safe heaven" in Schlaff's group of companies found a nice place in Russian-related companies:
“Former Stasi agent Matthias Warnig (codename “Arthur”) is currently the CEO of Nord Stream. German investigations have revealed that some of the key Gazprom Germania managers are former Stasi agents”.
Stasi officers continue to influence German political and social life through their organization:
“Former Stasi officers continue to be politically active via the GesellschaftzurRechtlichen und HumanitärenUnterstützung e. V. (GRH, Society for Legal and Humanitarian Support). Former high-ranking officers and employees of the Stasi, including the last Stasi director, Wolfgang Schwanitz, make up the majority of the organization’s members, and it receives support from the German Communist Party, among others.”“Behind the scenes, the GRH also lobbies people and institutions promoting opposing viewpoints. For example, in March 2006, the Berlin Senator for Education received a letter from a GRH member and former Stasi officer attacking the Museum (former political prison in East Germany) for promoting “falsehoods, anticommunist agitation and psychological terror against minors”. Similar letters have also been received by schools organizing field trips to the museum”.
In an article “Why is former Stasi treated with kid gloves?”, we read:
“Even GDR dignitaries didn’t end up too badly,” says historian and Stasi expert Willem Melching. “Although ministers and state secretaries were punished for their crimes against humanity, they usually didn’t have to go to prison (long), or were sentenced to community service.” Erick Honecker (party leader from 1970 to 1989) for example, was held responsible for the death of 192 people, but thanks to health problems he was never charged: he moved to Chili. His successor EgonKrenz was sentenced to 6.5 years in prison for giving orders to fire, a fairly lengthy sentence, but was released after three years because he had performed previous community service selling scrapped airplanes to Russia. Stasi chief Erich Mielkewas released after two years because of health issues as well.”
“Those who weren’t quite as high up could only be charged if they had committed crimes according to GDR law, not if they had ‘just’ done their jobs. Melching says it was a concession made by the Federal Republic to accommodate the GDR during the process of reunification to avoid never-ending trials. Besides: “The law doesn’t mention anything about the abuse of power or ruining a country, however unfair it may seem to victims.” Another explanation for the mild treatment of former Stasi after the fall of the Wall is that it concerned 91 thousand Germans, and hundreds of thousands of ‘informal collaborators’ who betrayed their friends, family and neighbors to the secret service. If all these people had lost their positions, it would have led to major turmoil and dissatisfaction within German society”.
So, the German society faced a dilemma, after "unification": either a "major turmoil", or closing its eyes on the past of the many of the Stasi collaborators. And it chose the later:
“former Stasi staff is still treated with kid gloves. For example, names of Stasi officers have been removed from public archives. In fact, parts of these archives are no longer freely accessible because of lawsuits filed by former Stasi members appealing to their privacy. Many associates of the past secret service have managed to have references to their past removed from books and exhibitions.”
And it is even “cool” now to be a former Stasi, as the former East Germans get their taste of capitalism:
“In the years following the fall of the Wall, they kept quiet, but over the past ten years they’ve opened up and are seen openly defending the GDR… “Saying you used to be a member of Dutch fascist party NSB is unacceptable, but mentioning you were with Stasi is considered cool to some people.”
In “Spiegel Online International”, from 2009, we read:
“The issue of what to do with those Germans who once worked for the East German secret police, most commonly known as the Stasi, has come up again with figures released earlier in the week indicating there were still around 17,000 ex-Stasi employees in Germany’s civil service.Even more troubling, some of them appear to be employed by the police or in various national or state offices of criminal investigation.”
“The Financial Times Deutschland” writes:
“”Every state had its own criteria for clearing employees. But even in the 1990s it would not have been practical to throw all 190,000 of those who were at one time either official or unofficial Stasi employees out of their jobs. And it would make even less sense to throw those that are still working out now.”
So, the Stasi were not punished, hunted down, executed, like former Communist leaders in Afghanistan, after the fall of the regime of Mohammad Najibullah in 1992. The highest members of the organization were put on trial, but then let go. The highest officers of the State Security Police were able to transfer the funds of the organization to the Martin Schlaff group of companies, and obtained positions in the companies. Others, found employment in the Russian-related group of companies. Still others continue to work for the German civil service. They have their own political organization, trying to influence the German society, and receive support from left-wing parties.
In short, the Stasi cadres were not repressed, just like the East German army. They continue, alive and well, although they might be submerged under the heavier ice of West German state.
The fall of the Berlin wall did not mean the end of career for the East German police.
In an article “The Fall of the Wall and East German Police”, we find:
“change in personnel occurred quite slowly. Contrary to the general impression outside of Germany that the fall of the Wall meant instant freedom and democracy, few overnight alterations occurred anywhere in East German society. Many of the old top police officials, like their political counterparts, remained in power, including those responsible for the police misbehavior on October 7 and 8; few investigations actually resulted in prosecution (Baum 1991). One reason 17 for this was that the investigations remained in the hands of the same government prosecuters who had served under the old regime; another was stalling tactics by the police bureaucracy itself (“Das Ende,” Bьrgerrecht & Polizei 1991: 7-8).”
The nature of changes in East Germany immediately prior to unification was that of cooperation between the two state machines, not of civil war:
“Cooperation between the East and West German police began soon after the fall of the Wall. In Berlin, the chiefs of police of the two cities were connected by a direct telephone line (tageszeitung, December 21, 1989). East German police sought the advice of their Western counterparts in dealing with the various crime areas with which they had little experience. West German police held seminars in West Germany for their East German colleagues (Kampmann & Wildt 1990; tageszeitung, May 22, 1990). The police also cooperated concretely, if informally, in solving cross-border crimes (Fuchs, Kriminalistik 1990: 119-21).”After the unification, the East German police was “absorbed” by its West German counterpart. Its structures were "superimposed" upon by the West German police:
“The interim period following the fall of the Wall was short-lived, ending with unification on October 3, 1990. Unlike other East-Central European countries, East Germany was generally not in a position to restructure its society, including its police force, to suit its own needs. Instead, for better or worse, West German structures and laws were essentially superimposed onto the East. This was most obvious in Berlin, where the East Berlin police were completely absorbed by the West Berlin force.”
“Following unification, East German police were required to fill out long, probing questionnaires concerning their political and professional history before being accepted conditionally onto the “new” police force. Those accepted 19 only slowly received the status of civil servants; their pay remained low compared with the past and with their Western colleagues. Further, their training in the East was generally not recognized, meaning that those who had held higher rank were forced to move farther down the career ladder.”
Therefore, similarly to the fate of the East German army, the East German police was not completely dissolved, but "absorbed" and "superimposed" upon by the West German police. Where else could the ruling classes of Germany obtain cadres to control the New Lands?