Examination of Petitions, Rehabilitation, Compensation
Public and private agencies may receive information from the Commissioner about whether evidence exists to suggest that individuals in prominent social and political positions collaborated in the past with the Ministry of State Security.
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Petitions to Examine Individuals
Public and private agencies in the Federal Republic of Germany may, under prerequisites regulated by law, receive information whether evidence exists to suggest that individuals collaborated in the past with the Ministry of State Security.
It is the responsibility of the requesting agency to decide whether, to what extent and through which process examinations should be carried out. These agencies determine on an individual basis the consequences for past collaboration with the State Security Service and the criteria that is to be applied in the judgement.
The Commissioner is not the evaluating authority in the examination process. His role is to provide the necessary information from records left behind by the State Security Service – while fully respecting the legal provisions, according to the same standards and irrespective of the person or institution to be examined.
Who may examine?
Access to the records of the State Security Service granted to public and private agencies of the Federal Republic of Germany is regulated by §§ 19 et seq. of the Stasi Records Act (StUG).
Accordingly, the responsible public agencies may direct petitions to the Commissioner in fulfilment of the respective task. Persons filing a petition on behalf of a private agency must provide authorisation for this with reference to the legal basis. This includes detailed information on the intended purpose as well as proof of the legal grounds that authorise the agency to file such a petition and receive the notification.
Who can be examined?
The eighth law to amend the Stasi Records Act went into effect on 31 December 2011. It reformulates the regulations regarding the examination of a person’s official or unofficial employment with the State Security Service and extends the validity period within which examinations may be carried out from 31 December 2011 to 31 December 2019.
The persons or groups of persons who may be examined to determine whether they were employed officially or unofficially by the State Security Service are listed individually in Article 20 and 21, Paragraph 1, No. 6 and 7 of the StUG.
Accordingly, examinations may be carried out on members of the federal government or local government, parliament representatives, members of local representative bodies and locally-elected officials as well as honorary majors and the respective representatives of municipal areas. Examinations may also be carried out on professional judges and honorary judges, public officials who may be moved into temporary retirement at any time, soldiers in leading positions at pay grade A13 or above. Also on certain members of supervisory boards of companies predominantly in the public sector and persons holding positions of responsibility in the area of sports.
Examinations may be conducted on employees in public service holding leadership positions at the pay grade of E9/A9 or above. Moreover all employees in public service can be examined if facts justify the suspicion that they engaged in activities for the State Security Service. In these cases, it is not necessary that the person be serving in a leadership position in order for access to records to be granted.
There is no time limitation on examinations of employees, honorary employees and board members of institutions that are involved in reassessing the activities of the State Security Service or the power mechanisms of the former GDR. This also applies to employees of the Commissioner and members of his advisory board as well as employees in public positions who process claims in accordance with rehabilitation laws.
In addition to the examination of individuals, use of Stasi records is valid as part of a petition from public or private agencies for the awarding of medals for example, or as part of a security or background check on individuals (Article 20, Paragraph. 1 No. 8 to 12 and Article 21, Paragraph. 1, No. 8 and 9 of the StUG).
Examination and Processing of Petitions by the BStU
After receiving the petition, the office of the Federal Commissioner checks whether all conditions specified by the StUG have been met.
If all legal requirements for access are fulfilled, the agency will research the archival holdings of the State Security Service to determine whether records exist on the person concerned. If so, these records will be examined for indications of official or unofficial activity for the State Security Service.
The BStU will inform the inquiring office of the results of the research.
If the legal requirements have been met, the content of the file will be communicated in writing, but an evaluation of the facts of the case will not be provided by the Federal Commissioner. Classification as an employee of the State Security Service is determined solely by Article 6, Paragraph 4 of the StUG.
Since the examinations for public and private agencies are primarily concerned with determining the existence of official or unofficial activity for the State Security Service, other records which may be available on the person concerned and which may reveal that this person was spied upon at some point by State Security Service, will generally not be considered in the Federal Commissioner’s notification.
Limitations of Use
The limitations of use regulated by law demand that the inquiring agency only use the information that it receives for the purpose specified. Furthermore, it may not pass the notification or information that it was given on to other agencies. Only those individuals responsible for the personnel process and those who must participate in this process (e.g. personnel board at a planned dismissal or discharge) may be informed.
However the situation is different in regard to the examination of parliament representatives or members of municipal representative bodies. In this case the public may be gradually informed of the results in accordance with legal and other regulations.
Petitions in Rehabilitation and Compensation Proceedings
The use of records to acquire information for the purpose of criminal, administrative-legal and professional rehabilitation of concerned, missing or deceased persons, of compensation and of granting benefits according to the Prisoner Assistance Act, is regulated by Article 20, 21, Paragraph 1, No. 1 of the StUG.
Decisions in rehabilitation and compensation proceedings are not made by the BStU; they are made solely by the responsible rehabilitation and compensation authorities. Within the scope of rehabilitation or compensation proceedings, these agencies ask the BStU whether records exist which contain evidence of politically-motivated persecution, professional discrimination, documentation of time spent in prison or damage to health.
Petitions from rehabilitation and reparation authorities for information on facts for which no reparation payments are granted do not entail a personal examination pursuant to Article 20 and 21 Paragraph. 1, No. 6 and 7 of the StUG. They are instead concerned with determining whether on the basis of the various rehabilitation and reparation laws principles of constitutional legality and humanity were violated.