Photo of J. Gauck

The East German Stasi Files

A Question and Answer Session
Joachim Gauck,

first head of the Federal Office in united Germany in charge of the East German Secret-Police files

photo of Stasi library stacks

Joachim Gauck was a Lutheran pastor in East Germany beginning in the late 1960s. In 1989 he was one of the initiators of the church-based public protest movement against the East German state. He led weekly church services in the context of mass demonstrations in the city of Rostock and was a member and spokesperson for the protest group, "New Forum." In the process of democratization in East Germany he headed the "Special Commission on the Control and Disbanding of the Ministry of State Security." For almost 40 years, from its founding in 1950 to the end of 1989, the "State Security Service" (Stasi) of East Germany collected information on millions of citizens (in 68,000 linear meters of documents).

With the unification of the two German states on October 3, 1990, Gauck was named "Special Attache of the Federal Government for the Personal Files of the former State Security Service" by the German Chancellor and German President. In December of 1991 the German Bundestag passed a law that gave individuals and groups access to the Stasi files the Stasi. Gauck was named head of the agency charged of this enormous task. By October of 1997 the "Gauck Agency" had received approximately 1.3 million private and another 2.3 million official requests to view Stasi files. Joachim Gauck headed this office until October 2000.

September 19, 2002
11:00 — 12:00 noon

Texas Union
African American Room

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