Related topics

Stasi Documents Sundering German Society

January 29, 1992 GMT

BONN, Germany (AP) _ Henriette Barbe’s favorite teacher turned out to be her worst enemy.

While the 10-year-old Henriette was developing an admiration for her teacher at an East Berlin school in 1989, the teacher was reporting the girl’s thoughts and actions to the Stasi, East Germany’s secret police.

As a result, the Stasi classified Henriette as ″strongly pro-Western, in a way that is not normal for her age group.″

Henriette’s mother Angelika Barbe, now a member of parliament, found out about the classroom espionage only this month, when she got a look at files the Stasi kept on her when she was a pro-democracy activist.


Mrs. Barbe says her daughter could have been branded for life had it not been for East Germany’s 1989 democratic revolution.

″With that kind of judgment against her, she would have had few opportunities in the future,″ Mrs. Barbe told Radio 7, a private station in Baden-Wuerttemberg state.

Opening the Stasi files was meant to help east Germans find out whether they were being spied on. But many of the revelations have been appalling, opening wounds that could take generations to heal.

Lutheran Church leaders issued a statement over the weekend cautioning east Germans not to let ″mistrust, enmity, and bitterness ... permanently divide″ them as they learn the truth about neighbors, friends and even relatives who informed on them for the Stasi.

The Lutheran Church is unsure what to do about up to 3,000 clergy and lay workers who may have been Stasi informants.

And politicians are bickering over how to handle people from their own ranks who had links to the East German Communist regime.

Brandenburg state Gov. Manfred Stolpe admitted he had contacts with the Stasi administrative head of the Lutheran Church in East Germany. Stolpe says he was trying to effect political improvements, but has come under fire in the church for not telling Lutheran officials about his activities.

Gottfried Forck, the former Lutheran bishop of Brandenburg, declared, ″I have always said the church should not conduct secret diplomacy, but must always say what it has to say.″

Political careers have been ruined because of alleged Stasi links, including that of Lothar de Maiziere, who guided East Germany to union with West Germany.

Josef Duchac quit as governor of Thuringia state last week because of a reputed Stasi past. Duchac, a member of Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s Christian Democrat Party, became an embarrassment to the party.

Stasi revelations have also plagued German intellectuals.

Wolf Biermann, a troubadour exiled from East Germany in 1976, created a stir by charging that east Berlin novelist Sascha Anderson for years was a Stasi informant.

Guenter Grass and other leftist intellectuals accused Biermann of carrying out a private inquisition.

And new revelations keep coming.

Vera Wollenberger, like Mrs. Barbe a lawmaker who was once an East German activist, found out her husband spied on her for the secret police.

Heinz Eggert, interior minister for eastern Germany’s Saxony state, says a doctor and reputed Stasi informer covertly injected him with mind-control drugs in 1983 because of his pro-democracy views. The doctor denies it.

Biermann says his living in West Germany after 1976 didn’t stop the Stasi.

He wrote in this week’s Spiegel magazine that the Stasi plotted a slander campaign against him that included trying to tempt him into sex acts with underage girls, spreading lies about him in the West German media and distributing doctored texts of his songs.

Biermann spent four days reading the 40,000 pages the Stasi wrote about him. They included reference, he says, to the secret police using a naked lifeguard to spy on him when he visited a nudist beach.