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Talks with Stasi Archive

A delegation of the “Bundesbeauftragten für die Unterlagen des ehemaligen Staatssicherheitsdienstes der DDR (BStU)” (Special Federal Representative responsible for preserving the documents of the former State Security Service of the GDR) came to visit the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen on 25th August 2009. On a guided tour through the archives and in talks with ITS archivist Karsten Kühnel and Nicole Dominicus, Birgit Salamon, Head of the archival holdings’ section at the BStU, and her colleagues, Dr Karsten Jedlitschka and Stephan Wolf informed themselves about ITS’ archival holdings and its modus procedendi.

Considering that both institutions are facing similar challenges, archivist exchange of views on specialist issues of stock formation and description of documents were in the fore of the visit. Both organisations, BStU and ITS, keep documents that have been indexed by names. And both institutions currently are describing the content of the documents with a view to opening them for research. "It is a balancing act between the interests of the researchers in gaining fast access to the documents on the one hand and the requirements of an expert describing of the often most personal data on the other hand", underlined Jedlitschka.

The office of the Special Federal Representative preserves in its archives the documents of the Ministry for State Security of the former GDR and makes them accessible to private individuals, to institutions and to the public to various purposes acting in conformity with the legal regulations of the legislation governing the so-called “Stasi” records.

In a conversation with ITS Director Jean-Luc Blondel, Salamon emphasized the responsibility the two offices have in common for the victims of the two German dictatorships and their descendants. Blondel placed the work done by the BStU and ITS into an international context reminding important archival finds made abroad. “ITS and BStU agree to exchange views on archivist expert issues in future”, said Kühnel concluding the talks.