(Bundesbeauftragte für die Unterlagen des Staatssicherheitsdienstes der ehemaligen Deutschen Demokratischen Republik - Office of the Federal Commissioner Preserving the Records of the Ministry for State Security of the GDR), commonly known as the Gauck office
or Birthler office
after the first and second lead commissioners respectively, preserves and protects the archives of the former Stasi
, the secret police
organization of the German Democratic Republic
During the regime's final days, Stasi officials shredded documents with paper shredders and by hand. As people heard of this, they quickly formed a committee of citizen
on December 4th, 1989. In a public demonstration they gained access to the Stasi headquarters on January 15th, 1990 and halted the destruction.
With the German Reunification on October 3, 1990 a new government agency was founded to preserve the archives of the Stasi, named BStU.
In 1992, following a declassification ruling by the German government, the Stasi files were published, leading people to look for their files. Timothy Garton Ash, an English historian, wrote The File: A Personal History after reading the file compiled about him while he completed his dissertation research in East Berlin.
In 1995, the BStU began reassembling also the shredded documents; six years later the three dozen archivists commissioned to the projects had only reassembled 300 bags; they then used computer-assisted data recovery to reassemble the remaining 16,000 bags — estimated at 33 million pages.
The CIA acquired some Stasi records during the looting of the Stasi archives. The Federal Republic of Germany has asked for their return and received some in April 2000.
At its zenith, the Stasi had records on some 6 million people. It also had an archive of sweat and body odor samples.
Following the events on September 11, 2001
, the German government commissioned an investigation into Stasi support for terrorist groups such as the Red Army Faction
, but former Stasi officers working within the BStU disturbed it. A new investigation whose report has been leaked
, found out that the BStU employed at least 79 former Stasi members and still employs 56. Since the BStU operates independently from parliament to a large extent, it was possible for them to infiltrate it. The report recommends integrating the BStU into the Bundesarchiv
to end this constitutionally questionable situation, which happens to also be the current government's intention.