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Requesting access to Stasi files on your own person, missing or deceased relatives


You can apply for access to the Stasi records at the Federal Archives - Stasi Records Archive. You can apply for information, inspection of files and the release of duplicates.

Access to personal information:
The Stasi Records Act (StasiUnterlagen-Gesetz - StUG) distinguishes between records of the State Security Service relating to affected persons, third parties, beneficiaries and employees of the State Security Service. This distinction has significance for the scope of the right of access and the obligation to pay fees.


Affected persons are persons about whom the State Security Service has collected information on the basis of targeted information gathering and spying, including secret information gathering.

Employees of the State Security Service are full-time and unofficial employees.

Beneficiaries are, on the one hand, persons who have been substantially supported by the State Security Service or who have been spared prosecution. On the other hand, they are persons who promoted, prepared or committed crimes with the knowledge, acquiescence or support of the State Security Service.

Third parties are other persons about whom the State Security Service has collected information without this information having been purposefully collected and stored in a file specifically created for the persons concerned.

As a data subject, you have the right to view all information on your person contained in the existing and indexed documents of the State Security Service of the former GDR ("Stasi"). If the documents contain the code names of employees of the State Security Service who collected or used information about you, you can find out the names of these persons. To do this, you can submit an application to have the code names decoded after you have inspected the files.

Former employees and beneficiaries of the State Security Service have limited access rights. As such, you can view the information contained in the files kept on you by the Stasi. However, you will not be able to view reports you have written.

Information about you may also be contained in files that the State Security Service has created about other people. You yourself are then considered a third party and can apply for access to the documents as such. To do so, you will need to provide information that will enable the information to be found. In this case, the employees of the authority will be happy to advise you.

Access to information on other persons:
Access to information concerning other persons is generally not permitted.
However, exceptions apply to close relatives of missing or deceased persons. As a close relative or next of kin, you can obtain access to files if you can credibly demonstrate a legitimate interest in connection with the purpose of the Stasi Records Act. This is the case, for example, if the application concerns rehabilitation, the protection of personal rights or the clarification of the fate of the missing or deceased person.
You must therefore justify an application relating to a missing or deceased close relative accordingly.

Ask the Stasi Records Archive for advice on whether the requirements are met in your case.

You will receive access to the Stasi files in the form of

  • written information,
  • inspection of files or
  • the handing over of duplicates.

You must apply for access to the Stasi files in writing or online.

Please note:
Stasi files are still being made accessible and usable. After a file inspection or if no documents were initially found when you first applied, a repeat application after a few years can therefore lead to new results.

Process flow

You must apply to the Stasi Records Archive for access to the Stasi records for private individuals:

Written application:

  • The application form is available from all offices of the Stasi Records Archive and can be sent to you by post on request. You can also download and print out the application form from the Stasi Records Archive website.
  • Complete the form in full, sign it and send it by post to the Stasi Records Archive together with all the necessary documents.
  • An informal written application signed by you personally is sufficient. We recommend that you use the application form provided by the Stasi Records Archive, which can be used to record all relevant data for processing.

Online application:

  • Complete the application form on the federal website (federal portal) and upload all the necessary documents.
  • upload all required documents.
  • In the online procedure, the data required for authentication is read directly from the ID card using the online ID function.
  • You will need a card reader or a suitable smartphone to read the ID document.

Further steps in the process:

  • If the card searches do not reveal any information about you or the missing or deceased person, you will be informed accordingly. This concludes the processing of your application.
  • If your personal details are recorded in the files of the Ministry for State Security (MfS), but no other documents are available, we will send you a final report with copies of the index cards.
  • If there are indications of the existence of further documents in the files, the research will be continued in the archives of the Stasi Records Archive. You will then receive a corresponding interim notification stating that you must expect a waiting period.
  • After the examination, all documents relating to your application will be prepared for inspection. As your right to inspect the files only applies to information that concerns you personally, text passages may be blacked out or covered up. However, this does not affect the names or code names of full-time or unofficial employees of the State Security Service; these remain recognizable.
  • Once the preparatory work has been completed, you will be invited to inspect the files in person at an office of the Stasi Records Archive of your choice. Before and after the file inspection, employees of the authority will be available for discussions and questions.
  • If the files are smaller or if you have expressly requested this, the documents and, if necessary, explanations will be sent to you by post instead of being inspected.

In addition, the documents can also be made available for download online via a publishing platform of the Stasi Records Archive upon request.

Requirements

Access to personal information: no legal requirements
Access for close relatives of a missing or deceased person:

  • You are the spouse, partner, child (including adopted), grandchild, parent and, in individual cases, natural parents of adopted children or siblings of the missing or deceased person and
  • can credibly demonstrate a legitimate interest in connection with the purpose of the Stasi Records Act.
  • They are related up to the third degree (grandparents, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece or great-grandchild of the missing or deceased person) and can credibly demonstrate that there are no closer relatives.
  • An application can be made for the purpose of rehabilitation, protection of personal rights and clarification of the fate of a missing or deceased person.

You will be granted access to the files within the scope of the legitimate interest asserted or the admissible purpose of the application, provided that no overriding interests of other persons worthy of protection are impaired as a result.

Access cannot be granted if the missing or deceased person has left a corresponding disposition or if the contrary will of the person concerned is clearly evident from other circumstances.

Which documents are required?

Access to personal information:

  • Confirmation of identity (not older than 1 year)
    Confirmation is either
    • information from the population register, which only applicants receive from the registration authority
    • a certificate from the registration authority, which is only issued to applicants
    • an officially or notarized copy of a valid identity document or
    • an official or notarized confirmation of identity on the application form
  • if applying in person at a Stasi Records Archive office: valid identity card or passport
  • when applying online: Identity card with activated online ID function

Access as a close relative of a missing or deceased person:

  • Proof that the person in question is missing or deceased (for example, copy of the missing person's report or death certificate)
  • Proof of the family relationship (e.g. copies of civil status certificates), in the case of close relatives up to the third degree also proof that there are no more close relatives
  • Information on the purpose or legitimate interest for which access to the documents is requested

If necessary, please contact the Stasi Records Archive for advice on whether you need to submit further evidence in your specific case.

What are the fees?

For affected persons, third parties or close relatives of missing or deceased persons:

  • Fee for written information, inspection and the issue of duplicates: none
  • Expenses for the issue of duplicates of paper documents or filmed files: depending on the size and type of copy EUR 0.03 to EUR 0.08
    • the provision of this data via the publication platform is free of charge
  • Production and issue of duplicates of other information carriers (e.g. image and sound recordings, films, maps, plans): in full (also when provided via the issuing platform)

For former employees or beneficiaries of the State Security Service:

  • Fee for initial written information, inspection or provision of duplicates: EUR 76.69;
    • Subsequent services: EUR 5.11 (release of duplicates) or EUR 20.45 (information after previous inspection, inspection after previous information)
  • Expenses for the issue of duplicates of paper documents or filmed files: depending on the size and type of copy EUR 0.10 to EUR 0.18
    • the provision of this data via the publication platform is free of charge
  • Production and publication of duplicates of other information carriers (e.g. image and sound recordings, films, maps, plans): in full (even if provided via the publication platform)

For details, please refer to the Special Fees Ordinance of the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media
(Special Fees Ordinance BKM - BKMBGebV) with a list of fees and expenses on the website of the Stasi Records Archive.

What deadlines do I have to pay attention to?

There is no deadline.

Processing duration

  • for processing the application: initial information on whether there are any references to documents: within 3 to 6 months
  • If there are references to documents: up to 2 years until final information, inspection of files or sending of copies

Appeal

  • objection
  • Administrative court action

Technically approved by

The Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media (BKM)

Professionally released on

05.12.2023

Author

The text was automatically translated based on the German content.

Source: Serviceportal Niedersachsen (Portalverbund des Bundes und der Länder)