Stasi lawsuit chills research

The World

This man’s book was never likely to be a best seller author. He is a researcher at the Stasi archive and his book is based on extensive archival research from the Stasi files and it’s become surprisingly controversial. Some of the names have gotten him in trouble; two former Stasi officials named in the book are suing him for identifying them. A court has put an injunction on the book unless the offending lines are blacked out and the author himself has to be very careful about speaking in public; a lawyer sat in on our interview. If the lawsuit succeeds, future research might have to be published without naming names. The researcher says it’s already affecting how academics are writing about the past. The lawsuit takes advantage of Germany’s strict privacy laws says this professor. The laws are aimed at protecting the criminal suspects before they’re convicted or acquitted. The informants are challenging the historical records, they’re just trying to protect their privacy. Some former East German officials are defending the lawsuits and say these people deserve their privacy. He says those who worked for the Stasi were just carrying out their duties.

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