On summer day in 1962, a year after the construction of the Berlin Wall, three men in trench gray interrupted a German high school lesson at Mahlow, in the southern suburbs of the East German capital. Between them, 14-year-old Regina Herrmann fingered him and gestured to him to drop the class.
The men informed Herrmann that the socialist unit ruling party considered his father an enemy of the state, a "capitalist exploiter", because he ran his own business, a hairdressing salon. In the old system, they said, bourgeois offspring as she could have counted on a university education. No more. She would not be allowed to continue attending a school in the one-party Socialist state, and could bury her dream of becoming a doctor here and now.
In the months and years to come, Herrmann often felt he was being followed. The men were still on her heels, she remembers: "like a shadow." In her city, there were suddenly rumors that she was a
It was only after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 that Regina Herrmann found in the Stasi archival documents of which the German Democratic Republic the secret police of the Republic asked five unofficial collaborators to the target in the bars and boxes at night: "It is well known," the file says that Herrmann "likes to dance and is happy for her dance partners to invite her to the bar after".
In Germany to celebrate gears 30 years since the end of the Ferce curtain Saturday, Herrmann is one of thousands of victims of the regime of the GDR who have, so far, been denied access to support schemes because so many responsible of a reunified Germany still ignore the secret techniques of the socialist state employed to intimidate and subdue its neighbors.
Article 17 of the treaty that sealed the reunification of East and West Germany promised that victims of politically motivated measures would be entitled to "appropriate remuneration".
But every time Herrmann tried to find legal means to access these funds, his claims were rejected for lack of clear evidence. In Frankfurt West, where she is installed, the same official suggested that she move to the east, where the bureaucratic system would be more sympathetic to her fate.
Now 72, she still works as a receptionist in a security cabinet, top of the page up to her € 1073 (£ 923) per month old-age pension. "I never wanted to go begging for benefits," she says. "I have always tried to work harder than my colleagues, to prove that I am capable. A 2011Herrmann medical certificate diagnosed with a physical work addiction relationship. "Already since I was in this class, I had the feeling I needed to prove something."
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During the early years of the Soviet satellite state, political dissidents were primarily suppressed through official legal channels. After the construction of the dum, however, the state tried to clean up its image, declaring a commitment to human rights by signing the basic treaty with 1972 West Germany and the Helsinki Accords of 1975. As a result, any real movement against enemy foes The imaginaries of the socialist state now had to take place "silently".
A 1976 directive by Stasi leader Erich Mielke offers a catalog of psychological warfare methods called
From the post-wall point of view, the reasons why East German citizens could be
Hitchhikers were from a number of youth "negative decadence" movements – including punks, rockers, Goths, and New Romantics – the Stasi believe part of a concerted Western effort to undermine morale is- After the secret police noticed Gollin hanging out with what was supposedly the bad crowd at a blues festival, he drew up a plan to systematically isolate the 18-year-old between his friends and family and frustrate him. his aspiration to become a bookseller, culminating in a 20-month-long prison for "public denigration of a state organ," after she staggered at a man she thought was a spy.
After reunification, Gollin found a job as a tour guide at the Germanchancellerie. Combined with a € 300 monthly pension for East Germans who have spent more than 180 days in prison, a 63 year old has an income of around € 1,400per month – but he is terrified of how she both aftercare ends.
In a reunified German state, former Stasi employees continue to attract relatively generous public sector benefits. Many of their victims, on the other hand, are struggling to prove to the authorities that they could have found a regular job if the state had not stopped them.
"I feel like I've had it twice," says Gollin. "Every society has the same problem: no country likes to hear victims of its history. People want their societies to be made up of healthy people – we are not healthy."
A new law, which is likely to be approved by the Upper House of Germany on Friday, is designed to facilitate access to additional support payments, including a one-off payment of € 1,500 for victims of
The victims' associations have welcomed the new legislation and Gollin has realistic hopes that his life could improve accordingly: his Stasi files include an organizational chart of
but others will be less fortunate. Johannes Wasmuth, a Munich-based lawyer the German government has consulted as an expert witness on the matter, says the new law is a mosaic of chance that does not address the truth of the heart at the heart of the situation of victims.
"The Stasi was not stupid," he says. "They followed the old Stalinist tactics of injustice that they camouflage them. In most cases, he predicts, the courts will continue to lay claims because the victims are struggling to provide concrete evidence that they have been subjected to psychological warfare.
Frank Metzing, from Aschersleben, Saxony-Anhalt, received top marks at school and put his eyes on a career as a doctor. After three years training as a medical assistant, he asked for a place at Martin Luther University in Halle, to deny a place. The reasons for his submission, he claims to have been told by one of those involved in the interview process, were his Christian faith and membership in the German Estbranche of the Christian Democratic Union.
In May 1983, he tried to leave East Germany as a stowaway on a train from Prague to Nuremberg. A stop before crossing the border, he heard knocking at the door of his hiding place above the toilet. During the 16 months of the prison that followed, he was subjected to serious abuse and intimidation.
After being bought by the West German government in 1984 (a common practice), he tried to finally get started on his medical degree. but suffering from insomnia attacks and panic, he struggled to accomplish basic tasks. "I could not concentrate. It was a disaster.
Living on disability benefits since 2005, he has spent nearly 15 years of legal battles paying a pension equivalent to the profession he lost on. The courts have repeatedly rejected his claims, saying that they have no evidence that he lost a career as a doctor for political reasons, rather because there were limited places available for such a degree in politics. cash-strapped state.
Thirty-five years after his transfer to the west, he wrote in a letter to the authorities this year that he was "facing a legal chaos that makes a tellemocracy of the rule of law (…) I can as well as remained in the GDR.
Worse still for many victims, the main documents required by the courts as evidence of their treatment by the Stasi may not have survived the destruction of mass red tape in the last days of the republic.
Astrid Giebson, from the Oberschöneweide district of Berlin, was only 13 when she returned from school in October 1962 to find that her mother and father had been arrested with the intention of escaping to the west. With both parentsprison, she was put in charge with a parent considered faithful to the decisionpart, but he was bullied by teachers at school and forbidden to pursue sasouhaite to become an interior decorator.
Giebson finally managed to escape West Germany in 1981, but efforts to get the authorities to recognize his situation resulted in frustration. For the past three years, she has been waiting for a court to respond to her claim for compensation. The last time she got an answer, she told him she needed to show her juvenile records. But when she contacted her local authority, they drew a white one – her records had been lost. "It's a real fiasco," she says, "We're being made a mockery. "
If the lawmakers really wanted to help the victims, said the lawyer Wasmuth, they could have reversed the burden of proof, so that the courts must find that the people who are in the line of sight of the Stasin are not subject to
"After the Nazi era, we in Germany had a problem with judges who did not recognize the injustice that had been inflicted," he added. "The situation for the victims of the Stasi is now no different."