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Stasi informant loses court privacy battle

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Stasi informant loses court privacy battle
Volker Schmidt looks at the exhibit in question. Photo:DPA
20:49 CEST+02:00
An informer for the Stasi, East Germany's once dreaded secret police, lost a legal bid on Tuesday to keep his identity from being made public.

The informant, identified as Holm Singer in press reports, won an injunction last month to prevent a local government from displaying a travelling exhibition about churches in East Germany that named him. Singer's lawyers had argued that by providing space for the show, the town violated their client's right to privacy.

The decision by the district court in the eastern city of Zwickau means that the disputed items can remain in the display. It ruled that the show's organisers, not the town, were responsible for the contents of the exhibition. It explicitly avoided addressing the core issue of whether former informants such as Singer had a right to privacy.

"It is left to others to decide whether past informants of the former State Security Service (Stasi) are defamed when named in the context of an exhibition about the role of informants in the German Democratic Republic," the court wrote, citing the formal name for communist East Germany.

According to the German media, Singer, under the Stasi codename "Schubert," kept tabs on Protestant churches in Saxony for the Stasi from 1980 to 1989, the year the Berlin Wall fell.

Before the March injunction, the exhibit had already made appearances in more than 10 different locations since opening in 2005. Singer has the right to appeal the court's decision.

Germany has struggled in the years since unification in 1990 to grapple with the Stasi's legacy including vast archives containing minute details about the lives of East German citizens as well as the names of agents and their informants.

Between 1945 and 1989, East German state security employed some 620,000 people.

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