Rights envoy calls for debate on East German legacy
The German government’s human rights envoy Günter Nooke on Thursday called for a new public debate on East Germany’s troubled legacy following renewed accusations a high-ranking MP worked for the Stasi.
Nooke told German broadcaster Deutschlandfunk that several members of the hard-line socialist part The Left have been repeatedly shown to have worked for the Stasi, East Germany’s feared secret police.
“I find that there is far too little public notice how dishonest this party actually has approached working through its own history in that system,” the conservative Christian Democratic said.
Nooke said The Left’s parliamentary group leader, Gregor Gysi, naturally wasn’t simply “a dumb cog in the machine” of the communist regime. “One can expect Gregor Gysi and all those who informally worked with the East German state security simply to admit honestly to their past,” he said.
Lawmakers from rival parties subjected Gysi to an hour of accusations in parliament on Wednesday that he had betrayed his clients by revealing their secrets to the authorities in the communist state while working as a lawyer.
Accusations about Gysi's past are not new but they made the headlines again last week when new documents emerged suggesting that he worked as a so-called "IM," an unofficial informer, in 1979.
The head of the Stasi archives Marianne Birthler said on German television that it was certain that Gysi "knowingly and voluntarily worked" for the Stasi, citing the case of an artist on whom "only Gregor Gysi" could have informed.