"Wall peckers" in Berlin, 10 November 1989. People started tearing down the Berlin Wall on their own. Official demolition began at Potsdamer Platz in November 1989, and continued from 20 February 1990 between the Brandenburg Gate and the border post at Checkpoint Charlie.
Source: Bundesregierung/Uwe Rau

The files are ours

The Ministry of State Security (Stasi), like all political and state institutions and organisations in the GDR, was not publicly accountable. The Stasi kept files on four million East Germans and two million West Germans - which offered a unique opportunity for a glimpse behind the scenes of the system, at least retrospectively.

From spring 1990 fresh reports of Stasi crimes appeared continually in the media. Time and again, people in responsible positions were exposed as informers. A specially-convened GDR government commission and a People's Chamber committee drafted a law on handling the Stasi files, stipulating that the files should not be destroyed and everybody affected by Stasi surveillance should have access to them.

After heated debate the law was passed in August, but was not included in the Unification Treaty because West Germany wanted to keep the files closed. Massive protests by civil rights activists, which enjoyed widespread public support, eventually achieved a legal solution along the lines of the People's Chamber law. The Stasi Files Law of December 1991 provided an important basis for understanding how the SED dictatorship operated.

Members of the Erfurt civil rights committee found evidence that candidates for the People's Chamber elections in March 1990 had been informers for the Ministry of State Security (Stasi), the GDR secret police. They called for checks on members of the People's Chamber. Sven Braune, Dirk Adams and Klaus Voigt (l. to r.) went on hunger strike to underline their demands.
Source: Schicker Fotodesign
Shortly before the People's Chamber elections in March 1990, the party chairman of Democratic Awakening, Wolfgang Schnur, was accused of working for the Stasi. The delegates at the party’s election conference in Dresden stood by their chairman on 11 March. He was exposed as an informer shortly later.
Source: Bundesarchiv/183-1990-0311-022/Ulrich Häßler
Official checks were ordered to discover whether People's Chamber members had been Stasi informers. When their implementation was threatened, New Forum and other civil rights groups called for nationwide protest rallies in March 1990. Fifty thousand protesters gathered in Berlin on 29 March.
Source: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Aram Radomski
On 4 September 1990 civil rights activists occupied the former Stasi archives in East Berlin. They demanded that the victims of the SED dictatorship gain access to their Stasi files, and that the Unification Treaty include clear stipulations on the location and continued use of the files.
Source: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Christian Schulz
Demonstration outside the former headquarters of the GDR Ministry of State Security in East Berlin, 5 September 1990. A vigil drew public attention to the occupation of the archives. The large turnout at the daily rallies showed that the occupiers expressed the feelings of many East Germans.
Source: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Christian Schulz
On 5 September 1990 the Leipzig civil rights committee set up a vigil. Many East Germans feared that they would remain at the mercy of secret services if these had sole access to the Stasi files. They were also against West German authorities making use of the files.
Source: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Rolf Walter
During the People’s Chamber session on 28 September 1990, a heated debate broke out on how to deal with the Stasi files. Vera Wollenberger, Christine Grabe, Angelika Barbe, Marianne Birthler, the president of the People’s Chamber Sabine Bergmann-Pohl, vice-president Reinhard Höppner, Konrad Weiß (front row, l. to r.).
Source: Andreas Schoelzel
The law on the Stasi files was passed in November 1991. From January 1992 people spied on by the GDR secret police could view their files for the first time: (l. to r.) Eva-Maria Hagen, Pamela Biermann, Katja Havemann, Jürgen Fuchs, Wolf Biermann.
Source: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Peter Wensierski
The shock showed on their faces — press conference after initial access to the Stasi files, 2 January 1992: (l. to r.) Ulrike Poppe and Vera Wollenberger, former GDR opposition members, and Joachim Gauck, the first commissioner for the files of the GDR State Security Service.
Source: XPRESS/Rolf Walter
A documentation by the BasisDruck publishing house first made Stasi files accessible to the general public in March 1990. 250,000 copies sold in quick succession. The editors Armin Mitter and Stefan Wolle founded the Independent Historians’ Association in April 1990.
Source: Basis-Druck-Verlag
Sticker marking the occupation of the Stasi file archives in East Berlin in September 1990. The occupation, which lasted several weeks, along with massive public protests and the efforts of People’s Chamber members, finally led to regulations on opening up access to the files of the political secret police for the people.
Source: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft
On 8 October 1990 many East Berliners found a form in their letterbox, promising the handover of their personal Stasi files. This forgery prompted a mass run on the Stasi files archive.
Source: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft
Leaflet from the Dresden group "Wolf’s Clothing", explaining the inhumane methods used by the Stasi, the GDR’s secret police. The group also presented proposals for dealing with the Stasi files.
Source: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft
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