GHDI logo

Rainer Eppelmann talks about the Enquete Commission on the SED Dictatorship (May 3, 1992)

page 2 of 5    print version    return to list previous document      next document

A second group will deal with the state of individual archives, for example, the SED archive, the State Security archive, the archive of the Politburo, of the block parties; it will have to ask what, for example, was destroyed in these archives in the fall of 1989 or the spring of 1990, and for what reasons? What were the motives? A third group will deal with the structure and workings of the [Ministry of] State Security, in an effort to arrive at evaluation criteria. I’ll venture to mention at least two other areas that I believe will certainly play a large role in our commission: the whole area of the economy and the area of culture, sports, and churches. It’s clear to us, and we’re also in unanimous agreement, that we can’t reappraise, can’t probe every area that has something to do with GDR history. Therefore, we’ll have to identify individual focal points in the hopes of actually coming up with results. And it’s important that this becomes clear: this is about all the people. It would be totally disastrous if we were unable to avoid the impression that we were only talking about Erich Honecker and Bärbel Bohley for two-and-a-half years. We have to talk about the lives of the 16 million [East Germans] and also about the behavior of the 60 million, meaning the West Germans, at least where their actions or inaction had a direct or indirect influence on living conditions in the GDR or on the behavior of those living there, both those who governed and those who were governed. Whether in the end there’ll be an interim report, a partial report, or a final report – I don’t think anyone can tell you at this time.

Deutschlandfunk: Mr. Eppelmann, a “Forum for Education and Renewal” initiated largely by members of the former GDR civil rights movement was founded in Leipzig in March. Is this competition or rather a supplement?

Eppelmann: Both, and in my view the two are not mutually exclusive. A very meaningful supplement, but at the same time competition that will put pressure on us: Don’t take your work too lightly, otherwise they’ll show you up. The Enquete Commission of the German Bundestag is the parliamentarians’ response to the question that is generally asked: How can one try to work through GDR history? A question that, in my mind, every former GDR citizen should grapple with. Therefore, I would really like to encourage, even if I don’t know what I’m instigating here, as many former GDR citizens as possible to think about their lives, write these thoughts down, then perhaps turn them into a letter or a report and to send this off so we can make note of it. We have to rely on such forms of cooperation with as many [partners] as possible, that is, with the Leipzig Forum, say, but also with the Domaschk Archive in Berlin, for example, or on what is called victim-perpetrator dialogue.

Deutschlandfunk: Mr. Eppelmann, you yourself come from the church opposition of the GDR. You tangled with the state as early as the beginning of the eighties. If I am correctly informed, the church leadership often found this a bit irksome. Did the official church always act properly during GDR times?

first page < previous   |   next > last page