Politicians want to open Stasi archive

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Some high-profile politicians from the Labour Party and Socialist Left (SV), both of which are members of Norway’s left-center government coalition, want to open up a long-locked archive detailing the activities of Norwegians who delivered information to the former East Germany’s dreaded secret police unit, the Stasi. Access, however, would be restricted to researchers.

Newspaper Aftenposten has reported earlier that Stasi activity during the years of the Cold War was believed to be extensive in Norway. Some researchers believe it’s been underestimated, and that a surprising amount of information on the Norwegian military and the political situation in Norway was handed over to Stasi agents.

Those agents include not only East Germans on various trips to Norway but also Norwegians recruited by the Stasi to keep East German and Soviet intelligence units informed. The Stasi itself is believed to have had around 89,000 employees and 179,000 external agents.

Among them, according to Aftenposten’s report of a recent speech by Stasi researcher Hulmut Müller-Ensberg, was a Norwegian couple with the code names “Hein” and “Ros.” They delivered information about ammunitions storage and a radar complex in a rural area outside Kristiansand, for example, and were believed to have close ties to Norway’s labour union movement.

Now top Labour politician Jan Bøhler and Akhtar Chaudhry of SV are among those calling for access to the archive at Norway’s own police intelligence unit PST that contains copies of old Stasi files that landed in the hands of the US’ Central Intelligence Ageny (CIA). The originals were destroyed by the Stasi right after the Berlin Wall fell, and the CIA reportedly shared portions of the copies making up the so-called “Rosenholz Files” with PST. It’s unclear whether PST received all files pertaining to Norwegians or simply a sampling, and PST hasn’t been willing to comment.

“The important thing is that the documents be made available to researchers,” Chaudhry told Aftenposten on Friday. He said SV has “no problem” with documents being opened because “this is a closed chapter in world history.” He also doesn’t think access to the archive will threaten Norway’s national security.

Foreign researchers have been asking Norway to release its Stasi archive, not necessarily to identify former agents but to learn how many were involved, how they were recruited and what sorts of information they delivered to the East German government. Per-Kristian Foss of Norway’s Conservative Party has already asked the Norwegian government to begin the process of transferring the archive over to researcher in Berlin. Bøhler of Labour has no objections.

“We welcome such research,” he told Aftenposten. “We want openness and knowledge about what happened, of course with consideration for personal privacy, the security of those involved and the security of the country.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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