Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s government said Saturday that it was investigating whether Lothar de Maiziere--East Germany’s last prime minister and now a member of Kohl’s Cabinet--worked for the dreaded secret police, or Stasi.
De Maiziere denied the allegation.
Government spokesman Dieter Vogel said the decision to investigate was made after a “reference to a document was found on a file card, under the cover name ‘Czerny,’ with an address listing” in former East Berlin that is identical to De Maiziere’s.
The index card was discovered among documents of the Stasi, Vogel said.
Earlier Saturday, the news magazine Der Spiegel said it had uncovered records indicating De Maiziere had been an “unofficial worker” for the East German secret police using the cover name “Czerny.”
Vogel did not comment on the card’s authenticity or give further details about it.
There is concern that files compiled by the Stasi secret police could contain doctored papers that would incriminate innocent people.
Vogel said that “in agreement with De Maiziere,” the government would examine the Stasi files to try to clear up the matter. De Maiziere issued a statement denying he had worked for the Stasi.
De Maiziere’s troubles reflect one of the greatest problems facing united Germany: how to deal with former East Germany’s Stasi legacy and with scandals that could arise during the years to come.
The Stasi files are kept under lock and key in eastern Germany, with public access strictly forbidden. They consist of documents compiled by the secret police on millions of people during four decades of Communist rule.
The files are considered potentially explosive because of the information they contain on the private lives of East Germans, and because they probably reveal who worked as informers for the police.
De Maiziere, who became East Germany’s first and only democratically elected prime minister on March 18, pointed out Saturday that East Germany’s Parliament had examined his background and exonerated him before that nation’s dissolution and merger with West Germany on Oct. 3.
De Maiziere said he has asked Germany’s interior minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, to “carry out a comprehensive examination” to show that he is innocent.
Der Spiegel said it has uncovered evidence that appears to show that De Maiziere began working for the Stasi in 1981. The magazine provided excerpts of its report to other news organizations in advance of Monday’s publication.