Lothar de Maiziere, East Germany’s last prime minister and now an ally of Chancellor Helmut Kohl, fought for his political life Monday as allegations mounted that he had once spied for the Communists.
De Maiziere denied reports in Germany’s two main weekly news magazines, Der Spiegel and Stern, that he was a spy code-named “Czerny” who reported on dissident groups for the hated Stasi security police in the 1980s.
Confronted at a ruling party function on Monday, De Maiziere angrily demanded a showdown with an ex-Stasi officer who claimed he had met the former prime minister, then a lawyer, almost monthly to get information.
“I have a clean conscience,” De Maiziere told reporters. “If you can believe a full-time employee of the Ministry of State Security (Stasi) more than you can a man who has worked hard in politics for the past year, that’s your problem.”
The government launched a probe at De Maiziere’s request over the weekend after Der Spiegel revived charges first brought up last March.
The Spiegel report said De Maiziere regularly reported to the Stasi on the Protestant church, a haven for dissidents in the last years of East Germany’s hard-line Communist regime.
While its report was based on statements by one ex-Stasi officer, Maj. Edgar Hasse, Stern quoted two other former Stasi employees as charging that De Maiziere had been an informer.
De Maiziere, currently minister without portfolio in Kohl’s transitional Cabinet, denied knowing Hasse and said he did not have a clue as to why the former secret policeman was making the charges.