In Berlin, a dispute revolving around who gets to explain the dark days of the old East Germany is taking shape at the former headquarters of the Communist regime’s secret police, the Stasi. A private group, Anti-Stalinist Action (ASTAK), has been running a memorial in Building 1 of the vast complex for more than 20 years. Now the government wants to create its own national memorial to those dark days in Building 1, and ASTAK has been told to vacate the premises, with its government funding ending this month.
ASTAK started its museum and research centre shortly after the headquarters was stormed by thousands of angry East Germans on Jan. 15, 1990. Last year, 100,000 tourists visited the museum, located in the offices of Erich Mielke, who led the Stasi and its massive network of spies and informers for four decades. The activists are concerned that their popular tours and perfectly preserved rooms won’t find a home in a new high-tech museum. So Jörg Drieselmann, the head of ASTAK and a former Stasi prisoner, is demanding a say in the renovation “down to the last detail,” as he explained to Der Spiegel. Though Building 1 will survive in some form, much of the complex could be demolished to make way for redevelopment of the increasingly valuable land.