At the end of 1989, when the Germans were destroying the Berlin wall that was separating the freedom from the communism, I was in Berlin. STASI, the German Security, tried to save itself by changing its name and pretending it was a different institution. The Germans didnât buy it.
On the 11th of December 1989, in the morning, the German TV stations were broadcasting live from the STASI headquarters. The doors were sealed. The notes on them were informing that the institution had been dissolved and the 18 buildings of STASI had been taken over by a "Staatliches Brgerkomitee" (Civic State Committee).
"My name is Hans Joachim Gauck and I am a parson", were the words of a civilian that came from the windows of the No. 1 building - where I had often met my East-German counterpart, General Markus Wolf. "I wanted to study journalism", Gauck continued, "but STASI rejected my file because my father had been arrested by NKVD and taken in Siberia when I was ten. I graduated from theology eventually. I am not a religious person, but the wish of believing in something has become more and more important for me during the hard years I have lived until today, when our civic committee gave me the task of taking the STASI headquarters under control".
When Gauck finished his speech, the few thousands of STASI members who had come to work looked sadder than ever. Over the night, the defendants became accusers.
I have revisited Berlin regularly since then. During the first years after the unification of Germany, STASI was on everyoneâs lips. They were blaming their crimes. Everyone was talking about the more than 200 km of secret archives of STASI and about the six million files of operative individual investigation that were covering 30% of the German Democratic Republic population. The people were talking about the fact that the city of Erfurt, with 200,000 inhabitants, had more than 50,000 informers, about the way the STASI tentacles had covered like cancer all the fibers of the East-German society.
I went to Berlin again last month. I went to take another look at the former STASI headquarters on the Normanen Strasse. The 18 grey buildings were now painted in bright colors and hosting all kinds of private companies. Afterwards, I revisited the STASI museum, which was initiated a few years ago, and I joined a group of Germans. "STASI was the communist equivalent of the Nazi GESTAPO", the guide explained to us. "What happened to STASI?", one of the visitors asked.
No one talks about STASI in Germany, and the new generation has hardly heard of it. STASI was in the past. After the unification of the country, the German Government published the names of all the STASI officers and exposed their informers and collaborators. The people persecuted by the STASI have been able to read their personal files as many times as they had wanted. Now, the Germans are interested in the future, but not on the past.
This is how the Romanians should have treated this matter as well. Unfortunately, Security is now in the headlines of all the newspapers. Its phantom is walking freely on the streets of the country. It threatens. It accuses. It terrorizes. Nowadays, many Romanians are very interested in their past more than they are in their future. Why?
Ceausescuâs successor, Ion (Ilici) Ceausescu, a communist by profession, was only aware of the communist governing system, which was based on the political police. He tried to replace it with the miners, but he didnât like it. They were noisy and always upfront. So, he went back to the Security members. They were quiet and invisible.
In 1990, the President renamed the Security and made the SRI (the Romanian Information Service) and then he released a decree that read that "only the people found guilty for facts against the fundamental human rights and freedom" couldnât take part in SRI. In other words, Ceausescu was the only one excluded. Afterwards, Iliescuâs SRI published the "White Book of the Security", 1947 pages, that reads that this odious institution, which killed or terrorized more than one million Romanians, served the national interests in a certain historical period. Grateful, the Security members got Iliescu back to Cotroceni for two more times.
In December 2004, the Romanians replaced Ilici with Traian and Romania has finally started to go on a Romanian way. Recently, the secret services have been forced to open the archives of the Security that they have hidden for 17 years.
More than a million of different files of the Security will become also become transparent. The Americans say "the genie is out of the bottle". The disclosure of the informers and collaborators of the Security will purify the political air and climate of the country. They will not be able to blackmail anymore and they will not be blackmailed anymore. However, the informers and the collaborators were simple tools. Their manipulators are the ones responsible for the crimes of communism. They are in the way of the rehabilitation of the victims of these heresies. They are the real criminals.
President Basescu guaranteed he would go all the way. In other words, he will also disclose the real Security members for them to become history. Many Romanians in the country and in exile hope he would do as he said. These Romanian Security members are responsible for the fact I am yet to find out what happened during the warm days of December 1989. Due to them, Romania is the European country with the most secret services: seven. The other countries of the continent have two or three. Due to the perpetuation of the Security concept, SRI has 12,000 officers (Germany, a country with a population three times greater, has 6,000 officers). Due to the Security members, some of the Romanians crucify today the ones that tell the bloody history of communism. Due to them, Romania is the only European country that agrees with the communist political police.
Germany got rid of STASI without hunting witches. Romania could do the same. Afterwards, the Romanians will finally be able to focus on building their future, instead of thinking about their past.
Translated by SORIN BALAN