The opening of the state security archives of central and eastern Europe

2018-07-26T12:21:30Z (GMT) by Paul Maddrell
In laws passed since 19911 the state security archives of the former Communist states of Central and Eastern Europe have been opened. This paper examines why they have been opened and what the results have been (and are likely in future to be). It surveys the legislation in place throughout the former Soviet Bloc but focuses in particular on the opening of the archives in Germany and Romania. The reason for this is that the process is far advanced in Germany and much less advanced in Romania. The contrast between the two displays the issues involved very well. The paper argues that the opening of the archives has been an important tool of de-communization. It has been fullest in Germany because of the strength and self-confidence of the German legal system and because of the weakness of the Communists’ political position. It has been partial in Romania because the legal system lacks authority, independence and self-confidence and the Communists have remained strong.