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German Democratic Republic (1949-1990)

Access may be gained in the Federal Archives to the civilian national and military archives of the central state apparatus of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), of its precursor in the Soviet occupation zone, and of the parties, mass organisations and social organisations in conventional and, to an extent, in digital form. These are supplemented by records of private origin and audio-visual sources.

The archives of the SED held by the Foundation Archives of Parties and Mass Organisations of the GDR are of relevance to all questions, given the leading role of the SED as central state party enshrined in the constitution of the GDR.

The holdings of the Federal Archive include archival records from the following places

The Federal Archives also has at its disposal

Greater gaps exist in the availability of classified information, some of which was already destroyed during the GDR era but then particularly when it ended. The archives of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and of the diplomatic and consular missions abroad and contract documents from the former archives for state documents are in the Political Archives of the Foreign Office. The records of the Ministry of State Security (MfS) are kept by the Federal Commissioner for the records of the State Security Service of the former GDR (BStU) in compliance with the Stasi Records Act (StUG).

You will find further information on the reference pages Official printed archives, Library, Pictures and posters, Film, Maps, plans and technical drawings, Military bodies and associations, Personal papers and Collections.

Research options

Advices for reference

The regulations governing the use of the reference service are contained in the Federal Archives Act (BArchG), the Federal Archives access regulations, the Federal Archives cost regulations and the reading room regulations of the Federal Archives. Please note that specific legal and contractual provisions may apply in the case of access to personal records and archives of private origin with copyright implications. In the case of holdings in the GDR section, as a rule the access restriction period as per § 5 (5) BArchG [Federal Archives Act] is shortened as far as possible in the interests of unrestricted research work. The 30-year term of access restriction has been lifted for the holdings of the Archive Foundation for Parties and Mass Organisations of the GDR in the Federal Archives. However, the terms specified in § 5 of the Federal Archives Act must be observed for archives relating to individual persons.

Reference locations

Several places provide a reference service for the Federal Archives:

Berlin-Lichterfelde
Koblenz
Freiburg
Berlin-Wilmersdorf