Das Bundesarchiv

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Department German Democratic Republic (Department DDR)

The Department DDR is responsible for the archives of the central state apparatus of the GDR and its predecessor in the Soviet occupation zone (SBZ).

The documents of the supreme organs of the state (including the Volkskammer/People’s Chamber, the Staatsrat/State Council and the Ministerrat/Ministerial Council of the GDR) as well as the Departments of the Interior and Justice, the Church, Finance, Post, Education, Culture, Work, Social and Health Services, Youth and Sport, Statistics, Research and Technology, Building and Traffic, Agriculture, Environment, Trade and Economy are preserved in the Federal Archives in Berlin-Lichterfelde and are available for use. The state archive material is supplemented by personal papers, cartographic records and aerial photographs. The holdings run to a total of over 42,000 shelf metres.

Digital documents from numerous closed-down computer centres of GDR authorities have been placed in the Federal Archives. These are permanently maintained, documented and made accessible in Koblenz. There are, for example, are the data bases of the Staats- und Ministerrat der DDR (State and Ministerial Council of the GDR), the Staatlichen Zentralverwaltung für Statistik (State Central Administration for Statistics), the Ministries of the Interior, Foreign Trade and Intra-German Trade, Public Education, Agriculture, Forestry and Foodstuffs, as well as the Instituts für Technologie und Grundfondsökonomie im Gesundheits- und Sozialwesen (Institute for Technology and Capital Funds Economy in Health and Social Affairs) and the Kommando der Grenztruppen (Command of the Border Troops).

The archive of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs can be found in the Politisches Archiv des Auswärtigen Amts (Political archive of the Foreign Office). The records of the Ministerium fuer Staatssicherheit (Ministry of State Security) and the former state security organs are kept, according to a special law (the BStuG) by the Bundesbeauftragter für die Unterlagen des Staatssicherheitsdienstes der ehemaligen Deutschen Demokratischen Republik (Federal Commissioner for the records of the State Security Service of the former GDR, BStU) and used for research and information purposes. They can there be used for investigations into one's own personal existence. The archive material of the Nationale Volksarmee (National People’s Army, NVA) and the Border Troops is available in the military archive department of the Federal Archives in Freiburg im Breisgau.

Greater gaps exist in the availability of classified information, some of which was already destroyed during the GDR era but to a greater extent when it ended.

Due to the centralised structure of the state, documents from central institutions are also of value for detailed questions into administrative behaviour. Because of the leading role of the SED, anchored in the Constitution as the State party, and the quasi-monopoly role of mass organisations, a complementary research in the holdings of the Foundation Archives of Parties and Mass Organisations of the GDR in the Federal Archives is often to be recommended.