by Anja Kürbis


On February 4, 1992, the Senate of Technische Hochschule Ilmenau took a public position on those university employees who had worked for the Ministry for State Security (MfS) or the Office for National Security (AfNS). The reason for this clear positioning was a reference to the decades-long unofficial work of an academic employee for the MfS, which the latter had concealed and denied even in personal statements. The case was explosive in that the employee was not only a member of the staff council, but also served on both the university's Central Evaluation Commission and Personnel Commission. After a hearing, the individual received extraordinary termination without notice effective March 31, 1992. (Source: UAI, 5323 Pers.)

Staff meeting on the subject of coming to terms with the past, among other things, on 07.01.1992 (Source: UAI, Negative 920107-16)

Examination for activity for the State Security Service

The so-called "cleansing", the disclosure of all those university members who had worked for the Ministry for State Security or the Office for National Security in an official or unofficial capacity until 1989, accompanied the transformation process of the university from the very beginning. As early as December 1990, lists of the university with approximately seventy persons to be checked, sent via the Ministry of Science and Art to the Special Commissioner for Personal Records of the State Security Service, were lost in transit and had to be reconstructed at great expense before they found their destination. Except for the confirmation of receipt, however, no verification result was available even in December 1991. (Source: Klaus-Dieter Fritz, Missing Signs, in: Guru 12.1991, pp. 26-31)

If one considers the status of the archive, this does not have to be surprising. Under the "Sonderbeauftragten der Bundesregierung für die personenbezogenen Unterlagen des ehemaligen Staatssicherheitsdienstes" a small team did not begin work until October 1990 and began providing initial information in December 1990 on the basis of provisional user regulations. A year later, the Stasi Records Act came into force and it was not until the mid-1990s that the authority reached a staff of over 3,000 employees dedicated to the systematic indexing and reconstruction of the files.(more about the history of the archive)


Internal Evaluation

In December 1990, the "Internal Evaluation" began at the Technische Hochschule Ilmenau. This served the purpose of checking all employees of the university for the suitability required for their work. Under the direction of the University Evaluation Commission (ZSK = Zentrale Senatskommission), questionnaires were distributed to all members of the university. These questionnaires served to evaluate the university teachers, the scientific staff, and the senior staff of the administration and non-scientific institutions. While the latter were evaluated exclusively under the aspect of "political-moral integrity" and "democratic attitude," the criteria of "scientific and pedagogical qualification" and "effectiveness" additionally applied to the university teachers and scientific staff. (Source: UAI, minutes of the Senate meeting on 07.02.1991) The principle applied: everyone judges everyone.

On the basis of these questionnaires, the self-report of the university teachers about their teaching, research and social status, as well as personal interviews, recommendations were prepared by the evaluation commissions of the faculties (EKF) and the university (ZSK) from April 1991. As a result, the employees were assigned to either category A (suitable: recommendation for continued employment) or B (unsuitable: recommendation for retenure). Rector Köhler, as head of the University Evaluation Commission, confirmed these recommendations or forwarded them to the Ministry of Science and the Arts for further processing.


Evaluation Regulations for all Thuringian Universities

Shortly before the internal evaluation at the Technische Hochschule Ilmenau was completed, the Evaluation Regulations for Thuringian Universities of June 6, 1991 came into force. The representatives of university had offered in advance to contribute their experience. Similar to the procedure in Ilmenau, the regulation provided for a separation between university teachers and scientific or artistic staff on the one hand, and senior administrative staff on the other. With regard to personal suitability, however, the text struck very concrete notes. According to it, those employees were personally unsuitable who were either

  • had worked for the MfS or AfNS,
  • held a full-time executive position in a party and mass organization,
  • held a prominent function in the university with a special ideological mission, or
  • belonged to the nomenclature cadres of the GDR. (§1 para. 4)

To implement the evaluation regulations, each university had to form a personnel commission, which was to consist of four representatives each from public life and the university. For the Technische Hochschule, this requirement thus resulted in a reshuffle of the University Evaluation Commission. In July 1991, the Personnel Commission was constituted under the leadership of the Prorector for Science, Wolfgang Gens. One of its members was the very employee whose activity for the state security was to become apparent a few months later.

Participation in the internal evaluation was exceptionally high, with 2/3 of all members of the university. As a result, recommendations were made for 72 Category B persons, ranging from review of teaching activities to leaving the university. (Source: ihb 15/91, p. 5)

The Chairman of the Staff Council, Klaus Hanella, at the staff meeting on April 27, 1992 (Source: UAI, Negative 920427-6).

Internal Evaluation is probably one of the most interesting aspects of the transformation of East German universities, the systematic reappraisal of which is still a research desideratum. And despite all the committed efforts to tread the path of renewal without personally incriminated members, reality, e.g. in the form of the BStU or the employee mentioned at the beginning, brought the university back down to earth again and again.

At the end of 1990, in his monthly address, Rector Köhler appealed to the tolerance of his staff with the following words:


"Es wird nicht leicht sein, in kurzer Zeit dem Kollegen, dem Nachbarn, sogar dem Freund zu vertrauen, der doch vor einem Jahr noch bereit war, vermeintlich staatsfeindliche Äußerungen zu melden oder seine Karriere auf Grund seiner Zugehörigkeit zur Partei auf Kosten parteiloser Kollegen aufzubauen. Wir müssen alle lernen, Vertrauen in die Freiheit zu entwickeln, mit dieser Freiheit sorgfältig, pfleglich und mit Toleranz umzugehen."

(Source: nh 11/90, p. 1)