In 2020, Germany has been celebrating 30 years of German unification and 30 years of democracy, pluralism and respect in the former Deutsche Demokratische Republik. Even when a dictatorship is taken over by a rich neighboring country with a shared history and language, the path of democratization is long. One of the reasons for this sad fact of life is the continued presence at the upper levels of society of representatives of the old elite. The social capital and opportunism that also brought them to the top in the old system, enables them to stay in power despite the change of political structures. The development of democracy is harmed not only because of the sustained power of people that in the end are seldom motivated by democratic ideals, but also because their presence undermines the credibility of democracy, especially in the eyes of citizens that were once delighted by the political change. Even thirty years after unification, the scrutiny of the ruling elite is therefore a moral obligation. Unfortunately, not many are willing to take this responsibility.

The dissertation on human rights discussed here was written, reviewed and published in 1987 at the Akademie für Staats- und Rechtswissenschaft der DDR in Potsdam-Babelsberg. In this institute, representatives of the ruling system were prepared for leading roles in the administration, the legal system and the foreign office. Only true, reliable believers worked and studied here. Therefore, almost immediately after the collapse of the DDR, the institute was closed.

The academy was under the direct political control of the Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands (SED, Socialist Unity Party of Germany) and with its politicized teaching system was soon considered a quasi-party university.[1] Also the communist daily Neues Deutschland, in the past the newspaper of the SED, speaks in 2008 about “the former cadre factory” and mentions that „95 percent of the students and the teachers were members of the SED“.[2] It also observes: „The fact that the state elite was formed in Babelsberg was also reflected in the students’ financial resources.“ The students got a salary, a place to live in, the food was good, and there was even a private crèche.

The elite school, which was founded in 1953, was strictly sealed off and educated judges, diplomats and ministers. A total of about 30,000 people have worked and studied here. Former students are in any case the former Prime Minister of Saxony (2008 – 2017) Stanislaw Tillich (CDU), the former Minister of Economics of Brandenburg (2002 – 2009) Ulrich Junghanns (CDU), and the former Lord Mayor of Potsdam (1990 – 1998) Horst Gramlich (SPD). But many more people that are now in high positions, got their education in this institute.

This is certainly the case for current judges in East Germany. They got a special message at the Akademie. “Our lawyers must understand,” quotes Stefan Appelius SED leader Walter Ulbricht, “that the state and the law it creates serve to enforce the policies of the party and the government.” Judges in the GDR, in particular, should “wholeheartedly and passionately” represent the “cause of socialism”. In the GDR’s law governing the election of judges, it was accordingly stated, Appelius quotes, that only “reliable political functionaries” were considered as judges.[3] A probable long-term consequence of this education is a failing understanding of individual rights, if not a deep disrespect for these rights. Many of the judges and public prosecutors of the GDR remained in function after unification: Of the 1780 judges of the GDR, 681 were taken over after 1990; of the 1238 public prosecutors, 399. The differences between the states are big, though: In Berlin only 11% of the judges kept their job, in Sachsen 49% (Müller 2020: 381). Definitely, Brandenburg is more comparable to Sachsen than to Berlin.[4]

Who exactly studied and worked at the institute is up to today hard to track down. Because of “privacy rights” (Datenschutz) the lists of former students and employees are still not open for the public. Perpetrators are in this way protected by the state and the law, regularly represented by the very same offenders. Many people have strong reasons to remain silent or to lie about their past. The fact that many are in comparable positions and have “something” on others as well, might help to explain why so much stays under the carpet.

This also goes for the dissertation in question. It took two months to find the very last available copy. Other copies that, according to the librarian of the Humboldt Universität, should be in university libraries, no longer exist.[5] Never before, the notes of the library show, was the dissertation borrowed. It was defended in February 1987. At that time the author, Mrs. Martina Weyrauch, was an adult: she was born on August 3, 1958 is Berlin, so 28 years old. After her promotion, she became an employee of the Akademie für Staats- und Rechtswissenschaft der DDR, and edited for instance another publication of the Akademie, published shortly before the final collapse of the GDR in November 1989.[6] In total, she might have stayed almost a decade at the Akademie.

Since 2000 Mrs. Weyrauch has been the director of the Landeszentrale für politische Bildung in Brandenburg (State Center for Political Education in Brandenburg). In all probability, she will stay there until her retirement. All states in Germany have a well-funded “Center for political Education”. On top of that there is also such a center on the federal level. These institutions provide information, give advice, organize conferences, workshops and other events, and subsidize political education projects of civic associations. The existence of these state organizations is unique in the Western world and can only be historically explained: after the Third Reich the political authorities considered it expedient to bring democracy to the people.

Democracy is about pluralism and the free competition of ideas. Already for this reason is it peculiar that a very same person can be in charge of a governmental institution devoted to political education for a quarter of a century. When this person has the background of Mrs. Weyrauch, then it becomes more than peculiar. Therefore, this dissertation of Mrs. Weyrauch deserves more attention.

A dissertation supporting authoritarianism

People in the GDR interested in intellectual activities, but not truly believing in the system, had the choice to occupy themselves with relatively safe subjects, that would have enabled them to keep their distance to the system. Mrs. Weyrauch apparently did not feel the need for that. Her topic of choice was human rights in the GDR.

Her adherence to the system is already made clear in the very first sentence of her treatise, in which she cites long-term head of state Erich Honecker: “The Soviet Union’s proactive approach to world political questions, its comprehensive programs for the liberation of the world from all nuclear weapons by the year 2000 and for the creation of a system of international security, opened a new stage in the peace policy of the socialist states (Honecker 1986 p.9).” Honecker, who was a roofer by profession, is cited continuously in the dissertation, in what should be an academic treatise.

The dissertation offers “an analysis of legislation and case law in the field of national criminal law in implementation of obligations under international law“ (1987: 158). The GDR, her analysis demonstrates, Mrs. Weyrauch asserts, is leading the world regarding the respect for universal human rights: “The analysis … has shown that the GDR principally, in accordance with Article 8 of the constitution, conscientiously fulfills its international obligations, and in part even (following its basic societal commitment, ‘All political power in the GDR is exercised by the toilers in the city and in the country. Man is at the center of all efforts of the socialist society and its state’) goes beyond these minimum standards“ (1987: 158).

The criminal law of the GDR, Mrs. Weyrauch continues, “creates comprehensive legal protection against torture and slavery, and legally ensures that no one can be arbitrarily arrested or detained. The criminal procedural provisions to safeguard the interests of the arrested and detained person and the associated duties of care of the public prosecutor go beyond international standards. Equality before the law is guaranteed; punishments in the sense of socialist criminal law are pronounced only by courts. The constitutional right to freedom of belief, conscience and religion as well as the right to freedom of expression are also protected by the criminal law of the GDR, and violations of these fundamental rights are criminalized” (1989: 164).

But obviously, Mrs. Weyrauch declares, these freedoms should have their limits: „Every country has the right to restrict certain rights in the interest of the rights of its citizens and to protect national security, public order and morals. Criminal law makes use of this right with regard to freedom of movement within the country and freedom of expression. It also makes it a punishable offence to disregard the obligation to obtain a permit when crossing the state border of the GDR. These restrictions are internationally legitimate” (1987: 164).

Mrs. Weyrauch admits that her conclusions are based on an analysis of laws, theoretical discussions and legal decisions. To what extent this all reflects reality, still needs to be researched. She is apparently confident about the outcome since she considers this important for the GDR “to be able to present itself internationally convincingly and offensively” (1987: 165).

To what extent are individuals in a totalitarian state personally responsible for their actions? Mrs. Weyrauch has a laudable theoretical position on these matters: “Every human being has the responsibility to refuse to act in accordance with domestic law, when this domestic law would imply the commission of international crimes. This conscious decision must be demanded of every human being in the interest of safeguarding the existence of humanity. Every individual who disregards these demands faces international criminal responsibility…” (1989: 166).

This having been said, from the perspective of international law, a statement like the following (there are many others) is then inexcusable: “In the GDR, the realization of the right of self-determination of the people, the creation of socialist production and power relations and the associated actual societal freedom established the starting point for the universal liberation of the individual in the economic, intellectual and political spheres. The free development of the personality of each individual citizen is realized, however, only to the extent that he uses the opportunity given to him to engage in and realize himself in the spirit of socialist democracy” (1987: 123). Weyrauch quotes again Erich Honecker as saying that “Human rights in the developed socialist society do not represent defensive rights against the state, but are to be understood as formation rights” (Gestaltungsrechte) (1989: 124).

Consequently, individuals are free as long as they use this freedom to think, to develop and to act in a socialist way, as defined by the state and its socialist institutions. This is simply a justification for totalitarianism, for building walls and shooting those that want to climb over them, for closing up autonomous minds in prisons, psychiatric clinics and reeducation, readjustment or rehabilitation centers, for repressive institutions like the Stasi, for continuously checking whether citizens are still busy developing themselves according to socialist principles, defined by the state and forced upon them by all its institutions, including the legal system.

What is a dissertation?

In the last decade, after several scandals involving high-ranked politicians and functionaries, many dissertations have been reexamined in Germany. Several people have lost their doctor-title after this reevaluation had shown that a minimum of academic standards had not been upheld. People turned out to have hired ghost-writers, to have plagiarized (sometimes to incredible degrees), or to have violated minimal benchmarks of academic integrity and diligence.

What to expect of a dissertation? A dissertation should show that its author is able to think critically by him- or herself. She should be aware of the relevant literature, of the different perspectives and discourses regarding her topic, and should be able and willing to deliberate and evaluate these different ideas and models in an honest and fruitful way, and in the process, come to her own position.

The dissertation in question does not resemble anything of a dissertation written at a university in an open, pluralist society. It counts 221 references to DDR-publications, two to Russian ones and 1 reference to an English working paper (of the Egyptian law professor Cherif Bassiouni). There is no consideration of alternative ideas, views or paradigms. It is completely self-referential. There is a lot of denunciation of and scolding at western (especially American) societies, but this does not qualify as an academic discourse.

Is the dissertation of Mrs. Weyrauch a dissertation and should she be allowed to use the Dr-title? In 2010 the court in Potsdam more or less already answered this question. A former student of the Akademie für Staats- und Rechtswissenschaft der DDR had gone to court because she wanted the academic degree that she had received at the Akademie to be accredited in the whole of Germany (and so also in the European Union). To her mind, the degree in public administration (Diplom-Staatswissenschaftler) which she had obtained at the Akademie in 1987 was equivalent to a degree in public administration at a West-German university (Diplom-Verwaltungswirt).

To come to a decision, the judges had a close look at the curriculum at the Akademie: “The main subjects of study included Marxist-Leninist Philosophy, Scientific Communism, Political Economy, Theory of State and Law, Constitutional Law, Administrative Law of the GDR, State Management of the National Economy, Commercial Law of the GDR, Labor Law of the GDR, Agricultural Law, Court Constitution and Public Prosecution Law, and Civil Law. The study program was designed to train qualified personnel for higher tasks in public and communal administration”.[7]

Since the knowledge that was acquired at the Akademie was only relevant for the DDR, the judges were of the opinion that the degree could not be  put on an equal footing with a university degree: “The state-science studies offered at the Akademie für Staat und Recht in Potsdam-Babelsberg shows overlaps to usual administrative, juridical, financial and political-scientific fields, forms however after arrangement and execution an independent training offer. It is not close to any of the studies in the “old federal territory”. Therefore, any equivalence cannot be found. In this respect the court refers to the decision of the lower court from March 15, 2005, Az.: 3 K 4176/98, to which it fully agrees.” Consequently, „The claim is dismissed.“

Obviously, people learn and develop themselves. Unfortunately, in the last decades Mrs. Weyrauch did not publish a single serious article (which is also unfortunate for somebody in her position). Therefore, we cannot know whether she has widened her intellectual horizon since 1989.

Covering up the past

As said, many people with a dubious past try to cover this up. They are helped in this by current “privacy rights” in Germany and by the fact that so many others have something to hide. So, they remain silent over parts of their personal history or simply lie about it. Only now and then does this have repercussions. A recent example of this was the urban sociologist Andrej Holm, of Die Linke (the successor of the SED) , who in 2017 became under-secretary for housing in the city of Berlin. Holm, born in 1970, is the son of a Stasi officer and had become a Stasi cadet himself, at the age of 18, just a couple of months before the collapse of the GDR.[8] He had remained silent (but not completely) about this past and was for this reason fired less than a month after his appointment as under-secretary. He also was disciplinary punished by the Humboldt University, his employer at the time, and dismissed for two years from his position as research-assistant.

Mrs. Weyrauch has consistently covered up her past, without any repercussions. In a recent interview in the newspaper Die Tageszeitung she described herself as follows: “Martina Weyrauch was born in East Berlin in 1958 and studied law at the Humboldt University. She received her doctorate in international criminal and human rights law“.[9] In the interview she complains, by the way, about the lack of respect of the West-Germans for the people in the East: “We knew that our degrees were all worth nothing. As a lawyer, I immediately spent half a year in Trier in 1990 and familiarized myself with western law. It was clear to me that I would not get far with my degree.”

Mrs. Weyrauch is also member of the Fachbeirat Gesellschaftliche Aufarbeitung/Opfer und Gedenken (Advisory Board for Social Reflection/Victims and Remembrance) of Die Bundesstiftung zur Aufarbeitung der SED-Diktatur (The Federal Foundation for the Reappraisal of the SED Dictatorship). On its website she offers this biography: „Born in East Berlin in 1958, she studied law at the Humboldt University of Berlin after completing an apprenticeship in the clothing industry. In 1986 she received her doctorate in international criminal law and human rights law. During the peaceful revolution, she was a member of the commission of inquiry against abuse of office, corruption and personal enrichment“.[10] She also mentions: „After holding various positions in the Brandenburg state administration, including personal assistant to Prime Minister Manfred Stolpe, she has headed the State Centre for Political Education in Brandenburg since October 2000.”

Mrs. Weyrauch worked six years for Manfred Stolpe (SPD) who between 1990 and 2002 was the Prime Minister of Brandenburg and later became highly controversial because of his GDR-past: several investigations showed that over a long period of time he had not only been a respected religious partner of the regime (that in 1978 awarded him the Verdienstmedaille der DDR [Merit

Mr. Stolpe and Mrs. Weyrauch in 1992

Medal of the GDR]), but also had been an important informal informant (IM) of the Ministry for State Security (Ministerium für Staatssicherheit – STASI). In 2011, a Commission of Enquiry of the parliament of Brandenburg concluded that he should have stepped down as prime minister and that he, because of his own past, had obstructed Brandenburg’s process of “coming to terms” (Aufarbeitung) with its GDR-history. Brandenburg was the only former GDR-state that had not installed a committee to investigate its past, and especially the past of its ruling elite. Also because this elite, to an important degree, could stay in power, Brandenburg has earned the nick-name “the little GDR” (“die kleine DDR”).[11] Rüdiger and Catenhusen, the historians leading the commission, write that in the state bureaucracy of Brandenburg only in about half of the cases it was checked whether employees had been working for the Ministry for State Security (Stasi). At the top it was even worse: “It seems particularly questionable that there has never been a comprehensive review in the state chancellery, even though, as the center of government, it is the figurehead of the state government and should thus comprise a special role model in dealing with the past” (2011: 37).

As her membership of Die Bundesstiftung zur Aufarbeitung der SED-Diktatur (The Federal Foundation for the Reappraisal of the SED Dictatorship) also shows, Mrs. Weyrauch has a habit of presenting herself as a victim, not only of the BRD, but also of the GDR, and as a solidary ally of the other victims of the GDR. In a contribution to a publication of Gegenwind; Beratungsstelle für politisch Traumatisierte der SED-Diktatur (Headwind; Counseling center for politically traumatized persons of the SED dictatorship).[12] Dr. Martina Weyrauch applauds the work of this organization: “You advise people who suffered under the GDR dictatorship as political prisoners or as people threatened by reprisals, and some of whom are only now able to come to terms with their traumas… Through your work you have been able to give people back their faith in a normal life, you have helped to reduce emotional pain, and with your devotion you have gained the trust not only of those affected. In several events, the Brandenburg State Center for Political Education was also able to draw on your rich experience in dealing with politically traumatized people. This topic, which is associated with a great deal of personal suffering and never-ending political explosiveness, will not let go of any of us in the coming years. Institutions such as yours deserve credit for finally having given victims more space than perpetrators” (2013: 11).

Does somebody who explicitly gave the intellectual justification for the crimes of the perpetrators have the moral right to speak for their victims?

What problem?

Mrs. Weyrauch has entrenched herself in the beautiful building of the Landeszentrale für politische Bildung in Potsdam, surrounded by 10 other women from East-Germany. She is proud of having recruited only women and on top of that only women with a GDR-past for the political education in Brandenburg.[13] Every year this next “little GDR” spreads approximately half a million Euro to about 200 organizations in Brandenburg, all happy to receive something or hoping that they will get something

Personality cult at a public institution: “Das Team der Landeszentrale” (Jahresbericht 2019)

in the next round. None of them wants to rock the boat. A functioning curatorship of the Landeszentrale does not exist. In December 2020, the website of the Landeszentrale informed that the curatorship had only met once since the new government of Brandenburg was installed on October 25, 2019.[14] Information about the activities of this or the previous curatorship is not available. The umbrella-organization, the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, also does not have any leverage on the local branches.

Does it matter that somebody who has written a dissertation offering a justification for totalitarianism and who has consistently covered up her past, is for a quarter of a century in a German state the most important actor regarding political education?[15]

After-school political education that is organized and paid for by the state is not common in democracies. It is rather contradictory and uncomfortable when citizens get help from the state to empower them to control or constraint the very same state. Most states, also democratic ones, do not want to be bothered too much by critical, informed and active citizens. This is certainly the case in entities like Brandenburg that only have a very short democratic past and where the abundance of political education in GDR-times was explicitly geared to the rearing of docile subjects. When states nevertheless start to help its subjects to become empowered citizens, then vigilance is required. What kind of help do these subjects receive? What kind of information is spread? Who is deciding on the basis of what criteria who gets support for what kind of activities? Certainly today, now so many democratic institutions are in decline, there can be important reasons for state-support of political education and civic participation. But this support can only be credible and effective when it is accompanied by transparency, pluralism, sincerity and foremost integrity. All this does not apply to the Landeszentrale für politische Bildung in Brandenburg. By her sheer presence Mrs. Weyrauch undermines any credibility of state supported political education for democracy, pluralism and respect. She does not just undermine the credibility of the Landeszentrale für politische Bildung, but of the entire sector of civil organizations working on democracy, indeed of democracy itself. It is slap in the face of all those people who suffer and suffered under totalitarianism, when this kind of opportunists get on this kind of positions and, in a next step, position themselves on their side. In an open pluralist society, it should be investigated why nobody has spoken out.

Afterword: How the German press deals with bad news

Over time, the near impossibility to inform the public in Germany about the political past of one of its main actors in the field of political education, has become more interesting than this past by itself. We offered the information above to a long row of newspapers and weeklies in Germany, a row that also became long because we got more and more interested in how the contacted journalists would react. Thus, we have sent the information to Der Spiegel, Die Zeit, Die Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, Die Welt, Der Tagesspiegel, Die Tageszeitung and Der Freitag. Nobody reacted, also not when they were contacted via befriended journalists or high ranked politicians (a former Minister of Justice of one of the federal states tried to get a newspaper interested).

The editors of all these outlets might defend themselves by stating that they get thousands and thousands of interesting documents on their table per day and that they cannot possibly react to all this information. They also proactively put this kind of messages on their websites. Still, we offered the information to The New York Times and The Guardian as well, and in both cases the responsible journalists answered within 2 hours. When the two probably most prestigious newspapers in the world can find the time to get back to a small NGO in Brandenburg, to reflect on information that is not of prime interest to their international readers, why do local German outlets like Der Spiegel, Die Zeit or Die Frankfurter Allgemeine completely ignore this information?

Is the German press a part of the power structure?

It is an intriguing question. There probably are several answers. To start with, more than in some other countries, German journalists seem to rely on representatives of the power structure formed by state and corporations for getting “news”. Journalists are less tempted then elsewhere to search in society for information, contacting average citizens and other information bearers that do not have a “position” somewhere and that do not have the accompanying titles, offices and uniforms or dresses. Instead, they talk to people with a higher position in the state or in the economy, implicitly assuming that people that do not have such a power position cannot be relevant sources of information. Had people something interesting to say, they would be part of the power structure, is it not? Der Kapitän von Köpenick is still alive in Germany. The consequence is, that the very same people are giving over and over again the opportunity to spread their facts and views, and the power structure as a whole is rather impenetrable and unshakeable.

Telling is a recent study of Das Progressive Zentrum. The authors analyzed the backgrounds of the people that appeared during the last three years in the four most important talk-shows on German television.[16] They revealed, among other things, that two-third of the guests were politicians and journalists[17], and that less than 3% of the guests represented civil society. Of the 3% civil society actors, two-third were activists. Representatives of NGO’s hardly ever got the chance to speak out. 70% of the talking politicians were active on the national level, only 7% on the European and 2% on the community level. The pool of politicians out of which participants were picked, was also incredibly shallow: it seems as if Germany counts no more than about 15 politicians (already the national parliament has more than 700 members, though).[18] Furthermore, 85% of the politicians came from West-Germany and only 15% from the East. Eight from the ten guests from the private sector, represented the employers. Unions or consumer organizations were hardly ever given the opportunity to defend their views and interests, despite the fact that these institutions are kept in high regard among German citizens.

In one of our own surveys we have asked 391 German citizens to what extent they agree with the statement “I trust that the media in Germany report in a fair and balanced way on current social issues” (1 = completely disagree; 5 = completely agree). The results were alarming. Only 3% of the people we interviewed “totally agreed” with the statement and only 16% “agreed”. All the others were not so sure (40%), “disagreed” (20%) or “totally disagreed” (21%). The people we interviewed, were not a representative sample of the population. It’s worse: predominantly they were better educated social workers, civil servants and teachers, as well as adolescents still attending school (21% of the total). Consequently, only a small part of the German population trusts the press. Might this have something to do with representation?

The press is Germany seems to be kind of a closed shop. When even an academic organization like Social Science Works offering the kind of information that originally formed the topic of this story, simply cannot get in touch with a German journalist, what chance does an average citizen have that feels the need to communicate something to the wider public? How many Diesel-Scandals are still waiting for us? How many times more will the German media be wholly surprised by the sudden appearance of thousands of people marching the streets and shouting “Lügen Presse!” Obviously, this qualification is wholly inappropriate, but still, the underlying frustration and anger should be something to think about. Maybe German journalists should for a while leave their safe desks and start talking to average citizens. They might then be less taken by surprise by next demonstrations and elections.

Solidarity with fellow females, Ossi, Germans and felons

There are probably also other, more political reasons why German journalists refuse to report on the Stalinist background of one of its main political educators, or simply look away. Informative was our short correspondence with a journalist of the left-leaning Die Tageszeitung in Berlin. Getting into contact was not easy either in this case. Fortunately, we have a fellow who has a friend who was a former journalist at the TAZ and who was prepared to contact on our behalf two of her former colleagues. As usual, we never heard back of the TAZ, but since we were for sure that they had got the info on their desks and since we had their email-addresses, we were able to contact them. One of the journalists took the trouble to reply, which is already quite something in Germany. She wrote that the political history of the director of the Landeszentrale für politische Bildung was “common knowledge” (“allgemein bekannt”). Therefore, it was not opportune to devote any attention to it.

This annoyed answer did not make it any better. It only triggered many more questions. I wrote back:

“First, assuming that it is indeed generally known, why do people consider it acceptable that somebody with this past has this pivotal position in political education for such a long time? Why do people accept that she has been actively covering up her past, and has never addressed this past in any honest way? Why does nobody put it on the agenda that the person in question by her sheer presence undermines any credibility of state-supported political education for democracy, pluralism, or tolerance?

Second, ‘generally known’ by whom? The TAZ interviewed the person in question on August 11, 2018. Why did the TAZ not properly inform its readers about her past? The TAZ just took over her falsification of her background. Nowhere in the interview did the TAZ confront her with her extremist political views and her opportunistic lies about this. Uncritically, the TAZ allowed her to play the victim, as she has been doing consistently since 1989. She is not a victim, though, she is an offender. The TAZ did not inform its readers. As the archive of TAZ proofs, it also never did before. When the assumption is that all these readers already know, how could they have acquired this knowledge? Why did the TAZ decide for its readers that it was better for them not to know certain facts?”

Unfortunately, the journalist never got back to me – German journalists never like it when somebody else asks questions.

Like the many people in power positions in Brandenburg that stay silent, all the journalists that we have contacted seem not to want to rock the boat, inadvertently illustrating they are most of the time sitting in the very same boat. Obviously, this silence is not a unique phenomenon in Germany. After the Second World War many Nazis could just stay in power, as happened for instance in the juridical system[19] and in the Foreign Office[20], and not many journalists took the trouble to investigate or report something.

What could motivate the solidarity of journalists with somebody with a past that should never have allowed her to take up a pivotal position in political education? A first motivation could be sexism. German female journalists are siding with a woman who made it to the top and managed not to recruit a single man in her organization. German men are scared to be accused of sexism when they criticize this particular emancipation. It is so important for German female journalists that women get on a podium, that it is irrelevant what this woman stands for. I take this reasoning not just as stupid and immoral, but also as plain sexist.

A second motivation could be the solidarity with an Ossi that made it to the top. This does not often happen. Thus, other Ossi stay silent because they consider it of prime importance that “one of them” is on a podium. Wessi, aware of the discrimination of Ossi in Germany, stay silent because they are scared to be accused of discrimination. The tensions between Ossi and Wessie are already big, better not fueling it. Like the first motivation, this kind of reasoning, or better: feeling, is stupid and immoral. I know a couple of Ossi whose families have been destroyed by the totalitarian system for which Mrs. Weyrauch has given an intellectual justification. These people do not consider Mrs. Weyrauch at all as “one of us”. She is one of “them” and her presence in this position is experienced as a slap in the face.

The third possible motivation places “us” Germans against “them” foreigners. Social Science Works consists to an important extent of foreigners. We are not just from Germany, but also from the USA, Canada, France, Spain, Greece, England, Syria, The Netherlands, Indonesia, Israel, Turkey, India, Italy, Brazil, Denmark and Singapore. The author of this is Dutch. Some natives seem to think, that it is not our business. It is a German issue, or even just a Brandenburg one. The person in question might be an asshole, but it is OUR asshole. Again: a stupid and immoral reasoning. In the context of the European Union, Germany likes to criticize member states like Poland and Hungary; in the context of the United Nations, Germany criticizes countries like China, Brazil or Venezuela. Germany is totally right doing that. But then also accept that we foreigners, certainly when we pay taxes in Germany, have every right to criticize the German state, its institutions, and the people working there. If Germans cannot cope with that, can they please leave the European Union and the United Nations? Human rights are universal, as is the fight for them. Related to that: we work on an almost daily basis with victims of totalitarian states that fled to the European Union and Germany. We know a bit how these states work. And we do not like opportunists justifying totalitarian states, certainly not when they are active in the same field as we are.

A question that has been regularly asked, is: “What do you want to achieve with this article, what is the goal?” Somehow, I do not understand this question. Do I need a functional reason for it? What about the truth? Is that not enough?

To finish, Angst certainly also motivates people. We have been informed by several people, all having good intentions towards SSW, that life would be over for SSW in Brandenburg when we would publish our findings. Too many people with comparable backgrounds in powerful positions would close the ranks. We indeed already have gotten a taste of that. It is mind-boggling that this consideration can be formulated in 2020 in a member state of the European Union. How could people expect us to adjust to the mores of a totalitarian state that ceased to exist three decades ago? How is it possible that these mores can still play a role today? All the more reason to clean up, finally.


[1] Ralph Jessen: Akademische Elite und kommunistische Diktatur. Die ostdeutsche Hochschullehrerschaft in der Ulbricht-Ära, Göttingen 1999, S. 137

[2] Wilfried Neiße 2008. Gras wächst über DDR-Akademie Gebäude der Kaderschmiede in Potsdam-Babelsberg sind Schutthaufen. Neues Deutschland 13.05.2008. All the translations in this article are mine. For the original quotes in German, see the German version of this article, published simultaneously.

[3] Appelius, Stefan. 2009. DDR-Kaderschmiede; Denken, aber richtig! Der Spiegel, 29.08.2009. In the GDR textbook “Basis of the Administration of Justice” under the chapter heading “Courts as Judicial Organs,” it was formulated as follows: “The organs of justice are parts of the state apparatus, and therefore all instructions, measures, and decisions of the party that refer to the state apparatus apply directly to the comrades in the judicial apparatus… The task of supporting revolutionary achievements and at the same time being an instrument of discipline education characterizes the role of the socialist court” Cited in: Der Aufbau der Justiz im Land Brandenburg seit 1990. The author, Wolf Kahl, remarks: “This legal culture has shaped the practice and training of young people for decades. One must never forget that.”  See also: Müller, Ingo. 2020. Furchtbare Juristen: Die Unbewältigte Vergangenheit der Deutschen Justiz. Berlin: Tiamat. Pp. 375-81.

[4] Legner, Johann. 2011. Belastete DDR-Juristen. Postdamer Neueste Nachrichten. 30 Mai 2011. ; Fröhlich, Alexander. 2011. Rechtsbeuger im Rechtsstaat. 13 Mai 2011. Postdamer Neueste Nachrichten.

[5] “(..) after consultation with other colleagues in the library, there is only this one copy available at the University of Potsdam. Under normal circumstances, at least one more copy would have had to be sent to Leipzig (National Library) and one more copy to the Humboldt University (special collection). There was also a compulsory submission in GDR times. Thus, this dissertation is very ‘interesting’ in content” (personal correspondence, June 8, 2020).

[6] Weyrauch, M. (ed.). 1989. Die internationalen Verbrechen und das innerstaatliche Strafrecht, Probleme des internationalen Strafrechts und Strafprozessrechts. Potsdam-Babelsberg: Akademie für Staats- und Rechtswissenschaft der DDR. In the List of authors (page 171) Mrs. Weyrauch is described as employee of the „Akademie für Staats- und Rechtswissenschaft der DDR; Sektion Straf-, Zivil-, Arbeits- und Agrarrecht.“

[7] VG Potsdam, Urteil vom 18.05.2010 – 3 K 803/06;

[8] Maroldt, Lorenz and Christoph Twickel. 2016. Andrej Holm: „Hätte ich das geahnt, hätte ich mir überlegt, ob ich den Job mache”. Die Zeit. 23 December 2016.

[9] „Politische Bildung in Brandenburg: „Die Auseinandersetzung suchen“. Die Tageszeitung (TAZ). 11 August 2019.!5614391/


[11] Rüdiger, Gisela and Hans-Christian Catenhusen. 2011. Personelle Kontinuität und Elitenwandel in Landtag, Landesregierung und -verwaltung des Landes Brandenburg. Potsdam: Landtag Brandenburg. The authors write that in the state bureaucracy of Brandenburg only in about half of the cases it was checked whether employees had been a member of the Ministry for State Security (Stasi). At the top it was even worse: See also: Dassler, Sandra. 2011. Manfred Stolpe: In der Pflicht der Deutsch-Deutschen Geschichte. Die Zeit. 15 Juli 2011. ;


[13] In an interview with Deutschlandfunk she tells “We are, so to speak, a small, fine house with a total of ten people who are responsible for political education here. They are all East German women who have been selected as the best here in the West and are shaping political education here.”


[15] The ministry of education of Brandenburg states on its website: „The Brandenburgische Landeszentrale für politische Bildung (BLzpB) is the central institution for political education in the state of Brandenburg and aims to encourage citizens to become more involved in society. Its work is non-partisan” (

[16] Fröhlich, Paulina and Johannes Hillje. 2020. Die Talkshow-Gesellschaft. Repräsentation und Pluralismus in öffentlich-rechtlichen Polit-Talkshows. Berlin: Das Progressive Zentrum.

[17] Journalists interviewing other journalists have increasingly become routine, not just in Germany. This embarrassing phenomenon also shows the inward-looking character of this professional group.

[18] See for instance: Fabian Goldmann writes on the website of the (excellent) public channel Deutschlandfunk Kultur: „Weiß, männlich, westdeutsch und ohne Migrationserfahrung. So sah auch im Jahr 2019 der Prototyp des Talkshowgastes aus. Gerade einmal jeder 20. deutsche Gast wurde im Ausland geboren. Auf Menschen aus Ländern, die in den letzten Jahren im Fokus der Migrationsdebatte standen, wartete man völlig vergebens.“

[19] In part three of his Furchtbare Juristen: Die unbewältigte Vergangenheit der deutschen Justiz (Berlin: TIAMAT. 2020) the historian Ingo Müller shows the incredible continuity in the German juridical system after 1945. In 1949 for example, 81% of the judges and public prosecutors in Bayern were Nazis (2020: 257). Collectively they made it very hard for people with other political leanings to make a career in the system. Earlier in this article I already cited Müller to point to the comparable continuity in East-Germany, after the collapse of the DDR in 1989.

[20] In 1951, when the Foreign Office was reestablished, about 40% of the people working at this ministry had been a member of the NSDAP. It took until 2005 before the ministry asked a committee of historians to research its own past. The study was published in 2010 and one of the myths it destroyed was that the Foreign Office had been a center of resistance against National Socialism, upholding traditional, aristocratic German values. See: Conze, Eckart, Norbert Frei, Peter Hayes and Moshe Zimmermann. 2010. Das Amt und die Vergangenheit: Deutsche Diplomaten im Dritten Reich und in der Bundesrepublik. München: Karl Blessing Verlag.

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