How incompetent is FSB formerly KGB
In mid-May 1999 a delegation from the Legal Affairs Committee of the German Bundestag was in Moscow to find solutions to the problems involved in rehabilitation of the unconvicted inmates of the NKVD camps. After negotiations in the State Duma, in the presidential administration and in the public prosecutor's office, the German embassy gave a reception. At an early hour, Colonel General of Justice Jurij Djomin, Deputy Prosecutor General and Chief Military Prosecutor, raised his glass to toast our good cooperation with me.
The head of the German delegation, Prof. Dr. Rupert Scholz joked, turning to Djomin: "The Wagenlehner is actually your co-worker." The Colonel General replied dryly: "No, we are his co-workers."
Even if that was a gesture, this scene characterizes the change that has taken place in Moscow. After all, a predecessor of today's Chief Military Prosecutor did everything in 1951 at the time of Rudenko to have Günther Wagenlehner, who was "only" sentenced to 25 years for a camp uprising, sentenced to death as a deterrent, which the Supreme Court of the USSR did not do to his regret.
But the continuous encounters with the main military prosecutor in Moscow as well as invitations in Germany show in the medium term what change has occurred in Moscow from the disorderly and unclear beginnings of the rehabilitation in 1991/92 to the constructive cooperation that is today. Today, from the application for rehabilitation to the Foreign Office and its forwarding via the German Embassy in Moscow to the Russian General Prosecutor's Office to processing and decision as well as return to the embassy and translation to the applicant, everything is regulated and transparent.
That was by no means the case at the beginning; for both in Germany and in Russia all were caught by the unexpected possibilities
a rehabilitation of Germans surprised and faced with great difficulties.
The first rehabilitation
The first news from Russia about the possibility of rehabilitation had barely reached the border than convicted German prisoners of war submitted individual applications to the Soviet leadership. Initially, the only legal basis was the decree of the President of the USSR of August 13, 1991 "On the Restoration of the Rights of All Victims of Political Repression from the 1920s to 1950s." According to its content, it only applied to Soviet citizens and in no way to war crimes.
Nonetheless, military prosecutors of the Soviet main military prosecutor's office referred to this presidential decree of August 13, 1990 in the first rulings on the rehabilitation of convicted German prisoners of war in October 1991. The first was Reinhold Soffner, who from the department responsible for rehabilitation received the official ruling of September 2, 1991 received some time afterwards. It was followed by Captain A.R. Both had been convicted as Ic according to §58-6 (espionage) Criminal Code of the RSFSR from 1926. In December 1991 Dr. Rehabilitated Franz Beer, who was sentenced to 10 years of forced labor in 1948 as a diplomat of the German Reich according to §58-4 (support of the international bourgeoisie). He had already submitted his application to the government of the USSR on July 27, 1990.
The news of the first rehabilitation, which spread rapidly among the convicted prisoners of war, hit like a bomb. The spokesmen for the camp communities immediately put together lists of late returnees who wanted to be rehabilitated like the individual role models. At the beginning of 1992 these lists were sent in collective requests to the President of the Russian Federation or to other management bodies. Some of them were returned for re-submission and in 1993 they were submitted again in individual applications via the embassies. Later it turned out that such collective requests were partly the main military
never reached the public prosecutor's office as the competent authority and were therefore not processed. Others were luckier.
The first individual applications for rehabilitation came from the larger group of civil convicts in 1992. Here the general physician of the Bundeswehr, Dr. Horst Hennig the initiative, sentenced in 1950 together with other students as a resistance group against the occupying power according to §58-10 (anti-Soviet agitation) and §58-6 (espionage) to 25 years of forced labor. He used old links between the armed forces and the military archive of the Russian army. In September 1992, for example, he was able to travel to Russia with some military personnel, including a visit to the Lubyanka and the General Prosecutor's Office. His rehabilitation was dated October 16, 1992. Dr. Hennig took this opportunity to inform the editorial staff of SPIEGEL, which published a detailed report on the problems of rehabilitation in its 45/1992 issue. Other newspapers such as the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung had preceded them.
With the help of his Russian acquaintances, Dr. Hennig had a small sensation in the summer of 1993: the trip with a delegation of Vorkuta prisoners via Moscow to the feared regime camp Vorkuta. There the survivors commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Vorkuta uprising. In Moscow the delegation had an open conversation with Mrs. G.F. Vesnovskaja, the head of the rehabilitation department in the General Prosecutor's Office with the rank of general.
She played a key role in the rehabilitation of the Germans. On December 10, 1992, she signed the rehabilitation notice for Joachim Ernst Herzog von Anhalt, who, released from concentration camp imprisonment in 1944, was imprisoned by the KGB on September 3, 1945 and in the Buchenwald NKVD special camp, where he died in February 1947.
In 1992 the Russian treatment of the rehabilitation of Germans was not clearly regulated. However, some features could be identified:
- The application had to be forwarded through the Russian embassy or a consulate general or through the Foreign Office and the German embassy in Moscow to the public prosecutor's office.
- The condemnation had to be described concretely; then those convicted of the same trial were also rehabilitated.
- Initially only convictions according to Section 58 of the Criminal Code for so-called "state crimes", not for "war crimes", were rehabilitated.
- The rehabilitation was initially given after the decree of the President of the USSR on August 13, 1991.
The Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany was not prepared for this new task either in Bonn or in Moscow. The processing took place in the legal department. First of all, experience had to be gained until one had become comfortable with one another.
As of August 1992, the Federal Foreign Office had received a total of 1,300 applications for rehabilitation, 80 of them from former prisoners of war. After processing, 890 applications were forwarded to the responsible Russian authorities via the German embassy. The Foreign Office was informed of 27 rehabilitation notices issued, 15 of which did not involve German authorities.
Meanwhile, on October 18, 1991, the Law on the Rehabilitation of Victims of Political Repression in the Russian Federation was passed. But in the first version it only applied to Soviet citizens. The changes to extend the validity were not amended until December 22, 1992.
Only then did the department responsible for rehabilitation in the Main Military Prosecutor's Office receive Administration No. 5 for the rehabilitation of foreigners with the corresponding increase in staff. It took until 1994 for this subdivision to achieve its full capacity and order to carry out its tasks.
In order to properly understand the connections and connections, let us now take a brief look back at the history of rehabilitation, separated from the Russian and German perspectives.
Rehabilitation from a Russian point of view
As long as the Soviet Union existed, the great October Socialist Revolution of 1917 was considered the most significant revolutionary event in history, and everything that happened on its behalf was justified. But after the collapse of the USSR in December 1991, the
negative sides of the Bolshevik conquest of power come more and more to the fore.
In his lecture to the History Discussion Group of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Bonn in May 1995, Colonel of Justice Leonid P. Kopalin from the Attorney General's Office called the Soviet Union "a prime example of a totalitarian regime". His verdict on the October Revolution:
“Today it is undisputed that since the first days of the Soviet state all of its state organs have worked with coercion and arbitrariness. In the history of our fatherland, human rights have never had practical state priority. "(Leonid Pawlowitsch Kopalin, The Rehabilitation of German Victims of Soviet Political Persecution, Series Discussion Group History, Issue 18, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Bonn 1995, p. 9)
Parliament was blown apart; the opposition and its media were crushed, the laws abolished. The resulting power vacuum was filled with "revolutionary expediency," "extraordinary measures," and "class interests" of the workers 'and peasants' power. In December 1917, to suppress the counterrevolution, the "most powerful state repression structure" after Kopalin, the "All-Russian Extraordinary" was created Commission ", the so-called" punitive sword of the revolution ", later known under the abbreviations OGPU, NKVD, MGB and KGB (ibid, p. 10).
In 1926 a new penal code was passed that was completely permeated with the revolutionary spirit. His Article 1 on the "Aims of the Criminal Legislation of the RSFSR" reads:
- "The penal legislation of the RSFSR has the task of securing the socialist state of workers and peasants and the legal system applicable in its area against socially dangerous acts (crimes) by applying the social protection measures specified in this code to the perpetrators."
According to today's Russian view, the Soviet Union has been an injustice state since Lenin. Since 1934 Stalin has legalized the arbitrariness of the repressive organs and carried out mass terror against entire groups. Kopalin believes it is impossible to determine the number of people who fell victim to these reprisals.
Volkogonov puts the casualties at 21.5 million for the period from 1929-1953 alone. This is even higher than the estimated figure of 20 million for the Soviet Union in the "Black Book of Communism" (German edition Munich / Zurich 1997, p. 16).
After Stalin's death and above all after Nikita Khrushchev's secret speech on February 24, 1956 in front of the delegates of the 20th party congress of the CPSU, internal demands arose for the rehabilitation of the illegally repressed. In fact, between 1953 and 1964, the Attorney General found that more than 500,000 people were rehabilitated. After the end of the "thaw" under Khrushchev, only 35,000 citizens had been rehabilitated in the Soviet Union by 1989.
Gorbachev's "Perestroika" began various attempts to rehabilitate those convicted by special courts. For example, a decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of January 16, 1989 rehabilitated all those convicted by special courts ("Troyka of the MGB" or MWD), including 25,000 Soldiers. The decree of the President of the USSR of August 13, 1990 "On the Restoration of the Rights of All Victims of Political Repression from the 1920s to the 1950s" can be seen as a turning point. The General Prosecutor's Office was instructed to review all criminal files archived since 1920. That was an unsolvable task, because the MWD central archive alone stores 25 million criminal
files of trials in the Soviet Union from 1918.
Overwhelmed by the abundance of information about arbitrariness and injustice, the RSFSR passed the Law "On Rehabilitation of Victims of Political Repression" on October 18, 1991. This law, with its later modifications, for the first time regulates comprehensively and in detail who should be rehabilitated and who does not, the rehabilitation process and the consequences of rehabilitation.
Subject to the later documentation and commentary on the law (see below; Part II 1), it should only be mentioned here that according to this, anyone can apply for the rehabilitation of a victim of political violence and anyone who is on the from October 25, 1917 onwards is to be rehabilitated The territory of Russia has been the victim of political violence.
The law applies especially to Russians. And here is an important difference in the process:
- According to Article 7 of the law of October 18, 1991, all applications from "administratively repressed" persons must be addressed to the responsible organs of the Ministry of the Interior (MWD). This concerns the large group of those who have been admitted to exile or to camps by administrative acts without a court decision , Forced labor and the like.
- According to Article 8, the General Prosecutor's Office is responsible for the rehabilitation of victims convicted by Soviet and special courts of all kinds. Such applications are to be sent to them - as, incidentally, from all foreigners.
Internal information from the responsible bodies shows that up to 1998 around 4 million applications for rehabilitation had been submitted to the MWD, of which over 3 million were processed and decided. Among the applicants were around 500,000 Russian-Germans who were harassed, banished and persecuted during the Stalin era. After initial difficulties, the processing by the MWD bodies is now carried out quickly.
In the General Prosecutor's Office, its military part, the Chief Military Prosecutor's Office, was declared responsible for rehabilitation under the law of October 18, 1991. In an interview with the army newspaper KRASNAJA SWEZDA on February 11, 1997, the then Chief Military Prosecutor, Colonel General Valentin Panichev, listed rehabilitation as a new important task and put the number of people rehabilitated by the organs of the Chief Military Prosecutor from 1992 to January 1997 at more than 400,000 . At that time there was no mention of foreigners.
In May 1997 the office of Chief Military Prosecutor was taken over by the energetic General Jurij G. Djomin, Professor and Dr. in law, proven in leading positions in the KGB and later in the Federal Security Service (FSB). He was promoted to Colonel General of Justice in December 1997. It was good to see how Djomin streamlined the apparatus in the first year and, after taking stock of the situation, gained clear concepts in the important areas. I have seen him on my visits to Moscow and during his
one-week visit to Germany and learned that he knows exactly the problems of rehabilitation.
As of summer 1999, it must be said in general about attitudes towards rehabilitation in Russia that the State Duma’s original willingness to redress the injustices of the Stalin era has greatly diminished. The law of October 18, 1991 was passed without the extent of the persecution being known from the secret archives. Today in the Communist and Nationalist factions it is said openly that it would not be passed in this form today. Initially, necessary changes and adjustments to the law were passed quickly; today the majority is no longer willing to do so. Zhirinovsky flatly rejects everything.
At the end of May 1999, the Chairman of the Commission complained to the President of the Russian Federation for Rehabilitation, A.N. Jakovlev that the State Duma had only approved 200 million rubles for the payment of the Stalin victims in 1999, although according to the law an amount of 800 million rubles would have to be paid out.
Rehabilitation from a German point of view
What, from the German point of view, must above all be understood about the rehabilitation in Russia is its own Russian character. Russian rehabilitation is part of the Russian state system, and that has its own traditions. The Russian public prosecutor's office proudly celebrated its 275th anniversary in 1997; because it was founded in 1722.
The procedure and justification for rehabilitation in Russia have nothing to do with the German legal system and German rules. Nothing can be compared or transferred here. This is the first thing to keep in mind if you want to avoid errors in judgment.
From 1955/56 onwards, the German Returners Association (VdH), representing the interests of prisoners of war, never called for rehabilitation, but for the annulment of the sentences imposed by the Soviet courts on prisoners of war.
The Federal Government was specifically concerned with this question after the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet demanded in its declaration of September 28, 1955 that 749 serious criminals should not be exempted from serving their sentences, but should be handed over to the two German governments for further serving . So now these governments had to decide how to evaluate the Soviet judgments. The German federal government under Dr. Adenauer took hold ofOctober 1955 a decision of principle that neither the judgments nor the sentences imposed by the Soviet courts in Germany would be recognized because they did not come about in legal proceedings. In Germany, the convicts were not considered to have a criminal record. It is interesting that in the GDR on April 16, 1956, an amnesty was officially pronounced for the convicted prisoners of war.
The Federal Government of the Federal Republic of Germany connected with the decision in October 1955 that a new procedure should be initiated if late returnees from the Soviet Union were suspected of war crimes or crimes against humanity. This happened with guards from concentration camps who were deliberately mixed with the returning prisoners of war by the Soviet authorities in 1955/56. The Central Office of the State Judicial Administration in Ludwigsburg was later commissioned to initiate investigative proceedings in the event of suspected Nazi violent crimes.
On its 17th association day in Siegen in 1982, the VdH again demanded that the Soviet court judgments against the German prisoners of war be overturned. VdH President Kießling brought this decision to the attention of the Federal Government and received a less than hopeful answer from Federal Foreign Minister Genscher on March 9, 1983. In contrast to the three Western powers, wrote Genscher, the question of those convicted of war crimes could not be contractually agreed with the Soviet Union be managed. Even at the moment there is no prospect of reaching an agreement with the Soviet Union on this matter. And finally: "For the reasons mentioned above, I unfortunately do not consider talks with the Soviet government on this subject to be promising."
Only after Gorbachev took office did the situation in Moscow begin to change. Federal Chancellor Dr. Kohl, from VdH President
Kießling warned, addressed the subject of the convicted Germans to Secretary General Gorbachev during his first state visit to Moscow in October 1988. In a letter dated June 28, 1989 to Werner Kießling, Helmut Kohl said in principle: “The Federal Government has been in talks with the Soviet side for a long time to find a solution to the problem you mentioned of the rehabilitation of the Stalin era To find arbitrarily convicted Germans [...] In the Soviet Union, the process of coming to terms with its own history has now begun, and Soviet victims of the Stalin era have been politically and legally rehabilitated. The terrible deeds that were perpetrated against the peoples of the Soviet Union in the German name are also recalled. The wounds that have been reopened in this way do not make it easy for the Soviet side to accept the thought that during the Stalin era, both during the war and in the post-war period, Germans - civilians as well as prisoners of war - were victims of unjustified, arbitrary state attacks and entitled to rehabilitation. "
The Chancellor kept talking to Gorbachev about this. The German-Soviet working group for cooperation on humanitarian issues dealt with the concrete content. At the beginning of January 1991, the VdH President applied for Presidential Councilor Dr. To include Wagenlehner in this working group as a representative of the VdH. The head of the Federal Chancellery, Federal Minister Rudolf Seiters, reacted positively and suggested at the end of his letter of March 7, 1991 to Werner Kießling:
"In preparation for the next meeting, it would be useful if Dr. Wagenlehner could put down his ideas for a solution to the rehabilitation question and in particular the form and content of an official Soviet declaration in writing and send it to the Foreign Office. "
This proposal was sent in April 1991. But it was another year before the Russian side also showed its willingness to include the convictions of prisoners of war in the examination of a joint declaration on rehabilitation. If this declaration were to be made by mutual agreement on both sides, it was obvious that it could not be a question of a mere annulment of the Soviet judgments; but that we are the Russian rehab
litation with all its peculiarities, advantages and disadvantages. The alternative would have been a unilateral German declaration.
At the turn of the year 1991/92 the first notices of the rehabilitation of convicted German prisoners of war arrived from the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union fell apart, and its President Mikhail Gorbachev, the Chancellor's interlocutor on the subject of rehabilitation, resigned. For these reasons, the President of the VdH, Werner Kießling, considered it time to raise the subject of rehabilitation in a public letter to the President of the Russian Federation. In his letter of March 16, 1992, Kießling appealed to President Boris Yeltsin to adopt a general declaration on the rehabilitation of convicted Germans based on the model of the decree on the rehabilitation of Russian-Germans and referred to the preparatory work of the “German-Soviet working group on cooperation on humanitarian issues ".
Later it was announced from the Russian Public Prosecutor's Office that this warning had come just at the right time. The texts were checked and adjusted in the German-Russian working group. Finally a solution could be found which combines a general statement "that the wrongly convicted and innocent persecuted are morally rehabilitated" with the possibility of an individual rehabilitation upon request.
On December 16, 1992, the text of this “Joint Declaration was approved by the Federal Chancellor Dr. Helmut Kohl and President Boris N. Yeltsin on the rehabilitation of the innocently persecuted "announced in Moscow (see below; Part II 2). The goal of a joint declaration by both sides was finally achieved after many years, and I was happy to listen in Moscow. But at the same time it was clear to me that the possibility of individual application for rehabilitation and the compulsory procedures under Russian laws and regulations must lead to difficulties, ambiguities and queries or irritations.
This was evident in numerous events organized by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. This is how the history discussion group came up with the idea for this publication with the most important texts and a guide to help those affected. Thousands will welcome this very much.
I was happy to take on the task of putting my experiences on paper as a guide.
Guide through the publication
After this introduction the main military prosecutor of Russia is presented in the first part, the most important organ for the rehabilitation of the Germans. Each section is briefly commented on.
- The organs of the Chief Military Prosecutor of Colonel General of Justice Prof. Dr. Yuri G. Djomin
- Inventory in November 1997 on the activities of sub-department 5 for the rehabilitation of citizens of Germany and Austria
- Current reports on the status of the rehabilitation of Colonel of Justice Leonid P. Kopalin with concrete examples
In the second part, the most important texts on rehabilitation follow as documentation, each with brief comments.
- Law of the Russian Federation "On Rehabilitation of Victims of Political Repression" of October 18, 1991, as amended in 1992 and 1993
- "Joint declaration by Federal Chancellor Dr. Helmut Kohl and President Boris N. Yeltsin on the rehabilitation of the innocently persecuted "from December 16, 1992
- Fundamental decision of the Supreme Court of Russia on the rehabilitation procedure in cases of conviction under UKAS 43 ("War Crimes") of April 7, 1998
- Verbal Note No. 1268 of the German Embassy Moscow of June 17, 1996 on the question of the rehabilitation of the "administratively repressed"
- Project of the Working Group of the Commission under the President of the RF on "Rehabilitation of Victims of Political Repression" of May 26, 1999 for the amendment and addition of the Law "On Rehabilitation of Victims of Political Repression"
In the III. Finally, the rehabilitation process and the necessary steps should be made understandable in the sense of a guide. This includes advice on avoiding
Errors and mistakes as well as the problems of inspection of files and negative notices.
According to German jurisprudence, especially in the Federal Administrative Court, the rehabilitation in Russia of an applicant in the new federal states, who was expropriated by the Soviet occupation authorities at the time, has an impact on the regulation of the property situation. It is therefore particularly important here to avoid mistakes that could lead to non-processing or rejection of the application in Moscow.
Our guide is of immediate importance for those affected. Knowledge of Russian conditions is a prerequisite for the right advice. The Russian legal system in particular is in constant flux. Understanding this is only possible through continuous cooperation.
On October 6, 1992, I took part in a television discussion in "Club 2" in Vienna about war files in the Russian archives, where I met Vladimir Tarasov from the ROSARCHIVE State Archives Service and the Graz professor Stefan Karner, who was the first to come to Moscow from the West Archives researched. My neighbor from Switzerland asked me with a smile: "Otherwise you Germans are always so fast; but you overslept opening the Russian archives. Why were the Austrians faster then?"
I agreed with him, but added: "I'll change that." And so began my collaboration with Stefan Karner. The first archive in Moscow that I saw from the inside was the former "special archive" with 6 million files and documents from Prisoners of war of the Second World War. This had to include my own files from my Soviet imprisonment 1945-1955. In fact, it was found and ceremoniously handed over to me by Archive Director Bondarev. In December 1992 I traveled to Moscow as a journalist accompanied by the Federal Chancellor. That was a good opportunity to explain these files to Federal Minister of Finance Theo Waigel on the plane on the way back with over 100 pages - with the addition that I now need enough money to read the files of the convicted
Evaluate prisoners of war. For now that I knew that all the prisoners' files were stored in the Russian archives, I had made up my mind to transfer these files - from all convicted Germans - to track down and evaluate them for documentation.
On December 16, 1992, my organizational and financial preparations began in Germany for the implementation of the pilot project in Russia. It was possible to win over the Federal Government and also the Bundestag; because without official German support the Russian side would have failed.
I signed my first contract with ROSARCHIV on September 6, 1993 in Moscow. I was given 25 Russian archive employees, whom I paid in the manner of a joint venture, to work on 4 purchased computers. With Prof. Karner as a consultant, they learned programs and entered data sets with 38 data for each convicted person. First of all, the convicted Germans had to be selected from the 6 million and then the data sets had to be created. After three years we had over 37,000 records.
As early as 1994 we learned that the most important information was in the criminal files of the Central Archives of the Ministry of the Interior (MWD). In order to be able to evaluate these as well, it took a correspondence between the two interior ministers and then several contracts. Then the evaluation worked according to the same scheme with a Russian team in the MWD central archive, but by hand because Western computers were not allowed in the MWD.
In principle similar, but under different working conditions, this has also been achieved with the central archive of the Federal Security Service (FSB - formerly KGB) since 1996. On March 31, 1998 contracts were signed with the FSB for the delivery of all information with CD-ROMs.
It has thus been possible to obtain the necessary data on around 50,000 convicted Germans from the relevant Russian secret archives. The remaining 30,000 or so are contractually guaranteed. At the beginning we had expected much less and were well advised to use a computer for this analysis from the start.
The evaluation of the Russian secret files was successful in every respect. The key role for this success is that it is a German-Russian joint project. We were looking for partners on the Russian side that we found.
What the Russians and Germans have in common for the work and the objectives of this project is the fundamentally negative attitude towards the totalitarian systems in the German and Russian past. Specifically, it is a matter of finding the truth about Stalin's penal system by processing the criminal files. Because only the truth about the past can lead to a better future between Germany and Russia. Part of the common basic attitude of the partners in this project is that this worst chapter of the German-Russian past of mutual punishment and annihilation can only be dealt with together.
I have found Russian partners because I am one of the victims of Stalin, convicted several times of an uprising in the Shakhty prisoner-of-war camp. At all levels, from the working level in the archives and administrations to Marshal of the Soviet Union Viktor Kulikow, there is a willingness to work, so there are partners for this German-Russian project. If the victims don't begin this task, who else is going to do it.
The first letter to me from the Public Prosecutor's Office dated December 26, 1994 should also be seen against this background. The responsible Colonel Kopalin sent me the notification of my rehabilitation for the convictions of December 22nd, 1949 and June 21st, 1951 with an accompanying letter in which he encouraged cooperation in the future. I agreed, and on February 24, 1995, Kopalin reaffirmed it in the hope of "successful cooperation for the restoration of the rights of the victims of totalitarianism".
Our cooperation has continued in this spirit to this day, even when it comes to delicate and difficult problems. The applicants benefit from the results and are reflected in the advice in III. Part of this writing.
The German-Russian cooperation for our project has proven itself in numerous visits by Russian delegations for the exchange of scientific and technical experience in the Federal Republic of Germany. The MWD central archive in particular wants to learn from the German experience if the secret archives are to be outsourced from the Lubyanka area in the course of democratization in Russia and then made accessible to interested visitors. The responsible officers and specialist officials of the Russian ar-
chive, from MWD or FSB, have to enforce such democratic innovations internally and require the approval of the minister for trips to western countries. This in turn requires our willingness and invitation at the appropriate level. And this also includes lecture tours.
Representatives of the General Prosecutor's Office, Chief Military Prosecutor Colonel General Djomin, General Nikitin, General Kupez and again and again Kopalin were in Bonn and Berlin, met in discussions with German Stalin victims and their associations. Above all, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Bonn, but also through its Leipzig office, the Bautzen-Forum has invited to it since 1993; but also the Federal Armed Forces Association, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and camp communities of Soviet camps from Asbestos, Stalingrad to Vorkuta.
On the other hand, with the consent of MWD and FSB, former camp inmates of the regime camps traveled to Russia. Members of the German Bundestag traveled to Moscow and negotiated with the State Duma, in the ministries or in the public prosecutor's office.
These constructive elements of the exchange of experience include the scientific discussions with MWD experts as well as the six German-Russian seminars organized by the Homecoming Association in Bonn and Moscow, the last four with Marshal Kulikow.
The German-Russian conferences on the subject in Vologda and Dresden with historians and archivists are very important for the scientific mastery of the material. The conference volumes available are "Problems of Prisoners of War: Past and Present" Wologda 1997 (in Russian) and "The Tragedy of Captivity in Germany and the Soviet Union 1941-1956", edited by Klaus-Dieter Müller, Konstantin Nikischkin and Günther Wagenlehner, Cologne- Weimar 1998, proceedings of the conference organized by the Hannah Arendt Institute Dresden in cooperation with the Federal Archives and the Institute for Archive Evaluation in July 1997.
Without these numerous meetings of veterans and victims of the persecution at the time, as well as those responsible for rehabilitation in Russia, the cooperation with the organs of the Russian General Prosecutor's Office would not have been so positive and constructive
can develop. For words alone would not have overcome the mistrust of the past.
The truth of the persecution of innocent people documented in the Russian files also includes the truth of the German crimes in Russia. They are not erased by the unjustified persecution by the NKVD, MWD and KGB being uncovered. The readers of this pamphlet on rehabilitation should be aware of this.
When the crimes committed by Germans in the Soviet Union in 1942/43 became known, Stalin did not order a constitutional investigation and punishment of the perpetrators, but the sentencing of an appropriate number of Germans in the way he was used to doing the "purges" of the 1930s This is how the Soviet prosecuting organs understood and carried it out: Anyone who was caught in an investigation was convicted, regardless of whether they had committed the alleged crime or not.
Rehabilitation today in Russia is about the question of whether the convicted man could have been guilty from today's perspective or whether he was innocent and needs to be rehabilitated. For around 75% of those convicted, today's verdict is: innocent.
The relatively high number of rehabilitations leads Colonel Kopalin to reproach the Duma in communist and nationalist circles that he is rehabilitating "German fascists". He usually replies: No, not fascists, but innocently convicted people are rehabilitated, as the law prescribes.
There remain about 25% of those convicted, for whom the file situation at that time does not allow rehabilitation after today's examination. Those affected or their relatives argue that refusing rehabilitation is unjust. We will look at such cases in Part III. Here only the difficult problem is to be made clear, to find a fair judgment today after the file situation with partially pressed witnesses and signatures. Colonel Kopalin is truly not to be envied for his task.
But even if all convicted Germans were actually innocent, that would only mean that Stalin's system was incapable of discovering those who were actually guilty; because the crimes remain, whether the
Perpetrators to be found or not. If that is the starting point of the considerations, this writing will serve its purpose.
For my institute for archive evaluation, I hope that this will relieve the burden of the increasingly frequent questions about rehabilitation. Originally, most of the inquiries were aimed at inspecting files and investigating fates. Today the focus has shifted to rehabilitation. Many questions are similar. This publication can provide answers to many of those affected, their relatives and those who are generally interested.
For this, too, we would like to thank the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and everyone who contributed to this initiative.
© Friedrich Ebert Foundation | technical support | net edition fes-library | February 2000
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