The Guilt of Others: Oppression's Evil Legacy (Parts 1 and 2)
25 Years Fall of the Wall - Deutsche Welle Documentaries and Reports
How do societies deal with the written legacy of a dictatorship? Open it up, or close it for good, forget it or work through it - what is the best way to heal the wounds of the past? Whether during the apartheid era in South Africa or under German or Soviet-style socialism - the power of tyranny is always based on the police and intelligence services.
When they collapse, they leave behind them mountains of files - unless, of course, they managed to destroy them at the last moment. East Germany's Ministry for State Security gathered material on millions of people - primarily its own citizens, but also on many from the former West Germany and other countries
When the East German regime crumbled, activists managed to save the files of the Ministry of State Security (Stasi) from destruction and the newly reunified Germany established the Office of the Federal Commissioner for the Stasi Records (BStU) to administer and process them in 1991.
Today, over 100 kilometers (62 miles) of files are stored in the BStU archives, a testimony to the East German regime's mistrust of its own citizens. In the euphoria after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the issue of dealing with the Stasi's legacy became an explosive social and political issue, pitting people who had been betrayed, persecuted and humiliated against their former tormentors and their accomplices.
To mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, filmmaker Inga Wolfram looked at the risky attempt to secure and release personal documents through legislation and the establishment of the BStU after the collapse of the East German state.
She talked to former East German opposition and civil rights activists as well as the three commissioners responsible for the files over the years about guilt, forgiveness and dealing with the legacy of the past.
This two-part documentary also looks at Russia and South Africa to see how they have dealt with legacies of state terror and injustice and asks under what conditions is reconciliation between victims and perpetrators even at all possible.