The former headquarters of the Ministry for State Security of the GDR is now called “Campus for Democracy”. The 180,000 square meter site was given its name several years ago – what is missing is the content. Many buildings are empty, they belong to a private investor. The federal government, Berlin, investors and historians are currently arguing about the future of the campus.
Urban development senator Andreas Geisel (SPD) admitted on Wednesday: “We are far from where we want to be. We are chasing the plans.”
Together with representatives of the Bundestag, the Federal Archives and the district mayor of Lichtenberg, Michael Grunst (left), Geisel inaugurated 21 digital and analog boards on the campus in Ruschestraße/ Normannenstraße/Frankfurter Allee on Wednesday. Some of them are located in the surrounding streets and on the neighboring Roedeliusplatz. The system is supplemented by an online tour that can be called up on site using QR codes.
The panels not only refer to the well-known Stasi Museum and offer orientation, but also tell the history of the area. In addition to the Stasi documents archive, the Robert Havemann Society and the Berlin Commissioner for Reappraisal of the SED Dictatorship (BAB) have settled there. The development of the info texts was supported by civil society associations and the panels were financed by state funds.
“We want to show what democracy is and get people excited about it. Because democracy cannot be taken for granted,” said Senator Geisel in his welcome speech. There are always lectures, discussions and exhibitions on the campus. In the parking lot in the inner courtyard there are large-format photos and texts on the history of the Stasi headquarters and their storming by GDR citizens.
“The wayfinding system is an important next step in the development of the ‘Stasi headquarters. Campus for Democracy’,” explains Alexandra Titze, Vice President of the Federal Archives. “It makes the site more tangible for visitors and it shows another strength of the campus: the cooperation of many different actors from the state, federal government and civil society.”
District Mayor Michael Grunst said: “The ‘Campus for Democracy’ must become even more of a place that educates about dictatorship and resistance and promotes democracy and the European idea. The information boards are a further step in making the “Campus for Democracy” more visible to the public.
[More on the development of the “Campus for Democracy” and other news from the district is available every Monday in our Lichtenberg newsletter from the Tagesspiegel. Order free of charge at leute.tagesspiegel.de]
The federal government’s Stasi documents archive is also to be located on the “Campus for Democracy,” said Budde. “The culture of remembrance should come together in this place and be preserved.” The district has drawn up a development plan, which was drawn up by Senator Geisel at state level in order to have it further processed by the Senate Department for Urban Development, Building and Housing.
Recently there had been a dispute over the demolition of some buildings on campus. Instead of the Federal Archives, some historians and politicians would have preferred to see the previously announced studios for artists there. On the other hand, they are happy that the houses of private investors are not used for offices. The Senate administration has so far been able to prevent this through negotiations and monument protection.
The fact that parts of the area are in private hands is considered a historical error. Geisel also said: “It was not right that Deutsche Bahn privatized the site.” They had offices on the site and sold it to a private company in 2011 – according to various sources for one euro. This part of the story is not (yet) on the new information boards.