Children of a Lesser God: GDR Lawyers in Post-Socialist Germany

In this essay, I want to investigate German vetting policies by looking at one particular subgroup of examinees: GDR lawyers. In Germany, no other former socialist elite has been submitted to so thorough an ideological cleansing process as the legal profession. After reunification, all GDR judges and prosecutors hoping to remain in office had to undergo investigations that by March 1994 had left only 9.2% of their former numbers in permanent positions. Virtually all East German law professors were removed from their university posts. More than 5000 attorneys in Germany’s eastern half are currently being examined for former contacts with the State Security apparatus (Stasi) and other transgressions. And of all prosecutions for “government crimes” committed by socialist officials, between 75% and 80% are directed at former judges and prosecutors accused of miscarriages of justice.