Stasi 'evidence' 1

November 25, 2005

I am a former prisoner of the Stasi (the East German secret police) who was held in December 1983 in the infamous Hohenschonhausen Prison in Berlin on trumped-up charges of treason against an authoritarian regime in a state whose citizen I was not.

It is therefore supremely ironic - and from an academic point of view deeply disturbing - to find the same informers' accounts that led to my wrongful arrest and imprisonment being cited by Anthony Glees in his "Einhorn story" as respectable archival sources ("Scholar bites back at Stasi 'innuendo'", November 4).

Stasi files illuminate the workings of the Stasi: they cannot stand as historical evidence, especially where they are subject neither to critical evaluation nor to balancing by other data sources. Glees's book The Stasi Files cannot therefore be regarded as a serious piece of academic research.

In the context of Glees's book - and his accusations against John Sandford and others, including myself - it must be stated that dialogue with official government sources and with unofficial (dissident) peace and human rights groups in Eastern Europe was the openly declared policy of the Campaign for European Nuclear Disarmament just as it was the policy, for most of the years of the Cold War, of the British Government. To suggest retrospectively, as Glees does, that such dialogue showed naivety - or worse, constituted wilful ignorance of the nature of the dialogue partners - would be laughable, were it not dangerous and delusional.

Journalists should be wary of giving so much space - and credence - to this man.

Barbara Einhorn Sussex University

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