“Wissen, wie es war”

“To know what it was like.” Motto for the twentieth anniversary of the museum for the Stasi documents, the files and systems of the East German secret police, that were saved from destruction, reconstructed despite destruction, archived, read, evaluated, reread and shown to visitors from all over the world.

The decision to preserve the files was not as obvious now as it may seem in retrospect. Some well-meaning West German deciders wondered if finishing the Stasi’s destruction of the files might not be a benison to the Stasi’s victims, in the extremely short term. Fortunately for victims, for voters who in the decades since might otherwise have elected candidates with an “inoffizielle Mitarbeiter” (“unofficial coworker,” “unofficial employee”) past, for people living in police states who are making plans about what to do when the dictatorship falls, and for people living in potential police states, the documents were not destroyed, systems were developed to work with them while preserving privacy for the innocent, and the people at these archives are happy to share what they’ve learned with visitors.

(VISS en   vee   ess   vahr.)

Trennbanken

Separation banks.” Germany’s ruling coalition has indicated that it wants to pass legislation that prevents banks from speculating with money from savings accounts. ZDF’s Valerie Haller said this would split today’s universal German banks into two entities under one roof: one for “consumer business” and one for “risk business” (probably “commercial banking” and “investment banking” in English). If the laws are in fact drafted and then pass, the new rules would come into force two years from now.

Update on 5 Feb 2013: Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet has announced it will start putting together “a comprehensive bank regulation package” on Wed. 6 Feb 2013. They say it will include civil and criminal punishments for managers whose assumption of risk endangers their institutions, will separate “speculative banking” from “customer banking” and will require banks to have emergency plans in place in case of worst-case scenarios.

Update on 7 Feb 2013: They did it. On Wed. 6 Feb 2013 Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) announced the proposals in his characteristically clear, reasonable, reliable-sounding way. The opposition criticized that the new banking regulations are late and don’t go far enough. “Too late and too vague,” said the SPD’s chancellor candidate Peer Steinbrück, who said he submitted a proposal to separate universal banks six months ago. About ten large banks in Germany will be affected by the new rules.

(TRENN bonk en.)

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