Political Prisoners in the former GDR

Resource Type
Dataset : Survey and aggregate data
  • Schröder, Wilhelm H. (Zentralarchiv für Empirische Sozialforschung an der Universität zu Köln)
  • Wilke, Jürgen (Zentralarchiv für Empirische Sozialforschung an der Universität zu Köln)
Publication Date
  • ZA:
    • Historical Studies Data
  • Abstract

    Due to strict secrecy of the statistics of prisoners and criminality on the side of the authorities of the former GDR, it is difficult to estimate the number of political prisoners. Earlier estimates differ significantly from each other depending on the used sources, definition of terms, estimation methods and on the investigation period. As a starting point the term ‘Political Prisoner’ in the DDR was defined and operationalized. Based on this conceptual term definition the explorative study then aims to estimate the number of political investigation proceedings, political crimes, political criminals and convicts between 1945 and 1990 in the SBZ/GDR. These numbers help to evaluate the number of political prisoners also with regard to the total number of prisoners. In the research process not only the number of political prisoners was searched but also social and demographical data for prisoners and statistics on the penal system and so on, in order to give possibilities for further research and to enable a deeper analysis. The upper boundary for potentially political prisoners is estimated with 280000, the lower boundary is estimated with 170000 political cases.
Temporal Coverage
  • 1945 / 1989
Geographic Coverage
  • German Democratic Republic (1949-1990) (DDDE)
Collection Mode
  • The basic sources for this study are the statistics from the respective administration offices and authorities (penal system, public prosecutor and courts) and from the ministries of the DDR (MdJ, MDI). These statistics were kept confidential until 1990. The following main inventories are relevant for the analysis of political prisoners: - Prisoner´s files of the states, - Federal commissioner for the documents of the state security service of the former GDR, - Federal archive (department V, Berlin), federal archive (military archive department, Freiburg), - Collection of judgements and legal principle file (Rechtsatzkartei), - Criminal record and offender index, - Central release card index of prisoners of the former penal system administration, - Electronical files of the penal system administration on prisoners and arrested persons (Project NRA, Project NRB, Project NRC), - Published and non-published statistics of the GDR criminal statistics.
A - Data and documents are released for academic research and teaching.
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Alternative Identifiers
  • ZA8168 (Type: ZA-No.)
  • Schröder, Wilhelm H./Wilke, Jürgen, 1997: Politische Gefangene in der DDR – Eine quantitative Analyse. Wissenschaftliche Expertise für die Enquete-Kommission des Deutschen Bundestags „Überwindung der Folgen der SED-Diktatur im Prozeß der deutschen Einheit“, Köln.
  • Schröder, Wilhelm H./Wilke, Jürgen, 1998: Politische Strafgefangene in der DDR. Versuch einer statistischen Beschreibung, in: Historical Social Research / Historische Sozialforschung, Vol. 23, No. 4, S. 3 – 78.
  • Schröder, Wilhelm Heinz; Wilke, Jürgen: Politische Gefangene in der DDR – Quellen und Datenbestände. In: Gesellschaft Sozialwissenschaftlicher Infrastruktureinrichtungen e.V. (Hrsg.). Materialien zur Erforschung der DDR-Gesellschaft. Quellen – Daten – Instrumente. Opladen, S. 183-200. 1998

Update Metadata: 2021-04-07 | Issue Number: 87 | Registration Date: 2010-07-23