Is Germany doing enough to figure out how much the Stasi, East Germany's secret police, influenced West Germany? Or would it prefer to not open old wounds? The discovery that the policeman who unwittingly helped triggered the 1968 student protest movement was a Stasi spy has unleashed a heated historical debate.

The revelation that the policeman who shot Berlin student Benno Ohnesorg in 1967 was a spy for the Stasi East German intelligence service has led to an intense historical debate in Germany. Ohnesorg's death radicalized many students and is seen as one of the factors that lead to the 1968 student protest movement and the emergence of the far-left Baader-Meinhof terrorist group.

Now Germany is asking itself what would have happened if people had known that Karl-Heinz Kurras, the policeman who fired the fatal shot and became the epitome of what students saw as an authoritarian West German establishment, was a communist and a Stasi informant? Would 1968 have happened? Would the country have been terrorized by left-wing urban guerrillas for over a decade?

The issue has also raised questions about whether the gigantic archive of Stasi files is being combed thoroughly enough to reveal the Stasi's involvement in West German institutions during the Cold War. How many other significant secrets lie buried in the over 100 kilometres of files and film and in the rubbish bags of shredded documents?

Kurras's involvement with the Stasi came to light by accident when researchers were working on a project about people killed trying to cross the Berlin Wall. The chance discovery has sparked criticism of Marianne Birthler, the commissioner in charge of managing the Stasi archive.