Source: Spiegel Online (7-10-09)
Germany has been scratching an old itch this week. The issue of what to do with those Germans who once worked for the East German secret police, most commonly known as the Stasi, has come up again with figures released earlier in the week indicating there were still around 17,000 ex-Stasi employees in Germany's civil service.

Even more troubling, some of them appear to be employed by the police or in various national or state offices of criminal investigation. One was even rumored to be working as a bodyguard for Chancellor Angela Merkel although this was later denied by the agency responsible. And by the end of the week those numbers were coming under closer scrutiny with some researchers claiming they are too old to be reliable and that the issue was moot.

At the height of its powers in the late 80s, the Stasi, considered to be one of the effective intelligence agencies in the world, employing an estimated 91,000 people to keep a close eye on the population in the former communist state. And hundreds of thousands more -- perhaps even as many as two million, according to some researchers -- also spied on friends, family and colleagues. The information gathered on up to 5.6 million individuals was filed at the Stasi's central catalogue and used to stifle political dissent. It also fostered a repressive climate of fear in East German communities because what the Stasi knew about you could, and most likely would, affect your educational, professional and even recreational opportunities.