Saturday, 21 October 2017

Czech archive opens further StB files online to researchers

ČTK |
3 October 2017

Prague, Oct 2 (CTK) - The Czech security forces' archive made another part of digitised documents of the former communist secret police StB, almost 1.65 million pages concerning the StB's secret agents, accessible to researchers on Monday, extending the total number of online available pages to almost 4.7 million.

Before 1989, the StB transposed the original paper files to the form of microfiches, which it deposited in archives, the Archive said in a press release.

Its experts first digitised the files kept in the archive in Prague since the beginning. The files concerning StB agents from other regions, which were originally kept by the respective regional archives, are still waiting for digitisation and researchers can look into them only during a personal visit to the archives in Ceske Budejovice, Plzen, Usti nad Labem, Hradec Kralove, Brno and Ostrava.

Citing a previous decision of the Constitutional Court (US), the Archive director Svetlana Ptacnikova said the appearance of a person's name in a StB file need not automatically mean that the person knowingly cooperated with the StB.

"Of course, there were lots of agents who cooperated voluntarily and were quite efficient, but people's lives are not black-and-white. To be able to judge a person, we have to know all circumstances," Ptacnikova said.

According to her, the researchers who gain access to the documents should be cautious in drawing conclusions and deciding on whether to make the information public.

The opening of a remote access to the files by the Archive is not the same as their releasing to the public. Responsibility for their publishing is shouldered by researchers, Ptacnikova said.

The people who want to look into the digitised documents can reach them on the Internet, but only after their personal registration in the Archive.

Apart from the files on the StB's secret collaborators, the Archive previously digitised and a made online accessible a part of documents from the communist Czechoslovak Interior Ministry's department of law, including those concerning the country's border guards and the Germanisation of the children from Lidice, a central Bohemian village which the Nazis obliterated in 1942.

Remote access to the digitised document was launched in early 2016. The Archive experts have been gradually making more and more documents available. The previous largest extension of the access to documents in June involved a digitised part of the former counter-intelligence files.

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