IIn a few days, the Federal Commissioner for the Legacies of the GDR State Security Roland Jahn is retiring. The coalition of the Union and the SPD takes this as an opportunity to dissolve the authority as such. The files go to the Federal Archives, the employees – still more than a thousand – are taken over there. Access to files remains granted. To this end, there will now be a federal commissioner for the victims of the SED dictatorship, who is located at the Bundestag. The governing parties were only able to agree at the last minute about who should take over the office: Evelyn Zupke, who was born in Binz on Rügen in 1962, was born.
Your GDR biography is similar to that of many members of the opposition. Her first doubts about the regime came during her school days. The occasion was the fate of a classmate who had initially committed to an officer career in the GDR army, but then no longer wanted and was thrown from school. Zupke stood by him, almost the only one. So she slipped more into an opposition role than she consciously decided: “How did I get there? I don’t really know. Suddenly I was right in the middle of it! “
In 1984 she refused to take part in the election, speaking of “folds of paper” and “Punch and Judy Theater GDR election”. In the same year she decided to go into church work for the disabled – that too was not an unusual path for system critics. In East Berlin she belonged to the opposition Weißensee Peace Circle, which managed to prove the falsifications in the local elections in May 1989. The action sent out a signal that led to the revolution in autumn.
Dispute over Zupke’s past in the East
Evelyn Zupke lives in Hamburg today. Since last year she has been a member of the advisory board for the hardship fund of the Berlin commissioner to come to terms with the SED dictatorship. She also travels through the country as a witness to clarify things about the GDR. Berlin awarded them the city’s Order of Merit, which was still under Klaus Wowereit. In Hamburg, Zupke studied at the Protestant University for Social Work and Diakonia, but broke off when there was a fundamental dispute there, which also had to do with her Eastern past. It was about the teaching approach to social work in the GDR as well as about the teaching material offered by Eberhard Mannschatz, who had been responsible for the closed youth work center Torgau in the GDR.
What role the Federal Commissioner will play in the area of tension between politics and the victims’ associations, which Zupke is quite critical, will depend on her person. The parliamentary group chairmen Ralph Brinkhaus and Rolf Mützenich certify that she has “high social skills”, communication skills and empathy when dealing with those affected.