Saturday, November 15, 2008

Lutz Heilmann, The Left Member of Parliament, ex Stasi operative

Truly in line with the traditions of the former East German secret service, the Stasi, its ex-operative Lutz Heilmann (photo to the left) is resorting to censorship to prevent nasty information about his past from reaching the public eye. Heilmann today 'serves' as a member of parliament in the Left faction.

Censorship in the 21st century you might say? Not really. This posting here then is part of the process of keeping information flowing freely. Feel free to reproduce it and post it elsewhere. Thankfully there is little our ex-Stasi operative can do about it outside Germany!

Here's what happened. The German version of wikipedia.org (wikipedia.de) has/had an item on Heilmann that included unpleasant information about his past full-time service in the Stasi. The main point of criticism is not so much that he was a Stasi operative as that is true for very many people in Eastern Germany, but that he tried to hide that information when he ran for higher office. In fact, in fairness to Heilmann, he seems to have worked for the Stasi straight after high-school for about 5 years, in a department responsible for the safety of the East German leadership. This really isn't the problem probably, what is the problem is that instead of rectifying whatever objective errors there were in his wikipedia entry, using the usual means within wikipedia to do so, he chose not do so, and instead to bring down the whole site by way of going to court. Talking about throwing the baby out with the bathwater...

Heilmann is unhappy about information concerning his past that was uncovered by DER SPIEGEL. The magazine reports that Heilmann lied about his past by claiming that he served in the East German army from 1985 to 1990 when really he worked for the Stasi. This and other unpleasant tidbits about Heilmann have been put together in an entry in the German wikipedia version. Heilmann sued and in effect forced the German version of the wikipedia off-line. www.wikipedia.de is currently offering its visitors a placeholder, informing them that unless it removes the offending item (about Heilmann) it has been ordered by a German court to stop the redirect to the US based servers that host www.wikipedia.de. Thankfully the German courts have no jurisdiction in the USA, and freedom of expression is taken a bit more seriously in that country (thank you First Amendment). It is here where the entry about Mr Heilmann is still available in its full glory.

Censorship in the 21st century... you got to be kidding Mr Heilmann.

In case you value freedom of expression, you might wish to consider donating to the German branch of wikipedia in order to support it in its legal battles with Mr Heilmann.

7 comments:

  1. Lutz Heilmann wirft einen entäuschenden Schatten über die Linke Partei

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  2. One side of the story is that stupid Stasi educated people think that they can shape their image with those methods (which they can't because of the democratic structure of the internet). But the fact that German courts execute an interim injunction to the www.wikipedia.de redirect script is the real scandal! Here a jurisdiction system of a so-called democratic country has failed in a large style. Can we compare the Landgericht Lübeck with the MfS-Untersuchungshaftanstalt Berlin-Hohenschönhausen now?

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  3. This is actually an interesting case, that got me really MAD!!!
    I guess Mr. Heilmann didn't consider the fact, that this medium works both ways.
    If you force a www institution like Wikipedia to close one of it's important and reasonable branches like the german site, you're drawing MUCH attention to yourself, and this is funny, because Mr. Heilmann wants excactly the opposite... don't you wonder why???

    Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, that is mainly fact based and independent by all means, because a world wide community is contributing the content of world knowledge, so it's not just a knowledge base but a wonderful example of democracy and it's force of evaluation.

    If you bring down a site, where thousands of people look for knowledge (which shows their thirst for knowledge and information - meaning, they are curious) – with the argumentation of protecting your personality/history from being exposed, you totally miss the fact, that this will come down on you big time.
    I was looking e.g. for a totally different topic, but got curious about this whole Heilmann-story just by the fact, that Wikipedia.de was blocked. WTF???

    How stupid is this act in the first place, to ban a whole page that serves people instead of being smart and correcting the entry by bringing up facts that proof different.
    If you don't want your person being exposed to the public eye, dear Mr. Heilmann, don't go into politics in the first place and open up about your STASI history on your own, by being transparent, being modest, being true to yourself and others, before people find out about you and paint their own picture.
    And don't...NEVER EVER, fuck with the internet and the world wide community and it's ability to bring power to the people.

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  4. Mr Heil!mann, who's even younger than I am, is obviously unaware of the dynamics of the internet. Until a few days ago, virtually nobody had heard about him or his sordid past. But now we have, Mr Heilmann! And we'll be able to trace it for years to come.

    And yes, it's scary that the German court so easily gives in to this sort of blackmail. I hope WP Germany has the strength to dispute Mr Heilmann's claims, possibly with the help of EFF Europe or any such organisation.

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  5. I’m fully aware about the DDR scheme including the very bad role of the Stasi.
    As an older German citizen living in the Netherlands it is totally unacceptable for me that a ex-Stasi agent can be a member of the German parliament. In my opinion Heilmann must immediately resign. It’s a very big scandal and most of all shame for all Germans that this is possible.

    Beside of this I expect that this story will be absolutely negative for the German Left Party who should act immediately to save their face !

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  6. Heil Lutzmann!

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  7. what a bizarre comment. not even remotely funny. this guy used the legal means available within the legal regime operational in Germany. surely that does not make him anything akin to a Nazi...

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