Honecker was forced to resign by secret police

Stasi chief held file revealing East German premier's Nazi links

The Stasi, the omnipotent Ministry for State Security in the former East Germany, kept a secret dossier on the country's once revered leader, Erich Honecker, and forced him to resign in 1989 by threatening to expose his wartime attempts to collaborate with the Nazis, a previously unseen communist-era file revealed yesterday.

Details from the 25-page dossier were published by Bild am Sonntag newspaper. It said the document was compiled in 1971 on the orders of Erich Mielke, East Germany's feared and detested Stasi chief, in an effort to ensure he remained the real power behind the communist throne.

The paper said that at an explosive East German politburo meeting – held on October 17, 1989, when the country was in deep crisis with thousands of its citizens fleeing to the west – Mielke threatened to reveal the contents of his "black file" on Honecker, causing him to resign almost immediately.

Shortly after the meeting, Honecker, whose empire was collapsing around him, was replaced by Egon Krenz, the communist apparatchik who had been groomed to succeed him. The Berlin Wall fell less than a month later.

Honecker, who was a member of the German Communist party before World War II, was arrested by the Gestapo in 1937 and held until 1945 in a Nazi prison. Throughout his 19 years as East German leader, he was lauded by his own regime as an anti-fascist hero and one of the Nazi's most ardent opponents. In his autobiography, Honecker perpetuated this version of his past by insisting: "Neither the physical and psychological tortures I suffered at the hands of the Gestapo, nor the countless interrogations by fascist judges, were able to weaken my communist convictions."

However, Mielke's file, which was drawn up soon after Honecker was appointed the East German leader, tells a different story. It shows how the alleged anti-fascist hero had tried to convince the Gestapo that he had renounced communism and was prepared to go to the front as a soldier to take part in Hitler's so-called "Final Victory".

The dossier also reveals that while in Gestapo custody, Honecker had come forward with "quite wide-ranging evidence" which incriminated fellow imprisoned communists.

Honecker, a working-class communist who trained as a roof layer, was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment in 1937 for being a member of an illegal organisation. But by 1939 he was apparently ready to renounce communism. The dossier shows that Honecker asked his father to press for a political amnesty and got him to petition the Nazi authorities with a letter claiming that his son had renounced Communism "for good". The Nazis rejected his plea. But three years later, again at Honecker's request, his father insisted that his son was now ready to serve at the front as one of Hitler's soldiers.

The governor of the Brandenburg prison, where Honecker was incarcerated, was convinced. He wrote to his superiors recommending that he be released. "I have the impression that Honecker is honest and serious when he says that he sees the ideals of his youth have come true in our state and has no other wish than to prove his change of heart by serving at the front."

However, his plea fell on deaf ears and Honecker was not released until 1945. With a background apparently completely untainted by Nazism, he subsequently went on to play a key role in the creation of the Soviet satellite state of East Germany. He was also one of the organisers of the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961.

Mielke apparently kept his file on Honecker in a red imitation-leather suitcase in his safe at Stasi headquarters in East Berlin. Even under East Germany's communist system, keeping such a file on the country's leader would have been viewed as high treason.

The Stasi leader, who claimed he "loved" all East Germans, insisted after the fall of the Berlin Wall that the suitcase contained documents about Honecker which were designed to "protect him". He kept silent about the real content until his death in 2000. The suitcase was recently discovered among Stasi files held by the reunited Germany.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
The Swiss Re tower or 'Gherkin' was at one time the UK’s most expensive office when German bank IVG and private equity firm Evans Randall bought it
news
Sport
Moeen Ali wearing the 'Save Gaza' and 'Free Palestine' wristbands on his left arm
sport
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tv
Arts and Entertainment
filmThe Battle of the Five Armies trailer released
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Extras
indybest
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
Life and Style
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

PMO Manager (Portfolio Management, ExCel, Cost Benefit Analysis)

£450 - £500 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: PMO Manager - 6 month co...

Senior Fund Administrator - Edinburgh - £22 p/hr

£20 - £22 per hour + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Fund Administrator, Top Four ...

Nursery Nurse

£7 per hour: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to have a better wo...

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Functional Consultant

£50000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A Microsoft Dynamics CRM...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on