Establishment Act

Between 1992 and 1998, two parliamentary inquiry commissions established by the German Bundestag investigated the history of the Communist dictatorship in the GDR as well as its implications for German reunification. Following a recommendation by the second of these commissions, the German Bundestag passed the Law on the Establishment of a Federal Foundation for the Study of Communist Dictatorship in East Germany with the aim of encouraging and supporting a long-term investigation and reappraisal of Germany’s second dictatorship. It the autumn of 1998, the foundation began its work.
On 2 April 1998, the parliament conducted the 2nd and 3rd reading of the draft for the Law on the Establishment of a Foundation for the Study of Communist Dictatorship in East Germany. Following its enactment on 5 June 1998, the corresponding law as detailed below was published in the Federal Law Gazette, year 1998, part 1, no. 33, issued in Bonn on 12 June 1998, and became effective 13 June 1998:

§1 Legal form of the foundation

A legally recognised foundation under public law, titled ‘Foundation for the Study of Communist Dictatorship in East Germany (GDR)’, based in Berlin, is to be established. The Foundation comes into being when this legislation takes effect.

§2 Purpose of the Foundation

  1. The foundation’s purpose is to provide and support – in cooperation with other institutions studying the Communist Dictatorship in the GDR – contributions to the comprehensive investigation and reappraisal of the causes, history and impact of the dictatorship in the Soviet occupation zone in Germany and the GDR, to keep alive the memory of the injustice that was committed and the victims it left behind, and to promote and consolidate democracy, the anti-totalitarian consensus throughout society, and the process of German reunification.

  2. The fulfilment of this aim shall be pursued in particular through

    1. project-based promotion of initiatives for reappraisal from within society, of private archives and of associations of victims of the dictatorship in the Soviet occupation zone and the GDR;
    2. support for counselling and care for victims of the Soviet occupying force and the Communist dictatorship;
    3. promotion of the political-historical reappraisal and scientific study of the dictatorship in the Soviet occupation zone and the GDR. The foundation itself does not engage in research of its own, but rather supports third-party research projects;
    4. the acquisition and collection, documentation and assessment of relevant materials – particularly with regard to opposition and resistance as well as political persecution and repression – and of other private papers; the establishment and maintenance of an archive complete with a documentation centre and library; for research purposes, the foundation houses the archival materials of the inquiry commission ‘Reappraisal of the history and impact of the Communist Dictatorship in Germany’ of the German Bundestag’s 12th legislative period and the inquiry commission ‘Transcending the Consequences of Communist Dictatorship in the process of German Reunification’ of the German Bundestag’s 13th legislative period, all of which were collected or produced in preparation of the commission reports and commission hearings, on permanent loan;
    5. participation in the commemoration of the victims of these dictatorships and the remembrance of German partition and the Peaceful Revolution of 1989/90;
    6. promotion of international cooperation in the study and reappraisal of dictatorships, particularly within the European context.

  3. Further activities towards fulfilling this aim may include:

    1. conferences hosted by the foundation, as well as publications and additional contributions to the political-historical reappraisal of Communist dictatorship by the foundation itself;
    2. financial support for third-party research projects and junior researchers, particularly in the form of scholarships;
    3. awarding prizes for outstanding literary, academic or artistic achievements in line with the aims of the foundation;
    4. the organisation of memorial days commemorating German partition, opposition and resistance and the victims of dictatorship in the Soviet occupation zone and the GDR.

§3 Endowment Fund of the Foundation

  1. The foundation’s endowment fund is comprised of the movable and immovable property acquired by the Federal Republic of Germany for the foundation’s purposes.
  2. The foundation is moreover entitled to accept additional donations from third parties and engage in legal transactions on its own.
  3. In order to fulfil the purpose of the Foundation (as specified in §2, Sec.1), the foundation receives an annual grant from the Federal Government as determined by the specific federal budget established by the federal budget law. Furthermore, and based on availability, funds coming from the assets as specified in §20 of the Political Parties Act of the German Democratic Republic dating 21 February 1990 (GBI. I No. 9 p. 66), last amended through legislation passed on 22 July 1990 (GBI. I No. 49 p. 904), in connection with Rider II Chapter II Subject Field A Section II Letter d Sentence 3 of the Unification Treaty dating 31 August 1990 (BGBI. 1990 II pp. 885,1150) are to be used primarily for the fulfilment of the foundation’s purpose. §3 Sec. 2 of the Law on the Regulation of Old Debts for Social Institutions (Altschuldenregelungsgesetz - ARG) (BGBI. 1997 l p. 434) remains unaffected.
  4. Any income from the foundation’s endowment fund and other income may only be used for the fulfilment of the Foundation’s purpose.

§4 Statute

In consultation with the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the Foundation shall adopt a statute to be resolved by a two-thirds majority vote by the Foundation’s Board of Trustees. The same applies to amendments to the statute.

§5 Foundation Bodies

The Foundation’s bodies include

  1. The Board of Trustees,
  2. The Board of Directors.

In order to receive counsel in the fulfilment of its tasks, the Foundation may appoint expert advisory councils.

§6 Board of Trustees

  1. The Board of Trustees is constituted as follows:
    The German Bundestag elects – in accordance with the existing number of parliamentary groups at the time of the vote – members to the Board of Trustees, with each parliamentary group in the German Bundestag entitled to nominate one member. Furthermore, each parliamentary group represented at the time of the vote may submit a proposal for a particularly distinguished or qualified person in the field of studying Communist dictatorship in East Germany to then be elected by the German Bundestag. The Federal Government delegates as many members to the Board of Trustees as there are parliamentary groups in the German Bundestag at the time of the vote. One additional member is delegated by the federal State of Berlin. For each member, a deputy must be appointed in accordance with the procedure specified for the member in question. The members are appointed for a period of five years. Repeated appointments are admissible.
  2. Should a member of the Board of Trustees or their deputy resign prematurely, a successor may be appointed only for the remainder of the term for which this member was originally appointed.
  3. The Board of Trustees elects a chairman or chairwoman and deputy chairman or chairwoman.
  4. The Board of Trustees resolves all issues relevant for the foundation’s field of responsibility. It monitors the activities of the Board of Directors and represents the foundation vis-à-vis the Board of Directors.
  5. Each member has one vote on the Board of Trustees. Should a member as well as their deputy be unable to attend, the vote may be transferred to another member of the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees requires a simple majority to pass any resolution. In the case of a tie vote, the chairman’s or chairwoman’s vote decides. Particulars are specified by the statute.
  6. The members of the Board of Directors are entitled to attend the meetings of the Board of Trustees with an advisory vote.

§7 Board of Directors

  1. The Board of Directors consists of a minimum of three and a maximum of five members. They are elected by the Board of Trustees with a simple majority and are appointed to a five-year term.
  2. The Board of Directors executes the decisions passed by the Board of Trustees and attends to the foundation’s affairs. It represents the foundation both in- and outside of court.
  3. Particulars are specified by the statute.

§8 Non-Executive and Voluntary Activity

The members of the Board of Trustees, the Board of Directors and the potential advisory councils act, unless they are engaged on an adjunct basis, on a voluntary basis.

§9 Controlling, Budget, Auditing, Administrative and Legal Cooperation

  1. The Foundation is subject to the Ministry of the Interior’s legal supervision.
  2. With regard to the Foundation’s budgeting system, finances and accounting as well as billing, the regulations pertaining to the federal administration are applicable.
  3. The Foundation is to be granted administrative and legal assistance. Fees and expenses will not be reimbursed.


  1. The foundation’s affairs are generally carried out by salaried employees.
  2. The collective bargaining agreements and other specifications effective for federal workers apply to the Foundation’s staff.
  3. The Foundation may be granted the right to employ civil servants via statutory regulation.

§11 Fees

The Foundation is entitled to charge fees for the use of its facilities as according to the statute’s precise specifications in order to cover administrative expenses.

§12 Official Seal

The foundation bears an official seal.

§13 Entry into Force

This law takes effect following its proclamation.