Former East German Guard Who Betrayed Friend Is Convicted
BAMBERG, Germany (AP) _ Thirty-four years after a defector was hanged at an East German show trial, the friend who betrayed him received a 20-month suspended sentence Tuesday.
The state court in Bamberg convicted former border guard Fritz Renn, 64, of kidnapping and delivering his friend Manfred Smolka to the Stasi, the East German secret police.
Smolka, like Renn a border guard, fled to West Germany in 1958. A year later he tried to bring his wife and 9-year-old daughter over and secretly enlisted Renn’s help.
Renn informed the Stasi, who had Smolka captured at the border while he waited there for his family, the court said.
In 1960, Smolka was hanged. The court that sentenced him was under special instructions from communist leader Walter Ulbricht and claimed Smolka had informed the Americans about a secret East German gas mask.
Smolka’s widow, Waltraud, was jailed for four years. She wept through the proceedings Tuesday.
Judge Konrad Dengler said the Bamberg trial, partly a result of documents that came to light after the Stasi central archives were seized in late 1989, showed that it was ″too early to close the Stasi files.″
Some leading politicians want to close the 110 miles of files, claiming they contain too much disinformation and sow mistrust among former East Germans.