Germany The Pain of Purification

East Germany's last leader, labeled a secret-police informant, is the latest victim of a process haunting the reunited land

Bespectacled and goateed, Lothar de Maiziere always looked less like a politician than a classical musician. In fact, before he became East Germany's first -- and last -- freely elected head of government in April 1990, De Maiziere was once a professional violist. After a nerve ailment ended his orchestral career, he took to defending dissidents in court against the Communists who then ruled the East. Last week he resigned as Minister Without Portfolio from Chancellor Helmut Kohl's government after he was labeled with another vocation: informant.

De Maiziere had twice outlasted rumors of Stasi links since his rise from political...

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