An in-depth study of the former East Germany's practice of forced adoptions is set to get under way in the coming months, the first time in more than three decades one of the lesser-known tragedies of the Cold War will be examined by the federal government.
In the German Democratic Republic (GDR), as East Germany was officially known, some parents had to give up their children for adoption under political pressure.
Forced adoptions were usually carried out on people the ruling communist party considered disloyal to the regime, for example after an escape attempt, or because of so-called anti-social behaviour.
Sometimes children were placed in the guardianship of committed, childless communists.
But many of the details of the dark chapter remain murky, including how many families were affected and how the East German government applied the practice. West and East Germany reunified in 1990.
A preliminary government-funded study by the the Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History in Potsdam in 2018 concluded that the adoptions were not a "systematically applied means of repression policy" by the state.
Lack of data
Rather, "opportunity structures" had made such injustice possible.
Due to a lack of data, the authors were unable to estimate how many cases there were. They assumed several hundred, although a victims' group has put the number in the thousands.
A new three-year study will get under way this summer, the German Interior Ministry says.
The ministry offered €1 million ($1.09 million) for the study in June 2021. A research institute has now been selected and is finalizing the application, the ministry said, adding that more details will be released in the coming months.