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From Der Spiegel:

In Leipzig bleibt es ruhig, verdächtig ruhig. Die "Aktuelle Kamera", Hauptnachrichtensendung des DDR-Fernsehens, berichtet über die Ereignisse, als ob es Bürgerrechtlern und SED-Reformern im Schulterschluss mit der Volkspolizei gelungen sei, die Stasi in die Schranken zu weisen. Und Generalstaatsanwalt Günter Wendland verkündet am selben Tag, dass Aktenvernichtungen strafbar seien.

Von nun an haben Volkspolizei und Staatsanwaltschaften eine rechtliche Grundlage, um nach Anzeigen von Bürgern in MfS-Dienststellen vorstellig zu werden. Sicherheitspartnerschaft nennt die Modrow-SED dieses Konzept. Wie von Geisterhand macht es aus jenen, die Wochen zuvor bei den Feiern zum 40. Jahrestag der DDR, Demonstranten verprügeln, inhaftieren und anklagen ließen, Freunde und Helfer der friedlichen Revolution.

I checked the meaning of vorstellig werden, which is "to lodge a complaint with someone", but still don't understand the sentence. Normally it should be the people who complain to the police, but from the sentence it seems that the police and prosecutors are the ones lodging complaints.

  • Could you provide more context, please? In particular: what does "von nun an" refer to? I guess the phrase means that the MfS (the once omni-potent GDR intelligence service) was not longer "immune" and became subject to "normal" prosecution if they acted against the citizens. More context could help verifying this hypothesis. – Matthias Nov 9 '14 at 22:44
  • @Matthias I just added more context. Sorry, I thought what I wrote before would be enough for the question. – boaten Nov 9 '14 at 23:07
  • No problem - seeing this would probably have required understanding the whole thing. --- You seem to ask quite often for phrases from the current "Spiegel". After two weeks or so they will become public. It would be great if you could then edit your questions and add a link to the article you are quoting. I think future readers of your questions would appreciate this. – Matthias Nov 9 '14 at 23:22
  • @Matthias Do you know where they will become public? I checked the Spiegel Magazin website for some old issues and the articles still require purchase. If there are free public sources, I will be happy to add links to my questions. – boaten Nov 9 '14 at 23:28
  • Via the search on spiegel.de. Just enter the title or some specific phrase. E.g. here is the lead article from the issue you mentioned. You won't get the article in it's original layout (and that probably excludes photos and diagrams as well) - this would take 12 months to get free access. But the bare text seems to be online much earlier. – Matthias Nov 10 '14 at 0:11
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Vorstellig werden means "to show up at a place to pursue a certain objective". In the phrase you are quoting it means that police and prosecutors could now enter MfS offices in case someone informed them that important documents would be destroyed there, because this just had ben declared illegal. It is left open if other circumstances would justify similar action as well.

The point of the whole section is that the government tried to give the impression (and TV supported them in this move) that they were the "good" guys acting against the "bad" MfS guys, and thus making forgotten how they acted against the opposition only a few weeks before.

  • The definition of "vorstellig werden" that you gave seems to be different from that given by the Reverso dictionary or Duden. Do you have a reference for it? – boaten Nov 9 '14 at 23:25
  • @boaten I don't think it's really different, I only tried to explain it in my own words. Reverso "to go to sb.", Duden "meist persönlich" - I do think that personal presence is important, and a certain urgency. It could be a phone call, but often (and in the quoted article) physical presence is involved (see the example at Reverso: "der Botschafter wurde bei der Regierung vorstellig") – Matthias Nov 9 '14 at 23:48
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Vorstellig werden means introducing yourself. Usually this means that you introduce yourself to someone, because you need something. For example you could introduce yourself to a new customer so that they can get an impression of you.

The sentence above means:

From now on, the police and prosecutors have a legal base to introduce themselves to MfS departments after being charged.

  • 1
    Welcome to German Language SE. While your answer isn’t completely wrong, it does not capture all meanings of vorstellig werden and may also be misleading, as most cases of introducing yourself cannot be translated with vorstellig werden. – Wrzlprmft Nov 9 '14 at 22:20
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    vorstellig werden is different from sich vorstellen. And I certainly would not use it to denote "introducing myself to a new customer". Only if a customer keeps owing me money it might happen that I vorstellig werde at his office. – Matthias Nov 10 '14 at 0:33

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