Secret papers found in German leader's trash – media

Private and even classified documents of the German chancellor’s wife ended up in a residential dumpster

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s wife Britta Ernst has repeatedly disposed of private documents in household garbage, Der Spiegel reported on Friday. These documents weren’t only mixed in with the residential garbage, which is a violation of recycling laws, but some were marked as confidential. The outlet obtained some of the trash trove thanks to the couple’s neighbor in a posh Potsdam residential building. 

Ernst (61), is the minister of education of Brandenburg. According to the article, she seems to have a habit of disposing confidential papers without shredding. “Is this secret or can it be thrown out?”

Scholz and Ernst’s neighbor first stumbled on the documents in November last year. Ernst’s speech draft was found among the paper clutter outside the garbage collection area. 

According to the magazine, it’s bad enough that Germany’s first couple isn’t sorting their waste for recycling according to government guidelines, but Ernst in particular doesn’t seem serious about handling private documents.

Among the papers Der Spiegel was shown is a page from Ernst’s appointment calendar from May and a printed email showing her wanting to improve her conversational English. A second sheet shows how she plans to dress on the day of federal elections in September 2021.

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The most recent document dates back to last month’s G7 summit in Bavaria. It’s a collection of profiles of the spouses and partners of the group’s heads of state, which Ernst was charged with looking after. A note under the photo of Maria Cappello, the wife of Italian PM Mario Draghi – who just recently resigned – says “avoids the public.” Yuko Kishida, the wife of Japan’s prime minister, is labeled “secretary at Mazda.”

Spiegel says that although all of this information is public information the paper has been labeled “classified information – for official use only.”Scholz and Ernst should have received training on how to properly handle classified documents. This included proper disposal. According to these rules, classified documents must be destroyed so that they are not easily identifiable.

The magazine claims it has reached out to Scholsz and Ernst for their comments, but they have not been contacted by the Chancellery and the Brandenburg Ministry for Education, Youth and Sport.



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