From Prussia With Love (2): The Stasi

The Stasi museum is housed in its former headquarters in what was East Berlin.  It’s stark modern construction holds the archives (961 bags of still torn up documents included), offices, spy equipment and stories of repression only its mute walls can probably tell in full.  It houses the remaining controversy about openness and acknowledgement that remain from The Fall in 1989.  (see video link below).

Among the capacities contained here was the ability to open and reseal 90,000 envelopes a day.  Someone had to check those letters and did, more often than not, for they had 90,000 employess and 180,000 IM’s- people spying on their friends, neighbors, co-workers.

The Stasi came early in the morning without warning.  Some were even nabbed while in the western zone.  The Stasi readily obtained the warrants they needed.  It was a mere formality.  They were never refused.  They interrogated and isolated, so isolated that many looked forward to their interrogation.  It was the only human contact they had.

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Best viewed with PicLens- you can see the captions.


After they were done with the interrogations, most often ending in a signed confession, you sometimes served prison terms, sometimes were turned into an IM, while some were sold to the West German government for about $50,000, a major revenue source for the cash starved GDR (German ‘Democratic’ Government).  Hundreds of thousands were thus treated.  They did not want ‘hardened hostile negative people’ as they called them, just walking about anywhere they pleased.

A few were executed.  This was done by a shot to the back of a head, without warning.

Today former prisoners complain that high level Stasi employees, and other high level personnel, were never tried, and receive still a government pension.  The people they destroyed, whose careers and family lives were wrecked, whose health was damaged, receive much less and if they never worked, they get nothing.  Stasi employees are often still working as policeman and in other government jobs.  German law says they committed no crime if the action was legal in the East, so they went on as if nothing happened.  And that’s what many say to this day.  Nothing happened.  But those little strips tell us otherwise.

Here are a couple of good documentaries



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