One of the scariest things about the old GDR was the Ministerium fÃ¼r Staatssicherheit, or as it was better known the Stasi. The Stasi or East German Secret Police, engaged in arbitrary arrest, kidnapping, brutal harassment of political dissidents, and the inhumane imprisonment of tens of thousands of citizens, all under the orders of Stasi Boss Erich Mielke.
The Stasi’s influence over almost every aspect of life in the German Democratic Republic cannot be overestimated. Until the mid-1980s, a civilian network of informants called Inoffizielle Mitarbeiter (IMs, Unofficial Collaborators) grew within both Germanies, East and West. By the East German collapse in 1989, it is estimated that the Stasi had 91,000 full time employees and 300,000 informants. This means approximately one in fifty East Germans collaborated with the Stasi, one of the highest penetrations of any society by an intelligence gathering organization. Additionally, Stasi resources were used to infiltrate and undermine West German government and intelligence. While notably succeeding in these infiltrations, the Stasi purportedly never suffered any intrusion from Western intelligence personnel.
The Stasi monitored politically incorrect behavior among all citizens of East Germany. During the 1989 peaceful revolution, the Stasi offices were overrun by enraged citizens, but not before a huge amount of compromising material was destroyed by Stasi officers. The remaining files are available for review to all people who were reported upon, often revealing that friends, colleagues, husbands, wives, and other family members were regularly filing reports with the Stasi.
After German unification, it was revealed that the Stasi had also secretly aided left-wing terrorist groups such as the Red Army Faction. Loss of support from the Stasi was a major factor in the dissolution of these groups
A view of the main office building.
A model in the lobby showing the enitre complex that was the Stasi Headquarters.
This is the view you had as you entered the building.
One floor of the museum is dedicated to showing the techniques and tools used to spy on the East German population. Here you can see a pen and watch rigged up to be recording devices.
The corridor of the wing that contained all the major offices of the high level commanders of the Stasi.
The desk of Erich Mielke, the head of the Stasi from 1957 until 1989. From Wikipedia:
Mielke headed the Stasi from 1957 until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. His network of 85,000 full-time domestic spies and 170,000 voluntary informers kept tabs on millions of people. So many people collaborated with the Stasi that when the records were opened, it was discovered that in every public building, at least one of its members kept the Stasi informed on all the activities within it. At his orders and with his full knowledge, Stasi officers also engaged in arbitrary arrest, kidnapping, brutal harassment of political dissidents, and the inhumane imprisonment of tens of thousands of citizens. He was one of the most powerful â€“ and most hated â€“ men in East Germany, feared even by members of his own Stasi.
Another view of the desk.
Looking back at Mielke’s office from his desk.
The Stasi board room.