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The Stasi

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  1. The Stasi CHST 540 May 26, 2005

  2. Germany after WWII • Occupied Germany divided into zones

  3. East Germany • German Democratic Republic (GDR / East Germany) founded October 7, 1949 • Berlin Wall erected 1961

  4. Creation of the Stasi • Ministry of State Security created February 8, 1950 • Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (MfS) = Stasi • Headquarters in Berlin • 15 district divisions • ‘Sword and Shield’ of the SED (Socialist Unity Party) • KGB liaison officers in all major offices

  5. Main tasks (described in 1950) ‘protect the people’s own enterprises and works, transport and the people’s own property against the plots of criminal elements as well as against all attacks, to conduct a decisive fight against the activity of enemy agents, subversives, saboteurs and spies, to conduct an energetic fight against bandits, to protect our democratic development and to ensure uninterrupted fulfilment of the economic plans of our peace economy.’

  6. Distinguishing features • Focus on internal affairs • Pervasiveness • Relationship with KGB

  7. Erich Mielke • Minister of State Security (i.e. head of the Stasi) 1957-89 • member of the German Communist Party (KPD) since 1925 • after WWII, helped set up security force in Soviet zone and GDR • ruthless, talented organizer • aimed Stasi for omniscience

  8. Informers • ‘unofficial employees’ of the Stasi • 175,000 informers in 1989 (about 1% of population) plus 90,000 regular staff

  9. Types of informers • IM (Inoffizieller Mitarbeiter): unofficial informer/collaborator • IMB (Inoffizieller Mitarbeiter zur unmittelbaren Bearbeitung im Verdacht der Feindtätigkeit stehender Personen): unofficial collaborator for dealing with persons under suspicion of hostile activity • FIM (Inoffizieller Mitarbeiter für Führung anderer Inoffizieller Mitarbeiter): unofficial collaborator in charge of other unofficial collaborators

  10. Stasi appraisals of informers: “The unofficial employees are at the very core of all the Ministry for State Security’s politically operative work.” “The unofficial employees are the most important factor in the fight against the secret activities of the class enemy.” (Stasi files quoted in Barbara Miller, Narratives of Guilt and Compliance, p.9)

  11. Other methods of monitoring • “mailmen” • telephone taps • bugs

  12. Major domestic operations • Key instrument in Stalinization of East Germany (to 1953, when Stalin died) • Quash any movement undermining the GDR • Protect military installations and industry • Prevent mass emigration to the West

  13. Foreign espionage • HV A (Hauptverwaltung Aufklärung) - Main Administration for Reconnaissance • Main target West Germany • High-level spies: Günter Guillaume in Chancellor Willy Brandt’s office • Low-level spies: ‘fly catchers’

  14. Foreign activities (cont’d) • Other foreign targets: NATO, US military, US diplomatic stations abroad, etc. • Scientific and Technical Section (SWT) • ‘Commercial Coordination’ (KoKo) set up 1966 to acquire hard currency • Support for Third World secret police, intelligence agencies, and communists (i.e. Nicaragua, Chile, Zanzibar, Ethiopia)

  15. Relationship with KGB • ‘Chekists of the Soviet Union’ • ‘the friends’ • ‘parental’ > fraternal relations • 1978 first official protocol on KGB-Stasi collaboration (signed by Mielke and Andropov) • Perspektivpläne (plans for future joint operations)

  16. Disbandment • 1989 Berlin Wall falls • East and West Germany politically united November 9, 1990 • public storms Stasi headquarters

  17. Studying the Stasi • Left behind 180km of files • Stasi Document Law (StUG, 1991) • Gauck authority (BStU) employs 3000 to oversee records

  18. Main point • Understand the Stasi as an extreme example of a KGB ‘clone’

  19. Debate • Was the Stasi ‘the most pervasive and efficient secret service in history’? • Was the Stasi a ‘state within a state’ or ‘an instrument used by the SED bureaucracy to retain power’?

  20. For further info: • http://www.stasi-museum.de • Mike Dennis, The Stasi: Myth and Reality (Pearson, 2003) • Anthony Glees, The Stasi Files: East Germany’s Secret Operations Against Britain (Free Press, 2003) • Barbara Miller, Narratives of Guilt and Compliance in Unified Germany: Stasi Informers and their Impact on Society (Routledge, 1999)