THE STASI – East Germany’s Cold War secret police
As the Cold War deepened divisions in its front line – the city of Berlin- deepened too.
The victorious powers of WW2 each controlled a sector of the city and these divisions would come to signify a cultural battle between the East and West .
For a year in 1948-9 the city was sustained by airlifts as road and ground links had been cut off by the communist East German government and their Russian masters.
Tanks Checkpoint Charlie
The East Germans famously erected the Berlin Wall in 1961 and then watch towers to stop East Germans from leaving as hundreds of thousands had fled.Its estimated that as much as a sixth of then population – more than three million people- had left before the erection of the wall.
As the East German state floundered it took on soviet totalitarian methods to control its population .The East German secret police, the Stasi , was born
Despite government propoganda warning against evil western plots , and state sponsored indoctrination prasing the glories of communism, by the 1980s , the regime was forced to raise raised millions of dollars in desperately needed hard currency from its arch rival the West German government . In return it allowed 35,000 people to leave the country .
Nowadays the activities of the feared Stasi , have a museum.
All the key players are here including one of its most ruthless leaders. Eriche Mielke, who advocated killing the worst dissidents.
At its height the Stasi employed more than 90,000 people , had s network of neatly 200,000 informants and had files on six million people- a third of the population .
It is housed in their old building and offices deep In the old East Berlin where the exhibits illustrate the secrets and techniques of this vast surveillance network which included secret camera and bugging devices that pried into the lives of hundreds of thousands of East Germans
Here you can view cameras hidden in buttons, ties and shopping bags –
See how the Stasi agents opened mail undetected.
Created fake identity documents for their agents
And even transported suspects in windowless vans around the republic
Their offices have been left as they were – a faded beige 70s style throwback to a pre digital age – including the personal offices of its feared leader Mielke