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Stasi – the State Security Force of East Germany

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The Stasi The Stasi were the primary intelligence and security agency of East Germany also known as The German Democratic Republic (GDR) during the cold war. They had a large amount of informants, agents and military trained police. They focused on espionage and political security. In its 39 years at least 1/3 of the East German population came under Stasi surveillance, arrest, detention, or torture. The East German government, with the assistance of the Soviet intelligence community, established the Stasi on February 8, 1950 to maintain communist rule in East Germany.

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The soviets helped the East Germans by training the first agents, and then they let the stasi take over. The agency served the desires of the communist regime. They created a widespread network of informants who were mostly citizens who worked with stasi agents who were paid either in goods or money. They used their powers to spy on other citizens using their own connections and jobs. If any suspicious activity occurred or any anti government behavior occurred they would report it and the people who they caught would be under more surveillance or be arrested.

The Stasi maintained their own network of prisons and detention camps where they held their prisoners; there they gained a reputation for their use of brutality, blackmail and torture to get the information and to get the prisoner to cooperate. The actual agent force was very large and comprehensive, they infiltrated schools, factories and political and social organizations to find any wrong doings, and they often created massive files on people that included pictures, information and even samples of their clothes. The agency was divided into several divisions each focusing on various security tasks.

The Ministry for State Security maintained one armed force; the Feliks Dzierzynski Guard Regiment was named for the founder of the Bolshevik secret police. The force consisted of as many as 8,000 military-trained members. The FD guarded government and communist party personnel, government buildings, Soviet monuments, and military instillations. They also employed special commando and intelligence units to conduct clandestine operations. The Main Administration for Reconnaissance focused its espionage on foreign intelligence, mostly on the countries of NATO and western Germany.

Eastern Germany was a highly controlled censorship state; The Main Department for Communications Security operated an internal communications network from the East German government and between East German and Soviet authorities. The department also culled government information from public media, and conducted counterespionage measures to secure lines against tapping devices. Surveillance of foreign diplomats, foreign residents, and occasional travelers was conducted by the Main Administration for the Struggle against Suspicious Persons.

Like East German citizens, foreigners in East Germany were subject to strict censorship and Stasi arrest. The stasi had about one spy per 6. 5 citizens. Spies reported all activity that occurred in the residence or place that they were spying; they also had cameras outside the establishment and had small holes to allow them to record activity inside the establishment. Schools, universities and hospitals also were under extensive surveillance. After 1950 the stasi executions were all secret. Most of them involved utilizing a guillotine and later a shot to the neck with a pistol.

Before interrogating a suspect the agents had guidelines to follow on how to extract information from a suspect, they often asked about who the suspect contacted and what activities they did and they interrogated a suspect for a very long time until they confessed, they seemed to know whether or not the suspect was telling the truth and if they keep saying the same line over and over they were lying about what they know, however only about 7% of the suspects cooperated with the stasi and tactics such as blackmail were common in the interrogations.

There were not many revolutions against the stasi because they would have been imprisoned and tortured for their beliefs and actions regarding illegal activity toward the government, however after the stasi lost power a protest was held in front of stasi headquarters to stop the destruction of the files that they kept on all of the people they had under surveillance. The stasi infiltrated almost every aspect of GDR life. Before the fall of East Germany the stasi employed 91,000 staff members and their informer network had more than 200,000 people.

After the reunification of Germany on October, 10, 1990, the government banned the employment of people who worked for the stasi in their government and opened up the archives for anyone to access their files in 1992. There was a big argument on whether or not people should be able to access their files because of privacy issues, they felt the information would lead to poor feelings of the old stasi members and cause violence against them, and however the citizens were able to access their files after 1992.

The old headquarters of the Stasi has been converted into a Stasi museum; all parts of the old headquarters are up for display such as the surveillance rooms, the kitchen the conference room and etc. There have been many films about the Stasi such as the The Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film-winning 2006 German film The Lives of Others which is about the stasi monitoring of the cultural scene of East Berlin and also the book Stasiland written by Anna Funder.

The stasi was a controversial state security force that was an effective security force and intelligence agency but in my opinion they went too far in trying to get information from its citizens and keeping order, if this were to still go on today many people wouldn’t think highly on not spying on others and listening to conversations as some countries believe in today’s world.

Cite this Stasi – the State Security Force of East Germany

Stasi – the State Security Force of East Germany. (2018, Jul 21). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/stasi/

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