The headquarters of the former STASI, the infamous GDR Ministry for State Security, were located in this very building which today houses Berlin’s STASI Museum. This is a truly impressive rewind into one of the most chilling institutions of the Cold War. The building was occupied by demonstrators on January 15, 1990 and a citizen’s committee initiated the disbanding of the former STASI, gradually transforming this building into a memorial, museum and archive for posterity.
The actual Stasi files are administered by a Federal Capital Commissioner for Stasi Files and kept in a central archive in Berlin. About 160 kilometers (100 miles) of Stasi documents including files, dossiers, index-cards and audio tapes were left behind by the Stasi. They contain information on about 6 million people, although the exact number of people under surveillance is unknown.
Visitors can time travel back in time into Erich Mielke’s – the last GDR minister for State Security – own offices as they have been preserved in their original state. From here, Mielke headed the Stasi for over 30 years. The museum is full of old-time Stasi artefacts including its infamous surveillance devices hidden in most extraordinary places. The numerous exhibits are a journey into the repressive stranglehold of the police state, the activities of the State Security and aspects of the GDR political system as well as resistance and opposition movements.
Stasi Museum Memorabilia highlights such as a prisoner’s transport van, hidden infra-red cameras for night photography and containers to disguise weapons transport.
About the Ministry for State Security
The block of buildings of the Ministry for State Security measured about 20 hectares (50 acres or 2,2 mio square feet) in area and was the workplace of about 8,000 employees in 1989. On the afternoon of 15 January 1990 representatives of the Citizens’ Committees from different districts, together with the Military State Prosecutor, took over the Headquarters in the Normannenstrasse.
This part of the exibition informs you about the Stasi organizational structure, the complex of buildings, the occupation of the headquarter and the dissolution of the Stasi.
Tradition-work in Ministry for State Security
In this part of the exhibition items are shown that were used in the framework of “tradition work” and that were used as gifts on several occasions within the Stasi or between Stasi and the state security services of the other Eastern Bloc countries or between Stasi and it’s “partners of political-operative cooperation”.
Tradition work was part of the ideological education in the Stasi and aimed at the creation of a “Chekist personality” with traits like an “unconditional loyalty to the working class and its Marxist-Leninist party”.
The political-ideological education was a key part of the East-German educational system too. In all subjects children and juveniles were indoctrinated. As “socialist personalities” the SED wanted them to internalize the belief system of the communist ideology and to support the political system by any means.
Resistance and Opposition – Operational work of the Ministry for State Security
The persecution by and resistance against the government body in East Germany from 1945 to 1989 is documented in this section. The dictatorship influenced all areas of life; leading officials decided which things were allowed and which were not. The enforcement of their will was carried out by the party, the labour unions, the state machinery (including MfS and police), the justice and the system of education. Already little aberrations were sometimes penalised with great hardness.
The exibition includes surveillance and observation technology, for example items to hide audio and photo technology (so called containers), wires, hidden infra red beamers for photographs at night and a lot more.
Most of the exhibited technology was produced in the 60s and 70s and was sporadically used till 1989. Of course the MfS was also equipped with most modern technology, but this technology mostly “disappeared” in the course of the disorganisation.
Finally the exhibition documents shortly the events that led in the end to the opening of the border and the downfall of the GDR until the reunion of Germany.
Stasi Museum Berlin
Ruschestraße 103, House 1
Tel: (030) 553 68 54