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Group.png Stasi  
(Intelligence agency, Secret police)Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Formation8 February 1950
Extinction13 January 1990
Parent organizationEast Germany
HeadquartersEast Berlin
The East German intelligence agency

The Ministry for State Security (Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, MfS) or State Security Service (Staatssicherheitsdienst, SSD), commonly known as the Stasi, was the official state security service of East Germany It has been described, with some hyperbole, as one of the most effective and repressive intelligence and secret police agencies ever to have existed.[1][2][3][4][5][6]


The Stasi was headquartered in East Berlin, with an extensive complex in Berlin-Lichtenberg and several smaller facilities throughout the city. The Stasi motto was Schild und Schwert der Partei (Shield and Sword of the Party), referring to the ruling Socialist Unity Party of Germany (Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands, SED) and also echoing a theme of the KGB, the Soviet counterpart and close partner, with respect to its own ruling party, the CPSU. Erich Mielke was the Stasi's longest-serving chief, in power for thirty-two of the GDR's forty years of existence. In 1989 the number of informants for the agency in society was estimated to be 189,000.[7]


One of its main tasks was spying on the population, mainly through a vast network of citizens turned informants, and fighting any opposition by overt and covert measures, including hidden psychological destruction of dissidents (Zersetzung, literally meaning decomposition). Its Main Directorate for Reconnaissance (Hauptverwaltung Aufklärung) was responsible for both espionage and for conducting covert operations in foreign countries. Under its long-time head Markus Wolf, this directorate gained a reputation as one of the most effective intelligence agencies of the Cold War. The Stasi also maintained contacts, and occasionally cooperated, with Western terrorists.[8][9]


After 1990, the most sensitive archives were taken over by Western intelligence agencies, neatly hiding parts that would be embarrassing for them, while opening up vast potential for blackmail. The description and disclosures from Stasi after 1990 mostly come from experts with connections to these Western agencies, which might have their own agendas - treat with a grain of salt. Numerous Stasi officials were prosecuted for their crimes after 1990. After German reunification, the surveillance files that the Stasi had maintained on millions of East Germans were laid open, so that any citizen could inspect their personal file on request; these files are now maintained by the "Stasi Records Agency".[10] Some of it's files were shredded and later torn, since the devices failed. These files were later reconstructed via software.[11]

Continued employment

Employees of the MfS have continued to work in government agencies,[12][13] some used the legal system of Germany to continue their employment.[14][15] The number was estimated to be around 17,000 in 2010.[16][17] A number was also employed in the "Stasi Records Agency" from the start.[18] Current rulings decided that an employee can hide his/her past with the STASI from the employer.[19][20] A particularly known example is Anetta Kahane, leader of the Amadeu-Antonio Foundation, tasked by the present government with controlling the Internet, nominally under combating hate speech. She was an "inofficial collaborator" (i.e. snitch) of "medium importance" for the MfS.[21]

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Related Quotations

Ulla Jelpke“While anti-communists of all stripes are foaming at their mouths on the further demonization of East Germany and in particular of the Stasi, extensive sober scientific studies and documentation of its Foreign Intelligence Directorate (HVA) have emerged in recent years. One does not have to share each of HVA's assessments. But it must be recognized that hardly any other secret service has been so comprehensively dealt with historically by its own former employees and spies as the GDR's foreign intelligence. Many of you were sentenced to imprisonment for your courageous work for peace after the end of East Germany. The spies of the BND - an aggressive imperialist service built up by old Nazis -, on the other hand, went unpunished for their operations against socialism. This unequal treatment is an outrageous injustice to this day, which also throws a significant understanding of the so-called "democratic constitutional state", which the informers from the BND and the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution allegedly defend.”Ulla Jelpke2010
Mass surveillance“Extreme forms of monitoring, whether by the KGB in the Soviet Union, the Stasi in East Germany, or Big Brother in 1984, are essential elements of all tyrannies, and technology is making both monitoring and the consolidation of surveillance data easier than ever.”Robert Epstein18 February 2016


  1. "No remorse from Stasi as Berlin marks fall of Wall"
  2. "Angela Merkel 'turned down' job from Stasi"
  4. Calio, Jim, "The Stasi Prison Ghosts", The Huffington Post, 18 November 2009.
  5. Rosenberg, Steve, "Computers to solve Stasi puzzle", BBC, 25 May 2007.
  6. "New Study Finds More Stasi Spooks", Der Spiegel, 11 March 2008.
  9. The United Nations and Terrorism: Germany, Multilateralism, and Antiterrorism Efforts in the 1970s. - Bernhard Blumenau, Palgrave Macmillan, 2014, ISBN 978-1-137-39196-4, pages 29–32
  10. "Stasi accused of Swiss disaster