Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Frank Ebert


On 8 February 1950, four months after the German Democratic Republic (GDR) was founded, the Ministry of State Security was formed. Known as the Stasi, its main task was to secure the rule of the Socialist Unity Party (SED) by all means. Every objection was to be smothered before it was even raised. 

After its foundation, the ministry was initially based on the premises of the Lichtenberg tax office on the corner of Normannenstraße and Magdalenenstraße. It expanded to Frankfurter Allee and Ruschestraße over the years, swallowing up gardens, residential buildings and entire streets. By 1989, the SED’s secret police employed more than 90,000 full-time staff and over 180,000 informers, all to spy on the public and persecute the political opposition.

During the Peaceful Revolution, demonstrators occupied Stasi offices across the whole of East Germany from 4 December 1989. On 15 January 1990, thousands of people then forced their way into the Berlin Stasi headquarters. Citizens’ committees attempted to supervise the secret service’s dissolution. But the mountains of files they secured were to remain closed. Finally, protests in September 1990 succeeded in having the files of a secret police force opened, for the first time ever. In today’s reunified Germany, access to the Stasi documents is regulated by the constitution. 

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