Stasi Museum Pt. 2

is a long post.  Hopefully it’s not too self-indulgent and
rambling, but I’m not making any guarantees.

So last Monday, Mel and I went to the
Stasi Museum.  Basically they turned the office suite of the heads
of the Stasi into a museum; it is but a few rooms in a massive
complex.  People can go to a different part of the complex and
request their Stasi files!

Speaking of Stasi files, I was
shocked by the breadth and depth of the East German surveillance
apparatus.  They had 40 million files in a country of 16.8 million
– and 6 million people were considered “suspects.”  The Stasi
itself grew steadily until the fall of communism, so that by 1989 they
had 190,000 employees – and 15,000 informers in the West.

They would do stuff like wipe
prisoners’ groins to get a really strong scent, and then keep the cloth
in a jar for years and years, ready at any time to give to a hound and
track you down.  And they invented a special microphone that is
mounted on a radiator and then listens through the pipes to everything
that’s said four floors up.   Every long distance call was
tapped, and when special keywords were uttered, the call was
automatically recorded.

As we saw specimens of this stuff and
toured what was basically the de facto government of East Germany, the
horror of the regime began to sink in.  (At the same time, though,
it was kind of comical – the whole place was vintage 1960s d

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