Ministry for State Security
Ministerium für Staatssicherheit

Stasi Museum in East Berlin
Agency overview
Formed8 February 1950 (1950-02-08)
Dissolved13 January 1990 (1990-01-13)[1]
TypeSecret police
HeadquartersLichtenberg, East Berlin
MottoSchild und Schwert der Partei
  • 91,705 regular
  • 174,000 informal[2]
Agency executives

The Ministry for State Security, (German: Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, pronounced [minɪsˈteːʁiʊm fyːɐ̯ ˈʃtaːtsˌzɪçɐhaɪ̯t]; abbreviated as "MfS") commonly known as the Stasi (German: [ˈʃtaːziː] ), an abbreviation of Staatssicherheit, was the state security service of East Germany (the GDR) from 1950 to 1990.

The Stasi's function in East Germany resembled that of the KGB in the Soviet Union - it served as a means of maintaining state authority, i.e., as the "Shield and Sword of the Party" (German: Schild und Schwert der Partei). This was accomplished primarily through the use of a network of civilian informants. This organization contributed to the arrest of approximately 250,000 people in East Germany.[3]

The Stasi also conducted espionage and other clandestine operations outside the GDR through its subordinate foreign-intelligence service, the Office of Reconnaissance, or Head Office A (German: Hauptverwaltung Aufklärung or HVA). Its operatives also maintained contacts and occasionally cooperated with West-German terrorists.[4]

The Stasi had its headquarters in East Berlin, with an extensive complex in Berlin-Lichtenberg and several smaller facilities throughout the city. Erich Mielke, the Stasi's longest-serving chief, controlled the organisation for 32 (1957–1989) of the 40 years of the GDR's existence. The HVA (Hauptverwaltung Aufklärung), under Markus Wolf (in office as Leiter der HVA from 1952 to 1986), gained a reputation as one of the most effective intelligence agencies of the Cold War.[5][need quotation to verify][6]

After the German reunification of 1989–1991, some Stasi officials were prosecuted for their crimes[7] and the surveillance files that the Stasi had maintained on millions of East Germans were declassified so that all citizens could inspect their personal files on request. The Stasi Records Agency maintained the files until June 2021, when they became part of the German Federal Archives.

  1. ^ Vilasi, Antonella Colonna (9 March 2015). The History of the Stasi. AuthorHouse. ISBN 9781504937054.
  2. ^ Hinsey, Ellen (2010). "Eternal Return: Berlin Journal, 1989–2009". New England Review. 31 (1): 124–134. JSTOR 25699473.
  3. ^ Germans campaign for memorial to victims of communism, BBC News, 31 January 2018
  4. ^ Blumenau, Bernhard (2018). "Unholy Alliance: The Connection between the East German Stasi and the Right-Wing Terrorist Odfried Hepp". Studies in Conflict & Terrorism. 43: 47–68. doi:10.1080/1057610X.2018.1471969. hdl:10023/19035.
  5. ^ Blumenau, Bernhard (2 September 2014). The United Nations and Terrorism: Germany, Multilateralism, and Antiterrorism Efforts in the 1970s. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 29–32. ISBN 978-1-137-39196-4.
  6. ^ Volodarsky, Boris Borisovich (30 June 2023). The Murder of Alexander Litvinenko: To Kill a Mockingbird. Barnsley, South Yorkshire: White Owl. ISBN 9781399060196. Retrieved 18 July 2023. Suddenly, the East German Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (MFS), better known as the Stasi, came to light, and specifically its Chief Directorate 'A' (Hauptverwaltung Aufklärung, HVA) under Markus 'Misha' Wolf. It was one of the most effective spy agencies of the Cold War.
  7. ^ Willis, Jim (24 January 2013). Daily Life behind the Iron Curtain. The Greenwood Press Daily Life through History Series. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9780313397639. Retrieved 18 July 2023. The Stasi destruction of many records, plus the German statute of limitations on crimes, plus the desire by some politicians to leave the divisive past behind have resulted in few prosecutions of former Stasi officials and the actual imprisonment of even fewer.

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