Saturday, January 14, 2012

[Resources] The Stasi Shredded Archives

The Stasi, the East German Ministry for State Security (aka the secret police), operated from February 9, 1950 to October 4, 1990. The East German secret police employed nearly a quarter million people over the course of those 40 years, all to root out enemies of the state. The majority were informants, with most in East Germany (they fielded nearly 2,000 informants in West Germany).

They did bad things, sure, as the Shield and Sword of the Party. Infiltration and executions, suppressing dissent and watching everyone. Everything you'd expect.

In 1990, the Stasi fell with the East German government and those in charge of the Ministry ordered the Stasi files destroyed. Amidst a riot caused because the East German people demanded the files be kept intact (in order to know the truth), the file room was seized. When Germany reunited in October, the files fell into the new unified government's hands. According to an audit, only about 5% of the records were destroyed.

The Stasi files became available in 1992 after they were declassified by the German government. By 2011, nearly 3 million people have requested access to the files.

But what about those destroyed files? What was in those 5%? Was it really 5% or possibly more? And were they really destroyed? When the riot happened, could that have been started as a cover to smuggle out a section of the archives? Questions to ponder.


  1. Interesting. I recall reading an article at the the time (in Time magazine, I believe) that stated that the Stasi HQ had been raided (there were pictures, as well) and that many of the files had been carried off by unknown parties. So - assuming that article was correct - who were these people? Stasi officers, attempting to destroy the files? West German agents, attempting to secure them? Private citizens attempting to destroy them? Some other agency or now-rogue ex-Stasi agents looking to steal the Stasi intelligence for their own ends (which I'd always assumed to be the case)? The article also made it sound like a lot more than 5% of the files had been removed.

  2. In a modern setting, finding out those questions would be a cool game.


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