Encyclopedia  |   World Factbook  |   World Flags  |   Reference Tables  |   List of Lists     
   Academic Disciplines  |   Historical Timeline  |   Themed Timelines  |   Biographies  |   How-Tos     
Sponsor by The Tattoo Collection
Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index



The Stasi (abbreviation for the German Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, or Ministry for State Security) was the main security and intelligence organization of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). The Stasi was headquartered in the capital, East Berlin, with an extensive complex in Lichtenberg and several smaller complexes throughout the city. The Stasi was widely regarded as one of the most effective intelligence agencies in the world.

The Stasi was founded on February 8, 1950. Wilhelm Zaisser was its first leader, and Erich Mielke his deputy. In 1955, Mielke became head of the Stasi, and Markus Wolf became head of the Hauptverwaltung Aufklärung (HVA), its foreign intelligence section. The Stasi was modeled on the Soviet KGB, which regarded the Stasi as an extremely loyal and effective partner among the intelligence services of the Warsaw Pact countries.

The Stasi's influence over almost every aspect of life in the German Democratic Republic cannot be overestimated. Until the mid-1980s, a civilian network of informants (Inoffizielle Mitarbeiter [IMs], or unofficial collaborators) grew within the GDR, and in West Germany as well. By the East German collapse in 1989, it is estimated that the Stasi had 91,000 full time employees and 300,000 informants. This means approximately one in fifty East Germans collaborated with the Stasi, possibly the highest penetration of any society by a security apparatus.

The Stasi monitored politically "incorrect" behavior among all citizens of East Germany, comparable to activity of the former Gestapo. During the 1989 peaceful revolution, the Stasi offices were overrun by enraged citizens, but not before a huge amount of compromising material was destroyed by Stasi officers. The remaining files are available for review to all people who were reported upon, often revealing that friends, colleagues, husbands, wives, and other family members were regularly filing reports with the Stasi.

After German unification, it was revealed that the Stasi also secretly aided left-wing terrorist groups such as the Red Army Faction. Loss of support from the Stasi was a major factor in the dissolution of these groups.

Table of contents
1 Notable Figures
2 Notable Informants
3 External links

Notable Figures

Notable Informants

External links