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He tells me he worked from 1961 to 1990 at the ministry of Potsdam, exclusively in counter-espionage.  He picks up the thesis and reads its title:

The Work of the Ministry for State Security on the Defence Against Intelligence Infiltration by the Secret Services of the NATO States against the GDR.  Presented from the Viewpoint of a Member of the Division for Counter-Espionage, Regional Administration, Potsdam.

‘This is a discussion paper I wrote based on my work at the ministry.  If you read this, you will learn a lot of what you want to know.’

I flick to the front page, and see that the paper was written in 1994 for the ‘Potsdam Working Group of the Insiderkomitee for the Reexamination of the History of the Ministry for State Security, Inc.’

— In BackChannels experience of the eternal present online (and in the library), herewith a gush —

Author Anna Funder has put together a delightfully cringey-queasy how-it-was  — Stasiland, Harper Perennial; Reprint edition, 2011(German Edition, 2006; first published in 2002 as suggested above)  — on the German Democratic Republic (GDR, 1949-1990), and along with remembrance of assorted adventures and certain manners and methods in suffering comes this eyebrow-raiser.



“‘ . . . we have changed our name to the ‘Society for the Protection of Civil Rights and the Dignity of Man’.”

Okay, then.

Here’s a chill —


Moore, Nicole and Christina Spittel.  Australian Literature in the German Democratic Republic: Reading through the Iron Curtain.  Pp. 224-225.  London & New York: Anthem Press, 2016

Link to the above on Google Books.

For corroboration here in the open source, another writer, Gary Bruce, has made mention of the same ghost:

The organization of former Stasi officers known as the Insider-Komitee, whose self-styled objective is to restore “balance” to the current literature on the Stasi by writing “objective” history of the Ministry for State Security, assisted me in locating an important Stasi officer for interview.

Bruce, Gary.  The Firm: The Inside Story of the Stasi. P. 33.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.  Link: Google Books.

As resources appear fairly wide open to the curious on the web, BackChannels will wrap up the gawking now that it has stumbled across the tracks of at least a few others, and including those of the author her brave self, for she acknowledges, “My great mistake was to imagine that the stories of resistance, courage and decency would be well received by Germans” — for who would show up at the launching of Stasiland in the ballroom “of the former Stasi Offices in Leipzig”?

The first two rows of seats were filled with ex-Stasi (or perhaps ex-Party) men. I know this because they were in the ex-Stasi (or ex-Party) uniform, which consists of polyester trousers with a nice firm crease, a bomber jacket and a significant amount of Brylcreem. They were sitting in their former ballroom, legs splayed, arms crossed, looking daggers at us.

Funder, Anna.  “Sound of silence.”  TLS, October 12, 2016.

The same crew would later make a show of walking out on the event.

An observation higher up in the above cited piece precedes the willies and seems more worth remembering:

When I encountered Miriam, Julia, Frau Paul and Klaus Renft, what they told me was deeply thrilling. Not only in the sense of the bravery it took to climb the Berlin Wall or dig an underground tunnel or defy a governmental declaration that you “no longer exist”. The thrill was more fundamental. I felt I was witnessing, alive and breathing and drinking coffee opposite me, heroic human decency.

Referenced and Related on the Web

Betts, Paul.  “Socialism, Social Rights, and Human Rights: The Case of East Germany.”  Humanity Journal, June 11, 2014.

MacDonogh, Giles.  “The spy’s the limit.”  The Guardian, June 7, 2003.

The GDR was a furtive and insidious tyranny. Through the Stasi it pried into every aspect of your life. It possessed armies of spies, paid and unpaid. Some estimates run as high as one for every six and a half members of the population. Any attempt to achieve success in East Germany involved a pact with the devil – you paid with your soul if you wanted to attend a university, enter a sports-club, become a lawyer or a clergyman or marry a foreigner – like Funder’s friend Julia. You could only avoid contact with the regime if you opted out, and went into “inner emigration” – not an option for the ambitious.

This was a regime ruled by dour old men – Marxisten-Senilisten.

Wikipedia.  “Stasiland” (bold added to excerpt):

Stasiland has been published in sixty nine countries and translated into a dozen languages. It was shortlisted for many awards in the UK and Australia, among them the Age Book of the Year Awards, the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards, the Guardian First Book Award 2003, the South Australian Festival Awards for Literature (Innovation in Writing) 2004, the Index Freedom of Expression Awards 2004, and the W.H. Heinemann Award 2004. In June 2004 it was awarded the world’s biggest prize for non-fiction, the Samuel Johnson Prize.