History is rhyming again. Here comes the chorus in all its glorious monotony.
Everyone knows about the Stasi and the extent to which it spied on the East German populace. But that was only a small part of the informing that went on. New research shows that snitching was vastly more common than previously thought.
This story is one of spies and informers of the kind that were largely ignored by historians of the German Democratic Republic (DDR) until recently — because they were spies and informers that were not connected to the Stasi, as East Germany’s feared Ministry for State Security was popularly known. Instead, they were totally normal citizens of East Germany who betrayed others: neighbors reporting on neighbors, schoolchildren informing on classmates, university students passing along information on other students, managers spying on employees and Communist bosses denouncing party members.
Up to now, the broad network of so-called “unofficial informants” (IMs) maintained by the Stasi has dominated the popular view of East Germany’s surveillance state. Files full of IM reports became indispensable sources for Stasi victims, politicians, historians and journalists who sought to learn more about either their own personal pasts or about DDR spying practices.
By contrast, audio tapes belonging to the Volkspolizei were largely ignored, as were written testimonials from almost every area of East German society. Government agencies, political parties, associations, companies, universities, cultural institutions: Everywhere, people reported incriminating information about those around them.
Hedwig Richter, a professor at the University of Greifswald, speaks of a “stunning reporting machinery.” Wide swaths of society were a part of it, she says. “There were institutionalized structures outside of the Stasi that produced daily and weekly reports.” Whether in city hall, at the steel factory or inside the local farming collective: “Everyone who had a position with some measure of responsibility filed reports” for the state, Richter says.
Since the 1989 collapse of the communist regime, thousands of these documents have been gathering dust in the archives of Eastern German states, in the former headquarters of former East German political parties and in the basements of universities and agencies. Now, though, they are being systematically analyzed by historians and have thus far revealed the degree to which permanent surveillance was a significant part of everyday life in East Germany. Eavesdropping and informing on neighbors and colleagues was completely normal for many — even without pressure from the Stasi and its notorious leader Erich Mielke…
How the Stasi Spied on Social Networks
The East German secret police, known as the Stasi, were an infamously intrusive secret police force. They amassed dossiers on about one quarter of the population of the country during the Communist regime.
But their spycraft — while incredibly invasive — was also technologically primitive by today’s standards. While researching my book Dragnet Nation, I obtained the above hand drawn social network graph and other files from the Stasi Archive in Berlin, where German citizens can see files kept about them and media can access some files, with the names of the people who were monitored removed.
The graphic appears to be shows forty-six connections, linking a target to various people (an “aunt,” “Operational Case Jentzsch,” presumably Bernd Jentzsch, an East German poet who defected to the West in 1976), places (“church”), and meetings (“by post, by phone, meeting in Hungary”).
Gary Bruce, an associate professor of history at the University of Waterloo and the author of “The Firm: The Inside Story of the Stasi,” helped me decode the graphic and other files. I was surprised at how crude the surveillance was. “Their main surveillance technology was mail, telephone, and informants,” Bruce said.
Another file revealed a low-level surveillance operation called an IM-vorgang aimed at recruiting an unnamed target to become an informant. (The names of the targets were redacted; the names of the Stasi agents and informants were not.) In this case, the Stasi watched a rather boring high school student who lived with his mother and sister in a run-of-the-mill apartment. The Stasi obtained a report on him from the principal of his school and from a club where he was a member. But they didn’t have much on him — I’ve seen Facebook profiles with far more information….
There’s more than a little overlap in how children were raised in germany in the early 20’th century, how such indoctrination gave rise to both the nazi movement the stasi informants network, and the corresponding indoctrination and culture of oppression rising in the USA right now. 9/11 was our reichstag fire. But hitler could only dream of the tools available to the transnational mafia today.
The USA today would be considered a nightmare by the country’s founders, a mob of idiots clamoring for punishment. And near the heart of the malignancy is the PR face of the central banking mafia, the mainstream media, the unabashed enemy of the people, which has facilitated the mass murder of millions of innocents in the past 50 years and will be happy to oversee the importation of such overt oppression into the USA in the coming years.
Their lies are no accident. They are a long-standing pattern. They are WMD’s.
It seems virtually all the world’s governments agree: their primary enemy and threat is their own flock of clueless peasants. Managing the herd is job one of any government if it wants to stay in power. This is just common sense. And the “new world order of peace and stability” which is being marketed to the technocrats and intellectuals in the west is the PR mask for the logical conclusion of this dynamic: a planetary prison from which there is no escape. A merging of mafias orchestrated by the masters of money.