Stasi is an abbreviation for Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (MfS). Ministry for State Security in english. Even today, Stasi is considered one of the most notorious and effective secret police agencies in the world. When informants were included, Stasi had one spy per 66 citizens of East Germany. This means that they by far exceeded both the Gestapo and the KGB.
The Stasi headquarter was located in East Berlin, in the district of Lichtenberg. Today, the former headquarters is open to the public.
When entering the complex of buildings that served as the headquarter, we are struck first by the architecture. Several buildings built in a style that only the East Germans were able to achieve. In the middle we find the building on the picture above. This is were the museum is located.
The entrance is large and empty. Walls, pillars and the floor is covered in marble substitute. The decor is simple and consists of two giant state banners and a bust of Karl Marx. Entrance fee is paid to an elderly woman who does not speak English.
The museum consists of three floors. On the first floor they display all different kinds of equipment used by Stasi to monitor the population. Recording equipment hidden in trees, hats and the doors of a Trabant 601. Cameras hidden in birdhouses and behind buttons! Extremely interesting, yet a bit horrifying. The East German governments obsession when it came to controll gets more and more obvious.
The offices can be found on floor two. Erich Mielkes office is undoubtedly the most interesting room! Erich Mielke was the Minister of State Security between 1957-1989. When the Berlin Wall fell, his office was sealed with the purpose to preserve it to the future generations.
His office also has a very simple decor. Bright wooden walls and a wall-to-wall carpet. On the desk is a replica of the death mask of Lenin and several telephones. It is almost diffucult to imagine who this room once belonged to, and it´s even more difficult to understand that Mielke sat in that blue chair only 20 years ago!
On floor two you can also find a conference room, several other offices, interrogation rooms and the former staff cafeteria. Don´t forget to sit down for a cup of coffee!
On floor three we find a big collection of Stasi memorabilia. Gifts for long servicetime, honour gifts etc. Plus a collection of some rather impressive carpets!
Overall the Stasi museum is well woth a visit! In fact, it´s worth several visits! (Personally, I have been there twice, and there will be more visits!).
The museum gives us a unique insight into what once was East Germany's most secret ministry. A ministry guilty of more crimes than we can imagine.
More info and contact:
Stasimuseum Berlin, Ruschestraße 103, Haus 110365, Berlin.