One cool thing about having a girlfriend fluent in German and that lived in Berlin for six months is that a large section of Berlin that is either unknown or inaccessible to tourists becomes accessible. Granted this freedom, one such place to visit is the old Stasi headquarters in the former “East German” section of the city.
For your reference, the Stasi Headquarters location is:
Now part of a decaying medical complex, this is not an easy place to find. Of course, there are absolutely no signs and Eleonora had to talk to a lot of people before we were able to arrive at the correct location. A stern-looking woman was blocking the main entrance to Stasiland, but after E. slipped her a few euros, we were permitted inside.
Oh, and for those of you that don’t know… The Stasi were the secret police and intelligence agency for the East German communist government.
The neighborhood of the Stasi headquarters – Soviet-style architecture at its finest.
The entrance to Stasi Headquarters at night.
The Stasi agents were no fools. As the Berlin Wall was crashing down, a mob of thousands descended on the Stasi headquarters to ransack it. Stasi agents that had infiltrated the mob misdirected the masses to buildings of lesser importance in the headquarters complex and the mob vented their frustrations on these insignificant structures while leaving the crown jewels intact. So the most important offices – full of mission profiles, millions of files on citizens and cutting-edge technology for everything from surveillance to assassinations – were left untouched. Stasi agents quickly removed the most sensitive files and technologies and threw the crumbs to the reunification government. There is a fair amount of debate as to what happened to the best material.
The relevance for us is that the pictures below show you exactly how the Stasi complex appeared on the night the Berlin Wall came down. This, the most important section, was left untouched by the frenzied mobs. So, aside from being picked clean of files and technology by Stasi and later reunification governments, the building and contents are exactly as they were.
The flag that greets you when you enter.
I thought the artwork adorning the walls of the Stasi complex was quite interesting.
Particularly this image celebrating a church being blown up.
An office for Stasi agents with a map of Germany on the wall and a television to monitor current events.
This was the office for the secretary of the uber-boss of the Stasi- Erich Mielke – who headed the former East Germany’s secret police for three decades from 1957 until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
And this was the office for some of his supporting staff.
And this is the office and desk of the man in charge of it all.
I’d love to know what kind of stuff was in his safe.
The office was quite large.
And if for some reason Mielke’s office proved insuffcient, there were adjacent conference rooms available as well.
Meetings of great significance would take place in the main conference room pictured below.
This is the waiting area for the main conference room. I imagine a lot of people sweated in here before being summoned into the main conference chamber to answer for something.
If one were weary after a long night of planning assassinations or torturing people, one could retire to a comfortable bed in the offices instead of journeying home.
And if you were a guest of the Stasi, you would spend your night here…
While exploring the complex, I kept my eyes open for anything overlooked, but with typical German efficiency, the Stasi and later the reunification government had stripped everything sensitive from the premises. Still, it was a very interesting place to visit.