The secret police of former East Germany, the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Headquartered in East Berlin it was a repressive intelligence and secret police agency.
The Ministry for State Security (German: Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, MfS) was commonly known as "Stasi" – which is an abbreviation of the German word for State Security: "Staatssicherheit." One of its main tasks was spying on the population, mainly through a vast network of citizens turned informants, and fighting any opposition by overt and covert measures. It was also responsible for both espionage in foreign countries in the time of the the Cold War. Numerous Stasi officials were prosecuted for their crimes after the fall of the GDR in1990. After German reunification, the surveillance files that the Stasi had maintained on millions of East Germans were laid open, so that any citizen could inspect their personal file on request. Here you can find a chronological compilation of all DW content referring to the "Stasi."
Child abuse was even more a taboo in the former GDR than in West Germany, an independent committee has found. The "high degree of secrecy" left victims in a state of "extreme helplessness" from which many still suffer.
This week: the harrowing story of a German family trying to find out what really happened to their 2-year-old son, who was declared dead 40 years ago under suspicious circumstances in a hospital in the former East Germany. And we take a closer look at Ceuta, a frontier town on the front line of migrant clashes in North Africa.
It's every parent's worst nightmare: the loss of a child. But imagine the anguish if you're not even allowed to see the body, and when too much probing could put you in the crosshairs of the secret police. The story of the Ranisch family and their quest for answers may be one of the darkest and best-kept secrets of the former East Germany. Natalie Muller went to Dresden to find out more.
German actor Jonas Nay speaks about filming Deutschland 86, which is released in Europe this weekend. Nay plays a young East German border guard in the spy thriller, who is forced across the iron curtain to spy for the Stasi. He also chats with Keith Walker about the '80s music featured in the TV series, and his own band, Pudeldame, for DW's Inside Europe.
Revelations about global data monitoring practices have brought home to many of us that we are being watched every day. Some of us brush off the realization with the thought that we don’t really do anything “controversial” or worth spying on - so it doesn’t matter… But in Germany, a country with a history of intense state-sponsored surveillance, attitudes are very different.
Germans who lived in the GDR have been able to view the files kept on them by East Germany's notorious Stasi secret police. Now, East Germany's last prime minister is demanding to see what the West knew about him.