Repression and Control

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  • Repression and Control
    • Repression
      • The GDR was a police state with a vast apparatus of repression. If few were aware it shows how rebellion was stopped before it had even began.
      • This preventative system of security was partly achieved through an extensive system of surveillance and informers.
      • The security forces were extensive and worked harmoniously with the state and SED.
    • National Peoples Army (NVA)
      • East German military force formed in 1956 out of the Peoples Police. It was used to address protest in the GDR.
      • It was subordinated to the Warsaw Pact but its troops had not taken part in any major intervention. Conscription was sluggish and many refused to join.
      • It was controlled by the SED and subjected to party discipline and implementation of its policies.
    • Border troops
      • By the late 1980s border troops numbered 50,000-30,000 policed the border with the West, 8000 were stationed in Berlin and 12,000 were stationed elsewhere.
      • They were linked to the Stasi they were responsible for external threats to security in reality they were trying to stop escapes on a day-to- day basis.
    • Police
      • There were four branches; KVP the paramilitary police responsible for internal threats, criminal police, special police such as border protection, transport and voluntary police organised around work places.
    • State Security Service
      • The Stasi were formed in 1950, from 1957 their head was Ercih Mielke who became one of the most feared men in the country. The Stasi was formed along military lines with 27 generals heading specialised divisions.
      • TheStasi’s budget in total in 1989 was 4 billion Ostmarks.
    • The Role of the Stasi
      • The brief was made clear by Mielke it was to prevent at early stages opposition to communism by using whatever means necessary.
      • It kept files on 6 million citizens = 33% of the population. Mielke preferred paper to computers – there were often power outages in the GDR.
      • Given that the GDR shredded files there must have been many more kept.
    • Surveillance Methods
      • Phone tapping, video surveillance and agents following suspects.
      • Stasi officers have been accused of using radiation tags to track people.
      • Alsoset honey traps – many prostitutes worked for the Stasi.
    • Informers
      • The Stasi were paranoid they even spied on themselves. IM’s were informers possibly 500,000 worked for short periods of time in this role.
      • Motivation could be greed, desire for promotion at work, blackmail, personal grudges and political ideology.
      • Fulbrook argues this system of informants actually destabilised the GDR near the end – when infiltrating opposition groups some actually had to take part to keep their credibility!
      • There were so many infiltrators in the church that here numbers looked greater so more people were encouraged to join.

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