How East Germany's Stasi tried to drive activists insane, and how they resisted


Originally published at:


Ahh, what Scientology always aspired to be.

The militarily organised Stasi simply couldn’t understand how many activist groups functioned without leaders and hierarchies. They often mistook informal hierarchies (caused for example by differences in empowerment levels or dominant behaviour patterns) to be real hierarchies – they would target those who talked the most, or took on the most tasks, and didn’t realise that even if these individuals were ‘switched off’, the rest of the group could still manage to function and wouldn’t necessarily fall apart.

So true. They never did find the leaders of the Alt Religion Scientology Central Committee (which does not exist).


Reads like Scientologist playbook.


The sock drawer bit is a low blow.


Zersetzung (German; variously translated as decomposition, corrosion, undermining, biodegradation or dissolution) is a psychological warfare technique that was first used by Nazi Germany as part of the accusation Wehrkraftzersetzung against political opponents (which typically resulted in death penalties). Decades later, during the Honecker era, the Stasi, the East German secret police used the accusation Zersetzung to silence political opponents by repression.

I have adopted this principle as the name of a villain in my Fiction wiki:


Wow. The 'states got a lot closer to this when it elected drumpf.


Pretty sure President Bannon is probably reading up on how the Stasi did this.


Yeah, surprisingly petty, really.
If someone rearranged my drawers, I either wouldn’t notice - and would simply be incredibly irritated I couldn’t find what I was looking for, or I would know someone had deliberately done it. Living in a country where you know the secret police do things like that, it would make you incredibly paranoid, though.

People keep talking about “gaslighting” with Cheeto Mussolini for good reason.


Sox movement I can deal with, but no coffee!? That’s too much!


and how they resisted

Ah, that’s the important part.


My wife hides my socks for free, sometimes by wearing them. Damned collaborationist Stasi wife!


Seriously, around this house, if the coffee disappeared, we’d be looking at a bloody revolution.


All they did was pretty horrible, but as long as they didn’t eat my ice cream…


“Any society is only three steaming coffeepots away from revolution.”–Winston Churchill


Ye can take our lives, ye can take our freedom, but ye canna take our coffee!


“I regret that I have but one life to give for my coffee.”–Winston Churchill





Have you checked Usenet?


“Not all intestinal broils are revolutionary in nature. Sometimes they’re just messy.”–Winston Churchill