Photographs from the archives of the Stasi, East Germany's legendary, paranoid secret police


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Tragically comical.


Amatures. If you want to see paranoid secret police, just look to the Five Eyes. That group of agencies collects every scrap of data that they can get on pretty much everyone.


But that’s all modern and digital so pictures of a storage arrays is boring compared to old school stacks of docs, photos, etc.


69 miles of shelved documents, 1.8 million images, and 30,300 video and audio recordings


I find the images of the “stacks” interesting; mainly because I worked in the film library of a radiology department, which looked almost the same. The main difference - we were trying to save lives.


A bunch of server racks in a cooled basement data facility is never going to beat the Eastern Bloc 1970s design aesthetic of the Stasi archives.


I beg to differ:


Touche! If the NSA is running lots of 1980s vintage Crays the groovy torturers of East Germany better watch their fashionable backs.


You need permission to take photographs in the Stasi archives? Oh, the irony. It just goes to show that you can take the Communist out of the Eastern Bloc, but you can’t take the Eastern Bloc out of the Communist.


Technically, it’s the ex-Stasi files, now curated by the Federal Commissioner for the Records of the State Security Service of the former German Democratic Republic (BStU), link goes to their english site. And the archives aren’t that hard to visit, BStU is keen to get exposure as it helps with funding.
Parts of the old Stasi-HQ are a museum now, including Erich Mielke’s offices. Well worth a visit, very instructive.
On request, the BStU will check if there is a Stasi file on you.
They are researching and cataloging the files - and are still busy reconstructing files the Stasi shredded in 1989. Because despite all their frantic efforts to destroy incriminating records during the last three months or so of the GDR, the Stasi still left behind an unbelievable mountain of paper.


Would I need permission to swing by your home and take a couple of snaps of, oh I don’t know, maybe your tax records or the stuff you keep in the bottom drawer of the nightstand?
A lot of the files are about living persons, who (now) have certain rights concerning their privacy.
So yes, you’ll have to make an appointment, which is easy enough to arrange.
I guess ‘cleverly, I worked my way into a secret archive’ sounds cooler than ‘I filled out a form and waited for the department to get back to me’.


I have to say… it kind of looks like literally ever other archive I’ve been to.



1.8 million images

Someone’s eyes were closed in the first 1,799,999.


If you have a giant stash of secret police dirt(a fair amount of it on people who are still alive); can’t you imagine why you might not want unhindered access to it?


That was probably me


The only time I’ve ever been tempted to use the expression “that’s Cray-Cray.”

I’ll show myself out.


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