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To Stasiland

April 5, 2010

In one half of this city not long ago, you were being watched. Your family, friends, and neighbors were likely to be among the estimated two-million East-Germans working with the Ministry for State Security, or “Stasi” for short. In its prime, the Stasi is said to have employed 1 agent or informant for every 6.5 citizens.

The implements of state surveillance and control are now showcased in the former Stasi brain basket, which remains uncannily as it was abandoned in 1989 (1979 Eastern Time). We headed out one morning to the desolate middle-east of Berlin where the avenues were built for tank battalions. We took a tour. Cameras in tree trunks, microphones in rocks, car doors made of one-way glass–all the juicy bits of spy life are on display. The lid-to-mate Seventies plus the purging of more scrupulous artists led to devotional tapestries such as this. “Secure borders, secure peace”. Thank your lucky stars these two disheveled meat-heads are on the case. How does one defend a city with four vanishing points? The bond ‘twixt East Germany and Mother Russia is commemorated in this luxurious muppet-fur bath mat. I want it.

Not pictured above is the Stasi collection of scent jars. Whiffs of suspected subversives were swiped from barstools and hampers, then cataloged for potential hound-siccing. They’re not much to look at really, but you really need to smell D. Freudl (#86127). I’m reasonably certain he didn’t make it.

Despite the importance of the Stasi in recent world history, the museum premises is sadly (and ironically) unsecured due to lack of funding and has lost some key artifacts to break-in robberies. So be sure to support the museum–book a tour in advance and stop for a coffee in the old agents’ break-room, where you can set the scene by watching old VHS tapes of East German television.

Stasimuseum Berlin
Ruschestraße 103, Haus 1
10365 Berlin
(030) 553 68 54
http://www.stasimuseum.de
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