East german stasi

To avoid trial, Honecker and his wife Margot secretly fled to a Soviet military airstrip from which they were flown to Moscow. But the German government wanted to see him held accountable for his crimes. The government put pressure on Russia to extradite Honecker, so the couple then fled to the Chilean embassy in Moscow. The Chileans were in effect returning a favor, for the ambassador there, Clodomiro Almeyda, had himself enjoyed political exile in East Germany during the years of the Pinochet dictatorship. But the government of newly-unified Germany still wouldn't let go, eventually securing Honecker's extradition, thus ensuring he would stand trial for his crimes. His wife Margot fled to Chile, where she was welcomed by the couple's daughter, Sonja.

Recent studies produced by historians Christian Booß and Helmut Müller-Enbergs also show domestic surveillance in East Germany went far beyond the Stasi's network of IMs. The two work at the BStU and not long ago, they happened across Stasi informant groups into which hardly any research has been conducted. They found that institutions in which people provided information about others were categorized as POZW -- which stood for "Partner in Political-Operative Cooperation." In contrast to IMs feeding information to the Stasi, these people were not forced to sign a document obliging them to pass along information. But they did so nonetheless. Numerous POZW reports are still in existence -- from banks, for example, or libraries, hospitals, registration offices and judiciary agencies.

By the 1970s, the Stasi had decided that the methods of overt persecution that had been employed up to that time, such as arrest and torture, were too crude and obvious. It was realised that psychological harassment was far less likely to be recognised for what it was, so its victims, and their supporters, were less likely to be provoked into active resistance, given that they would often not be aware of the source of their problems, or even its exact nature. Zersetzung was designed to side-track and "switch off" perceived enemies so that they would lose the will to continue any "inappropriate" activities.

East german stasi

east german stasi


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