Sunday, October 21, 2012

Exhibition Notes: Stasi Museum, Berlin

By Olivia Maria Hărşan

Upon our roaming of the streets near Checkpoint Charlie, we stumbled across a museum dedicated to the many Germans affected by the Stasi in the German Democratic Republic of the 1950s to the late 1980s. Now if you have not yet seen Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's The Lives of Others (2006), I suggest you put this on your "priority films to see" list. As I floated past the personal accounts of torture, paranoia and espionage, I could not help but compare them to scenes I had seen in the above mentioned film. I remembered how the main characters suffered from constant stress and obsessed over the idea that they were being watched. Berlin has certainly suffered its share of embarrassing histories, but the mere idea of spying on someone's private meanderings is something I could never comprehend. And it happened not so long ago either. This is only one example of the destruction caused at the hands of the secret police throughout Eastern Europe. Wether it was the German Stasi, the Securitate in Romania or the State Security (StB) in former Czechoslovakia, the function, apparatus and methods of practice were at the same level of absurdity.

The lives of others recorded and shelved. Files of suspected communist dissidents compiled by the Stasi in the GDR. Picture source.