Saturday, August 9, 2008

Movie and a Museum

Day 151
It was fabulous to be in a quiet place and get a good nights sleep. After breakfast with Daniela, Markus and his godfather. Afterwards we watched Scary Movie 3 and I spent some time with blog.

During the afternoon I headed out to explore the town. Leipzig isn´t a huge place and I had little problems navigating without a map. There was a nice pedestrian area and a whole lot of shopping. Leipzig is a pretty cute place.

After a falafel and pursuing H&M I headed to the Stasi Museum. The Stasi were the secret police of the GDR.

In 1980 there were 2,401 stasi operating in Leipzig. These were all undercover jobs, so they were given false titles and professions as covers. People were often recruited secretly, sometimes recruiting even began when people were still children.

The stasi monitored everything for any activity that could be adverse to the GDR. All packages were inspected, any money from the west was confiscated for the government. Letters were read sporadically. Cassette tapes were also often confiscated. They would then be reused to record phone conversations on tapped lines. Polaroids were taken before apartments were searched for adverse materials. Cameras were made smaller and hidden in all sorts of things. Even children´s school work was monitored. Right before Germany was unified a 14 year old boy wrote a paper complaining about the government. If the wall had not come down when it did he might have never be able to have a career.

If the stasi felt that someone might possibly be planning some sort of adverse activity agents would create some type of personal crisis. This would be meant to distract them from what they might have been planning. Often it wasn´t until after the wall had come down and the stasi files were made public that people would actually know what had happened to them.

When someone was put into a stasi jail they were often not told how long they would be there. Trials were held without them even being present. One woman didn´t find out that her husband had been executed until 3 years after his death.

The stasi produced in innumerable amount of files. Most of these were destroyed right before the GDR fell. Around 10,000 meters of file cabinets were saved and the destroyed bits are currently being pieced back together.

This museum had an absolutely huge amount of information. It was just all in German. I rented an audio guide for what I did find out. I don´t think this had more than 10% of what I could have learned if I spoke German.

When I had finished with the museum I headed back. I had dinner with Markus and Daniela and spent the evening chatting with them. Markus had to leave in the morning and I said goodbye to him before going to sleep. I hope that I will be able to see him again on this trip. If not, Markus is considering college in the US so I am sure I will see him again no matter what.

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