– Hey, hey, hey guys.
This is the second part of my Berlin trip.
here’s what you missed in part one
But after Napoleon’s defeat of 1814,
the Prussians brought it back and restored it to Berlin.
for even stay in a rotating restaurant and enjoy meal
if you haven’t watched part one,
there is a link appearing for that right now.
In this episode, we’re briefly going to be investigating together,
how the German Democratic Republic was repressed by the Stasi.
We’re going to visit the very centre of repression in the GDR,
the Stasi headquarters in Berlin.
We’ll go to the very offices of the head of the Stasi, Erich Mielke.
before, what I’m proud to say,
is a rare opportunity to see shut off areas of Hohenschonhausen Prison,
which was a Stasi remand prison
and was so secret in the German Democratic Republic at the time
that it was left off all the maps.
So let’s get on with this week’s episode.
So this is the headquarters of the Stasi,
yeah, but not a great organisation, the Stasi.
East Germany was one of the most surveilled countries in the world.
Less than two years now, see what’s up.
Let’s have a very quick look
about how the German Democratic Republic came about
and why the Stasi was seen by the ruling SED party
as instrumental at retaining power for the party within the country.
Following the Yalta and Potsdam conferences of 1945 at the end of World War II
Germany was divided largely into two main zones.
East Germany was under the jurisdiction of the Soviet
and West Germany was largely under the jurisdictions of the British, American and French.
In 1949, these two main zones effectively became two countries.
The Federal Republic of Germany in the West
and the German Democratic Republic in the east.
Each with their own political parties, economic systems and laws.
You’ll notice the areas of Berlin were still under allied control throughout this whole period.
你会注意到 在这段期间 柏林仍在联盟国的控制之下
These areas were effectively sealed off from the rest of East Germany
after 1961 with the erection of the Berlin Wall.
You might think that the GDR was a Democratic country
with different political parties that the population can vote on.
In fact, it was a one party state under the control of the SED.
The Socialist Unity Party, or the SED,
was founded under Walter Ulbricht
and for a large part of its history was run by Erich Honecker.
The Stasi was founded on the eighth of February, 1950.
There were lots of people in East Germany who were unhappy for many reasons.
当时 东德的许多人 对此机构有诸多不满
And the Ministry for State Security, otherwise known as the Stasi,
was used for spying on the population
and fighting any opposition to the government by overt and covert measures.
By far, the person who is most synonymous with the Stasi is Erich Mielke.
His tenure as head of the Stasi lasted from 1957 until 1989.
And we are about to go to his flat and personal offices
at the Stasi Headquarters in Berlin.
But before we go there,
I thought it might be a good idea for you to know
why I’m so interested in the Stasi.
I think the biggest thing for me is the way they got into the public psyche,
the way made themselves part of the fabric of the German Democratic Republic is fascinating.
It’s also terrifying.
It has been described as one of the most effective
and repressive police intelligence systems in history.
At one point, it was thought to have employed 274,000 people.
After the fall of the Berlin wall and the end of the Stasi,
they found 174,000 unofficial informers.
That’s people in the public like you and me
informing on our boss or informing on our family.
Informing on our family, guys, that’s pretty crazy!
举报自己的家人啊 朋友们 这简直疯了吧
And that accounts for about 2.5 % of the whole population of the country.
But that’s not all, in the final days of the Stasi,
when everything was being destroyed before anyone could find out what happened,
all these bits of paper are being shredded and as we speak today,
records and pieces of paper are still being put together by a team of people in Germany.
Some estimates say that once this is done,
we could have as many as 500,000 informers.
Before we go back to Berlin though,
I’d like to describe something that the Stasi did when they found out about someone,
when they found out maybe about an opponent to the party.
And it’s this thing called Zersetzung.
I think I’ve said it right, my German’s not great.
The meaning of this is just a dark thing.
It means literally decomposition.
So say they targeted me for maybe wanting to leave the country,
having like overt sympathies for the West,or something like that,
I would then, be pinpointed for decomposition.
I might find things happen
like the police would turn up and interview my boss about me.
Not about anything in particular,
but they’d just do that and then leave work.
I might suddenly find someone really obviously taking photos of me in the street.
Suddenly, I might be given a new car
or a nice flat or something out of completely nowhere.
And my groups of friends will start to think,
hold on, is this guy a Stasi informant?
They try to isolate you.
But not only that, I might find that
my alarm would go off at five in the morning,
rather than at seven in the morning.
I might find that clothes had been moved
from certain drawers to other drawers in my bedroom.
The pictures had been taken off the wall and moved around the house.
These sorts of things that hope that I might say to my friends
what is going on, I think I’m going mad.
It was all about isolating you
and effectively neutralising you as a political force within your friends group.
My flat might be bugged, my car’s tyres might be slashed.
In some cases, sexual aids like vibrators,
would be sent to people’s wives or husbands.
It’s hard to comprehend how far the Stasi would go
without physically hurting you.
And a lot of the time, victims would have no idea that
it was the Stasi that were doing it,
and consequently, mental breakdowns and suicides would result.
I found the Stasi Museum and the Erich Mielke offices absolutely fascinating.
The basement in the building held some of the 5.4 million index cards
that held information about the population.
We were shown around by our helpful guide into Erich Mielke’s offices themselves.
It was strange to look into his personal flat and small bed
that he slept in when he had to work late hours.
It was sobering to think that we were standing in the room
that used to be the nucleus of the Stasi,
resplendent with the same wood panelling and the same furniture
that had been there 30 years ago.
So this is Erich Mielke’s office.
So that was interesting.
This is a bleak place, isn’t it?
Like the architecture is so bleak, it’s really weird.
The only bit that’s open for us to go into is that little bit there.
It’s a huge building, isn’t it?
In 1990, so a year after the wall came down,
and all these buildings around us that you can see at the moment,
were full of information about the population.
And the population knew this, they weren’t very happy,
so they stormed this building in 1990.
They all turned up here, like loads and loads people.
Thousands of people turned up here.
They got into this building.
They found the files,
Stasi were actually still in existence after 1989
and they were still here in 1990.
They tried to destroy the files as quickly as they could
by shredding them,pouring coffee on them.
They tried water on them, just destroy them in any way.
here, look at these piles of shredded paper here, look.
这儿 看这堆碎纸 看看
Shredded paper, it’s crazy, isn’t it?
粉碎的纸片 真是太疯狂了 不是吗？
The people effectively got in here, took back control of their own information.
They weren’t gonna be surveilled on anymore.
They were fed up with it.
They did not want a faceless power based in these offices
to have information on them that had been gathered by,
you know, their friends informing on them.
Phone wire taps, photographs, things like that being taken.
And so they came here in 1992 to make sure they got that back.
因此 1992年 人们重回这里 确认信息已被收回
So we’ve seen how the GDR came about.
We’ve seen what the SED party was.
We’ve also briefly looked over the Stasi.
The amount of informants they had.
How people were spied on
and also seen how people’s lives were decomposed in front of their eyes
with this Zersetzung or decomposition procedure.
Now we’re gonna have a brief look at where you might go
if you were actually arrested by the Stasi.
How that would happen and where you’d be taken.
If you were taken off the street,
you would be put in one of the Stasi’s secret prison vans.
These were often disguised as bakers’ vans or florist’s vans
and could have up to six miniature cells in them.
Not being able to see outside,
you’d then often be driven around and around for three to four hours
by which time you’d be so disorientated,
you wouldn’t even know if you were in the same city,
a Baltic port or even in another country.
For some, their final destination would be Hohenschonhausen Prison in Berlin.
Hohenschonhausen was the headquarters
for the 17 Stasi remand prisons that were located around East Germany.
In May, 1945, the red brick building was confiscated by the Soviet occupation forces
and transformed into special cabin number three.
Prisoners were put work to construct a system
of subterranean bunker-like cells in the basement
of the former canteen known as the U Boat or submarine.
The damp cold cells were equipped with wooden beds
and a bucket serving as a lavatory.
A light bulb was burning 24 hours a day
so prisoners didn’t know what time of day it was.
Interrogations were usually held at night
in an atmosphere of physical and psychological violence.
The living conditions in the camp were lethal.
Food was scarce and hygiene impossible.
And an increasing number of political enemies
of the Soviet occupation forces disappeared in the camp.
After the founding of the GDR,
the jurisdiction of the prison came under the control of the Stasi.
Its main use from then on,
was to be an administrative centrefor the prison complex
and also as a tool for political repression in the GDR.
Once inside the prison, and after the usual cavity search
and the change over to prison clothing,
inmates were deliberately left for weeks before they were interrogated.
Indeed, some say they even looked forward to interrogation
实际上 有些人说 他们甚至期待着受审
because it was the only human contact they’d get.
There were intricate systems in place to make sure that
prisoners never accidentally came across any of the other inmates,
or had any interaction with them whatsoever.
For the duration of prisoner’s incarceration,
the guards were only allowed to say three things to them.
Andre Kochish, our guide explained.
我们的向导 安德烈·科奇什 这样告诉我们
Because isolation was normally the room here.
It was isolated.
So the only person I’d speak to would be the guard and their interrogator.
Yeah, the interrogator. Because the guard didn’t speak to them,
是的 其实只有审讯人员 因为守卫不会和他们说话
they just had three orders.
come, go or face the wall.
过来 走 或者 面向墙壁
-And so, presumably it was all just primarily political. -all these for political.
—所以 想必主要都是政治原因 —都是为了政治目的
Everything the Stasi considered political.
During this time, the Stasi would collect scent samples
from the prisoners to be used by dogs
in the event of an escape or if in the future,
以应对 犯人越狱 或者在获释后
the Stasi needed to find the inmate if they’d been released.
Once the interrogators were ready, prisoners were called to the interrogation wing.
This was when the traffic light system in the ceiling
was used in conjunction with special markings on the corridor floor that are still there today
to prevent prisoners from seeing each other.
So if we were coming down this way with a prisoner,
we would switch this light on.
If you have this, so you would come from here
because that’s green and on this side it would be red.
If a guard was escorting a prisoner down the corridor
and saw the red light come on in the ceiling,
they would use a series of tape markers in the floor to make the prisoner face the wall
and therefore, avoid contact with any other prisoners.
Interrogations were carried out in one of the many soundproof cells in the interrogation wing.
Interrogations could last day and night
and were designed to wear the prisoner down in the hope
that they’d tell the Stasi names, inform them of more clandestine activity
and prepare them for trial.
The guards never carried weapons
for fear that the inmates could possibly grab a gun off them
and do themselves or the guards harm.
Andre explained the alarm system.
And then this was the signal wire
if there was a problem.
They’d pull that and that would break the circuit.
And then there was an alarm, not here
but in a special room.
And then Stasi guards with guns came
because the guards who were transporting to interrogation, they didn’t have guns.
This alarm system was even in place for patients of the prison hospital.
The prison hospital alarm would be here in this room
-and they built the … -So these lights would come on, would they?
—而且他们建造了…… —所以 这些灯都会亮 是吗？
Yes it’s exactly at the same spot.
Andre left us briefly and walked down the corridor.
I had no idea he was about to test to see if the alarm still worked.
It truly was an eerie moment,
transported back in time to the noises of repression.
Hohenschonhausen was the only prison to have its own hospital
in the whole prison service of the GDR.
That meant inmates who were pregnant,
anyone who felt ill while they were in prison,
anyone who was injured during arrest or perhaps shot whilst trying to escape
would all come to the hospital at Hohenschonhausen.
So what would this be?
Would this be for…For food?
Food and medication?
They are bigger because of the bed and the table for the interrogation,
the interrogation took place inside.
So they would interrogate them while they were ill in there?
Yes, and the interrogation office had decided
will he be interrogated or operated first,
so not the doctor.
So yeah, he… he don’t tell us what we want to know,
we’re gonna withhold treatment.
It’s important to remember that the remit of the Stasi agent doctors
who worked on the patients in Hohenschonhausen’s hospital,
was to make the inmates well enough for trial.
They also interrogated inmates in their hospital beds
and could withhold treatment as a method of intimidation.
In 1992, the prison complex was listed as a historical monument
and since 1994, 5.4 million people,
many of them youngsters, have visited the memorial.
Most of the memorial’s guided tours are conducted by former inmates.
I asked Andre before we left whether any former inmates
ever visited the prison and made themselves known.
“oh yes,” he replied, but most of them don’t realise
当然 他回答道 但大部分人没有意识到
that the prison that they’re about to visit
was actually the one that they were incarcerated in all those years ago,
such was the secrecy and disorientation
surrounding arrest and release in those times.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my short video about the GDR
and in particular about Hohenschonhausen Prison.
There’s so much history and so much more to see at this fantastic museum
that everyone who’s interested in this period of history
should make the utmost effort to go and visit.
I cannot thank the team at Hohenschonhausen Prison enough
for making us feel so welcome
and allowing us to see parts of the prison that are usually closed off to the public.
If you’re ever in Berlin and have a day to spare,
then I’d highly recommend you visit this fantastic memorial.
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I’ll see you next week everybody, stay safe.
– Hey, hey, hey guys.