Germany led the way in turning its communist-era security archives into a resource for reconciliation. The rest of the old Eastern bloc is finally following suit.
Marketa Hulpachova, Transitions Online, 4 January 2012
In the early 1970s, the East German secret police infiltrated a youth club on the outskirts of Berlin. Situated on the banks of the Dahme river, the club was a nook for teenagers with a penchant for forbidden music. But the Ministry for State Security, or Stasi, was less concerned with the subversive rock 'n' roll than with the club’s proximity to the water, where skippers from West Berlin often docked their boats.
Paranoid about western intrusion, the Stasi began recruiting underage informants from the youth club. One of these teenaged targets was a promising student whose biggest exploitable weakness was his wish to pass the high school leaving exam. One day a Stasi man dragged the boy to the school basement and informed him that his academic future was at an end – unless, of course, he was willing to have a conversation with them from time to time.
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The Secret Policeman’s Halls