The Firm: The Inside Story of the Stasi

Overview


Based on previously classified documents and on interviews with former secret police officers and ordinary citizens, The Firm is the first comprehensive history of East Germany's secret police, the Stasi, at the grassroots level.

Focusing on Gransee and Perleberg, two East German districts located north of Berlin, Gary Bruce reveals how the Stasi monitored small-town East Germany. He paints an eminently human portrait of those involved with this repressive arm of the ...

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The Firm: The Inside Story of the Stasi

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Overview


Based on previously classified documents and on interviews with former secret police officers and ordinary citizens, The Firm is the first comprehensive history of East Germany's secret police, the Stasi, at the grassroots level.

Focusing on Gransee and Perleberg, two East German districts located north of Berlin, Gary Bruce reveals how the Stasi monitored small-town East Germany. He paints an eminently human portrait of those involved with this repressive arm of the government, featuring interviews with former officers that uncover a wide array of personalities, from devoted ideologues to reluctant opportunists, most of whom talked frankly about East Germany's obsession with surveillance. Their paths after the collapse of Communism are gripping stories of resurrection and despair, of renewal and demise, of remorse and continued adherence to the movement. The book also sheds much light on the role of the informant, the Stasi's most important tool in these out-of-the-way areas.

Providing on-the-ground empirical evidence of how the Stasi operated on a day-to-day basis with ordinary people, this remarkable volume offers an unparalleled picture of life in a totalitarian state.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
East Germany was perhaps the most stable satellite in the postwar Soviet bloc, and one of the main reasons was the scope and efficiency of its Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, the secret police known as the Stasi. Bruce (history, Univ. of Waterloo) examines its operations after first discussing in his introduction the complex way that the Stasi and East Germany have been remembered and interpreted by both Germans and outsiders since 1990. To understand the functioning of the Stasi, Bruce used good archival holdings for two unexceptional local districts north of Berlin. He also makes use of personal accounts from Stasi employees and general citizens, from whom one finds the real flavor and detail of everyday life in the socialist dictatorship. Bruce notes that a vast network of (mostly male) informers was the Stasi's primary means of control because citizens understood, tolerated, and participated in the surreptitious surveillance. This book can be supplemented with Edward Peterson's The Limits of Secret Police Power and Anna Funder's Stasiland. VERDICT For specialists and academic libraries, this well-researched book is as much a cultural and sociological study as a political and bureaucratic history. (Index and photos not seen; maps would have been helpful.)—Daniel K. Blewett, Coll. of DuPage Lib., Glen Ellyn, IL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199896578
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 8/1/2012
  • Series: Oxford Oral History Series
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 503,307
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Gary Bruce is Associate Professor of History at the University of Waterloo and author of Resistance with the People: Repression and Resistance in Eastern Germany, 1945-1955.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
1. Districts Gransee and Perleberg under the Nazis
2. In the service of the Firm: The full-time Stasi employees
3. The candidate: Stasi informants
4. In the line of sight: Targeted by the Stasi
5. The Stasi in everyday life
6. The Downfall Conclusion Bibliography Index

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