Stasi: The Untold Story of East German Secret Police

Overview

In this gripping narrative, John Koehler details the widespread activities of East Germany’s Ministry for State Security, or “Stasi.” The Stasi, which infiltrated every walk of East German life, suppressed political opposition, and caused the imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of citizens, proved to be one of the most powerful secret police and espionage services in the world. Koehler methodically reviews the Stasi’s activities within East Germany and overseas, including its programs for internal repression, ...

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Overview

In this gripping narrative, John Koehler details the widespread activities of East Germany’s Ministry for State Security, or “Stasi.” The Stasi, which infiltrated every walk of East German life, suppressed political opposition, and caused the imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of citizens, proved to be one of the most powerful secret police and espionage services in the world. Koehler methodically reviews the Stasi’s activities within East Germany and overseas, including its programs for internal repression, international espionage, terrorism and terrorist training, art theft, and special operations in Latin America and Africa.Koehler was both Berlin bureau chief of the Associated Press during the height of the Cold War and a U.S. Army Intelligence officer. His insider’s account is based on primary sources, such as U.S. intelligence files, Stasi documents made available only to the author, and extensive interviews with victims of political oppression, former Stasi officers, and West German government officials. Drawing from these sources, Koehler recounts tales that rival the most outlandish Hollywood spy thriller and, at the same time, offers the definitive contribution to our understanding of this still largely unwritten aspect of the history of the Cold War and modern Germany.

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Editorial Reviews

Belinda Cooper
...[A]nyone announcing possession of "the untold story" of the Stasi is making a large claim. Unfortunately, John O. Koehler's Stasi fails to live up to its ambitious subtitle....Given the dearth of English-language literature on the Stasi, [its] weaknesses might be forgiven.
The New York Times Book Review
Library Journal
An AP Berlin bureau chief and a U.S. Army Intelligence officer, Koehler offers a study spanning the history of the GDR, a time in which Stasi brutality sustained an illegitimate Communist regime. Interviews and documentary evidence reveal a violent war against internal "enemies," a "hugely successful" infiltration of most West German institutions, and collaboration with international terrorists. Koehler is at his best depicting such personalities as Stasi chief Erich Mielke, Col. Rainer Wiegand, and the infamous Gunter Guillaume, whose exposure brought down the government of Chancellor Willy Brandt. The Stasi's often uneasy relations with the Soviet KGB and the claim that the "most" Stasi recruits in West Germany were Social Democrats are surprising. While the absence of broader political and theoretical considerations linked to the regime may narrow the book's importance, it is the most complete work available in English. -- Zachary T. Irwin, Pennsylvania State Univ., Erie
Booknews
Offers an insider's account of the activities of East Germany's Ministry for State Security, or Stasi, one of the most powerful secret police and espionage services in the world. The author was both Berlin bureau chief of the Associated Press during the height of the Cold War and a US Army Intelligence officer. He draws on US intelligence files, Stasi documents, and interviews with victims of political oppression, former Stasi officers, and West German government officials. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Belinda Cooper
...[A]nyone announcing possession of "the untold story" of the Stasi is making a large claim. Unfortunately, John O. Koehler's Stasi fails to live up to its ambitious subtitle....Given the dearth of English-language literature on the Stasi, [its] weaknesses might be forgiven.
The New York Times Book Review
Kirkus Reviews
There has never been a secret police more fanatically intent on finding out what was going on than the Stasi, East Germany's secret police force. It's an irony of Koehler's authoritative book that ultimately the Stasi were unable to prevent-or even predict-the fall of East Germany. Not for want of trying. The KGB had 480,000 full-time agents to oversee 280 million people, or one for every 5,830 citizens; the Gestapo had one for every 2,000; and the Stasi had one for every 166. If one adds the number of regular informers, it came to one for every 66. Never in the history of espionage have so many spied on so few or recorded so much in such tedious detail. Koehler, Berlin bureau chief of the Associated Press during the height of the Cold War (as well as assistant to the president and director of communications under President Reagan), obtained copies of the Stasi's AP dossier, which weighed in at 14 pounds. Thousands of canning jars were found in the archives, filled with cloth impregnated with the body odors of suspected dissidents, so that they could be tracked by Stasi bloodhounds. But the Stasi also went to immense trouble to infiltrate its agents, particularly into West Germany. Thus, Gunter Guillaume was appointed one of the three assistants to Chancellor Willi Brandt, a rank equivalent to deputy assistant to the president of the US, and perhaps he was even closer, since he was reported to have acted as a pimp for Brandt. Unsurprisingly, extraordinary sums were spent on Stasi activities. Thus, in 1988 alone, nearly $450 million was spent on assistance to the Cubans, Nicaraguans, Africans, and other recipients. So the final irony may be that the East Germans ruined themselves in theirefforts to gain more security. Sometimes a little breathless, but a detailed and comprehensive insight into one of the most chilling and the most thorough secret police forces in history.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813334097
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 12/16/1998
  • Pages: 480
  • Lexile: 1290L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.41 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 1.47 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Photos
List of Acronyms
Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
1 Revenge Versus The Rule of Law 7
2 Erich Mielke: Moscow's Leader of the Red Gestapo 33
3 KGB and Stasi: Two Shields, Two Swords 73
4 The Sword of Repression 107
5 The Invisible Invasion: Espionage Assault on West Germany 149
6 The Stasi Against the United States and NATO 203
7 The Stasi's Spy Catchers 265
8 Stasi Operations in the Third World 297
9 The Stasi and Terrorism: The La Belle Bombing 325
10 Playground for International Terrorists 359
11 Safe Haven for the Red Army Faction 387
12 Shattered Shield, Broken Sword 403
Notes 413
Index 439
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