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Stasi: The Untold Story Of The East German Secret Police Paperback – Aug 17 2000

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 478 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (Aug. 17 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813337445
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813337449
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 762 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #312,533 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From Amazon

As human rights activist Rainer Hildebrandt observed in 1948, communist East Germany resembled nothing so much as a vast "concentration camp in which only the warders and those who hand out the food can still live well." Those warders were known collectively as the Ministerium für Statessicherheit, or Stasi. As John Koehler suggests in the impressively detailed Stasi: The Untold Story of the East German Secret Police, their history is the history of totalitarian East Germany. Including informants, the Stasi at one point would number one operative for every 66 East German citizens; so ruthless and efficient were they in their efforts to squelch dissent that even the KGB found itself occasionally appalled by the Stasi's methods.

Right up to its 1990 demise, the Stasi cast a huge net of spies and agents around Europe and the rest of the world, enlisting as many as 30,000 West Germans as secret operatives, and involving more than a few American intelligence personnel in traitorous dalliances that would badly damage NATO defense capabilities during the Cold War. Koehler, a longtime foreign correspondent with Associated Press and onetime aide to president Ronald Reagan, based much of his research on the vast archive of secret Stasi documents discovered after the fall of the Berlin Wall and subsequent unification of Germany. Although this book is only the tip of the iceberg, he has provided a fascinating look into the inner workings of one of the most dangerous, but least known, organizations of the 20th century. --Tjames Madison

(After the collapse of the Berlin Wall and unification of Germany, journalist Timothy Garton Ash gained access to his Stasi file and began interviewing the people who contributed to it. The results of his investigation are found in the compelling The File.)

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

A former U.S. Army intelligence officer and an AP correspondent for 28 years (including a stint as Berlin bureau chief), Koehler does much to illuminate the workings of the Stasi, the much feared East German secret police. To illustrate the Stasi's formidable reach, he cites some astounding numbers provided by famed Nazi hunter Simon Weisenthal: while Hitler's Gestapo policed 80 million Germans with a force of 40,000, the Stasi kept 17 million people in line with 102,000 officials, a number that doesn't even include the legion of casual informers that made the notion of privacy in East Germany something of a cruel joke. Following a swaggering yet hair-raising account of his own meeting with Stasi chief Erich Mielke in 1965, Koehler delves into many incidents that show how the Stasi frequently operated beyond the borders of East Germany and, with connections to the KGB, conducted espionage operations against the West and colluded with terrorist organizations. Reading in part like an insider's jargon-filled report, this thorough and engrossing work is replete with such heavy-handed Communist spy tactics as sexual blackmail, but it also contains fresh tidbits?such as the case of the "Delicatessen Spy," who hid espionage paraphernalia beneath her dead son's ashes in a cremation urn. Photos.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
THE FIRST TIME I MET Erich Mielke, the notorious chief of the communist East German secret police, was in February 1965, during a reception for Alexei N. Kosygin, successor to Nikita S. Khrushchev as premier of the Soviet Union. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 2 2004
Format: Paperback
I really wanted to like this book, and for the vast majority of it, I was set to give it three or more stars. But as I approached the end, the organization, the poor editing and the overt political bias severely impeded my enjoyment and, ultimately, the book's utility to the reader.
The strongest compliment I can pay to this work is that it is extraordinarily comprehensive. It is a detailed overview of Stasi history, personnel, procedures and operations over the four decades East Germany existed. And if the author had been content to write the most comprehensive English-language book on the Stasi to date, I think he probably could have succeeded. But, unfortunately, he chose not to.
The most glaring problem I observed with the book is its haphazard (at best) organization. At the chapter level, the book is reasonably well organized, certainly not disorganized to the extent that complaints are merited. However, within each chapter, the author bounces from one year to another thirty years in the future and then back to the original era. One topic after another is dredged up with little regard to cohesion or organization.
Going along with the poor organization, the book seems to have been hastily edited as well. The author seems to repeat himself often and frequently returns to matters discussed several times previously. I think if 50 pages had been removed from the book, it would have improved it considerably. I am frankly surprised that a former writer for the Associated Press produced such a poorly edited, comparatively poorly written work.
Finally, the author's political slant frequently detracted from the flow of the narrative.
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Format: Paperback
"Stasi" is one of the most interesting non-fiction historical books I have ever read. It combines a non-biased writer (former journalist who had first hand encounters with some of the cruelest people in the last hundred years), facts galore, and a progressive topic area on all aspects of the Ministerium fur Staatssicherheit (Ministry for State Security), more commonly known as the "Stasi."
Since the reunification and following demise of the DDR, Koehler relentlessly gathered information, conducted interviews and did all other things humanly possible at the most meticulous level to make this book the best on the topic available. He starts out the book by detailling his encounters with Stasi boss Erich Mielke, and how he boldly handles the situation. The way he writes made it to where at some points I couldn't put the book down. He includes factual rhetoric starting from the institution of the Stasi all the way to its demise and crumble, including the unforgettable scenes of East German citizens rummaging through Stasi headquarters, reading their personal files written by Stasi agents.
He discusses in detail the relationship between the MFS and the KGB and how the Soviet Union's version of the secret police could not help but stand in awe of its neighbor to the west's undulating precision, perseverance, and the extent to which oppression was carried out. Other topics include the RAF, terrorism in East Germany and the punishment (or lack thereof), the infamous La Belle bombing(a whole chapter of which is devoted), and others. By far the best account of the cruel yet efficient MFS. Buy this book, you definetely will not regret it (I suggest you buy two copies, one for reading, the other for highliting).
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Format: Paperback
Stasi is an excellent study in constrasts and merits the attention of anyone interested in current affairs, terrorist studies, European history, political science and intelligence history. Since the author has met many of the people discussed in the book, it is a text loaded with anecdotes and details that many biographers or historians never get to probe. The author shares these singular observations with his readers.
The dark side is sad indeed. Koehler begins by exposing the feudal world of East German leftist radicals and how the Stasi organization emerged from thier international machinations. Erich Mielke, who became the Minister for State Security, built the Stasi into an unbelievable machine that promoted evil. In order to do this he became a feudal serf of the KGB, and a king in East Germany. Ultimately, he became a pill-popping addict despite his successful, shameful reign of terror. Under his tutelage, Stasi officers, most of whom had the barest rudimentary education, spied on their neighbors, bugged confessionals, and tortured countless German citizens. One citizen, Josef Kneifel, described his life under Mielke's world of concrete control as similar to that of a "dazed animal" while the "vassals of Moscow" worked overtime to destroy the lives, marriages, and occupations of numerous frightened East Germans.
Koehler contrasts the absolute despair of living under the Stasi against the dedication and committment of freedom-loving people to bring an end to the Stasi kingdom of cruely, ruthless power- mongering and paranoia. The agencies and individuals who sacrificed much to bring freedom and civility to life in the Stasi empire were understaffed and risked many dangers.
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