The Stasi Records Archive provides printed material, audio and video recordings as well as downloads for project days and teaching lessons. The material includes teaching guides with suggestions for lessons, work material for pupils as well as an educational film.
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What was the Stasi?
The term "Stasi" is an abbreviation for "Staatssicherheit" (state security). That is what the East Germans called the Ministry for State Security, which was officially abbreviated "MfS". The Stasi had two functions: It worked as both a secret service and a secret police. Many countries have a secret service agency. They are responsible for detecting threats to the country from abroad. Secret police usually only exist in dictatorships. They have the task of controlling their own citizens and eliminating any danger to the ruling regime. They are accountable only to the rulers and circumvent the laws that normal police must obey.
Please go to the section "The Stasi" to find more detailed information.
Learning at an Authentic Site
Mielke’s Command: Experiencing History in the Stasi Headquarters
We offer you the special opportunity to learn about the history of the Stasi at an authentic site: on the former grounds of the Ministry for State Security. "Haus 1" forms the centre of the complex. This is where Erich Mielke, the Minister of State Security, had his office until November 1989. It was from here that the Stasi, as "shield and sword of the party," defended the SED ruling party’s claim to total control over the people in the GDR.
The rooms in "Haus 1" have been preserved in their original condition. Mielke directed the huge spying and repressive apparatus from here. The exhibitions created by the association "Antistalinistische Aktion" (ASTAK e.V.) and the Stasi Records Archive show visitors how the secret police worked and how its victims were affected. The archives containing the original files of the State Security are located just a few steps away from "Haus 1".
The education staff of the Stasi Records Archive works above Mielke’s former office in "Haus 1". Seminar classrooms equipped with an interactive whiteboard are located here. After receiving an introduction into the subject of the GDR State Security, classes can visit "Haus 1," and take a tour of the archives. Or explore the grounds of the former Stasi headquarters.
We offer school groups:
Project work to prepare for or follow-up on a visit to the exhibition
Project work using Stasi sources that have been prepared for educational use
Project work on the former Central Archives of the State Security
Tours through the former Central Archives of the State Security
After civil rights activists took over the Stasi headquarters in January 1990, the association "ASTAK e.V." established "Haus 1" as a research and memorial site on 7 November 1990. The former headquarters of the GDR secret police remain open to the public. Mielke’s office, the work areas of his closest staff, a large conference room and the casino are today a museum at an authentic site.
"Haus 1" was reopened in January 2012 following extensive renovations. In addition to the original rooms of the minister, two other levels with the exhibitions created by ASTAK e.V. and the Stasi Records Archive are also open to visitors.
Exhibition: "Access to Secrecy"
An oversized „walk-in file“, an original index card paternoster, a sculpture of files – the exhibition shows the collection of information violating human rights and the effect the GDR secret police had on people’s lives. Over four floors the exhibition illustrates the Stasi Records Archive‘s current tasks and leads back in time to when the Secret Police created the files.
Resources for Pupils
We offer assistance to pupils who are conducting research on the Stasi, either for presentations, projects or term papers. We can provide very unique sources: The Stasi Records Archive preserves the original files of the Stasi in its archives and makes them accessible to the public according to certain rules. We have selected certain files deemed suitable for work in school and made them available online. Videos made for pupils make it easier for them to approach the difficult subject of the Stasi and the GDR. Please note: all our material is in German only.
Introduction to the Subject
The staff of the Stasi Records Archive discovered many documents revealing interesting, bizarre and often moving situations. They provide a unique impression of the methods used by the Stasi. Examples in German are found under the heading "Informationen zur Stasi"
We made a film about the Stasi that is aimed at pupils in 9th grade and above. You can have the DVD"Ein Volk unter Verdacht" sent to you for a nominal charge of €2.50.
Assisting with Presentations
We are happy to offer pupils assistance with their school projects. The Stasi archives contain many interesting, and at times disconcerting documents that could be useful for presentations, term papers and school competitions. For a presentation on the Stasi you could choose a very special topic.
Since the Stasi intervened in many different areas of GDR life, there are many subjects to choose from, for example the "unofficial collaborators", known as IM. These were informers who spied on their friends and acquaintances and reported very personal information to the Stasi. Escape attempts from the GDR is another interesting topic. Many people who tried to escape were caught and arrested. The Stasi covered up any deaths that occurred at the Berlin Wall. But today the Stasi documents provide information about them.
Our archives offer extensive material about these and other topics. Since applying to view files on individual topics and looking through all the records is a time-consuming process, we have selected a few cases and prepared these especially for pupils to use. Most of the documents concern teenagers who drew the attention of the GDR secret police. In once case from the 1980s, three teenagers from Rostock wrote their view of the GDR on buildings. The Stasi regarded this as a subversive act and arrested the teenagers.
We have compiled cases like this in the publication series "Quellen für die Schule". This publication and other teaching material are available in German in Bereich "Bildungsmaterialien".
Assisting with Term Papers and Competitions
Term papers and school competitions demand a more intense study of the subject. They also require working with scholarly texts and citing sources correctly. Our scholars have been researching the Stasi for many years and their publications can be useful when writing a term paper. The MfS Handbook, which consists of several volumes, is highly recommended. It provides an overview of the different subject areas that are currently being researched here. We are also happy to help pupils who are preparing to take part in a competition.
Pupils and students can also research the Stasi files directly. To do this requires submitting a "research request". Unfortunately these requests often take a long time to process and may entail fees. The subject of inquiry should be clearly delineated in the request so that we can process the application faster. It is also important to submit a letter from the school or if you are participating in the Federal President’s history competition, to enclose a copy of the "Spurensucherpass" with your request.
Resources for Teachers
The Stasi Records Archive supports teachers teaching about GDR history. In accordance with the agency’s special educational mission, its focus is on repression and intimidation by the Stasi as well as on the opposition and resistance of courageous citizens. We offer teachers training seminars and lectures with practice-oriented suggestions for classroom teaching as well as assistance with project days. Please note: All our material is in German only.
The education staff is available to help teachers prepare and supervise special events for their pupils. Simple lectures or many-day projects and workshops are possible. The events can also combine introductory lectures, independent pupil work on selected sources and conversations with contemporary witnesses. We make selected Stasi documents available for this purpose. We also offer tours through the archives and visits to the exhibitions of the Stasi Records Archive.
The training seminars and project days usually take place in Berlin in the Project Workshop located at the historical site of the former Stasi headquarters. Please contact us to arrange the location, length and scope of the event.
Teaching about the GDR’s State Security at school
What was the Stasi? How did it function and how did it fill its role as the "general control and prevention organisation" of SED? We can help you to address these questions in class. In our training seminars for teachers you receive information about the methods of the MfS and how it operated. We place a special focus on how people were affected by these Stasi measures. We also show how the MfS influenced the daily life of GDR citizens. Using selected educational material we will provide you with ideas on how to teach this subject in an interesting way and on the basis of facts. We offer both half-day and full-day training seminars.
Example of a training seminar
Introduction into "The Dissenter is the Enemy" - Life in the GDR under the influence of the Ministry for State Security. (MfS)
Using case studies to show the methods employed by the MfS: Working with excerpts from Stasi files for independent student work ("Quellen für die Schule" and other publications) as well as with an original Stasi training film.
Working with films about the MfS
Questions and feedback on the seminar
Lectures on special topics
We offer lectures that focus on specific aspects of Stasi history and provide useful background information for teaching.
Peaceful Revolution of 1989 and the dissolution of the MfS: using a GDR district as an example.
Using the Stasi training film "Revisor" to show how the MfS operated
How the 17 June 1953 was experienced in the industrial area of central Germany – a centre of the uprising
The Berlin Wall and Security – Resources and material for classes at educational institutions other than schools
Working with contemporary witnesses to address the GDR State Security as part of competence-oriented history lessons
Stasi records as the basis for historical source studies at school and university
Historical Consciousness in Society – On dealing with the history of the MfS in public and in school
The Stasi Records Archive provides printed material, audio and video recordings as well as downloads for project days and lessons. The material includes teaching guides with suggestions for lessons, work material for pupils as well as an educational film. A special resource is provided by "Quellen für die Schule" An overview of the available material is found under the heading "Bildungsmaterialien".
Transparencies for the Classroom
The transparencies and accompanying texts provided here can help teachers illustrate the distinctive features, structure and methods of the GDR State Security in the classroom. The material includes ten transparencies for an overhead-projector or for Power Point presentations and comprehensive background texts. Transparencies for the classroom can be downloaded in various formats.
Material for Lessons
The Stasi Records Archive provides printed material, audio and video recordings as well as downloads for project days and teaching lessons. The material includes teaching guides with suggestions for lessons, work material for pupils as well as an educational film. A special resource is provided by "Materalien für die Schule" on our German Website.
Contact the Education Team
If your are interested in any of the above mentioned services please contact us.