The year 1989 saw the fall of the Iron Curtain, the collapse of East European communism and, uniquely the extinction of a state. That state was the German Democratic Republic (GDR) –
The irony was that the Stasi or Ministerium für Staatssichereit (Ministry for State Security) could in the end not keep East German`s communist leaders in power – its raison d`etre. They failed not because of any fault in their spycraft but because, as author Anthony Glees says, a conceptual flaw in the way East Europe was constructed: The GDR and its neighbours were Soviet puppet states with the strings leading back to
"There was one country upon which the Stasi did not spy, and yet it was certainly the most important country in the world as far as
The Stasi Files are not a history of that organisation nor a comprehensive look at its operations. Neither may today be possible because of a German court`s decision to bar access to the former Stasi`s files to all but those whom want access to their personal files. Glees had access to those files before the court made that ruling and confined himself to a study of the Stasi`s operations in
For those who believe the Stasi concentrated on
The Stasi`s second goal was to spy on and attempt to steer British organisations that had an influence on the internal affairs of the GDR, such as the European Nuclear Disarmament movement. A third objective was to gather intelligence that could be used to repress dissidents. The Stasi went after intelligence in a single-minded way, eschewing a broad-brush approach: "it did not seek to know something about everything. Rather, it sought to know everything about just a few things."
Glees` book goes into great detail just what this was and how they set about getting it. Much of it was seemingly innocuous but the author rightly says the value of intelligence is measured by what it means to the recipient rather than to the agent or to those whom it concerns. And to
What is the value of this book? Glees puts it so: "…the Stasi`s British sources serve as a grim warning from history. All of them should be identified, not just because some of them may now be working for the KGB`s successor, the SVR (who will have a full list of their names), or for certain Arab (e.g. Yemen, the ancestral home of Osama bin Laden) home or Latin American (e.g. Cuba) states with whom the East Germans had a long history of close association. Other countries which have a fanatical faith in the power of conspiracy … and other ‘subnational` groups of fanatics, who today regard the West as their enemies, are operating in the same way as the Stasi did in the 1980s, busy exploiting the ‘grey` area for all its worth. Those vulnerable to being targeted [every one of us] need to understand how it is done."
The Stasi Files
The Free Press
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