A peaceful revolution
In memory of 30 years of the Berlin Wall, we would like to share some places in with you, which act as silent witnesses of darker times in the German Democratic Republic and in the shadow of the Soviet Union. Potsdam, Erfurt, and Rostock have served as prison locations of the regimes’ Ministry of State Security. They worked as underground ‘police’ and infiltrated local communities by blending in and reporting any sign of disloyalty to the regime and its communist agenda. Even the slightest piece of evidence was enough to put citizens into custody for further investigation – meaning forcing false confessions by inducing physical and psychological terrors upon the inmates. Today these sites serve as grim memorials of this police state and the suffering caused by its enforcers. They were converted to museums which make it possible to experience the horrors of this time backed by contemporary witnesses’ statements.
ERFURT The memorial and educational site Andreasstraße is reminiscent of oppression and resistance during the SED dictatorship in Thuringia 1949-1989. In the building of today's memorial, the Ministry of State Security of the GDR operated a remand prison. More than 5,000 people were imprisoned here for resisting the communist regime. But on December 4, 1989, freedom triumphed: Courageous people occupied the Erfurt district administration of the state security in the Andreasstraße - it was the first occupation of a bastion of the dreaded "Stasi" during the Peaceful Revolution.
ROSTOCK The State Security Service of the GDR supervised and suppressed on behalf of the ruling party SED its own population and operated espionage abroad. In memory of the former prisoners, documentation and memorial site was established. It is part of the documentation center of the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern for the victims of German dictatorships. In the premises of the prison, a permanent exhibition provides information on the history, structure, and functioning of the Ministry of State Security (MfS).
POTSDAM Serving as part of the border between West-Berlin and East Germany the Glienicke Bridge in Potsdam was used several times for the exchange of captured spies and thus became known as the Bridge of Spies. The memorial Lindenstraße 54/55 reminds of the political persecution in both German dictatorships. The house, popularly called the "Lindenhotel", served as a detention center for political prisoners during the National Socialist era and was taken over by the Russian secret service KGB and later the state security in the same function after the war.