The Stasi: a hated and feared institution
The Stasi was one of the most hated and feared institutions of the East German communist government.
Under Erich Mielke, its director from 1957 to 1989, it became a highly effective secret police organisation.
Within East Germany it sought to infiltrate every institution of society and every aspect of life, including intimate personal and familial relationships.
It accomplished this goal both through its official apparatus and through a vast network of informants and unofficial collaborators who spied on and denounced colleagues, friends, neighbours, and even family members.
By 1989 the Stasi relied on 500,000 to 2,000,000 collaborators as well as 100,000 regular employees, and it maintained files on approximately 6,000,000 East German citizens – more than one-third of the population.
It was formally disbanded in February 1990.
Erich Mielke ran the Stasi during the regime of Erich Honecker, above.