The District Leadership Cadre of the Stasi

Who Were These Men and Why Did They Not Crush Mass Protest in 1989?

in German Politics and Society
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  • 1 Sociology, Medical School Berlin uwe.kraehnke@medicalschool-berlin.de
  • 2 Cultural Science, University of Leipzig anja.zschirpe@uni-leipzig.de
  • 3 Political Science, Martin-Luther-Univerity Halle-Wittenberg philipp.reimann@politik.uni-halle.de
  • 4 Political Science, University of Göttinge scott.gissendanner@sowi.uni-goettingen.de
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Abstract

More than twenty-five years after the revolution that toppled the German Democratic Republic, we still know little about the personnel of the organization that should have prevented it: the East German Ministry for State Security (Stasi). This article reports on an individual-level investigation of the entire Stasi leadership cadre of the Karl-Marx-Stadt district with information on socioeconomic status, careers, institutional constraints and organizational culture. Although a generational cleavage was evident, we argue that Stasi leadership was so deeply convinced of socialism’s superiority and so thoroughly habituated to the bureaucratic routine of the normal “party soldier” that it was caught utterly by surprise with no plan to annihilate massive opposition from within.

Contributor Notes

Uwe Krähnke Uwe Krähnke is professor of qualitative research methods at the Medical School Berlin and researches in the fields of social psychology and political sociology. He is author of Selbstbestimmung. Zur gesellschaftlichen Konstruktion einer normativen Leitidee (Velbrück, 2007) and co-author of Links sein. Politische Praxen und Orientierungen in linksaffinen Alltagsmilieus (Wiesbaden, 2011). Email: uwe.kraehnke@medicalschool-berlin.de

Anja Zschirpe is a research team member in the German Research Foundation project, “Passungsverhältnisse zwischen individuellen Lebensarrangements und institutionellen Strukturen beim Dienst im MfS,” at the University of Leipzig. Email: anja.zschirpe@uni-leipzig.de

Matthias Finster is a research team member in the German Research Foundation project, “Passungsverhältnisse zwischen individuellen Lebensarrangements und institutionellen Strukturen beim Dienst im MfS,” at the University of Leipzig. Email: matthias.finster@gmx.de

Philipp Reimann is a research team member in the German Research Foundation project, “Passungsverhältnisse zwischen individuellen Lebensarrangements und institutionellen Strukturen beim Dienst im MfS,” at the University of Leipzig. Email: philipp.reimann@politik.uni-halle.de

Scott Stock Gissendanner is adjunct professor of political science at the University of Göttingen and researcher at the iegus Institut für europäische Gesundheits-und Sozialwirtschaft (Berlin). His translations and publications cover many topics including the economic and political transformation of East Germany after 1989. Email: scott.gissendanner@sowi.uni-goettingen.de