In this gripping narrative, John Koehler details the widespread activities of East Germany’s Ministry for State Security, or Stasi.” The Stasi, which infiltrated every walk of East German life, suppressed political opposition, and caused the imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of citizens, proved to be one of the most powerful secret police and espionage services in the world. Koehler methodically reviews the Stasi’s activities within East Germany and overseas, including its programs for internal repression, international espionage, terrorism and terrorist training, art theft, and special operations in Latin America and Africa.Koehler was both Berlin bureau chief of the Associated Press during the height of the Cold War and a U.S. Army Intelligence officer. His insider’s account is based on primary sources, such as U.S. intelligence files, Stasi documents made available only to the author, and extensive interviews with victims of political oppression, former Stasi officers, and West German government officials. Drawing from these sources, Koehler recounts tales that rival the most outlandish Hollywood spy thriller and, at the same time, offers the definitive contribution to our understanding of this still largely unwritten aspect of the history of the Cold War and modern Germany.
From the Author
Exposing a brutal communist East German secret police
When the Berlin Wall crumbled on November 9, 1989, I was determined to write a detailed account of communist East German's secret police, the Stasi, which since the end of World War II had ruthlessly oppressed 17 million citizens, hundreds of thousands of whom were imprisoned under inhuman conditions. Thus, I flew to Berlin the next day to begin my research by renewing contacts I had made while serving as Berlin bureau chief of the Associated Press during the height of the Cold War and while serving as a U.S.Army intelligence officer. During the following eight years I interviewed hundreds of victims, Stasi officers who had defected, and I sifted through thousands of Stasi and western intelligence documents. Besides unearthing crimes against humanity, I was able to probe Stasi espionage against West Germany, the United States and NATO, aiding international terrorism, collaboration with the Soviet KGB and Stasi activities in Third World countries in support of the Soviet Union's quest for communist world domination. Three years ago, one of my best sources, a Stasi colonel who had defected, died under mysterious circumstances shortly before he was to testify for the prosecution in the trial of alleged terrorists charged with the bombing of a Berlin discotheque in which three persons, including two American GIs, were killed and more than 200 injured. Murder? German justice officials and a former Stasi colonel, who was close to the victim, believe it was. Why did I write this book? I felt strongly that the reign of a ruthless cabal of communist ideologues needed to be exposed to the world. I believed that I owed this to all the victims of totalitarianism. Simon Wiesenthal, the noted Nazi hunter, told me that if one leaves out the slaughter of jews, gypsies, homosexuals and other human beings that the Nazis had classified as "Untermenschen", subhumans, the Stasi was worse toward its fellow citizens than the Nazi Gestapo and the Soviet KGB combined.