The Secret Police and the Revolution
The Fall of the German Democratic RepubliceBook - 2002
The opening of the secret files of the East German Ministry of State Security after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 enabled this study. Most interesting are the reports from the thousands of spies at the local level, the analysis at the local and district levels, and the integration of nationwide reports in Berlin. These reports are surprisingly honest in describing the problems that would bring about the collapse of the Communist regime. They reveal advance knowledge among the Stasi operatives of the economic and political difficulties that plagued the state information that reached leaders who were powerless to change the system. The spy handlers conceded by September 1989 that in order to save socialism, they must change the GDR leadership.
The coming of the Revolution of 1989 can be perceived in local spy reports as early as 1987. At the national level, reports highlight the negative effect of dependence on the Soviet Union, the role played by Mikhail Gorbachev, the collapse of the economy, the disastrous foreign debts, the refusal of Erich Honecker to reform, and the inability of his Politburo to remove him. At the local level, warnings point to the lack of incentive to produce, the ineptitude of central planning, the inability to acquire production resources, and the massive impact of West German television. Also instrumental were the brave citizens who kept pushing to leave, while others remained determined to stay and democratize the system, as well as the Protestant pastors who provided space for small groups that would eventually swell into hundreds of thousands.