Thirty years after the Berlin Wall fell, a Stasi spy puzzle remains unsolved
In the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall 30 years ago, East Germany’s secret police frantically tried to destroy millions of documents that laid bare the astounding reach of mass surveillance used to keep an iron grip on citizens.
As shredders that were available jammed or broke down, Stasi officers resorted to tearing the documents by hand, stuffing them into bags to later be burned or pulped. But the effort came to a premature halt when citizens groups stormed and occupied Stasi offices to preserve the evidence.
Three decades later, in the same rooms behind the foreboding gray facade of the former Stasi headquarters, Barbara Poenisch and nine fellow archivists are trying to piece those documents, and the history, back together.