A Call to the Stasi

“This is Hauptmann Shulz.”

“Guten Tag, Hauptmann. I would like to make a report.”

“Go ahead.”

“It is about Herr Nordmeyer of Bänschstraße 33, apartment 12.”

“Yes? What about him?”

“Well, he is constantly receiving visitors in his apartment. Usually women. Many of them are from the west.”


“I believe he is planning to travel to West Berlin sometime soon. He will not return.”

“And what is your source for this information?”

“He told me personally.”

“He told you that he was planning to defect to the west?”

“In so many words, yes.”

“I see. What is your relationship to Herr Nordmeyer?”

“I am an– an old friend.”

“A lover?”

“Pardon me?”

“You and Herr Nordmeyer. You were lovers, yes?”

“Why would you ask that?”

“We do not ask. We only confirm. You were lovers.”

“Well, yes. We were lovers. Years ago.”

“And what is your name?”

“I prefer to remain anonymous.”

“Of course.”


What Pegman Saw

In the excellent 2006 film The Lives of Others, an East German filmmaker is put under surveillance by the Stasi, East Germany’s  secret police. The story explores the crisis of conscience faced by the agent in charge of the operation.

In truth, most of the Stasi’s extensive recordings were never even listened to. Instead, the Stasi created a culture of informants where any citizen could call and inform “suspicious activity” to the police. The resulting paranoia bled into every aspect of society.


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