WEBMU 2012 in Berlin was last weekend (I’m still recovering from it). Given that most or all of the attendees have visited the usual tourist spots in Berlin — Brandenburger Tor, Reichstag, East Side Gallery, etc. — our WEBMU hosts put together a program off the beaten path, concentrating our activities around neighborhoods in East Berlin. My favorite agenda item of the weekend was our visit to the Stasi Museum in Lichtenberg.
It was an easy trip to Magdalenenstraße on the U5 line from our vacation apartment in Friedrichshain: just a few stops. We exited toward Ruschestraße and right at the U-bahn steps there was a sign leading us to the museum.
Our tour guide was very knowledgeable. He gave us a glimpse into the breadth and depth of the Ministry for State Security (“Ministerium für Staatssicherheit“):
- Its philosophy (“We don’t have to DO everything, but we do have to KNOW everything”)
- Its role models (look for the rug picture below)
- Its methods — propaganda and investigation and Zersetzung
- Its opponents inside the DDR
- Its technology — especially the cameras crammed into mundane objects
On top of all that, it was a really good deal! €5 for museum admission, or €42 for the guided tour before they opened to the general public (€40 for the group admission, €2 for the group to take pictures inside).
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I saw this point on the agenda. I thought it might be all depressing and somber on the order of a concentration camp visit. It was serious and thought-provoking at times, but sometimes mildly humorous and always with a healthy dose of irony. Hit their website for more details: