Yes, that’s right, I am reviewing the museum shop at the Stasi Museum in Berlin.
I am DELIGHTED to report that, despite signage indicating a shop was contained within the Stasi museum, all that was to be found was an era appropriate canteen (very cold war 80s – benches, an urn, a grumpy tea lady) and naught else.
The museum itself was A Lot, with information about informers, officers, and terrible deeds done. This being my first visit to the ancestral home of the white person in general, and definitely my first visit to Germany, combined with having not a lot of knowledge of Berlin during the time of the Wall (I’m South-East Asian, don’t judge me), this museum was a huge learning curve for me.
The museum is situated in the former Stasi head offices. The complex itself is quite large, with the museum located in ‘House 1,’ where the Minister for State Security’s actual office was. It’s largely been preserved as it was, so it’s very 70s/80s in there, and features a really casual intertwining of daily life informants and the more brutal and deadly parts of living in East Germany. Everything is presented really well and really interestingly. (I was particularly into the contrasts given of people in their daily lives before the fall of the Wall, and their Stasi informant information. My favourite, a photo of a punk rocker: “Tatjana Besson from the punk band Die Firma playing on the grounds of the old Friedrichstadt-Palast in East Berlin, which was demolised in 1985, 1 July 1988. Tatjana Besson worked as a Stasi informer under the IM alias “Kim.”” This BLEW MY MIND because of course anyone could be an informer, so why couldn’t a punk rocker?)
Located directly outside of Haus 1 is a series of information boards documenting the fall of the Wall, shaped kind of like the Wall. This was also super excellent because, whilst the museum’s interior gives really great day to day, this is how the MfS worked information, the detailing outside gives you an overall look at how that structure sat within a wider, global society, and the events leading up to the fall of the Wall. This piece, which felt a little incidental, was actually really important to my understanding – I didn’t realise how easily it could have just ended in deaths and the continuation of the GDR. Every event where I thought ‘oh, many people would have died there’, the SED was just like, okay cool, you all keep doing your thing and we will roll over.
It was sad and terrible and a great, exhausting museum to visit. (I even skipped a bunch, because I super don’t care about the backgrounds of terrible white men in power.)
Next week I’m going to talk about the East Side Gallery, and you are not ready for the feelings I’ve got about that.
Stasi Museum, Berlin
- Ruschestraße 103, Haus 1, 10365 Berlin, Germany
- Accessibility: No lifts! Many stairs! (Three floors) Text in German and about 75% of the time also English
- Cost of entry: 6,00€ (4,00€ with the BerlinWelcome Card)
- Get there on the S41/42 (or some others, but we were staying on the Ring) to Frankfurter Allee and a 10 minute walk or the U5 to Magdalenenstrasse and a 5 minute walk. There are also some trams
Four out of five 80s tea urns for appropriateness