Stasi: The Untold Story of the East German Secret Police

John O. Koehler, Author
John O. Koehler, Author Westview Press $30 (460p) ISBN 978-0-8133-3409-7
Reviewed on: 11/30/1998
Release date: 12/01/1998
Paperback - 460 pages - 978-0-8133-3744-9
Open Ebook - 479 pages - 978-0-7867-2441-3
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A former U.S. Army intelligence officer and an AP correspondent for 28 years (including a stint as Berlin bureau chief), Koehler does much to illuminate the workings of the Stasi, the much feared East German secret police. To illustrate the Stasi's formidable reach, he cites some astounding numbers provided by famed Nazi hunter Simon Weisenthal: while Hitler's Gestapo policed 80 million Germans with a force of 40,000, the Stasi kept 17 million people in line with 102,000 officials, a number that doesn't even include the legion of casual informers that made the notion of privacy in East Germany something of a cruel joke. Following a swaggering yet hair-raising account of his own meeting with Stasi chief Erich Mielke in 1965, Koehler delves into many incidents that show how the Stasi frequently operated beyond the borders of East Germany and, with connections to the KGB, conducted espionage operations against the West and colluded with terrorist organizations. Reading in part like an insider's jargon-filled report, this thorough and engrossing work is replete with such heavy-handed Communist spy tactics as sexual blackmail, but it also contains fresh tidbits--such as the case of the ""Delicatessen Spy,"" who hid espionage paraphernalia beneath her dead son's ashes in a cremation urn. Photos. (Feb.)
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