Stasiland theme of surveillance and privacy Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Stasiland theme of surveillance and privacy Deck (18):


The Stasi monitored a staggering number of East German citizens, many of whom had done nothing illegal, violating these citizens’ right to privacy. The Stasi accumulated millions of pages of files on ordinary German people. One of the key topics that Funder studies in her book is what it was like for millions of Germans to live under the constant threat of surveillance.


The East Germans reacted to the knowledge that their rights to privacy were being violated in numerous ways. What were these 3 ways?

If I have nothing to hide then I have nothing to fear or inform or escape or fear and uncertainty


If I have nothing to hide then I have nothing to fear

Some tried to convince themselves that, as per the totalitarian cliché, if they had nothing to hide then they had nothing to fear. But over time, it became clear that this wasn’t true. The Stasi ran surveillance on millions of people who’d committed no crimes and done nothing wrong, and sometimes illegally detained and tortured suspects without any proof of wrongdoing.



Over time, then, many East Germans came to accept the fact that they’d be monitored, no matter what they’d done. Many of these people went even further and informed on their friends and family in the hopes of protecting themselves from danger.



As a result of the constant threat of surveillance and betrayal, both from the Stasi and from other civilians, some East Germans tried to escape from the country. Naturally, some succeeded while others failed, and were imprisoned or executed.


Fear and uncertainty

Many Germans had to live in a constant state of fear, uncertainty, and paranoia, knowing that they could be betrayed, arrested, and imprisoned at any time.


How does Funder highlight the shame of informers

Funder doesn’t speak to many people who ratted out their loved ones to the Stasi, and it isn’t hard to understand why—most of those informers would be far too ashamed to discuss their betrayals with an Australian journalist.


Long term effects of the surveillance and Funder's hopeful future

The fact that, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, people are still arguing, fighting, and weeping over Stasi surveillance shows that the Stasi’s immoral violations of the right to privacy will continue to hurt people for years to come. But perhaps by gaining access to their personal files, Funder cautiously suggests, people could fully grasp the evils of the East German government, and fight to prevent such a government from coming into existence ever again.


Paperweight quote 1984

The inexhaustibly interesting thing was not the fragment of coral but the interior of the glass itself.


Paperweight quote analysis 1984

Winston's fascination with the paperweight is moving, and the level of detail in this description portrays the way in which citizens living in free societies might end up taking such small manifestations of beauty and skill for granted. Winston's desire to be inside the paperweight highlights the strength of his longing for privacy and for an internal life beyond the reach of the Party.


Surveillance state quote

The German media called East Germany ‘the most perfected surveillance state of all time’.


Surveillance state quote analysis

The GDR was able to maintain power over its citizens for so many years largely because it kept such a close eye on them: if anybody showed even the slightest sign of rebellion, the Stasi would be able to arrest them. For decades, citizens had to live in the constant fear of being watched and potentially arrested for expressing even the slightest disapproval for their government.


Italian surveillance quote

"The surveillance was intense and overt. The couple could hardly leave the house without being stopped by the police and asked to account for themselves."


Italian surveillance quote analysis

It seems unnecessary that the Stasi would have allocated so many resources to run surveillance on an insignificant couple. But as Funder has shown, the Stasi had the resources to provide this surveillance for almost everyone therefore, they didn’t have to be too discerning in choosing whom to monitor. Even the slightest irregularities were enough to provoke them.


Yellow armband quote

"There's order everywhere else in German life even the handicapped are labeled with yellow (yellow!) armbands."


Yellow armband quote analyssi

Funder suggests that although Germany has come a long way since the fall of the GDR, there are still signs of authoritarianism that cause her to worry for the country’s future. The people have been trained, over the course of many decades, to obey the governmenT to the point where they dutifully wear their proper armbands. For Funder, this behavior stands as one of the most sinister legacies of Germany’s harsh, authoritarian tradition.


Inconstancy quote

"The Stasi subjected him to disciplinary proceedings on account of ‘inconstancy’, and in their files attributed the remarriage to ‘the repeated negative influence of Frau Koch’."


Inconstancy quote analysis

The Stasi didn’t think that Frau Koch was an acceptable bride for a Stasi officer. They imprisoned Koch and pressured his wife into getting a divorce. This is a tragic example of how the Stasi drove families apart through manipulation and coercion. Because they pressured Koch’s wife into signing divorce papers, Koch came to distrust her and actually did agree to divorce her. Not even Stasi officers were immune from their own organization’s surveillance.