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3. To what extent did Stasi surveillance shape life in East Germany?
About this Lecture
In this module, we think about the extent to which Stasi surveillance shaped life in East Germany, focusing in particular on: (i) the popular view of East Germany as an Orwellian nightmare where spies are everywhere and no aspect of life is free from state control; (ii) the origins of the Stasi, their scale and reach, and their principle activities; (iii) the extent to which Stasi surveillance was focused on particular individuals or groups, as opposed to ‘blanket surveillance’ of people in general; (iv) some of the methods used by the Stasi to deal with their targets, from the more obvious interventions of arrest, imprisonment and extrajudicial murder, to the more pernicious Zersetzung (‘dissolution’ or ‘crushing’); (v) the extent of self-censorship among ordinary Germans in this period; (vi) the impact of Stasi surveillance on German society; and (vii) the areas of life that the Stasi could not reach.
In this course, Dr Marcel Thomas (University of Manchester) explores life in East Germany between 1945-89 via six key questions: (1) Why was housing seen as so important to the building of a socialist society?; (2) Were women more emancipated in East Germany than in the West?; (3) To what extent did Stasi surveillance shape life in East Germany?; (4) How important was repression for the stability of the GDR?; (5) What was the role of the Protestant church in East Germany?; and (6) How did Ostpolitik change relations between West and East Germany?
Dr Marcel Thomas is a historian of modern Germany with a particular interest in rural and urban life, oral history, memory and sensory methodologies. His monograph Local Lives, Parallel Histories: Villagers and Everyday Life in the Divided Germany (2020) is the first comparative study of how East and West German villagers experienced and navigated social change in their localities in the postwar era.
Cite this Lecture
Thomas, M. (2021, February 09). Germany – Life in East Germany, 1949-89 - To what extent did Stasi surveillance shape life in East Germany? [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/germany-life-in-east-germany-1949-89/to-what-extent-did-stasi-surveillance-shape-life-in-east-germany
Thomas, Marcel. "Germany – Life in East Germany, 1949-89 – To what extent did Stasi surveillance shape life in East Germany?." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 09 Feb 2021, https://massolit.io/courses/germany-life-in-east-germany-1949-89/to-what-extent-did-stasi-surveillance-shape-life-in-east-germany