Tuesday, June 26, 2012

One nation, under surveillance

I'm reading the book "STASILAND" by Anna Funder. It's a fascinating look at EAST GERMANY under the constant surveillance of its notorious secret-police force, the STASI.
Funder describes a nation under constant, Orwellian scrutiny that seems copied from the pages of the dystopian novel "1984."
"The Stasi had 97,000 employees -- more than enough to oversee a country of 17 million people," Funder writes. "But is also had over 173,000 informers among the population. In Hitler's Third Reich it is estimated that there was one Gestapo agent for every 2,000 citizens, and in Stalin's USSR there was one KGB agent for every 5,830 people. In the GDR (German Democratic Republic, a.k.a. East Germany), there was one Stasi officer or informant for every 63 people. If part-time informers are included, some estimates have the ratio as high as one informer for every 6.5 citizens."
It's hard to fathom having your every movement chronicled and every statement recorded.
Even now, citizens of the former East Germany are pouring through mountains of Stasi files, learning what aspects of their lives were scrutinized.


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