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East Germany

Why did communists had a massive bunker in the East Germany (photos)
German historians are divided over a huge Communist-era bunker in the East Germany. Was it to be used as a command post in the event of World War II? Riding in fully enclosed trucks, a military crew under the command of the East German National People's Army was driven to a remote woodlot near Kossa in Saxony. First, the soldiers set up 6km of steel fencing with 6,000 volts of electricity. The secret fortress, which was finished in 1979, included 6 bunkers, and built with blast-resistant steel doors and decontamination showers. Anyone interested in touring the premises today should wear rubber boots.
(spiegel.de)

Majority of Eastern Germans say life was better under Communism
Glorification of the German Democratic Republic is increasing two decades after the Berlin Wall collapsed. Young people and the better off are among those rejecting criticism of East Germany. In a new poll over half of former eastern Germans defend the GDR. People are whitewashing the dictatorship, as if criticizing the state meant calling their own past into question. "Many eastern Germans perceive all criticism of the system as a personal attack. Not even half of young people in eastern Germany describe the GDR as a dictatorship, and a majority believe the Stasi was a normal intelligence service," Klaus Schroeder discovered in a 2008 study.
(spiegel.de)

Was West German history shaped by East German spy
The name of the literature student Benno Ohnesorg became a rallying cry for the West German left wing after he was shot dead by police in 1967. Newly discovered documents from the Stasi archive suggest that Karl-Heinz Kurras - the cop who shot Ohnesorg - may have been a spy for the Stasi. The papers show that Kurras began working with the Stasi in 1955. He had wanted to move to East Berlin, but instead he signed an agreement with the Stasi to remain with the West Berlin police force and spy for the communist state. As a result of the new information, criminal charges have once again been filed against Kurras (who has already been acquitted two times).
(spiegel.de)

Welcome to Berlin's Stasi-themed bar
A security camera over the door, an interrogation table in the corner, ID cards for regulars: Stasi-themed bar Zur Firma ("the Company") opened in Berlin near the former East German Ministry of State Security. The owners call it satire, "a themed restaurant," but those spied on by the Stasi are likely to find the bar much less amusing. East German youth group shirts and plates with the Stasi symbol hang on the wall, and a mock security camera monitors the entrance. Black red and gold signs promote East German cooking with the slogan: "Come to us, or we'll come to you."
(spiegel.de)

Secrets of East German leader Erich Honecker's nuclear bunker revealed
The bunker in which East German leaders hoped to survive a nuclear war is to open to the public for the first time. But visitors to the long secret underground location have only 3 months to see the site before it is sealed forever. Bunker 17/5001, 25 miles north of Berlin, is a chilling reminder of Cold War tensions that threatened mutually assured wipeout in the face-off between the US and USSR. Berlin Bunker Network will be leading tours at the bunker: 15GBP per person, or 80GBP for a longer tour through the tighter passages. Thomas Bergmann says that an virtual tour of the bunker, drawn from 1500 high definition photos, will be made available within 2 years.
(telegraph.co.uk)

Cold War myths - The Berlin Airlift
With the 60th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift the myths about its accomplishments re-emerge. 60 years after UK and US aircrafts began to fly supplies to West Berliners facing a Soviet blockade, even some news programs have repeated the claim that the airlift - that never provided everything West Berliners needed - saved the city from starvation. While the airlift delivered 2.3m tons of supplies, this amount failed to meet West Berlin's food needs, and the planes never even tried to supply coal to heat homes. The Western victory came despite the fact that the airlift never reached its purpose: to fully supply West Berlin.
(iht.com)

"Candy Bombers" recalls forgotten hero, kids of Berlin Airlift
In June 1948, the Soviet Union started squeezing the life out of Berlin, blocking access into the ruined capital of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich. An airlift set up by the U.S. military saved the city. Pilot Andrei Cherny, who made parachutes out of hankies and loaded them up with chocolate, tells this story in "The Candy Bombers." --- (Q) Was resistance strong to the airlift: we were saving people (nazis) who were murdering us until April 1945. (A) "The Air Force people like Curtis LeMay or General Vandenberg thought that was a terrible idea. They said the American Air Force is not there to be delivering food," says Cherny.
(bloomberg)

Bulgaria confirms Cold War border shootings of Germans
Bulgaria confirmed for the first time that East Germans and others trying to escape the Soviet bloc for the West were killed on its soil during the Cold War. "We came upon 2 cases of East German citizens killed while attempting to escape via Bulgaria: one in 1974 and another in 1988," said Ekaterina Boncheva, a member of a committee researching communist-era secret service archives. "Patrols were granted a 20-day leave for every person caught on the border and an engraved wristwatch for a so-called 'display of heroism' or firing at a trespasser," said another committee member Valeri Katsunov.
(thelocal)

Plan to close Tempelhof Airport angers many Berliners
60 years ago Tempelhof Airport was a focus of world attention when the Allied airlift started, and supplies were flown in to save West Berlin from starvation. The airlift, June 1948 - Sept 1949, was a watershed in post-war German history. It put paid to the Russian stop in a bid to drive the Western powers from the city. The West Berliners were saved by C-54s and C-47s landing at Tempelhof. On one record day in April, 1949, crews flew in 12,490 tons to Berlin in 1,398 flights. For the 2.2 million West Berliners it was the instant they no longer regarded US/UK servicemen as post-war "occupiers," but rather as "protectors" during a Cold War flashpoint period.
(earthtimes)

Piecing Together the Dark Legacy of East Germany's Secret Police
Ulrike Poppe used to be one of the most surveilled females in East Germany. For 15 years Stasi followed her, bugged her phone and home, and harassed her right up until she and other dissidents assisted put down the Berlin Wall in 1989. Today, the study in her apartment is lined floor to 12-foot ceiling with bookshelves. But one shelf is special. It holds a pair of black binders, copies of the most important papers in Poppe's secret police files: her Stasi shelf. The pages are a minute-by-minute account of Poppe's life. Video cameras were set up in the apartment across the street. Her friends' bedrooms were bugged and conversations about her added to the file.
(wired)

East German Spook Reunion
It was thought to be an opportunity for academics to discuss the espionage activities of the former East Germany. But an event in Denmark devolved into a bunch of old men justifying their life's work of spying. The trip was the brain child of Professor Thomas Webener Friis, who wanted to give the ex-spies an opportunity to tell their stories "before it's too late." Many of them are getting older and have kept mum about their time spent working for the communist dictatorship. But the event ended up having little to do with historical research. Indeed, it devolved into unreformed East German minions doing what they could to justify their Cold War activities.
(spiegel)

10,000 East Germans Spied for the West during the Cold War
A study shows that the West Germans had 10,000 agents snooping on their Communist neighbors. It's a well-known fact that East Germany had agents crawling all over West Germany. Up to 6,000 of them, some in high places, were passing information eastwards. According to a new study, when it came to recruiting spooks, the West Germans were better. Fully 10,000 citizens of Germany's communist half were spying for Bonn. Not only that, but West Germany's intelligence agency the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) had a pretty good idea about the plans to build the Berlin Wall, but their bosses in Bonn didn't want to believe them.
(spiegel)

Shoot to kill – Stasi were ordered to show no mercy at Berlin Wall
Researchers have discovered a Cold War "shoot-to-kill" order - the clearest evidence yet that East German troops had licence to fire on people fleeing to the West. The written order, issued to Stasi secret service agents, says: "Don`t hesitate to use your weapon even when border breaches happen with women and children, which traitors have often exploited in the past." It was found by a researcher in a regional archive of Stasi documents in Magdeburg. The existence of a shoot-to-kill policy has long been assumed, given that more than 1,100 people were killed trying to flee East Germany.
(timesonline)

Support group for Spies: From East German Spooks to Victims
Most agree: Those who worked for the East German secret police should not hold positions of power in the reunified country. But some of the ex-spies feel they are subject to discrimination, and do what they can to support each other. "Stasi methods!" It's one of the worst insults at the German state. But even now it remains a popular insult in Berlin. A former judge Hans-Herbert Nehmer in the communist German Democratic Republic (GDR)thinks East Germany remains under constant attack: "Germany is dominated by West propaganda and anti-communist hardliner politics which bedevil the image of the GDR".
(spiegel)

Piecing together the broken lives left behind by the Stasi
It is the most complex jigsaw puzzle of all time, so difficult that even a new software program will need 5 years to match the millions of pieces. Germany has earmarked €6.3 million for the project: fitting together 600 million shreds of secret police files ripped up by Stasi agents after the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. When the puzzle is complete, the files are likely to shed light on some of Germany`s most elusive secrets: on betrayed politicians, on Communist attempts to recruit Nato secretaries, on undercover operations. "Even the small samples we have glued together so far have shown that the files deal with important matters."
(timesonline)

Beware, the walls have ears
The Lives of Others, a tale of life in East Germany, won the Oscar. But how faithful is it to the memory of existence under the all-seeing eye of the secret police? East Germany vanished from the atlas in 1990. Created out of what had been the Soviet occupation zone of Germany after Hitler's defeat, it became a heavily armed dictatorship with Soviet backing. Strange enough that the state has gone, with its flag and uniforms. But how can I accept that I will never again breathe that whiff which said: Stasiland. Can a republic of 17 million people, 300,000 secret policemen or informers and 5 million personal files melt away without leaving even a tang in the air?
(guardian)

A car tour of bygone East Berlin
Two decades ago, I crossed over the Berlin Wall. It was no cloak-and-dagger escape from the Communist East, but a day trip with my father, a West German citizen. Still, there was plenty of drama, from the border guard to the East German soldiers goose-stepping. Those days are gone. The station at Friedrichstrasse, where I entered Berlin`s Soviet zone, is now a subway stop. Many Berliners miss the bad times, the dark, romantic world of John Le Carré`s spy novels - if only because they are sure they won`t return. "I don`t want the Cold War back. It`s just that it all meant something back then: Reagan, Gorbachev," a German colleague told me.
(estripes)

Finding Cold War sights and nostalgia in Berlin
Berlin is filled with poignant memories of its communist Cold War days. And now that the city has been free and united for nearly two decades, there's a nostalgia for what some consider the good old days, back when ice cream was cheap and everyone had job security. Today, theme eateries serve food from the 1960s complete with a Cold War ambience. Berlin's subway comes with more evocative reminders of the Cold War. The Unter den Linden station is one of Berlin's former "ghost stations."
(seattletimes)

German furore over release of 70s guerrillas
The Red Army Faction (RAF) was a group of young revolutionaries that terrorised West Germany in the 1970s and 80s. Federal prosecutors filed a request for the release of Brigitte Mohnhaupt, a leading RAF member who was sentenced to life in prison in 1985 for her role in the murders of leading German establishment figures, like industrialist Hanns Martin Schleyer. The move, which comes as President Horst Koehler considers a pardon for Mohnhaupt's former colleague Christian Klar, has sparked a furious debate in Germany.
(alertnet)

Germany Releases Stasi Files on Cold War Politicians
The office guarding East German secret police records has released the first set of files about 16 West German politicians. It's unclear whether they worked as spies. Their names were listed in records as "unofficial employees" or contacts for the German secret police, or Stasi. Five sets of records concern those who cooperated with the Stasi. The intelligence service's use of cryptic codes makes it unclear if the 11 other politicians knew they were delivering information to the secret police. The Stasi is said to have influenced Steiner and Wagner during a 1972 no confidence vote for Chancellor Willy Brandt.
(dw-world)

Berlin opened a museum to show objects from East Germany
Berlin has opened a museum to show everyday objects from the former East Germany and recall an era that has been all but effaced in less than two decades. Everything on display in the DDR Alltagsmuseum (GDR Daily Life Musuem) was donated by people who lived in the communist. Museum has tried to make its displays interactive so that visitors do not stare coldly at a static slice of life under communism.
(afp)

All things from the former communist East Germany
They have seen the movies that captured the spirit of the good old days. They have even rebuilt a stretch of the Berlin Wall. Now the German appetite for "ostalgia", the love of all things from the former communist East Germany, is being satisfied with a spell in the army. Germans who lost their pride along with their country are queueing up to spend about €280 on martial weekends. The venture has been launched by Reinhard and Christoph Heyes, who have bought several Soviet T-55 battle tanks and a set of armoured cars. And for stood-down personnel of the East German People's Army, the thrill of what might have been lures them to the tanks' battleground.
(theage)

1989: Berliners celebrate the fall of the Wall
The Berlin Wall has been breached after nearly 3 decades keeping East and West Berliners apart. At midnight East Germany's Communist rulers gave permission for gates along the Wall to be opened after hundreds of people converged on crossing points. They surged through cheering and were be met by jubilant West Berliners on the other side. Ecstatic crowds began to clamber on top of the Wall and hack large chunks out of the 45-kilometre barrier. It had been erected in 1961 on the orders of East Germany's former leader Walter Ulbricht stop people leaving for West Germany.
(bbc)