The Ministerium fur Staatssicherheit or Ministry of State Security (MfS), commonly known as the Stasi, was formed on Feb 8, 1950. The motto of the Stasi was "Schild und Schwert der Partei" (Shield and Sword of the Party). It was modeled after the MGB , Ministry of State Security, then existing in the Soviet Union. The Stasi infiltrated all aspects of daily life in the East Germany, it was estimated that by the 1980s, one out of seven citizens in East Germany was part of the Stasi or a Inoffizielle Mitarbeiter (IMs, Unofficial Collaborators). Like its Soviet counterpart, the Stasi monitored political behavior among East German citizens, and is known to have used torture and intimidation to stop dissent. The Stasi was East Germany's largest employer in East Germany.
The Stasi ran security checks for most job positions. Files were kept on 6 million of East Germany's 16 million people .A prison was built in the Schumannstrasse, where the Stasi used NKVD techniques to extract information, such as making victims stand in front of a bright light for days, threats against family and isolation. Phones were tapped, letters steamed open and people were arrested on the slightest suspicion. Dissenters were often followed 24 hours a day with exhausting detail. Family members and close friends were also forced or enticed to become informers, leading to much hatred after the fall of East Germany. An East German citizen never knew who could be trusted. Each year a paid agent had to recruit 25 informers or risk a loss of benefits or demotion. Many were bribed or blackmailed into working for the Stasi.....The Stasi was directly linked to the KGB and sent it information until 1990. There had been an estimated 85,000 full time Stasi agents and 109,000 private informers and an estimated 1 to 2 million east Germans had served as Stasi agents at one time or another. The Stasi left behind a staggering 2 trillion pages of reports. Most were hand written, as the Stasi distrusted computers. The colloquial name for the Stasi was Zur Firma (The Firm). (source)- Advertisement -
(source) Stasi high officials, including Erich Mielke in the center, Minister of State security from 1957-89 and perhaps the most hated man in East Germany over the decades. Tens of thousands were imprisoned, tortured, exiled or executed during his reign.
After the Berlin Wall came down in late 1989 and the German Democratic Republic (GDR), in reality the East German, Stalinist-style Communist government, collapsed soon thereafter, the Stasi, East Germany's dreaded secret police, despised and hated by most Germans, quickly realized that its voluminous secret surveillance and other politically explosive files had to be destroyed if the thousands of Stasi agents identifiable in these files were not going to be prosecuted, or, worse still for them, hunted down by vigilantes. Berliners soon heard that the Stasi were destroying these files by hand and shredder, and on January 15, 1990, they massed in front of the Stasi Headquarters in Berlin to protest, growing and growing in size and anger until they ultimately forced their way past the police and stormed the building.
(source) Berliners storming Stasi Headquarters on January 15, 1990
The vast majority of the voluminous Stasi files were thus recovered, although there was much wrangling over just what to do with them, because many officials were afraid that they would indeed lead to widespread vigilantism, so many thousands of East Germans had been abused by the Stasi over the years. Ultimately, strict controls were imposed to allow Germans and the media to review the often chilling files.
Gaddafi Drifts toward Totalitarian Communist Security Systems:
After Muammar Gaddafi and other "Free Unionist" Army officers (Gaddafi without a doubt being the most dominant figure), overthrew the Libyan Constitutional Monarchy in 1969, the new and fervently nationalistic Libyan junta sought a close relationship with pan-Arab advocate and hero to millions, Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser. Nasser in turn decided to take Gaddafi and the junta under his wing to help solidify their government, training Gaddafi in the fine arts of media manipulation and propaganda to further state power, even sending advisers to create a more Arab nationalist and revolutionary state. Nasser also helped Gaddafi set up his initial security apparatus.
Gaddafi, however, was an acerbic leader with radical ideas from the start and soon found himself beset by a coup against him, that was, however, discovered by Egyptian Intelligence and quashed in December, 1969. Shaken, Gaddafi felt he had to strengthen his control. To quote from a Middle East Quarterly article:
Qadhafi survived the coup plot but concluded that his power depended upon tight control. His Revolutionary Command Council issued a "Law for the Protection of the Revolution," making it a criminal offense to proselytize against the state, to arouse class hatred, to spread falsehood, or to participate in strikes and demonstrations.- Advertisement - Within weeks, the Revolutionary Command Council assumed total public control over Libya. Qadhafi assumed formal control as both prime minister and defense minister. He curbed any significant delegation of authority beyond family and his closest associates.
This was all later enshrined in his
On April 15, 1973, Qadhafi moved to cement power, unfettered by commitments to Cairo. He launched a systematic assault on the Libyan bureaucracy and intelligentsia. Speaking in Zuwarah, he delivered what became known as his "Five-Point Address," in which he declared:But Gaddafi was not done. Influenced by the socialist governments of the Eastern European variety with their centralized state economies, lack of political plurality and heavy security apparatus, as well as Nasser's pan-Arab nationalism and other ideological currents, including Islamic, he ended up recreating Libya as the "Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya" in 1977 (source).
- suspension of all existing laws and implementation of Shari'a (Islamic law)
- purging the country of the politically sick
- creation of a people's militia to protect the revolution
- administrative revolution; and
- cultural revolution
Thus Gaddafi ultimately stamped his own power and vision over the Libyan people for decades, simultaneously proclaiming himself "The Brother Leader" or "The Guide", to give himself the appearance of being not so much the throne, but the power behind the throne. And throughout the decades, we must recall that the old axiom that "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely" was at work.