Ministry for State Security

The main building of the Ministry for State Security in Berlin-Lichtenberg.

Stasimuseum in House 1 of the headquarters of the Ministry for State Security, 2022.

A crowd of people in front of the Ministry's building. A poster reads: Stasi into production. No extra money. Incentive wage only!

At the gate of the Ministry for State Security, January 15, 1990.


The Occupation of Stasi headquarters

On January 15, 1990, protesters invaded the Ministry for State Security and occupied the headquarters of the Secret Police. Before and also afterwards the Secret Police was able to destroy many files that proved the suppression.  



On January 15, 1990, thousands stood in front of the Ministry for State Security, the Stasi, finally wanting to paralyze the headquarters of the Secret Police. When the gate opened from the inside, the crowd entered a dark courtyard, only one building was lit up. There, glass was shattered, sheets of paper sailed out of the windows, doors were broken open inside. The only illuminated building was a supply wing. There were stores, a hair salon, a cinema. Obviously neither the secret police’s leaders nor any files were here. Soon the suspicion arose that the secret service agents had prepared themselves and were steering the crowd to where nothing significant could be found. And that they were responsible that evening for the destruction that was to burden the Peaceful Revolution.

As the “Shield and Sword of the Party”, the Stasi was the most important instrument of repression of the state party SED. One in fifty adults in the GDR worked for them. Two-thirds of them were informers, the rest worked full-time for the secret service. They monitored the population and filled files with information about millions of people. They fought opposition groups with devious and violent means. They were directed from Berlin-Lichtenberg; 7,000 people worked in the tightly guarded headquarters.

In early December 1989, opposition members occupied the 14 district administrations of the Stasi from Dresden to Rostock without violence. In the headquarters, of all places, the secret service could continue to work undisturbed. The democratic groups in the capital had a lot to do; they wanted to make politics for the whole GDR. At the Round Table, they negotiated with those in power about liberal reforms. There, they demanded the immediate dissolution of the Stasi. However, the government was still led by the state party SED, which tried to delay the process. It had renamed the Stasi to “Office of National Security” and claimed that those monitoring and the attack squads were just normal civil servants. The democratic groups did not want to accept this, and some of their representatives called for a demonstration in front of the Stasi headquarters on January 15. At noon on that day, civil rights activists from all parts of the GDR also arrived there. They no longer wanted to wait for their fellow East Berliners to act. For weeks, the Stasi in Lichtenberg had been destroying files that proved the injustice of the dictatorship.

When the crowd poured through the main gate of the Ministry in the late afternoon of January 15, it looked as if the destruction of evidence was finally over. From then on, the dissolution of the Stasi was supervised by engaged citizens. However, they could not prevent Stasi employees from destroying additional files. The fact that many papers were nevertheless preserved and have been accessible to those affected since 1992 via a new authority was a great achievement of the Peaceful Revolution.


Contemporary Witnesses Report

When the opposition members stormed the Stasi headquarters, they primarily wanted one thing: To prevent the agency from continuing its work and from destroying the files. Three participants report how they experienced the situation inside the secret service headquarters.

Margitta Kupler was surprised about what was going on in the Stasi headquarters.
Peter Neumann Peter Neumann wanted to stop the Stasi's work.
Ralf Drescher perceived the action as a peaceful visit.
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Ministry for State Security

When thousands of people occupied the headquarters of the feared Secret Police on January 15, 1990, they did not meet any resistance. Their goal was to stop the destruction of the files that had been collected here and to prevent the Ministry from continuing its work.


Margitta Kupler

For the Round Table, Margitta Kupler came to the Stasi headquarters that day, where there was hardly any personnel present. She talks about how she came across a surprise in a nearby building complex.

“It was surprising to me how huge it was and that it was full of people. There were many more people than in the other one. One thought: There was really still activity. Theoretically, one knew that there were somehow apartments and something around it. But that it was such a huge area, that really did surprise me and all this activity as well. Especially because it was January 15. In fact, the Ministry had not even existed anymore and no longer functioned, but this was really a working state during the night.”


Peter Neumann

For opposition member Peter Neumann, the occupation of the Stasi headquarters served one goal in particular. He tells which one: 

“This strange counter-castle, you couldn’t call it anything else, was open afterwards and we were inside. But the Stasi were still in there, too, and somehow we were all inside together, and then it went back and forth for a while. At some point, of course, we had a problem. What are we going to do? Now we go out again, then everything is back to normal. They close the door again, clean up again and continue working, or no... that couldn’t be it either. Then it was actually a matter of occupying the thing, of making sure that the work of state security actually stopped. That was the real point. There was a decision, I think, on December 14 or so. The Modrow government, which was in place at the time, said: Out! End! The Stasi will be abolished! But they just kept going. But now it was enough! This was enough fun, open the doors and over!”


Ralf Drescher 

The East German Ralf Drescher perceived the majority of demonstrators to be peaceful. He reports on his suspicion that graffiti and slogans on the walls in the building complex came from quite different sources.

“I myself did not see any angry people, well, maybe except for some who had raised their fists in front of the gate. More astonished faces. I don’t know if that had already been there before. There were slogans written in the house. For example, I remember something about ‘Gestapo securitate’, ‘Stasi bloodsuckers’ and such slogans. Either Stasi people wrote that themselves, from the troop of provocateurs, or people who were very angry. The majority – there were also people with children there – the majority wanted to visit the Stasi. Perhaps they didn’t come there for particularly political reasons, but thought to themselves: I want to see what they actually had done there. Surely none of us really saw that that evening. But I would still say that most people were stunned.”

Close Memories


Places Nearby

Discover additional places related to Revolution, Unity and Transformation nearby. The sites on the map are less than 2 kilometres away. Continue exploring Berlin.


Normannenstraße 20/Haus 1
10365 Berlin
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