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The terms "Informal Collaborator" "Inoffizieller Mitarbeiter" and, before , "Secret Informer" "Geheimer Informator" were terms chosen carefully by the Stasi in order to distance their operations from the police vocabulary used under the previous regime, and, in particular, to avoid association with the older term used for an informant, "V-Mann" "Vertrauensmann " ".
At the same time many friendships, partnerships and marriages broke apart after previously concealed spying activities became known to both parties. Numbers[ edit ] The number of Informal Collaborators IMs rose steeply in the years following the uprising to peak in at ,, before falling back for a few years.
The all-time peak, of ,, was reached in By the time the regime collapsed the "IM headcount" number had stabilised at, on these figures, around , There were IMs in many dissident groups and organisations, notably in artistic and church circles, so that the state was informed in particular detail about individuals defined in the official Stasi jargon as "enemy-negative persons" "feindlich-negativer Personen" During its lifetime the Stasi employed around , Informal collaborators.
They fell back a little in the mids for the initial phase of the period of reduced east-west tensions between the two Germanys associated with the time in office, first as Foreign Minister and then as Chancellor, of Willy Brandt , before climbing steeply through the early s to peak at a little above , during the mids. The gentle decline in the overall number of the Informal collaborators for several years in the later s is associated with new guidelines, intended to increase their professionalism.
By the end of the number had declined to , Another consideration is that the Stasi data include many people who never actually reported anything to them. The Stasi themselves archived the records of nearly 10, inactive IMs in In the Stasi were using, internally, the much lower figure of , Kowalczuk also questioned the extrapolated figure for IMs based outside the country.
Assertions by Kowalczuk in the press appearing to state that the number of IMs was only half that previously accepted are inaccurate because they take no account of the massive broadening of information gathering activity by the Stasi that was a feature of the final years of the German Democratic Republic , and left almost every second citizen thinking himself a surveillance victim.
The BStU believes that between 3, and 3, of these Stasi IMs were operating in West Germany and West Berlin , and they reckon that 1, of these were working for the HVA effectively the "foreign" division of the intelligence service. Some have nevertheless claimed that there are essential differences between the two.
Other Stasi informants[ edit ] There is also evidence that the Stasi had significant numbers of informants in addition to the IMs. These were informants who in most circumstances would not themselves have been listed as IMs, and whose information gathering would mostly have been controlled by senior Stasi officers. They would have sought to conceal the true basis for their "curiosity", as representing, for instance, the local council, the military or the tax office in order to get their target-interlocutors talking.
Details of these AKPs, including the extent of their willingness to talk, were documented in the Stasi files. In Karl-Marx-Stadt the name of which has since reverted to Chemnitz the Stasi had contacts with people they defined as "good people" "gute Menschen" , people ready to be helpful to them. In business and workplaces, state institutions and social organisations, the Stasi worked with "official" partners.
Usually these were people in key positions, which normally meant leadership positions. Most frequently these were in workplaces, where security issues, mostly personnel issues could be clarified. These "official" partners were expected not merely to provide information, but also to accept advice from them, and to respect instructions to replace personnel.
These contacts could not be considered "unofficial" but they mostly operated in an informal manner. The Stasi preferred "official" partners to be members of the nomenklatura.
Little information survives on IM activities abroad. It is estimated that the Stasi employed 3, including HVA agents of these informants in West Germany , and between and in other western countries.
Many of these were former East Germans whom the Stasi mandated to relocate to the west. The IMs frequently spied on close friends and family members. After and the ensuing opening up of the Stasi records, this often led to the terminations of friendships and marriages. Some of the IMs did what they did out of political conviction: others acted in return for favours or because they were put under pressure.
An informal collaborator provided reports, on an average, for between six and ten years, but in some cases might produce surveillance reports for much longer. As an example, that could involve people who simply lived or worked as neighbours of objects deemed relevant to national safety. The "Operations region" meant West Germany. IMA "offensive" measures involved contacts with western journalists in order to plant stories in western media.
The work involved both one-time actions and long-running projects. They enjoyed the confidence of the Stasi , and they also had direct contacts with people classified by the Stasi as hostile Feindlich-negative Personen. They had direct involvement with long-running work on developing the relevant Operativer Vorgang Procedures Manual.
Some IMBs were permitted to travel outside the Eastern Bloc in order to observe or investigate people or objects. For these objectives they were also provided with secret service materials and foreign currency.
The Stasi were particularly interested in opposition groups and church officials, and were keen to recruit, as IMBs, any East German citizens who had relationships with such people in countries outside the Eastern Bloc.
The Stasi also favoured, as IMBs, people who had kinship connections to employees of state organisations in West Germany such as the Police service and security services. Where East Germans with such kinship connections became known to the Stasi, attempts were made, sometimes using untoward pressure, to recruit them as IMBs. They were people with unusual skills, such as handwriting experts or toxicologists , and they were used for surveillance and investigations in key locations.
At universities and academies, for example, they could monitor trends in research and development, and highlight administrative shortcomings. There were different types of IMK, depending on the nature of their tasks. In the Stasi was working with approximately 30, IMKs. The idea was to identify and prevent suspicious actions as early as possible, and to contribute more generally to domestic security in their areas of responsibility.
They were used for information retrieval, and might be able, behind the scenes, to ease the workload of other classes of IM. By and large they did not participate directly in operations involving "enemy-negative persons" "feindlich-negativer Personen". By the end there were about 33, GMSs. Their mandate and terms often enabled them to operate with a large measure of independence.
After these people are listed with the other Stasi employees. Provided the probationary phase was successfully completed, the candidate made a declaration of agreement and became a regular Informal Collaborator IM.
Otherwise the application was cancelled and, under most circumstances, simply archived. However, at the same time large numbers of unrecognized Informal Collaborators were also recruited. This was possible because the vetting of people recruited to the BStU for evidence of previous Stasi collaboration was extremely lax - far more so than in respect of people recruited to other institutions. The courts have sometimes responded with mutually contradictory judgements.
A new development came in with the attempt, initially successful,  but which was rejected on appeal, of a former Stasi spy in Erfurt to prevent his name appearing on a website. There were those that volunteered willingly and without moral scruples to pass detailed reports to the Stasi out of selfish motives, from self-regard, or from the urge to exercise power over others.
Others collaborated with the Stasis out of a sincerely held sense of duty that the GDR was the better Germany and that it must be defended from the assaults of its enemies. Others were to a lesser or greater extent themselves victims of state persecution and had been broken or blackmailed into collaboration. Many informants believed that they could protect friends or relations by passing on only positive information about them, while others thought that provided they reported nothing suspicious or otherwise punishable, then no harm would be done by providing the Stasi with reports.
These failed to accept that the Stasi could use apparently innocuous information to support their covert operations and interrogations. A further problem in any moral evaluation is presented by the extent to which information from informal collaborators was also used for combating non-political criminality.
Moral judgements on collaboration involving criminal police who belonged to the Stasi need to be considered on a case by case basis, according to individual circumstances.
A belief has gained traction that any informal collaborator IM who refused the Stasi further collaboration and extracted himself in the now outdated Stasi jargon of the time "sich dekonspirierte" from a role as an IM need have no fear of serious consequences for his life, and could in this way safely cut himself off from communication with the Stasi. This is untrue. Furthermore, even people who declared unequivocally that they were not available for spying activities could nevertheless, over the years, find themselves exposed to high-pressure "recruitment" tactics.
It was not uncommon for an IM trying to break out of a collaborative relationship with the Stasi to find his employment opportunities destroyed. Berlin , S. Links Verlag, Berlin ,.
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Berlin M, Abt. Abdruck und publizistische Nutzung sind nur mit Angabe des Verfassers und der Quelle sowie unter Beachtung des Urheberrechtsgesetzes gestattet. Hierzu bildete der Objektverantwortliche in Verbindung mit seinen inoffiziellen Mitarbeitern, der in der jeweiligen Struktureinheit der Bezirksverwaltung oder Kreisdienststelle seinen Dienstsitz hatte, das wichtigste Instrument. Buthmann, Reinhard: Hochtechnologien und Staatssicherheit.
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