The Gentle Revolution
In the introduction to a collection of significant Stasi orders that were issued during the months leading up to the revolution, it is noted that 1989 began in the GDR like many previous years. Although there were small opposition groups (principally under the aegis of the church), no one but the MfS viewed them as a serious danger to the state ( Mitter und Wolle, 1990: 8). Postrevolutionary examination of the operations of the Stasi indicated that the central evaluation and information group ( Zentral Auswertungs- und Informationsgruppe, ZAIG) of the MfS compiled objective and comprehensive reports of the activities of dissidents and of the mood of GDR citizens. These were systematically forwarded upward through the hierarchy -- presumably to the highest levels of party and government leadership. What is not known is why the governing elite failed to formulate policies that could have avoided direct confrontation with the opposition.
Although it is not possible in a book pertaining to policing to present a detailed review of the situation in the GDR prior to and during the revolutionary period, a brief description of certain aspects, particularly the role of dissenters, provides necessary background for the chapters on changes in the MfS and the VP. 1 Unlike their counterparts in other eastern European countries, reformers in the GDR never managed to generate strong organizations or bring significant pressure to bear on the government. Analysts credit the effective intelligence network and intimidation methods of the MfS and the VP, which alerted government to serious opposition forces so that dissident individuals could be isolated, silenced, or expatriated.
Any discussion of dissent as an instigator of the revolution in the GDR, must distinguish between citizens who still believed it possible to bring