Policing a Socialist Society: The German Democratic Republic

By Nancy Travis Wolfe | Go to book overview

Chapter 7
Reorienting the People's Police

In the postrevolutionary GDR, the People's Police faced the formidable task of disassociating themselves from the Stalinist past and simultaneously stressing the positive aspects of their prerevolutionary service to the public. High-ranking officials, who had been moved up to replace discredited and dismissed VP leaders, openly acknowledged past misuse of power. Within thirty-six hours of being named as the new president of the People's Police in Berlin, Generalmajor Dirk Bachmann apologized to persons who had been the subject of unwarranted police action during the fall demonstrations and spoke of his intention to write personally to each of them ( Berliner Zeitung, 7. 2.90: 2). Soon after taking office as minister of the interior, Lothar Ahrendt stated that retrospective analysis had forced the painful acknowledgment that the powerful drive of the citizens toward democratic self-rule had been falsely evaluated ( Extra, Januar 1990: 3). It led, he said, to a situation in which the truly revolutionary people's movement had been classified as antisocial and criminalized. He affirmed that the police had been ever more transformed into an instrument of power for the SED, a force for carrying out its claim to leadership, and he vowed that it would never happen again.

Individuals who were involved in the policing system for the first time carefully distanced the new regime from the Stalinist era. After the political parties that won the March elections formed a coalition and the People's Assembly elected Lothar de Maizière prime minister, he promised in his maiden speech to that body that there would never again be a secret police force in the GDR.

The People's Police is a civil order-keeping force. It may act only on the basis of laws and for the welfare of the commonweal. It is under public and parliamentary control. The members of the organs of the Ministry for Internal Affairs, who

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Policing a Socialist Society: The German Democratic Republic
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Notes xvi
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • Abbreviations xix
  • Part I 1
  • Chapter 1 Introduction 3
  • Chapter 2 The German People's Police 23
  • Chapter 3 The Ministry for State Security 60
  • Chapter 4 The End of an Era 88
  • Part II 101
  • Chapter 5 The Gentle Revolution 103
  • Chapter 6 Slaying the Dragon 123
  • Chapter 7 Reorienting the People's Police 169
  • Chapter 8 The Dissolution of the GDR 211
  • References 229
  • Index 241
  • About the Author 244
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