Germany's Secret Police: A Glimpse of Berlin Under Stasi Rule

Surveillance from a Stasi prison
Surveillance from a Stasi prison | © Grégoire/Flickr
Megan King

Stasi is the short form of the Staatssicherheit, the national intelligence arm of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Germany’s secret Cold War police, which governed East Berlin when the capital was divided into East and West, became notorious for their invasive, paranoid surveillance tactics, socialist ideology and strict rule. These photographs from behind Germany’s Iron Curtain offer an insight into daily life in East Berlin, in stark contrast to the freedoms afforded in the West of the city.

The Stasi Headquarters in East Berlin. Today, the HQ is a museum where people can take guided tours to explore the Stasi mindset and aesthetic.

Stasi headquarters

Under the sharp eyes of the Communist police, East German workers erect a concrete wall at the border near Potzdamer Platz.

East German workers
A street in East Berlin

A photograph of Otto-Braun-Strasse near Alexanderplatz. The buildings in the picture show typical Communist architecture. The street was named after Otto Braun, a German military advisor to Communist China. The street cars were also a feature of East Berlin, having been phased out in the West in 1954.


Berlin’s most iconic structure, the TV Tower (Fernsehturm), seen through Brandenburg Gate in East Berlin.


This photo from 1977 shows the Palace of the Republic in 1977. The cars in the parking lot are Trabants, the preferred vehicle of the East German state.

Palace of the Republic

Cars leaving East Berlin are stopped and searched by East German guards at the famous border point at Checkpoint Charlie.

Cars leaving East Berlin

This photo clearly shows how the Stasi would spy on people, not only in the streets, but also in their homes.

An East German street

An image of a Stasi kitchen.

Stasi kitchen

Creator Gerhard Behrendt is pictured with the Sandmännchen, a popular character from a German children’s bedtime television programme that was recorded in East Berlin.

Gerhard Behrendt

The Volksbühne theatre on Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz.

Volksbühne theatre

A former Geisterbahnhof (‘ghost station’) in East Berlin. This was the name given to dimly lit and heavily guarded stations where underground train routes would transport people from West Berlin and through East Berlin. The Unter Den Linden S-Bahn stop is now called Brandenburger Tor.

Unter Den Linden

Photos of people in punk clothing who have been arrested by the Stasi police.


The Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the dissolution of the divided GDR and Stasi police.

The fall of the Berlin Wall
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article