For anyone who is interested in more recent history - here: The Peaceful Revolution in East Germany 1989 - Leipzig is a *must* city to visit and the museum "Runde Ecke" is a *must* see in the city. The museum found its home in the building where the "Stasi" (the East German secret service) had their administration office for the district Leipzig. Thus you can get a very authentic idea of how the Stasi worked.
There is a huge wealth of information available in this museum. I highly recommend to get an audio guide for a small fee (English available) for additional information beside the well done exhibit and texts on display. You can see original pieces of Stasi equipment, also some weird (and often ridiculous) pieces like "olfactory samples" and also a prison cell.
The museum is free. However, since it is run by a non-profit organisation you should consider leaving a small donation. Opening hours: Mon-Sun 10 am - 6 pm, guided tour daily at 3 pm for 3 Euro per person (other languages than German possible upon request in advance).
The building in Dittrichring 24, nicknamed the “round corner” because of its shape, hosted the office of the Stasi. Here the DDR ‘state security’ worked, organized the observation of suspicious citizens (in other words: in theory everyone), arrested and questioned. After the Monday demonstration of December 5, 1989 people occupied the Stasi offices to end the terror regime and to keep them from destroying documents and other evidence. People wanted the truth.
The original offices on the ground floor have been turned into an exhibition titled “Power and Banality”. You get to see the technology the Stasi used for observation – old-fashioned and poor because they did not have anything better in the DDR, nevertheless effective.
Confiscated music cassettes from letters from the West (which were forbidden to send) were used to record phone calls, they are still in their original boxes and you see Wessies tried to send mostly Volksmusik and Schlager (gah!). You will shake your heads and laugh about the mask boxes, the collection of false noses and ears… but it is laughter with goose bumps. Gallows humour. Keep in mind that this is neither a movie set nor a theme park - it is reality.
The atmosphere is scary, very sobering. A must for anyone who wants to understand what the revolution of 1989 was about.
Entry is free. Some knowledge of the German language is useful.
Opening hours: daily 10.00-18.00
Runder Ecke is the museum in “round corner”, which is actually a museum about Stasi, the GDR secret police! The building was built in 1913 by the Old Leipzig Fire Insurance Company and took its name because of its distinctive shape. This building was in fact the headquarters of the police from 1950 until 1989 when the German reunification took place after the fall of German Democratic Republic. The citizens of Leipzig occupied the building after the peaceful revolution so to save some documents and personal files.
If you don’t speak german you wont be able to enjoy most of the museum because all the signs are in german but it’s really worth a visit because you can see many “typical” offices where the lengthy inquisitions were taken place, many documents, personal letters of citizens, a prison cell, bugs, tape recorders, training rifles, number plates and passports, items that were used as a camouflage etc What impressed me most were the hidden cameras, the machines to open/close letters and the maps of the connections between the people (eg.A called B, B met C, C said hello to A etc). GDR secret police had about 400.000 informants (spies among the citizens!) so many of the people got shocked after 1989 when they found personal friends and relatives that were reporting about them!
The museum is open daily 10.00-18.00 with no entrance fee.
This museum gives you a very interesting overview on how the German Ministry of State Security worked. A lot of documents and photes give you an idea, how close people have been watched until a few years ago.
I didn't manage to find the Stasi Museum, despite asking locals where it was. I think they confused my heavily accented "Stasi Museum" with the "Stadt Museum", although the directions I got could probably have taken me to either in the end. I should have taken my guide book or picked up a map.
The Stasi Museum is a unique look into the oppressive Secret Police force of the former East German nation, the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (Ministery for State Security or Stasi for short). The Stasi were also unique in their monitoring of the East German citizens, with nearly 100,000 staff and 300,000 paid informants, there were approximately one informant for every 50 East Germans.
The Stasi kept a huge library of information on the people it monitored. When the files were opened up at the fall of the Berlin wall, they discovered an estimated 33 million pages of files written on East Germans and visitors to the country.
Many East Germans have sought to investigate these archives to find out exactly who had been spying on them during this time, and many were shocked to find close family friends, and even family members, had been reporting on them.
A very sad and depressing part of Leipzig's history. When the GDR still existed the "Ministry of State Security" (Stasi in German) had one of the headquarters in Leipzig. During the peaceful revolution in 1989 the people of Leipzig occupied the building, making sure many of the files and "corpus delicti" of the time of terror were not hidden or destroyed. They building was finally turned into a museum telling about the threats, constant surveillance and dictatorship.
You can see a typical office and a prison cell, bugs and wigs, hidden cameras, machines to open and re-seal letters, false stamps and passports, and lots and lots of documents. For example an essay written by a student at school opposing the government - and the letters and records of meetings discussing this students' statements. Frightning!
The museum is well worth a visit, you learn a lot about the time of the GDR, how difficult it was to live there in former years especially if you had an independent, democratic and free mind. Just one of the times in history that must not be forgotton in order to keep freedom and democracy in our world.
Entrance to the museum is free!
The museum of the Runde Ecke was the former headquarters of the Stasi, the East German Secret Police. The present museum exhibits the techniques of the Stasi and contains many of the instruments used in their work.
Have a look at my detailed travelogue to get an impression of life in the last days of the GDR and to see some photos of the museum.
The museum of the runde ecke (round square). A former headquarters of the Stasi, the East German secret police. Was a focal point of the protests during the revolution and the storming of the building led to the discovery of thousands of files revealing who was spying on who. This included neighbours, relatives, friends and even couples spying on one another and led to a great deal of social problems. The former citizens of the GDR have the right to see their own files but the sheer number of files means a delay of several years between requesting your file and receiving it. It will probably be ca. 15 years before all of the files are processed. The present museum details the operational techniques of the Stasi and contains many of the instruments used in their work.
'Museum der Runden Ecke' (museum of the Round corner): IIRC it was the main buliding for the Stasi´s activity: now it´s turned into a museum where you can see films and look at old documents of that time... Quite interesting.
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