Date of Award

Fall 12-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Dr. Gunter Bischof

Second Advisor

Dr. Robert Dupont

Third Advisor

Dr. Marc Landry


This thesis examines the methods used by the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (MfS), more commonly known as the Stasi, or East German secret police, for extraction of information from citizens of the German Democratic Republic for the purpose of espionage and covert operations inside East Germany, as it pertains to the deliberate brainwashing of East German citizens. As one of the most efficient intelligence agencies to ever exist, the Stasi’s main purpose was to monitor the population, gather intelligence, and collect or turn informants. They used brainwashing techniques to control the people of the GDR, keeping the populace paralyzed with fear and paranoia. By surrounding themselves with a network of informants they prevented actions against the dictatorial communist regime. Using the video testimonies of former prisoners, and former confidential informants who worked closely with and collaborated with Stasi agents, in combination with periodicals and previous historical studies, this work argues that the East German Police State’s brainwashing techniques had long and lasting consequences both for German citizens, and for the psychiatric health of former GDR citizens. The scope and breadth of the techniques and data compiled for use by the Stasi were exhaustive, and the repercussions of their use are still being felt and discovered twenty five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. This study aims to show the lasting effects brainwashing had on former informants and the Stasi’s victims.


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