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Inoffizieller Mitarbeiter (IM - Unofficial Member)

According to its conception of itself, the Ministry for State Security had the task of protecting the GDR on the basis of the SED resolutions against "attacks" in a political, economic, social and military field. In order to collect information on "hostile" events and persons, the Ministry made use of the services of the unofficial member (UM). The objective of the Stasi since the fifties was the large-scale comprehensive surveillance of the GDR, as the minister Wollweber stated in 1954: "If we have good [UM], we will have to be able to hear the grass grow. We need to know everything at all." The UM work had three main focal points: 1st The UM 'for the security of certain areas' collected information about certain events or people in their working and social environment. 2nd The UM 'for active fighting against enemies', usually secret agents carried out investigations against suspicious persons, "enemies", and contributed to their elimination.. The UM 'for logistic tasks made their homes or telephones available for conspirators communication. The designations for UM changed several times and were listed in categories. Between 1950 and 1967 for example, there was the Geheime Informator (GI - Secret Informer) and the Geheime Hauptinformator (GHI - Secret Primary Informer, from 1953 onward).

At the end of the GDR, there was the UM for the political and operative penetration and security of the sphere of responsibility (IMS), the social member for security (GMS), den UM for special actions (IME) and den leadership UM (FIM). The UM were required to report to their commanding officers at regular intervals. The latter was authorised to terminate the connection with the UM due to lack of success, lack of truthfulness, deconspiration (the UM had revealed himself to a third party) or in the case of refusal to "collaborate" on part of the UM. The UM was also able to terminate the connection, for example due to deconspiration. As a rule, a refusal or termination of the collaboration remained without any consequences.

In 1989, the Ministry for State Security had approx. 174 200 active UM working for it. The time of the changeover was shaped by spectacular UM cases, such as that of the Chairman of the Demokratischer Aufbruch (DA), Wolfgang Schnur, or the Chairman of the SPD-East, Ibrahim Böhme, but also by suspicions which were cast for example on Lothar de Maizière (CDU-East) or Gregor Gysi (PDS). In the last ten years a large number of UM have been uncovered who were active in the direct vicinity of citizens' rights activists during the changeover, as for example in the vicinity of the New Forum.

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