Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (MfS) (Ministry for State Security
The Staatssicherheitsdienst State Security Service), called Stasi, was the secret service of the GDR. Founded in 1950, it was headed from 1957 for over 30 years by Erich Mielke, a fanatic hard-liner. In the East Berlin Central Office, the MfS was separated essentially into 20 main departments and the Hauptverwaltung Aufklärung (HVA - Main Administration for Party-Line Propaganda). The district administrations (BVfS) were structured in the same way. They were responsible for the object offices in town and district councils, organisations and authorities. The large-scale surveillance network made use of the espionage services of numerous unofficial members ( UM), and carried out post checking and telephone surveillance operations with a great deal of time and expense. The MfS had its own remand prisons and acted in actual fact completely without external control in a legally not covered sphere. In addition to the extremely effective foreign surveillance, the activities of the counterintelligence were directed primarily against non-conforming thinkers in the GDR itself, against so-called "hostile negative" forces, the political opponents for which in addition to HA II, HA XX was primarily responsible. With this set of tasks, the MfS focussed its spying activities and acts of repression mainly on citizens' rights activists, church and ecological groups, critical artists, but also people wishing to emigrate. The scope and forms of these activities developed into ever increasing monstrous forms as time went by. In 1989 around 85,500 full-time and at last count 174,200 unofficial members worked for the MfS.
On 17/11/1989, Hans Modrow declared the intention of changing the MfS into the Amt für Nationale Sicherheit (AfNS) ( Office for National Security). This attempt at saving the hated organisation was smashed by the citizens' rights activists in December 1989 and January 1990 by occupation of the Stasi headquarters by the citizens' rights activists. They forced the council of ministers to pass a resolution on the formation of a "Committee for the dissolution of the former MfS/AfNS". Those files which had escaped destruction were handed over to the authorised federal representative for the documents of the Staatssicherheitsdienst (State Security Service) of the former GDR (BStU), the so-called "Gauckbehörde".