Stasimuseum Berlin
Haus 1 der Zentrale des MfS

Storming the Stasi Headquarters

On the evening of 15 January 1990, demonstrators took over the Ministry for State Security (MfS) building complex in Berlin-Lichtenberg. The same day the Berlin citizens’ committee began monitoring and coordinating the dissolution of the MfS. A week later, the Central Round Table decided that a “memorial and research centre on GDR Stalinism” should be established in House 1.
On May 16, the new GDR government which had formed after the elections on 18 March 1990 passed a resolution to establish a research and memorial.  But these plans could not be implemented because the ministries in charge were dissolved when the two Germanys were reunified. Consequently, in the summer of 1990, members of the citizens’ committee and civil rights activists founded the association “Antistalinistische Aktion Berlin-Normannenstraße e.V.” (ASTAK) to begin the task of creating the research centre and memorial at Normannenstrasse (later named the Stasi Museum). Since no government institution felt responsible for it, the ASTAK association also became the responsible body for the museum.

Most of the association members came from the “Citizens’ Committee Normannenstrasse” that had come together on the evening of 15 January 1990. They were joined by earlier GDR civil rights activists who had been arrested because of their oppositional activities (i.e. Prague Spring, Biermann expatriation, participation in the peace and environment movement in the GDR). They were later released from prison for payment from West Germany, but prohibited from returning to the GDR. The association’s aim was and still is to support the establishment of a central site to collect, preserve, document, research and exhibit evidence of the SED dictatorship.
In the beginning, tours through House 1 took place sporadically. As of 7 November 1990, the “Research Centre and Memorial at Normannenstrasse”, later named the Stasi Museum, began operating regularly. Over the following years other associations addressing the SED dictatorship also began using the rooms in House 1.

In this way, after 1990, the former headquarters of the apparatus responsible for securing the power of the SED developed into a site of research organized by citizens to examine the injustices of the GDR regime.