Stasi Museum Leipzig – Inside the Stasi reign of terror

by Oct 15, 2018Germany

The former Stasi district headquarters in Leipzig is now a museum and memorial. Here, you can see the many ways the East German State Security Service spied on its citizens. Museum in der Runde Ecke (Museum in the Round Corner) remains looking as it was in the 1980s. 

The Stasi Museum Leipzig in “Runde Ecke,” or “round corner,” is where the Stasi had its headquarters in one of former East Germany’s important industrial cities. It is one of a number of Stasi museums and sights that are scattered across former East Germany. The number of former Stasi sights should not be surprising since the Stasi – or Ministry of State Security – was pervasive in creating obedience through fear.

The Stasi Museum Leipzig “Runde Ecke” is a small museum with its walls and tiny windowless rooms filled with pictures, documents, glass cases, and Stasi paraphernalia. The building is indeed a “round corner” on a busy intersection – all the better to watch the comings and goings in Leipzig.

Stasi Museum Map Photos

The non-profit “Citizen’s Committee” in Leipzig has maintained the facility much like it was, filling the former Stasi office rooms and narrow hall with materials to offer further insights into the kind of terror the Stasi elicited. This is not a fancy museum and, in fact, most all of the printed information is only in German. Still, an audio guide you can rent is in excellent English. With it you can listen to descriptions of what you are looking at and what it means, moving between dozens of stations – too many really for one visit since you could spend hours there doing that.

HITT Tip: Two people can quite easily listen to one audio guide as long as you are willing to tour together and huddle over the single small speaker. There is a small fee per audio guide unit.

Stasi Museum Runde Ecke Leipzig

Just walking up the stairs, through the narrow doorway, and into the bleak facility brings alive the dreariness of the world in which the paper-pushers who worked for the Stasi worked. The yellowish-brown walls, weathered yellow linoleum, windowless rooms are maintained today as they were then. No glitzy museum here, but a real look at the real Stasi headquarters in Leipzig.

Stasi Museum Army Training Room

You will see glass cases with listening devices and uniforms, walk into small cells. This is, in fact, the only place in Germany where a Stasi headquarters has been kept totally as it was.

The permanent exhibition is called “Stasi – Power and Banality,” and it takes you through the history. There are a number of special films and talks, but mostly in German. A woman at the office said they do not offer regular English tours but ones for groups could be arranged in advance.

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Stasi Museum Prisoner Photograph Room

Stasi sights throughout Leipzig

The Runde Ecke Stasi Museum Leipzig is really just the start of your Stasi tour in Leipzig. There is a Stasi Bunker Museum 30 kilometers east of the city, as well as a site where executions were carried out just south of town. That site, however, is currently only open on two days a year – Museum Day (normally in May) and Day of Open Memorials (normally in September).

The Citizen’s Committee runs all of the sights and has done so since the group first occupied the Stasi Museum Leipzig after the fall of the Berlin Wall to ensure documents were not destroyed. The committee’s website has information about all of the Stasi sights and related events, talks and films in the area, as well as facts and figures for anyone interested in research. The Stasi Museum Runde Ecke Leipzig is free but donations are accepted. There is a charge for tours.

Following Stasi history in Berlin

In Berlin, there is the opportunity to visit other Stasi sites including:

  • The Stasi Prison Memorial site called Hohenschönhausen, where former prisoners lead moving, emotional tours (you can visit this memorial only on a guided tour). It is in the same general area as the Stasi Museum, about 2 ½ miles away, and also accessible on the tram or bus, in an area of town that was called the “prohibited district” since it did not appear on any maps during East German times! Read our story about the Stasi prison memorial site Hohenschönhausen Memorial – Reliving the Stasi prison horrors.
  • The Stasi Museum Berlin, about 2 ½ miles away from the Stasi prison Berlin. There, in the actual former headquarters of the East German secret police, you can learn about the terror brought about by the Stasi, how it ran, and what it taught the citizens in an attempt to control them. You can also walk through the former executive offices, including Stasi boss Erich Mielke’s chambers, preserved today as they were then. Read our story Stasi Museum – Berlin museum brings alive Stasi terror.
  • The Stasi Archives, also on the same “campus” as the Stasi Museum. Public tours are available, and anybody can also do research into the archives there, be it into your own records, for historical research or as the media. To learn more read out story Stasi archives Berlin – Stash of secret police records now open.
  • There is also an open-air exhibit in this same campus that details the fall of the Berlin Wall and the peaceful revolution that helped bring about German unity. Read our story “Open-air exhibit traces fall of the Berlin Wall” to learn more.

All of these sights can be powerful, bringing alive the Stasi terror during the East German reign before the wall fell in 1989.

 

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