Stasi Museum Leipzig

Inside the Stasi reign of terror
By Therese Iknoian | Photos by Michael Hodgson

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.

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 a multi-story museum in the main Stasi headquarters (read our story here) and the Stasi prison memorial site called Hohenschönhausen (read our story about our visit here and see a short video here).

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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