Published on 13th June 2016

Karma police

  • "My bed was made of metal. 28 women in one room. One toilet. The first years – without heating nor hot water. Every day was identical, interrupted just by the guards' inspections". Edda Schönherz, 1944, television presenter in East Berlin, sentenced to three years' imprisonment for being "not politically correct". During this time, she never saw her children.

  • "I will never forget the nights in jail. Every fifteen minutes they were beating on the door. They persecuted me in the dark". Jorge Luís García Vázques, 1959, Havana, Cuba, refused to work as a spy. He got arrested in 1987 in the GDR end deported to his homeland. After the fall of the wall, Vázques was legally able to leave Cuba again.

  • "I remember when they let me go outside the cell. Twice in four weeks. Seeing the sky and feeling fresh air on my skin shocked me”. Wolfgang Warnke, 1944, Göttingen, tried to help two East German men escape via Bulgaria to Yugoslavia. He was betrayed by a Stasi informer and arrested by the Bulgarian police for "illegal man trade".

  • "During the interrogation, suddenly they became human again. A man in civilian clothes would offer me a coffee or a cigarette. Then he would sit on the chair next to the desk, making me move from the stool to the corner of the room. I was too proud to speak first - we would remain silent". Monika Schneider, East Berlin, tried to escape for love to West Berlin. Sentenced to two years and six months of prison.

  • "What was it like to be in prison? I learned to stand up for myself. Once, a guard yelled at me and I replied, telling him to stop shouting. They no longer cried". Siggi Grünewald,1945, Thuringia, grew up in West Berlin. She organized the escape of her boyfriend from the GDR, not knowing that the people who were helping her worked for the STASI. Arrested in 1981 on the grounds of "subversive man trade."

  • "The worst thing was the helplessness during the trial. No chance to really defend myself with a lawyer. It was just a sham". Gilbert Furian, 1945, Görlitz, arrested in 1985 for preparation of writings about juvenile punks in East Germany “that may possibly harm the interests of the GDR".

  • "I was expelled to the West. It was at night, I had with me only few clothes and my children aged 3 and 5 years old". Vera Lengsfeld, 1952, Sondershausen, spied by the Stasi with the help of her husband. Arrested and deported to England on a Temporary Visa in 1988. In November 1989, she returned to the GDR. After her husband's work as a spy was revealed, they got divorced, and she took back her maiden name.

  • "When they brought me to the isolation cell, I realized I was truly alone. I started observing endless spaces between the walls, dividing them, following the angles in triangles". Cliewe Juritza, 1966, East Berlin, arrested in 1984 for several escaping attempts.

  • "Youth is the best time of life. Mine has been criminalized by the State". Rainer Dellmuth, 1948, East Berlin. He was trying to join his father in West Berlin when he was arrested, aged 18, for "attempted escape and subversive influencing".

  • The MfS exercised almost total control over the citizens of the GDR. It could simultaneously listen in on telephone conversations, intercept letters, deploy secret informers, make arrests, carry out investigations, lock suspected persons up in MfS interrogation prisons and then bring their trials to indictments.

Karma police

Portrait, Contemporary Issues, Documentary

Tagged with:
  • stasi
  • gdr
  • prisoners
  • berlin
  • germany
  • karmapolice
  • portraits
  • martinacirese
  • memory
  • emotionalcontrol