Stasi / Facebook / Big Data DAAD Day 12 – The VSH card system

The VSH index card system was yet another data storage method developed by the Stasi for monitoring and controlling the population. Introduced in 1974, the system used a red F401 card for all “secretly policed” persons, and a corresponding white F402 information card once that person was captured and began informing for the MfS. The system contained information not included on the Kerbloch index, for example, specifics deemed to be “operationally significant” like that person’s activity in the MfS, and ensured the flow of information on persons of interest across operational departments, districts, and facility services. The VSH files enormously expanded the number of persons surveilled, and were the most important cards used by operational service units until the end of the MfS. (The Key to Power, 6)


Front of the pre-compaction, search and map card. Source: BStU


Back of the pre-compression, search and map card. Source: BStU

The VSH cards were divided into 15 categories ( PK ):

  • PK 1: Staff and agents of the enemy intelligence services
  • PK 2: Senior staff of the centers of political and ideological diversion
  • PK 3: Members of terrorist organizations and individual terrorists
  • PK 4: Members of Zionist hostile immigrant, clerical and other organizations
  • PK 5: persons who carried out orders from hostile intelligence agencies, centers of the political-ideological diversion, Zionistically hostile immigrant, clerical and other organizations against the states of the socialist community
  • PK 6: People unmasked as enemies of the opponent
  • PK 7: people who had not offered the information that was real
  • PK 8: persons who carried out provocative actions on the territories of the states of the socialist community as well as against their representatives and citizens
  • PK 9: Persons who were expelled from the states of the socialist community
  • PK 10: People who had committed particularly dangerous crimes
  • PK 11 diplomats and employees of diplomatic and consular missions of NATO , Japan and the People’s Republic of China
  • PK 12: correspondent of NATO -Mitgliedsländer, Japan and the People’s Republic of China
  • PK 13: Employees of trade and economic representatives
  • PK 14: Members of organizations that have been engaged in international smuggling on a large scale
  • PK 15: Persons whose activities were directed at a damage to the economy of the states of the socialist community
  1. The key to power: Card indexes and other finding aids practices of State Security. Archivar 64. Jahrgang Heft 04 November 2011.
  2. BStU: ( VSH ) of the Central Evaluation and Information Group ( ZAIG )
  3. BStU: Pre-compacting, search and identification card ( VSH ) of Division 1

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