Stasi / Facebook / Big Data DAAD Day 9 – MfS Department M (1960’s developments)

The implementation of zip codes across West Germany in 1961 made it much easier to monitor postal traffic between east and west. The Berlin Wall was erected in that same year, leading to a heightening of Cold War suspicions and increased emphasis on monitoring movement of information between east and west.

The 1960’s also saw the various reorganizations and new leaders, including Lieutenant-Colonel Walter Mehrbach, whose years of experience in the postal service led to the development of the first training manual for Department M, and certification courses in mail surveillance at the MfS Law School in Potsdam. (Labrenz-Weiß, 21)

As Department M grew in the 1960’s, so too did the amount of mail they examined and information they recorded. This demand for intelligence required constantly expanding data storage methods, which led the department to develop a card system for efficient alphabetical sorting and identification of people, places, and objects on both sides of the East/West German border. (Labrenz-Weiß, 19) I’ll dig in a little deeper over the next few days on these cards, for now a photo from my BStU archive research last summer:

BStU: MfS, BV, Potsdam, Abt II 764 pg 6

  1. Hanna Labrenz-Weiß, Abteilung M (MfS Handbuch). Hg. BStU. Berlin 2005.