Stasi police kept East Germans in fear for 40 years

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A new book has revealed the lengths to which East Germany's Stasi secret police went to quell dissent in the Communist nation.

For the 40 years of the Cold War the Stasi – 'The Sword and Shield of the Party' – kept a lid on dissent in East Germany through a unique method of surveillance.

They did not need torture chambers and rubber truncheons to keep people in line, but instead exploited the insecurities of members of the public, according to author Christhard Laepple.

Turning one in three of the German Democratic Republic's 17 million citizens into informers, the Stasi injected fear, uncertainty and suspicion into every walk of life, making sure few people ever uttered anything which might anger the regime.

In Betrayal Has No Expiration Date Laepple, a journalist for German television station ZDF, details accounts of sisters turned against brothers, husbands against wives, sons against fathers and lovers against lovers.

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