The Ministry for State Security or State Security Service , commonly known as the Stasi , was the official state security service of the German Democratic Republic . It has been described as one of the most effective and repressive intelligence and secret police agencies to have ever existed. The Stasi was headquartered in East Berlin, with an extensive complex in Berlin-Lichtenberg and several smaller facilities throughout the city. The Stasi motto was "Schild und Schwert der Partei" , referring to the ruling Socialist Unity Party of Germany . Erich Mielke was its longest-serving chief, in power for thirty-two of the GDR's forty years of existence.
One of its main tasks was spying on the population, mainly through a vast network of citizens turned informants, and fighting any opposition by overt and covert measures, including hidden psychological destruction of dissidents . Its Main Directorate for Reconnaissance was responsible for both espionage and for conducting covert operations in foreign countries. Under its long-time head Markus Wolf, this directorate gained a reputation as one of the most effective intelligence agencies of the Cold War.
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