Autocracy, Theocracy and… paperwork

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The Republic of East Germany collapsed in 1989 along with the Berlin Wall. What remains is a massive archive, compiled by Stasi, the Communist secret police. It includes millions of personal secrets, reported by colleagues, friends, even spouses. They were often used as the justification for torture and even death. Now, Rukmini Callimachi of the New York Times is gathering up paperwork maintained by ISIS, the Islamic State.  It’s hard to imagine similarities between ISIS and Stasi, but each of them has relied on documentation to bolster its own form of brutal, repressive authority. We’ll hear the voices of Rukmini Callimachi and Dagmar Hovestadt, spokesperson for the Stasi Museum. It turns out that paperwork counts.

File archives in the Stasi Museum. Photo courtesy of Arch Ritter.




Warren Olney


Andrea Brody