17. Surveillance of workers increased following the protests of June, 1953
Believing the protests had arisen first in the workplaces, the SED decided to increase surveillance of workers on the job, during union meetings, and even in their places of leisure. Stasi expanded rapidly following the protests. Informants and spies infiltrated the factories and construction sites throughout East Germany. Often, they served alongside similar agents from the Soviets, unwittingly. Union halls were subjected to wire surveillance, as were telephones in industrial sites. Speaking disparagingly of the party, or of work conditions, or quotas, made the speaker liable for arrest and detention. Any form of protest against the policies of the party became a crime. Failing to report another worker for such activities was equally a crime. Most of the surveillance activities reported through Stasi. Some though, reported directly to the SED.
Officially, the increased work quotas which led to the protests in June were established as voluntary. In practice, many remained in force when the trade unions yielded to SED pressure and announced they would “voluntarily” comply. Their members had no choice but to go along with their leaders or leave the union. Ulbricht’s strict monitoring of the work force came from his fear of another uprising, which would have the effect of ending his hold on party leadership. He also believed another uprising would lead to his losing the support of the USSR. Despite his claims of supporting the peace and unity programs emanating from Moscow, Ulbricht remained a Stalinist. He unapologetically applied Stalin’s techniques, while Moscow looked the other way.