7. Protests against the government in East Germany were fraught with risk
The government of the German Democratic Republic maintained its own military and police forces. They were far from the only such forces in the GDR. Soviet troops, military police, and secret police remained in the country throughout its forty-plus years of existence. The government of the GDR gradually absorbed responsibility for administering the state, under the watchful eye of the Soviets. East German schools taught the Russian language to all students, as well as the Soviet version of what they called the Great Patriotic War (World War II). Among the many state organizations of the GDR, the Ministry of State Security became the most feared. Known by the name Stasi, it grew to encompass over 90,000 men, with most of them operating secretly. Stasi agents appeared in nearly all areas of society, supported by paid informants.
They generated the same level of fear as had the World War II Gestapo, and operated in a similar vein. Alongside them were Soviet secret police, which monitored both the German populace and the Stasi itself. Speaking out against the SED or government policies thus presented serious dangers to those intrepid enough to do so. Stasi relied on informants, which reported those suspected of acting against the interests of the SED, rather than the interests of the East German people. Over the course of its existence, it arrested and imprisoned more than a quarter of a million people. In 1953 Stasi operated under the supervision of the Soviet KGB, ensuring Soviet domination of East German domestic policing. To overtly protest against the government, by extension against the SED, drew the immediate attention of the two feared secret police forces, neither of which were known for humane practices.