Indoctrination as "Doing": A Sequence-Analytical Reconstruction of How Loyalty to State-Party Ideology Was Instilled and Maintained Among the Career Officers of the East German Secret Police

Uwe Krähnke


The career officers of East Germany's secret police, the Ministry for State Security (MfS), is regarded to have been the most aggressive defender of the regime's political ideology. Although historians repeatedly assert that this group was very robustly indoctrinated and highly loyal to the state party, there are no convincing empirical evidence and plausible theoretical explanations for this. In this article, I explore the extent to which interpretative-reconstructive sequence analysis is capable of closing this gap in the research. Based on a case study it is shown that full-time MfS personnel were indeed loyal, but that their indoctrination did not always go smoothly. During their training, every deviation from the official party line was recorded, negatively connoted, and sanctioned. By means of various techniques of control and discipline, MfS employees were pressured to willingly internalize the political-ideological mindset that dominated the secret police. In addition to describing this specific form of externally directed self-discipline within the MfS, I also discuss the reliability of autobiographical statements by contemporary witnesses. To what extent are their answers meaningful in qualitative interviews and what exactly can be revealed by means of systematic methods of interpretation?


indoctrination; state socialism; Stasi; sequence analysis; reconstructive social research; biographical research; contemporary witnesses; perpetrator research


Copyright (c) 2020 Uwe Krähnke

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