It surely has to be regarded as circumstantial evidence that Stasi Zersetzung involved methods similar to those described by many TIs all over the planet. From Wikipedia:
“The Stasi used Zersetzung essentially as a means of psychological oppression and persecution. Findings of operational psychology were formulated into method at the Stasi’s College of Law (Juristische Hochschule der Staatssicherheit, or JHS), and applied to political opponents in an effort to undermine their self-confidence and self-esteem. Operations were designed to intimidate and destabilise them by subjecting them to repeated disappointment, and to socially alienate them by interfering with and disrupting their relationships with others….. The aim was to induce personal crisis in victims, leaving them too unnerved and psychologically distressed to have the time and energy for anti-government activism. The Stasi intentionally concealed their role as mastermind of the operations.“
TIs also claim that they are being subjected to ‘repeated disappointment’ and the ‘disruption of relationships’. Many methods mentioned in Zersetzung are common:
– systematic degradation of reputation, image, and prestige
– organization of social and professional failures
– exploitation of undesirable personal traits and character weaknesses
– rumors poured out upon one’s circle of acquaintances
– opening of letters and listening to telephone calls
– encroachments on private property
– manipulation of vehicles
– poisoning of food and using false medications
– making announcements, ordering products, making emergency calls in the name of the target
– entering the targets living quarters leaving visible signs of their presence by adding, removing, and modifying objects
– manipulation of relations of friendship, love, marriage, and family by anonymous letters, telegrams and telephone calls as well as compromising photos, often altered
– targeted seductions by Romeo agents
– subtly manipulating the contents (of a home) in a form of gaslighting; moving furniture, altering the timing of an alarm, removing pictures from walls or replacing one variety of tea with another
– property damage
– sabotage of cars
– purposely incorrect medical treatment
– smear campaigns including sending falsified compromising photos or documents to the victim’s family
– mysterious phone calls or unnecessary deliveries
– returning items from the trash to the home
– releasing mice or poisonous snakes ……in walls or basements
– and alluding to topics referenced in tapped phone conversations is also popular
– as is filling both the salt and pepper shakers with pepper.
We TIs complain of all of these methods and much more.
Today’s TI experience is also similar to Stasi victims in that we do not know clearly who is doing it to us.
“Usually, victims had no idea that the Stasi were responsible and indeed, it is probable that they not always were. Many thought that they were losing their minds, and mental breakdowns and suicide could result………..The security service’s goal was to use Zersetzung to “switch off” regime opponents. After months and even years of Zersetzung a victim’s domestic problems grew so large, so debilitating, and so psychologically burdensome that they would lose the will to struggle against the East German state. Best of all, the Stasi’s role in the victim’s personal misfortunes remained tantalisingly hidden. The Stasi operations were carried out in complete operational secrecy. The service acted like an unseen and malevolent god, manipulating the destinies of its victims.”
And the reaction of many TIs initially at least is also similar – disbelief and denial, as is that of most other humans.
“Because the scale and nature of Zersetzung were unknown both the general population of the GDR and the people abroad, revelations of the Stasi’s malicious tactics were met with some degree of disbelief by those affected. Many still nowadays express incomprehension at how the Stasi’s collaborators could have participated in such inhuman actions.”
(first published: Tuesday, February 6, 2018)