What is a good example of political brainwashing

Brainwashing. From secret services, scientists and agents

SEND DATE Sun., 01.03.09 | 5:03 pm | The first

Decomposition of a personality

Anyone who does not fit into the system or even fights against the system must be brought into line. That is the principle of totalitarian regimes. The Chinese communists in the Cultural Revolution, the Russian secret service KGB, but also the US secret service CIA in Guantanamo used so-called brainwashing practices. The goal: to effectively weaken enemy forces or to obtain confessions.
Methods that were also in practice in Germany: The Stasi called them "decomposition" and used them specifically against political critics and prisoners.

The United Nations could not protect Hans-Jürgen Breitbarth either. Only one year after the UN included the "brainwashing" method in its "Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment" (No. 3452, December 9, 1975), the GDR was Citizens arrested by the Stasi. The Ministry for State Security had long since developed manipulative psychotechnics on a highly systematic level.
In doing so, their citizens tried to reverse the polarity if they were classified as hostile-negative from the Stasi’s point of view. Hans-Jürgen Breitbarth too.

Disambiguation: brainwashing or decomposition

The term brainwashing is believed to have originated around 1950 during the Korean War. Other sources attribute it to the writer George Orwell, who published his novel about the perfect surveillance state in 1948 under the title "1984". However, the term was only able to establish itself in the vernacular. "It is a very dubious term", explains the psychologist Hans-Eberhard Zahn: "Because nothing is washed or erased from the brain, on the contrary: a lot is put into it." Thus Zahn believes the concepts of decomposition or reprogramming are appropriate. Because contrary to all rumors, a brain cannot be erased like a hard drive; rather - to stay in the computer language - the software is changed.

Reprogramming the neural software

Not even the Stasi has researched to what extent the neurons of the brain can actually be reprogrammed. Because to do this, she would have had to attach electrodes to the heads of the prisoners throughout the entire pre-trial detention area. However, this would have invalidated the methods, because it would have enabled the prisoner to recognize himself as a test subject. What is certain, however, is that certain regions of the brain, such as the fear center, are particularly strongly stimulated.

The Stasi employees initially did this in their private sphere: for example, they secretly broke into private apartments several times, gradually removed objects or rearranged them - so that the resident gradually began to doubt their sanity. In addition, the "Operative Psychology" department of the Stasi spread rumors at work and among friends in order to gradually wear down people. However, perfected because concentrated, the MfS used its disintegration measures in the remand prisons. Where the mind could no longer be protected by any other influence.

Concentrated decomposition measures with a system

The arrest comes suddenly, the arrested person is driven around for hours in a tiny cell in a dark van until he no longer knows where he is. Then suddenly dazzling brightness, complete undressing, meticulous control of all orifices, the loss of the name in exchange for a number, a barren cell, hours of interrogation. Hans-Jürgen Breitbarth remembers the first few moments all too well: "You walk through these corridors, go into your cell, you don't see anything on the left or right. You are standing next to you. You can't think clearly." For several months he experienced the destructive power of the Stasi in Plauen, among other places. "Nothing was foreseeable; everything changed from one second to the next," says Breitbarth, describing what he had suffered. "You cannot put yourself in the shoes of a person who is interrogating you; who acts according to rules that are so completely different from those that can be understood by human beings."

The Stasi employees carried out a detailed analysis of the victim's personality structure beforehand. They knew every preference and every weakness, even studied the medical files, as in the case of Mario Röllig. He, too, was to be decoupled from everything that constituted his identity in 1987 in the remand prison in Berlin-Hohenschönhausen: from family, friends, colleagues - all confidants.

Mario Röllig: "The Stasi officer showed me a photo of my niece and then said 'she is cute, the little one' and I said 'yes' and at that moment he said' if you remain silent here, we will show your sister that if she knew something about her attempt to escape, then of course she will also be imprisoned here, the child then comes to the home; it is now entirely up to you '.

Every man for himself

The interrogated should see that they had violated the supposedly morally impeccable laws of the GDR - and they should betray themselves or others. Everyone should be played off against everyone. "This is where the perfection of this system lies: Everyone who is monitored should become the other's monitor. Nobody can trust anyone", explains Hans-Eberhard Zahn. The now 81-year-old psychologist was himself a prisoner of the Stasi in Hohenschönhausen more than forty years ago and thus combines the perspective of the person concerned with that of the specialist.

Because the GDR misused all knowledge from psychology and psychiatry; after all, physical torture was explicitly forbidden in the GDR's self-image. "While these theories were originally designed for the benefit of people, in order to advance the development of personality, the Stasi turned the whole thing upside down," says psychologist Stefan Trobisch-Lütge.

Scientific manipulation

The Ministry of State Security even made this form of manipulation a science. At the Law School of the MfS, on the site of today's Potsdam-Golm University, Stasi employees researched and taught the technique of decomposition. Among other things, the Law School collected the findings from the mistreatment of political prisoners throughout the GDR and meticulously evaluated them. For almost forty years, the future interrogation officers even received diplomas and doctorates here.
All of their research has been aimed at finding the most reliable route to successful decomposition, with the victim questioning everything that they have previously believed to be true and right - and distrusting everything and everyone they have previously trusted.

The knowledge gained was also incorporated into a practical dictionary of the Stasi, in which under the heading "decomposition, operational" it says: "The aim of decomposition is the fragmentation, paralysis, disorganization and isolation of hostile-negative forces in order to achieve a differentiated political-ideological recovery to enable. "

Unknown number of unknown victims

In many cases, the disintegration measures were able to break the victims' will to resist. But the Stasi did not succeed in reprogramming these so-called "hostile negative forces" into convinced GDR socialists. Often she achieved the exact opposite, because her dealings with the people confirmed and underpinned their criticism of the regime. There were around 300,000 political prisoners up until the fall of the Berlin Wall. The total number of decomposition victims is, however, much higher, since it did not take place exclusively behind bars. However, trauma does not depend on how long or how often the Stasi tried to destroy a personality, says Mario Röllig: "Everyone, and if they were only detained for 24 or 48 hours with the State Security Service, they never came out as the same person ".

For years, those affected have been looking for and finding help in advice centers such as Gegenwind in Berlin. There, the psychologist Stefan Trobisch-Lütge looks after politically traumatized victims of the GDR dictatorship. Even twenty years after the end of the GDR, this is still necessary: ​​“You really have to say that a large number of people who have been in pre-trial detention by the State Security have been permanently harmed,” Trobisch-Lütge repeatedly states. However, further financial support from public funds for 2010 is uncertain. Political interest in contact points like headwinds seems to be waning. Last but not least, this means for Hans-Jürgen Breitbarth, Hans-Eberhard Zahn and Mario Röllig as well as for all the other partly unknown victims that they can never really finish with the manipulation of their psyche.

Addresses & links

Information on the methods of the Stasi, contemporary witnesses and guided tours in the memorial can be found on the website of the Hohenschönhausen Foundation.

Advice center for politically traumatized people under the GDR dictatorship
Bredowstrasse 36
10551 Berlin-Moabit
Tel .: (030) 39 87 98 - 11/12
Fax: (030) 39 87 98 - 13
Email: [email protected]
Internet: www.beratungsstelle-gegenwind.de

The website of the federal commissioner for the Stasi documents ("Birthler authority") offers further information as well as a list of the branch offices:


Klaus Behnke and Jürgen Fuchs (eds.)
"Decomposition of the Soul - Psychology and Psychiatry in the Service of the Stasi"
Rotbuch Verlag (2002)
346 pages

Hubertus boy
"Trapped in Hohenschönhausen: Stasi prisoners report"
List Tb., 2007
382 pages, 8.95 euros

Hubertus boy
"The perpetrators are among us: About the glossing over of the SED dictatorship"
List p., 2008,
383 pages, 9.95 euros

Stefan Trobisch-Lütge
"The late poison: Consequences of political traumatization in the GDR and its treatment"
Psychosozial-Verlag, 2004
171 pages, 19.90 euros

Author: Kristal Davidson

Status: 11/14/2014 10:52 a.m.