The Poison Does the Trick

14. September 2014

Christian Bürger’s Diary, 7th Entry

23 September 1989

“The East German State Security forces, the Stasi, can’t achieve much here. At least not if they’re on the outside. Because we are all far too firm in our wish not to leave the embassy. But we’ve all lived long enough in the system and know how it functions. Which is to say, we all realise that there will be Stasi spies amongst us. To date, only two of them have been uncovered: The one simply couldn’t bear the pressures of camp life here, confessed to what he was, and left the embassy. The other was caught out, tried to climb back over the wall, but was caught. The poor guy was the victim of real rage…

“We all realise that there will be Stasi spies amongst us. To date, only two of them have been uncovered.”

Here, you really have to make sure you don’t lose the plot and not put yourself in the limelight. The one or other does better at it. What’s so important is not to lose sight of the overall objective. Anyone who responds too emotionally at the wrong point, or simply gives vent to his anger, will risk losing everything he has gone through hell to achieve. It’s not like I’m not tense. Sure, my blood boils when I hear that the Stasi is here amongst us. Only recently, Herr Weber told me that West Germany was getting close to resolving things. It’s in close contact with East German Foreign Minister Oskar Fischer. If we now let ourselves be swayed by our hatred then the situation in the embassy could easily get out of hand. And possibly then no one will be able to help us.

Which is why we must admonish those who beat up the Stasi guy when it was clear what he was, and get them to control themselves. Even if I can understand only too well why they flipped. “Don’t let yourself be provoked,” that’s the real thing. In the future, if we identify someone as a Stasi snitch, if we catch one, then only to hand him over to the embassy staff.

Video Diary Episode 7

Don’t let yourself be provoked, otherwise we’ll risk losing everything we’ve stood up for.

And what is even more important: We must never let ourselves be persuaded to suspect each other. The Stasi’s real poison is to sow mistrust. We’ve all lived for years in the East German system. We were indoctrinated never to trust one another. That potentially anyone could betray you if you did something that did not conform to the system. And all of us here are not conforming to the system, to put it mildly. Back when I first tried to flee the country I was betrayed. I must confess that ever since I’ve found it tough to trust people from East Germany. And ever since the first Stasi agent was uncovered I hate myself for the fact that I constantly catch myself wondering who else among the refugees could be here to betray us.

I forbid myself to think like that! I don’t want anything more to do with that mind-set! I want to leave the system so that I don’t have to think like that anymore. But it’s tough going. I know something has to happen soon. I’ve got to make the free world soon or I’ll lose the handle on my anger, which is fuelled by the fear that all the energy we’ve devoted to things for months now was for nothing.”


Hermann and Jacqueline Huber, Embassy officials (married)

They handled organising accommodation for around 13,000 East German refugees in the German embassy in Prague. The event made a lasting impression on them.


The hope was they would soon be able, be allowed to leave, that was the issue, that they’d be allowed over. And of course things were tense, you heard now and again that there was a Stasi agent present, for example, that was something you often heard. And then we all knew that was the reason for the drinkers who’d tried to get over the fence; that was common knowledge. It was obvious that there would be tension, or tension between the groups. One person says: Yes, him over there, he stole my… In any crowd of people there’s always tension. But, well, I don’t know how, but somehow really God was by our side.

German Embassy in Prague
Christian Bürger floh im Juni 1989 in die Bundesdeutsche Botschaft in Prag. Er half der Botschaftsleitung bei der Organisation und Erfassung der Flüchtlinge. Er verbrachte nach der Ankunft in Hof ein paar Jahre in Dingolfing und arbeitete in der Gastronomie. Heute lebt er wieder in Chemnitz.

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