East Germany Table of Contents
In early 1987, the Ministry of State Security was headed by General Erich Mielke, who had held the post since 1957. In 1986 the ministry had only one armed force at its disposal: the Feliks Dzierzynski Guard Regiment, named for the founder of the Cheka, the Bolshevik secret police. The approximately 7,000 members of this regiment, who served at least 3 years, were responsible for protecting government buildings and personnel. The regiment was composed of six motorized rifle battalions, one artillery battalion, and one training battalion. Its equipment included PSZH-IV armored personnel carriers, 120mm mortars, 85mm and 100mm antitank guns, ZU-23 antiaircraft guns, and helicopters. A Swiss source reported in 1986 that the troops of the Ministry of State Security also had commando units similar to the Soviet Union's Spetsnaz forces. These East German units were said to wear the uniform of the airborne troops, although with the violet collar patch of the Ministry for State Security rather than the orange one of paratroopers. They also wore the sleeve stripe of the Feliks Dzierzynski Guard Regiment.
The Ministry for State Security also includes the Main Administration for Reconnaissance. This unit focuses its efforts primarily upon West Germany and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, but it also operates East German intelligence in all foreign countries. The Main Coordinating Administration of the Ministry for State Security coordinates its work with Soviet intelligence agencies. The Main Department for Communications Security and Personnel Protection provides personal security for the national leadership and maintains and operates an internal secure communications system for the government. Protection against sabotage or espionage is a function of the Administration for Security of Heavy Industry and Research and the Main Administration for Security of the Economy. The Main Administration for Struggle Against Suspicious Persons is charged with the surveillance of foreigners--particularly from the West--legally traveling or residing within the country. This includes the diplomatic community, tourists, and official guests. Surveillance of mail and telephone communications is the function of Administration 12. Reliability of the personnel of the NVA is the responsibility of Administration 2000, which operates a secret, unofficial network of informants within the NVA. To facilitate its mission of enforcing the political security of East Germany, the Ministry of State Security operates its own penal system, distinct from that of the Ministry of the Interior. This system comprises prison camps for political, as opposed to criminal, offenders (see fig. 19).
Data as of July 1987