In his surveillance state speech, Hubertus Knabe discusses the history of the East German secret police (known as the Stasi). Describing a time before smartphones existed, the speaker delves into the wire-tapping and other surveillance methods. After records became unsealed after the end of communism and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Knabe studied the Stasi and their surveillance secrets in depth.
The Stasi originated in Russia and became almost like a branch of the group that would evolve to become the KGB. The Russian secret police created and instructed the Stasi, as evidenced by an existing jail for political prisoners that was taken over by the Stasi and used until the reunification of East and West Germany. Extremely efficient, the Statsi had more staff than the Gestapo (the Nazi-era secret police) by 1953. Every decade the number of employees doubled until there was one secret policeman for 183 inhabitants.
The surveillance state speech explores how easy it was for friends to turn and inform on friends as East Germany oppressed its people.