Listening and surveillance devices, counterfeit stamps, badges and passports, equipment for opening mail, a disguise workshop and body-scent archives - these are just some of the manifold artefacts of the Stasi displayed by the Citizens Committee in the permanent exhibition of contemporary history, called "Stasi - Power and Banality". The original working material of the Stasi documents its history, structure and methods of operation, using the Leipzig district headquarters as an example. They are supplemented by selected photographs and documents.
The exhibition gives an introductory outline of the development of the Stasi, its ideological roots, its interior structure and the activities of fulltime employees and unofficial personnel (“Inoffizielle Mitarbeiter“, IM). A second section is devoted to the activities of different departments of the Stasi, for example, M (checking post), 26 (telephone surveillance) or VIII (observation and investigation).
You can also see the faithful reproduction of a cell from the former Leipziger Stasi-detention for prisoners awaiting trial. The entrance area is dedicated to the history of the Peaceful Revolution which overcame the 40-year dictatorship. Another part of the exhibition is concerned with the death penalty in the GDR, which from 1960 onwards was carried out in Leipzig for the entire GDR.
The permanent exhibition is presented in authentic surroundings: Leipzig is the only place in Germany where original rooms of a district headquarters of the Stasi have been preserved and can be visited as a memorial. The linoleum floors, the lattice bars on the windows, surveillance cameras and, not least, the typical GDR smell, which still lingers today in the former offices, are all reminders of the former use of the building.
A tour of the exhibition "Stasi - Power and Banality" brings home to the visitors how the SED developed its surveillance state and how it systematically robbed GDR citizens of their basic rights. The exhibition is designed to create an awareness of the significance of the achievements of the Peaceful Revolution. The Citizens Committee wants to sensitize the young generation specifically, who no longer know life in the GDR from their own experience, to the dangers of dictatorship and wants to encourage them to act democratically.
The museum is a place of warning, commemoration and learning. It has also become established as a much-visited site of political and cultural discourse. The Citizens Committee regularly offers discussions, film evenings, readings, and numerous other events in the "Round Corner".