ESME NICHOLSON, BYLINE: When Germany reunified 27 years ago, the late Chancellor Helmut Kohl famously declared he wanted to see the former East in bloom again. In the small town of Pirna near the Czech border, Kohl's vision is on display at the weekly market where the vegetable and flower stools show off a healthy local harvest. In 1990, Pirna's medieval center was rundown and deserted. Today it's elegantly restored and the streets are alive with shoppers and tourists. But scratch the shiny surface here, and you'll find dissatisfaction and fear.
Recent studies produced by historians Christian Booß and Helmut Müller-Enbergs also show domestic surveillance in East Germany went far beyond the Stasi's network of IMs. The two work at the BStU and not long ago, they happened across Stasi informant groups into which hardly any research has been conducted. They found that institutions in which people provided information about others were categorized as POZW -- which stood for "Partner in Political-Operative Cooperation." In contrast to IMs feeding information to the Stasi, these people were not forced to sign a document obliging them to pass along information. But they did so nonetheless. Numerous POZW reports are still in existence -- from banks, for example, or libraries, hospitals, registration offices and judiciary agencies.
The communist German Democratic Republic was established in the historic "Mitteldeutschland" ( Middle Germany ). Former German territories east of the Oder and Neisse rivers, mainly the Prussian provinces of Pomerania , East Prussia , West Prussia , Upper Silesia , Lower Silesia , the eastern Neumark of Brandenburg , and a small piece of Saxony were thus detached from Germany. To compensate Poland for the USSR's annexation of its eastern provinces, the Allies provisionally established Poland's post-war western border at the Oder–Neisse line at the Yalta Conference (1945). As a result, most of Germany's central territories became the Sowjetische Besatzungszone (SBZ, Soviet Occupation Zone). All other lands east of the Oder–Neisse line were put under Polish administration, with the exception of historic northern East Prussia , which went to the USSR.