The East German Secret Police’s Illustrated Guide for Identifying 80s Youth Subcultures: Punks, Goths, Teds & More

Commonly known as the Stasi, the East German secret service was one of the most effective and repressive intelligence and secret police agencies ever to have existed.
One of its main tasks was spying on the population through a vast network of citizens turned informants, and fighting any opposition by overt and covert measures, including hidden psychological destruction. Naturally, young people were not an exception, especially those that belonged to some underground subculture, such as punks, grufties or metalheads.

This circa-1985 internal guide used to identify the “types of negative decadent youth cultures in the German Democratic Republic.” It was posted on Twitter by musician and writer S. Alexander Reed and later translated into English by a few of his followers (see the resulting English version below). It breaks down the supposedly decadent youth cultures of mid-1980s East Germany into eight groups, describing their interests, appearance, political inclinations, and activities.

The rock-and-roll-oriented “Teds,” dressed in a “50s style,” don’t seem to rouse themselves for anything besides “birth and death days of idolized rock stars.” The “Tramps,” a “classic manifestation of the negative-decadent youth in the 70s,” adhere to the trends of a somewhat more recent era. The fans of “extremely hard rock” known as “Heavies” once held a “deprecative attitude towards state and society,” but seemed at the time to become “increasingly society-conforming.”

Other youth cultures considered decadent by the Stasi bore labels that might still sound familiar across the world. The “Goths,” a “satanic and death cult,” are noted for their “glorification of creepy effects” and for being “fans of the group The Cure.” Though they may have been “hardly noticed operationally,” the “punks” presented a more clear and present threat, what with their “deprecative to hostile political attitude, rejection of all state forms and societal norms,” “anarchist thoughts,” and belief in “total freedom.”

via Wikipedia, Open Culture


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here