The Stasi often used a method which was really diabolic. It was called Zersetzung, and it’s described in another guideline. The word is difficult to translate because it means originally “decomposition.” But actually, it’s a quite accurate description. The goal was to destroy secretly the self-confidence of people, for example by damaging their reputation, by organizing failures in their work, and by destroying their personal and intimate relationships. Considering this, East Germany was a very modern dictatorship. The Stasi didn’t try to arrest every dissident. It preferred to paralyze them, and it could do so because it had access to so much personal information and to so many institutions. 

-Hubertus Knabe: The Dark Secrets of a Surveillance State, TED Salon, Berlin

Group Narcissism: Zersetzung (Decomposition)

Agents of communist East Germany’s Stasi (secret police) perfected the process of “invisible murder” or “neutralization” of perceived enemies known as Zersetzung or Zerstezen – a term borrowed from chemistry, which literally means “decomposition” – a reference to the severe psychological, social, and financial effects upon the victim.

By the 1970s, the Stasi had decided that methods of overt persecution, which had been employed up to that time such as arrest and torture, were too crude and obvious. It was realized that psychological harassment was far less likely to be recognized for what it was. Thus, its victims were less likely to be provoked into active resistance, as they would not be aware of the source of their problems, or even its exact nature. One great advantage of the harassment perpetrated under Zersetzung was that its subtle nature meant that it was able to be plausibly denied. This was important given that the GDR was trying to improve its international standing during the 1970s and 80s.

Zersetzung was informally used in East Germany since the 1950s with General Secretary Walter Ulbricht’s use of regular law enforcement and judiciary against dissidents. In 1971, Erich Honecker’s appointment as General Secretary saw reform of “operational procedures” (Operative Vorgänge) away from the overt terror of Ulbricht towards Zersetzung, formalized in 1976 after the issue of Directive No. 1/76 on the Development and Revision of Operational Procedures. The Stasi used operational psychology and its extensive network of informal collaborators (civilian snitches / spies) to launch personalized psychological attacks against targets to damage their mental health and lower chances of a “hostile action” against the state.

Zersetzung, as a concept, involves the annihilation of the inner self, the dissolution or disintegration of the targeted person. It was designed to secretly destroy a target’s personal and professional lives, ruin them financially, and prevent them from reaching their potential, with the intention to produce irreversible depressive and panic-stricken behaviors.  Its aim lay explicitly in “breaking” the person through constant, mounting psychological and physical stress, as well as through financial, professional and psychosocial sabotage.

Operations were designed to intimidate and destabilize them by subjecting them to repeated disappointment, and to socially alienate them by interfering with and disrupting their relationships with others as in social undermining . The aim was to disrupt the target’s private or family life, so they were unable to continue their “hostile-negative” activities towards the state. Typically, the Stasi would use collaborators (informants and civilian spies) to garner details from a victim’s private life. They would then devise a strategy to “disintegrate” the target’s personal circumstances – their career, their relationship with their spouse, their reputation in the community. The basis for attacks against individuals is operational psychology. This involved the application of principles of social and clinical psychology and their deliberate misuse.

Beginning with intelligence obtained by espionage, the Stasi established “sociograms” and “psychograms” which it applied for the psychological forms of Zersetzung.

They exploited personal traits, such as homosexuality, as well as supposed character weaknesses of the targeted individual — for example a professional failure, negligence of parental duties, pornographic interests, divorce, alcoholism, dependence on medications, criminal tendencies, passion for a collection or a game, or contacts with circles of the extreme right — or even the veil of shame from the rumors poured out upon one’s circle of acquaintances. From the point of view of the Stasi, the measures were the most fruitful when they were applied in connection with a personality; all “schematism” had to be avoided.

Tactics employed under Zersetzung included psychological attacks, such as breaking into homes and subtly manipulating the contents, in a form of gaslighting – moving furniture, altering the timing of an alarm, removing pictures from walls or replacing one variety of tea with another. Other practices included the misuse of surveillance, property damage, sabotage of cars, purposely incorrect medical treatment, smear campaigns (including sending falsified compromising photos or documents to the victim’s family and/or employer), denunciation, provocation, psychological warfare, psychological subversion, wiretapping, bugging, and allegedly exposing some victims to high levels of radiation.

Zersetzung had profound psychological consequences on its victims, such as anxiety and paranoia. The tactic is meant to mimic the effects of mental disease so that victims reporting such attacks would be considered as paranoid by others, especially in their social support relationships.

The Stasi intentionally concealed their role as mastermind of the operations. Usually, victims had no idea that the Stasi were responsible. Many thought that they were losing their minds, and mental breakdowns and suicide could result.

The service acted like an unseen and malevolent god, manipulating the destinies of its victims.

After months and even years of Zersetzung a victim’s domestic and professional problems grew so large, so debilitating, and so psychologically burdensome that they would lose the will to struggle against the East German state. Author Jürgen Fuchs was a victim of Zersetzung and wrote about his experience, describing the Stasi’s actions as:

Psychosocial crime, and an assault on the human soul.

The invasive spying and disorientation tactics used by the Stasi meant there were significantly fewer possibilities for civil disobedience and direct action than political grassroots activists have today in countries places such as Western Europe and North America. Nevertheless political activists in East Germany managed to start a grassroots revolution in 1989.

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The use of Zersetzung is well documented thanks to numerous Stasi files published after East Germany’s Wende. Up to 10,000 individuals are estimated to have become victims, 5,000 of whom sustained irreversible damage. Pensions for restitution have been created for the victims.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s the American FBI came to fully appreciate and utilize Zersetzung against perceived “subversives”. Martin Luther King was a regular target of public scorn, innuendo and other active measures by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI.

Under Vladimir Putin, Russia’s security and intelligence agencies were reported to use similar actions against foreign diplomats and journalists in Russia and other ex-USSR states. These tactics/techniques were used against American Embassy Staff in Cuba and Russia for years, however US authorities have been quite mum about it since the same techniques are used on a wide scale in the United States against “dissidents, activists” and anyone else who has been extra-judicially deemed a threat to the establishment, the status quo or large companies. These activities are usually done in conjunction with vehicle vandalism/hacking, computer/e-mail/bank account hacking, mail tampering and untraceable, remotely-initiated damage to electronic devices and their power supplies. Furthermore, these black ops are done while the victim’s name is simultaneously being slandered via false accusations of criminal activity, theft, violence, crimes of moral turpitude and prior mental health issues. The “teams” perpetrating these illegal acts will try and destroy every aspect of the target’s life.

In 2016, Zersetzung-like harassment was reported by the American press as carried out by Russia’s secret services against U.S. diplomats posted in Moscow as well as in unspecified “several other European capitals”; the U.S. government’s efforts to raise the issue with the Kremlin were said to have brought no positive reaction. The Russian Embassy’s reply was cited by The Washington Post as implicitly admitting and defending the harassment as a response to what Russia called U.S. provocations and mistreatment of Russian diplomats in the United States. The Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson in turn accused the FBI and CIA of provocations and “psychological pressure” vis-a-vis the Russian diplomats.

Although they are illegal in the U.S., the same covert tactics are quietly used by America’s local and federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies to suppress dissent, silence whistle-blowers, and get revenge against persons who have angered someone with connections to the public and private agencies involved.

In many ways, Zersetzung is akin to a state-sanctioned smear campaign waged using abuse by proxy, only the “flying monkeys” are corrupt factions in federal law enforcement, national security, the military and inteligence. But unlike the quintessential narcissistic smear campaign — which is described in all the literature on Narcissistic Personality Disorder — there is a near complete blackout about American Zersetzung in mainstream news media, politics, and the community at large. With the use of sophisticated technology, much of it highly classified and unknown to the masses, and the backing of the “Deep State,” an invisible holocaust has been created that’s so effective — and frightening — that no one will speak out against it, except for those being targeted.

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People either don’t believe something like this is possible, or else they’re so fearful of being targeted themselves that this protocol grows stronger by the day, meanwhile hidden in silence. For the unfortunate individuals who have been targeted, there exists no help, no hope, and no justice. They have been unconstitutionally deemed an “dissidents,” sentenced to death by way of financial, professional, and psychological sabotage, all the while being driven mad by this “invisibly” form of murder. This is essentially the “perfect” crime… except for the fact that crime is evil, and therefore as far from “perfect” as possible… better said, Zersetzung is the ultimate evil, it’s the most depraved, perverse and sociopathic gang rape session that is so heinous and vile, it would make Hitler, Stalin and Mao giggle with glee. The American surveillance state has taken over, and we’ve entered into the era of invisible Auschwitz.

Music composed and performed by me.