"Stasiland" by Anna Funder

In the book 'Stasiland' Anna Funder tells stories from the underbelly of the most perfected surveillance state of all time, the former East Germany. Stasiland is a lyrical account of the courage some people found to withstand the dictatorship and the consequences for those who collaborated.

On 18th January 1989 the East German state issued a directive called Zersetzungsmassnahmen. The German word Zersetzung is harsh, and has no English equivalent. Zersetsung, as a concept, involves the annihilation of the inner self. The Directive recommended these methods:

"...The targeted spreading of rumours about particular persons with the aid of anonymous and pseudo-anonymous letters....making compromising situations for them by creating confusion over the facts....and the engendering of hysterical and depressive behaviours in the target persons.