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In accordance with its own statutes of 1981, the Academy of Law of the MfS (JHS) was meant to guarantee “the development of scholarly work in the unity of teaching, education and research, theory and practice, with a high degree of utility for operational tasks” (3). Furthermore, the JHS was supposed to work on research projects and transfer the scholarly results into practice. The JHS sought in this way to optimize the work of the MfS, to make it more effective in practice. It was for this reason that research topics were not just discussed with the relevant JHS staff, submitted to the respective rector for research, and presented to the rector for permission; topics also had to be coordinated with the relevant offices of the MfS. Regular interruptions in research processes, for the purposes of conducting “practical applications” in the MfS, were meant to ensure a close resemblance to everyday service conditions. Thematic priorities in the 1980s therefore arose from work on:

  • New security requirements in the 1980s
  • Ways to find solutions for securing social areas and processes relevant to political-operational concerns
  • Possible solutions for the pre-emptive prevention and combat against politico-ideological diversion, underground political activity and contacts, illegal departure from the GDR, and attacks against the national economy
  • The role, function and working methods of the imperialist secret services
  • Qualification of investigative work in the MfS and the comprehensive utilization of legal means for the qualification of political-operational work and involvement in the improvement of socialist law, especially criminal law
  • The improvement of scholarly foundations for political-operational work

One of the JHS’s peculiarities was its melding of teaching and research. Research results flowed immediately into teaching content in the form of instructional materials and textbooks. At the same time, diploma theses were accepted as research products equal to dissertations, and often were put straight to work.

The research activities at the JHS were also subject to strict confidentiality. Furthermore, research was subjected to a specific pattern of interpretation that followed Stasi ideology. Clear classificatory schemes for friends and foes, as well as the concept of the enemy, were predominant. Therefore, it is not possible to speak of free research being conducted at the JHS. An actual scholarly analysis or discussion of selected topics and questions – let alone a critical examination of prescribed political and ideological beliefs – was neither possible nor desired.

(3) Statutes of the Academy of the MfS, BStU, ZA 89, 1981, pp. 26-28: cited in Förster, Hochschule des MfS, 1996. p. 4.