Teaching content at the Academy of Law of the MfS (JHS) included – in addition to instruction in methods of political-operational work and working with informants – Marxism-Leninism, the theory of imperialism, and the history of the workers’ movement. The educational canon also included law, including the socialist theory of law, operational psychology, Russian, and military training. The training and continuing education of MfS employees was meant to align with their “work duties.” Teaching content was closely associated with the practice in service units and heavily influenced by ideology. They remained focused above all on “the concept of the enemy” and “operations against the enemy.” MfS instructions, recordings of speeches by the minister for state security, or operational reports edited for instructional purposes all formed the essential basis of learning and work materials.
Law-related content constituted a mere 20 percent or less of overall instruction and was considered subordinate to the “fight against the imperialist enemy.” The teaching of law was supposed to provide students with a necessary tool for taking action against “underground political activities” and “political-ideological diversions” of the “enemy.”
In the 1980s, a thematic focus emerged that was initially subsumed into the political-operational special discipline section, and then later became its own teaching field in the mid-1980s: Working with collaborators and informants (informelle Mitarbeiter, or IM), as well as the application of operational and criminal means and methods. The proper acquisition and guidance of IM, as well as the evaluation of IM reports on the detection and combat against “enemy activities,” both domestic and international against the GDR, became increasingly important.
Another element of the training of the “officer cadets” in the fight against “underground political activity” was instruction in forensic methodology. These ranged from the application of forensic techniques to forensic training for physicians tasked with investigating evidence.
Considered in its entirety, the training offered at the JHS cannot be viewed equivalent to an education in law or political science. The Academy always stood at the service of the secret services work conducted by the MfS, ultimately supporting the implementation and stabilization of the policies of the GDR’s Socialist Unity Party.